Wyandotte Chicken

Gallus gallus domesticus

Last updated: May 10, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Ton Bangkeaw/Shutterstock.com

The Wyandotte chicken was the first dual-purpose American chicken bred for both meat and eggs!


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Wyandotte Chicken Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Galliformes
Family
Phasianidae
Genus
Gallus
Scientific Name
Gallus gallus domesticus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Wyandotte Chicken Conservation Status

Wyandotte Chicken Locations

Wyandotte Chicken Locations

Wyandotte Chicken Facts

Prey
Insects, larvae, worms, etc.
Main Prey
Insects
Name Of Young
Chicks
Group Behavior
  • Flock
Fun Fact
The Wyandotte chicken was the first dual-purpose American chicken bred for both meat and eggs!
Estimated Population Size
More than 21,000
Biggest Threat
Predators
Most Distinctive Feature
High-contrast feathers that look like lace
Distinctive Feature
Flattened, fleshy rose comb that is red; red wattles, ear lobes and skin around eyes; orang eyes; bare, yellow legs and feet; stout yellow or bone colored beak
Other Name(s)
American Sebright (before standardization)
Temperament
Friendly and somewhat docile
Incubation Period
21 days
Habitat
Only captivity
Predators
Foxes, weasels, raccoons, snakes, owls, hawks, eagles
Diet
Omnivore
Lifestyle
  • Diurnal
  • Flock
Favorite Food
Commercial feed
Origin
First bred in the United States; descended from Brahma and Silver Spangled Hamburg chickens
Number Of Species
1
Location
Worldwide
Average Clutch Size
12
Group
Flock
Nesting Location
Coops

Wyandotte Chicken Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Black
  • White
  • Gold
  • Cream
  • Orange
  • Silver
  • Multi-colored
  • Golden
Skin Type
Feathers
Lifespan
6 to 12 years
Weight
Large varieties are 6.5 to 8.5 pounds; bantam varieties are around 2.5 pounds
Age of Sexual Maturity
16 to 20 weeks
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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The Wyandotte chicken was the first dual-purpose American chicken bred for both meat and eggs!

Wyandotte chickens were developed in the United States in the 1870s with the express purpose of producing both large quantities of eggs and meat. They were the first dual-purpose chickens bred in America, and the fact that they grew rapidly and were resistant to frostbite made them especially desirable birds. By 1883, the breed was standardized and the Silver Laced variety was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection. Within a few short years, other varieties were added, and today there are 19 recognized varieties, including the 10 bantam-size Wyandottes. During the latter part of the 19th century, the price of Wyandotte chickens soared, but their value waned as more successful commercial breeds were developed. Today, they are popular once more in backyard flocks around the world.

Incredible Wyandotte Chicken Facts

  • According to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection, 1910, the Wyandotte chicken was named after a ship owned by Fred Houdlette’s father.
  • Wyandotte chickens are known for their striking, high-contrast feathers which look like lace.
  • These chickens produce around 200 eggs per year, averaging 4 eggs per week.
  • Wyandotte chickens are also excellent meat producers, growing quickly to adult sizes up to 9 pounds.
  • The Livestock Conservancy removed the Wyandotte chicken from its Conservation Priority List in 2016.
  • These chickens are known to be talkative and friendly.

Where to Find Wyandotte Chickens

Wyandotte chickens are an American breed, created in the United States in the 1870s. The development of this fowl is credited to four breeders, H. M. Doubleday and John Ray of New York, L. Whittaker of Michigan, and Fred Houdlette of Massachusetts. Whittaker is credited with calling the birds American Sebrights and having attempted to admit the breed to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection as early as 1877. However, it was Houdlette who eventually named the bird upon its admission in 1883.

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The Wyandotte is known as a dual-purpose breed. It was designed specifically to be both a good meat and egg producer. The Wyandotte chicken is a descendant of dark Brahma chickens, Silver Spangled Hamburg chickens, and other unidentified breeds. It was most prevalent in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada before quickly gaining popularity across North America. Exported to Great Britain, the breed spread throughout Europe and to Australia and Africa.

Scientific Name

The Wyandotte chicken’s scientific name is Gallus gallus or Gallus gallus domesticus. Named by Linnaeus in 1758, the domesticated chicken is a descendant of the red junglefowl of South and Southeast Asia. Today, dozens of breeds of domesticated chickens are recognized within the Gallus gallus domesticus species.

According to The American Standard of Perfection published by the American Poultry Association in 1910, Wyandotte chickens were officially named as such in 1883. The Wyandotte name was suggested by one of the original breeders, Fred Houdlette. Although many sources online indicate that the birds were named in honor of the indigenous Wyandotte people of the region where the chickens were originally bred, the 1910 Standard of Perfection notes that Houdlette actually chose the name in honor of a ship that was owned by his father.



Prior to standardization, the Wyandotte breed had gone by a number of different names assigned by local breeders. These included American Sebright, Sebright Cochin, Sebright Brahma, Mooney, and various other monikers related to their colors or markings. Officials recognized the need to standardize the name of the chicken before recognizing the breed to prevent confusion.  

Appearance

Wyandotte chickens are a medium to large breed and are notably curvy. They are sexually dimorphic, with standard-size roosters weighing about 8.5 pounds and hens weighing 6.5 pounds on average. Bantam-size varieties average around 2.5 pounds.

The most striking feature of a Wyandotte chicken is its feather pattern. These birds are known for their highly contrasting feathers that look like lace. The earliest variety, the Silver Laced Wyandotte, recognized in 1883, has white plumage with crisp black edges along each feather, creating a black-on-white lace effect. The Golden Laced variety, recognized in 1888, is similarly patterned but with golden feathers trimmed in black. Some Wyandotte chickens, such as the White and Black varieties, are one color all over without the lace pattern. The American Poultry Association recognizes nine different varieties of large Wyandotte chickens, including the ones above, as well as Buff, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Columbian, and Blue. Bantam sizes are recognized in all nine of those colors, plus one additional, the Buff Columbian variety.  

Wyandotte chickens have a short, broad, and robust appearance with a large, well-rounded breast. Their tail is short and held upright, with very dense and fluffy feathers underneath. They have rose combs, which are flattened and fleshy, tapered to a point at the rear. These combs, which are particularly resistant to frostbite, are bright red, as are the wattles, earlobes, and the skin around their eyes, which are orange. Wyandottes have yellow skin and strong, yellow legs and feet which are not feathered. Their beaks are exceptionally long and stout, and usually yellow or bone colored.

Silver wyandotte chicken in farm.

.Wyandotte chickens are not generally aggressive toward humans or other chickens. However, with other chicken breeds, they tend to be dominant and somewhat pushy.

©PAPA WOR/Shutterstock.com

Behavior

Wyandotte chickens are known as a friendly breed. They are equally content to free range or live in confinement, so they are a breed well suited to both small, backyard enclosures and larger farms. These chickens are not generally aggressive toward humans or other chickens, although they are not likely to cuddle, either. They are tolerant of other chicken breeds but tend to be dominant and somewhat pushy. Often described as aloof, Wyandottes prefer to stick to their own kind in mixed flocks.

Wyandotte chickens are calm and relatively easy to handle, which makes them good show chickens. Their slow, easy-going nature makes them a relaxing backyard companion. Owners describe them as talkative, but not excessively noisy. They are not terrific flyers, but they can fly up to a high roost and can easily get over low fences. Owners should expect to invest in a tall fence or a covered enclosure to keep these chickens secure.

Diet

Wyandotte chickens are omnivores, and they are good foragers. They will readily eat invertebrates such as insects, larvae, and worms. They also consume seeds, green plant parts, and other vegetation that may be available. Foraging alone will not typically satisfy their nutritional needs, however. Breeders must supplement their flock with commercial feed.

These chickens also welcome treats, such as fruits, vegetables including leafy greens, and even meats. Chicks need a diet consisting of at least 20 percent protein in order to support their rapid growth. Hens also need ample protein and calcium to promote egg production, but these chickens should not be given a diet high in fat, as they may be prone to obesity.

Reproduction

Known as productive layers, Wyandotte chickens produce approximately 200 eggs per year, even laying consistently through the winter. They begin laying eggs between the age of 16 and 20 weeks. During their peak egg-laying years, hens produce an average of 4 eggs per week. After about age three, their egg production begins to wane.

Breeders suggest a ratio of at least one rooster for every 10 hens. Hens do have a tendency to go broody and they are reportedly very good mothers to their chicks. Their eggs take around 21 days to incubate, and they generally have about 12 chicks per brood.

Predators

Adult Wyandotte chickens, as a medium to large breed, may be less vulnerable to birds of prey such as hawks and owls. Predators such as eagles, foxes, weasels, and raccoons can still be formidable threats. Depending on the location of the flock, snakes could be problematic, especially with regard to young chicks and eggs. These nest predators, however, are less prevalent in colder climates where the Wyandotte chicken truly thrives.

Lifespan

Wyandotte chickens can live between 6 to 12 years. The Livestock Conservancy removed them entirely from their Conservation Priority List in 2016. At that time, the breed’s population exceeded 21,000 birds worldwide and it had established its popularity as a heritage breed common to small flocks. This chicken appears to have a bright future indeed.   

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About the Author

Tavia Fuller Armstrong is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on birds, mammals, reptiles, and chemistry. Tavia has been researching and writing about animals for approximately 30 years, since she completed an internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tavia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a wildlife emphasis from the University of Central Oklahoma. A resident of Oklahoma, Tavia has worked at the federal, state, and local level to educate hundreds of young people about science, wildlife, and endangered species.

Wyandotte Chicken FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What do Wyandotte chickens look like?

The most striking feature of a Wyandotte chicken is its feather pattern. These birds are known for their highly contrasting feathers that look like lace. They have a short, broad, and robust appearance with a large, well-rounded breast. Their tail is short and held upright, with very dense and fluffy feathers underneath. They have rose combs, which are flattened and fleshy, tapered to a point at the rear. These combs, which are particularly resistant to frostbite, are bright red, as are the wattles, earlobes, and the skin around their eyes, which are orange. They have yellow skin and strong, yellow legs and feet which are not feathered. Their beaks are exceptionally long and stout, and usually yellow or bone colored.

How big are Wyandotte chickens?

Wyandotte chickens are a medium to large breed. They are sexually dimorphic, with standard size roosters weighing about 8.5 pounds and hens weighing 6.5 pounds on average. Bantam size varieties average around 2.5 pounds.

How well do Wyandotte chickens fly?

Wyandotte chickens are not great at flying, but they can easily fly over a low fence or up to a high roost. Tall fences or covered enclosures are best for keeping these chickens secure.

How many varieties of Wyandotte chickens exist?

There are nine different recognized varieties of large Wyandotte chickens. The first to be recognized by the American Poultry Association was the Silver Laced variety in 1883. This was followed by the Golden Laced, White, Buff, Partridge, Black, Columbian, Silver Penciled, and Blue. The APA recognizes 10 additional bantam size varieties, including each of the colors above as well as the Buff Columbian variety.

What makes Wyandotte chickens special?

Wyandotte chickens were the first American breed specifically developed as a dual-purpose chicken. They were designed to be excellent for both meat and egg production.

Where do Wyandotte chickens live?

Wyandotte chickens were developed in the northeastern United States, but due to their success and popularity, they quickly spread to Canada and Europe. Today they are found in flocks in Australia, Africa, Europe, North America, and maybe more.

What do Wyandotte chickens eat?

Wyandotte chickens are omnivores, and they are good foragers. They eat invertebrates such as insects, larvae, and worms. They also consume seeds, green plant parts, and other vegetation. Breeders must supplement their flock with commercial feed. They also welcome treats, such as fruits, vegetables including leafy greens, and even meats.

How many eggs do Wyandotte chickens lay?

Wyandotte chickens lay an average of 200 eggs per year, or about four eggs per week, during their peak laying years. After about age three, the number of eggs per year begins to slow down.

How long do Wyandotte chickens live?

Wyandotte chickens have a lifespan of approximately 6 to 12 years, depending on their level of care. They are considered hardy birds and do well even in cold climates.

Are Wyandotte chickens rare?

Wyandotte chickens are not considered rare. They were removed from the Conservation Priority List by the Livestock Conservancy in 2016. At that time, their population was estimated at more than 21,000 birds worldwide and growing. Wyandotte chickens are among the more popular breeds for small flocks today.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. American Poultry Association, Available here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/The_American_standard_of_perfection%2C_illustrated._A_complete_description_of_all_recognized_varieties_of_fowls_%28IA_cu31924003039397%29.pdf
  2. The Livestock Conservancy, Available here: https://livestockconservancy.org/heritage-breeds/heritage-breeds-list/2016-cpl-changes/

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