Good Eggs

Andy Cawthray looks at the pure breeds de­vel­oped for egg lay­ing. This month: The Wyan­dotte

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The Wyan­dotte


The Wyan­dotte is a very pop­u­lar breed, no­table now par­tic­u­larly for its wide range of avail­able colours. Its large size and rounded shape, cou­pled with its full and pro­fuse feath­er­ing, make it im­me­di­ately rec­og­niz­able. Its name is said to have been taken from a tribe of Na­tive Amer­i­cans but is also said to have been taken from a boat that be­longed to the fa­ther of one of the Wyan­dotte’s first breed­ers, Fred Houdlette of Bos­ton, Mas­sachusetts.


The pre­cise makeup of the Wyan­dotte is dif­fi­cult to as­cer­tain. It is an Amer­i­can breed that was first re­ported in 1860s, but lit­tle is known about the breeds that were in­volved in its cre­ation. The first va­ri­ety to be seen was the sil­ver laced, and this sits well with the widely held be­lief that a breeder had ini­tially set out to cre­ate a Se­bright-plumaged Cochin. The breed was stan­dard­ised in 1883 and ad­di­tional colour va­ri­eties emerged over the fol­low­ing decades, fur­ther serv­ing to di­ver­sify the parent­age of the breed.


The most no­tice­able char­ac­ter­is­tic of the breed is the bal­ance of the bird’s pro­file. The body is short and deep but also well rounded, and this is ac­cen­tu­ated by the short back, broad sad­dle, and full breast. The Wyan­dotte is an alert and ac­tive-look­ing bird that car­ries a rose comb and mildly abun­dant, but not overly fluffy, plumage. The colour va­ri­eties are wide rang­ing, with whites, blacks, blues, barred, and var­i­ous laced ver­sions, from buff to sil­ver, all be­ing seen. Par­tridge and pen­cilled vari­ants are also com­mon.


The Wyan­dotte hen when fully grown should weigh at least 7lb (3.2kg). She has a grace­ful ap­pear­ance and com­ple­ments the alert pres­ence of the male within the flock. This is height­ened by the soft-look­ing plumage and slightly shorter stance. Hens are, how­ever, prone to go­ing broody, so if a high level of egg pro­duc­tion is re­quired then ap­pro­pri­ate man­age­ment tech­niques are needed.


The Wyan­dotte cock is a proud-look­ing bird with a full breast lifted high, a neat rose comb upon the head, and medi­um­length wat­tles hang­ing from a clean, smooth-tex­tured face. When fully grown, he should weigh at least 9lb (4.1kg).


The Wyan­dotte lays a tinted egg that can err on the side of light brown. Whilst pri­mar­ily a lay­ing breed it is not as pro­duc­tive as some due to the heav­ier breed­ing fo­cus on plumage va­ri­ety. That said, cer­tain strains are ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing more than 200 eggs a year.


Wyan­dottes are trust­ing birds that will soon be­come friendly to­wards their keeper. This makes them an ex­cel­lent breed for the be­gin­ner or for some­one look­ing to keep chick­ens as pets.


As a strong and vig­or­ous breed, the Wyan­dotte copes well in all cli­mates and most hus­bandry en­vi­ron­ments. The birds are not known to be keen fly­ers, and al­though they ca­pa­ble of tak­ing to the wing, they can be con­tained by a low fence if kept in a closed run. It is worth not­ing that the hous­ing pro­vided for th­ese birds needs to be in pro­por­tion to their slightly larger frame.


The Wyan­dotte is a pop­u­lar breed amongst the Fancy. The va­ri­ety of plumage types make it highly de­sir­able as a gar­den breed too. Con­se­quently there are usu­ally good num­bers of young stock avail­able each year how­ever the qual­ity can vary as widely as the plumage types so care must be taken when pur­chas­ing de­pend­ing on the end game. A good stan­dard bird that can be used for breed­ing can cost £100 how­ever pet qual­ity pul­lets can usu­ally be pur­chased for around £20 with prices of­ten re­flect­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of the breed or colour­ings.

A sil­ver laced Wyan­dotte

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