California Grey Chicken: Eggs, Temperament, Size & Raising Tips

Whenever people think of California, they would probably reminisce about the sunny days, the ocean, the smell of the sea breeze, and a whole lot more.

However, if you are interested in chickens, you might automatically think of the California Grey Chicken!  If you are considering adding this breed to your flock or poultry, then you need to know all the important information.

Where Did The California Grey Chicken Come From?

california grey chicken

Because of its name, some people might think that the California Grey Chicken is the state bird of California. However, the truth of the matter is, that it isn’t.

Named after the U.S. state, the California Grey Chicken was developed by a known breeder and Head of the Department of Poultry Science of the Oregon Agricultural College, James Dryden in the 1920s and 1930s.

James Dryden

The breed was developed in response to the growing demand for white eggs at the time. James Dryden cross-bred the White Leghorns and Plymouth Rocks. Since Dryden wanted superior white eggs, he chose these two breeds.

These two are known to be good egg layers so he had the perfect fowls to crossbreed. Apart from being able to lay high-quality white eggs, he also wanted a breed that would do well in meat production.

When Dryden was trying to come up with this new breed back in the 1920s, eyebrows were raised as crossbreeding was not accepted then. There was a ruckus surrounding Dryden’s crossbreeding, to the point where legislators of the state of Oregon were thinking of closing the college’s poultry department.

Despite the controversies surrounding his crossbreeding initiatives, James Dryden persisted with his crossbreeding program. He did not let the setback hold him down. He soldiered on and he was able to come up with a new chicken species. The hybrid that he came up with was originally named Oregon.

When James Dryden retired from teaching, he left Oregon and moved to California. He settled in Modesto. While living there, his son, named Horace, followed his father’s footsteps and continued the breeding program and through this, they were able to perfect a new breed and they called it the California Grey Chicken.

How Do California Grey Chickens Look?

california gray chicken

Given that it’s a crossbreed of two different birds – the White Leghorns and Barred Plymouth Rocks, it seems the California Grey Chicken got the best of both worlds. With that said, it seems James and Horace Dryden made a perfectly good hybrid.

A male California Grey Chicken typically weighs about 5.5 lbs, compared to about 4.4 lbs for a female. If compared to their ancestors, the California Grey Chicken is lighter than the Barred Plymouth Rocks. However, it is heavier than its other parent fowl, the White Leghorns. Compared to other chicken breeds, the California Grey Chicken has no bantam version.

When it comes to their coloring, the California Grey Chicken has gray barred plumage. This physical characteristic came from its Barred Plymouth Rocks ancestry. As for their body, they take after their White Leghorn side.

California Grey chicks typically hatch black with white spots on their heads. Other parts of their bodies, including the abdomen, chest, and wing tips, are also white.

It is easy to determine whether a California Grey Chicken is a male or female. When they are chicks, the female California Grey Chicken has a much darker color than the male one. The same physical attribute can also be seen once these California Grey Chickens grow into mature hens and roosters.

The California Grey Chickens have red combs and red wattles. If you look closely at their feet, there is a yellow coloring on their toes and shanks. Compared to other chicken breeds, the ears of the California Grey Chickens are much smaller. They are also among the chicken breeds with no feathered legs. If you look into their eyes, the colors fall in the reddish-brown category.

What’s The California Grey Chicken Like?

california grey chickens

California Grey Chickens are flexible and friendly. As a very versatile breed, they are able to adapt easily. It wouldn’t be too difficult for you to make adjustments in your home, poultry, and or farm when they are around.

This breed is sociable, with a congenial nature that makes it an excellent choice for a pet. You can form a sweet bond with it. If you have kids, they can handle petting California Grey Chickens on their own.

As they are adaptable, they can survive both hot and cold weather conditions. However, as with other animals, if it gets too extreme, it is your responsibility as their keeper to make sure they are safe and sound.

The California Grey Chickens are good foragers, so they love their open space as well. You can leave them out in the open during the day. If there is a need, they will do well with confinement.

How Good Of An Egg Layer Are They?

california grey egg laying

If you look back into the history of the California Grey Chicken, you would recall how one of the reasons it came to be was to meet the demands of white eggs. And it seems they are really serving their purpose.

As a breed that falls under the dual-purpose category, it is known for its egg-laying abilities. It is probably because it came from the  White Leghorn Chicken lineage, and they are famous for their white egg production. It can even live and lay eggs longer than a White Leghorn.

Age of California Grey Chicken
Eggs per Week)
0 – 5 0 (Not yet laying)
6 – 12 5 – 6 
13 – 24 4 – 5 
25 – 36 3 – 4 
37 – 48 2 – 3 
49+ 1 – 2 

When female California Grey Chickens lay eggs, they are usually large in size. In terms of color, you would be getting a superior white egg from them. On average, the California Grey Chickens can lay about 300 eggs in a year.

The number of eggs a female California Grey Chicken produces annually is not too far from the average number. It proves how good California Grey Chickens are when it comes to egg-laying. It’s at par with other chicken breeds who are known for their egg-laying abilities.

Do They Have A Major Health Issue?

california gray

If the chickens are not in their healthiest state, you can’t expect them to produce healthy eggs and chicks. There might be some health concerns in the process. If this happens, it can affect their ability to produce the large eggs that are expected from them.

One of the most prominent health issues that California Grey Chickens suffer from is egg binding. It is a serious issue that could compromise the health and well-being of female California Grey Chickens.

When egg binding happens, the egg gets stuck inside the hen. The egg just stays inside her oviduct, and she is not able to release it. When something like this happens, it’s a traumatic experience that could lead to the hen’s death.

There are several reasons why egg binding occurs in California Grey Chickens. It could be because of the following:

  • Calcium deficiency– Hens need a lot of this mineral because it aids in bone-building. Calcium is essential in the ability of the hen’s body to produce the shells that would cover the eggs. If they lack calcium, the hens’ muscles won’t be strong enough to push the egg out, causing the egg to bind.
  • Deformed eggs – When an egg is too big, it won’t easily pass through the hen’s oviduct. The same thing can happen if the egg has an odd shape since it would lodge itself inside the chicken.
  • Obesity – If the female California Grey Chicken gains too much weight, it can affect their ability to contract and expel the eggs from their bodies. Due to excessive weight, their muscles might not be as strong as they should be.
  • Genes – Due to their genetic makeup, some hens might have ongoing reproductive and other issues that can affect their ability to lay eggs properly.

Given the number of white eggs that California Grey Chickens can produce, they must be healthy and well. If the chickens are not in their healthiest state, you can’t expect them to produce healthy eggs and chicks.

4 Essential Tips for caring for California Grey Chickens

california gray rooster

Whether you are taking care of them for breeding, poultry, or any other purpose, it takes time, energy, and effort to take care of California Grey Chickens.

As valuable and productive as they are, you need to make sure that you aren’t compromising their health, wellness, and overall being. With that said, here are three major tips that you should remember when taking care of the California Grey Chickens:

1. Do not stress them out

When California Grey Chickens encounter stressors, these can compromise their day-to-day lives. Instead of laying as many eggs as they possibly can, the stress factor can dampen their spirits, affecting their physical being. To help alleviate stress and keep your chickens engaged and happy, consider implementing some DIY chicken toy ideas.

2. Feed Them Well

California Grey Chickens are good foragers. When left in an open space, they can forage for themselves. However, the sustenance they pick up in the process might not be enough for their needs. As their keepers, you should give them the right amount of vitamins and minerals. If they lack something, they won’t be as productive as you hoped them to be.

Age Type of Feed Feed Amount per Day Key Nutrients
0 – 8 weeks (Chicks) Starter Feed 2 – 3 ounces (56 – 85g) High protein (18-20%), Vitamins, Minerals
8 – 20 weeks (Growers) Grower Feed 3 – 4 ounces (85 – 113g) Moderate protein (16-18%), Calcium, Phosphorus
20 weeks onwards (Layers) Layer Pellets 4 – 5 ounces (113 – 141g) Lower protein (15-16%), Higher calcium for eggshell production
Molting Period Higher Protein Feed 4 – 5 ounces (113 – 141g) Increased protein (up to 20%), Vitamins, Minerals
All Ages Grit and Fresh Water Always available Essential for digestion and hydration

3. Vaccinate Them

The immune system is vital in a chicken’s life. Since there are several diseases that they can catch, there are vaccines out there that can help protect them. Vaccinating California Grey Chickens, especially those who might have weaker immune systems is important. If one chicken gets sick, the whole coop can be affected.

4. Let Them Work Out

The California Grey Chickens are not as broody as other breeds. However, if you just let them lay on their nests or egg boxes all day, they aren’t getting the exercise that they should get. When these chickens are cooped up, there is a tendency for them to gain weight. If you are confining them, let them out once in a while. The exercise would do wonders for their health!

Take Care Of A California Grey Chicken Now!

If you’re interested in raising a versatile and rewarding breed, the California Grey Chicken is an excellent choice. They are such a multi-faceted breed that can bring so much joy into your life and flock.

It’s an awesome breed with such a great personality and temperament. If you can raise them in the best way possible, they can contribute so much to your coop or poultry.

2 thoughts on “California Grey Chicken: Eggs, Temperament, Size & Raising Tips”

  1. I’d love to order some, the few hatcheries that have them don’t ship to Alaska. If you have any references of a business/breeder that ships these chicks or hatching eggs to Alaska let me know, thanks!


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