For a beautiful, classically American chicken, farmers and chicken enthusiasts can’t go wrong with the silver laced Wyandotte. These birds are hardy and lay eggs well.
They are also quite striking in their colors and feather patterns. Combined, these traits make the silver laced Wyandotte a lovely addition to a flock.
History of Silver Laced Wyandotte
The silver laced Wyandotte is one of the oldest breeds in the United States. The chicken was originally called the American Sebright, but this name can be quite confusing as Sebright chickens, which originated in England, seem to have little relation to the Wyandotte.
The silver laced Wyandotte, which is also often known simply as the Wyandotte, was first created in the 1870s.
At the time, there were several chicken breeds that were perfect for meat and several that were good at laying eggs, but there was no one breed that could provide both. It was for this reason that the silver laced Wyandotte was established.
Four men, named John Ray, L. Whittaker, Fred Houdlette, and H.M. Doubleday, established the breed in the 1870s. The Wyandotte breed standard was first recorded in 1883. No one is quite sure what chickens were used to create the Wyandotte breed.
Many suspects that dark Brahmas and silver spangled Hamburgs were used. Others suggest that the Polish fowl may have played a part in Wyandotte’s creation.
Whatever lineage helped to establish the breed, it is certain that, although there are now several different color variations, the original color was the silver laced variety.
Over time, the silver laced Wyandotte became less popular. People were able to purchase meat and eggs readily, and the Wyandotte did not produce either quickly enough to satisfy the industry demand.
Startlingly, the breed began to die out, and for some time it was listed as endangered. It was not until 2016 that the chicken was removed from the American Livestock Conservancy‘s list of endangered breeds.
Silver Laced Wyandotte Breed Standard
- Silver feathers edged in black
- Fluffy with rounded bodies
- Females weigh five and a half to six and a half pounds, males weigh about eight and a half pounds
The silver laced Wyandotte’s most spectacular feature is its coloring. These chickens have white feathers edged in black, which give the chicken an almost mosaic-like appearance.
This coloration is most obvious on the hens. Roosters display the same colors but also have a silver cape, so they appear somewhat paler.
The eyes of the silver laced Wyandotte are dark brown and the combs and wattles, both of which are small, are red. This chicken breed features a rose comb.
Although some Wyandottes may display a single comb, the single comb does not meet the breed standard. The beak, skin, legs, and feet of the Wyandotte are yellow.
Silver laced Wyandottes are a fluffy chicken breed, with full feathers. The bird’s body is round and full. The head and neck are erect and alert, and the tail stands relatively tall, giving the chicken an almost circular shape.
Female Wyandotte chickens weigh between five and a half and six and a half pounds, while males average about eight and a half pounds.
Silver Laced Wyandotte Personality and Temperament
The silver laced Wyandotte chicken is known as one of the friendliest chicken breeds. Owners often find that their Wyandotte chickens follow them around. They do not like to be petted, but they often stand close to their owners.
These birds are gentle enough to work well with children, and they generally do not peck people. They are also considered to be quite calm and are unstressed by loud or close quarters, which makes them an excellent choice for showing.
Although they are excellent around people, including children, the silver laced Wyandotte chicken can be somewhat difficult with other chickens. They generally integrate well into established flocks, but some Wyandottes have a bossy personality.
They tend to stand their ground against other chickens and will often become the top birds in the flock. However, they do not usually peck at other birds, so combining them into a flock is not generally a problem.
The silver laced Wyandotte is sometimes known as a talkative chicken.
Silver Laced Wyandotte Egg Laying
- 200 eggs per year
- Eggs are light to dark brown in color
- Hens continue laying through the winter months
The silver laced Wyandotte chicken was bred to produce eggs well, and the breed still achieves that function. They tend to lay about 200-240 eggs each year, and because they are unbothered by cold weather, the hens will often continue laying eggs through the winter months.
The eggs of the silver laced Wyandotte are light, medium, or dark brown in color.
Silver laced Wyandotte hens can sometimes be quite broody, which means that they are intent on letting their eggs hatch. They may refuse to leave the nest box and can sometimes become slightly aggressive when keepers attempt to take the eggs.
This is especially problematic if the flock is made up of only hens, as the eggs will be infertile and the hen will continue laying on them for days even though they will never hatch.
There are several ways to change broody behavior if so desired. On the other hand, broody Wyandotte hens often make excellent mothers to the chicks of less broody breeds and can be used to help hatch other chickens’ eggs.
Health Issues and Care
The silver laced Wyandotte chicken is robust and is known to be quite healthy. It is not more susceptible to any particular diseases or illnesses than any other standard chicken breed.
However, the thick feathers of the chicken can sometimes cause problems. Feathers at the rear of the chicken can become quite dirty. If breeding is desired, the feathers can get in the way of successful fertilization.
The silver laced Wyandotte chicken’s thick feathers can also lead to mite infestations, so owners should take care to keep their coop and yard clean in order to mitigate this risk.
In addition, because their feathers are so thick, these chickens can sometimes overheat in warmer weather. They are not a good chicken for hot climates. Even in milder climates, the Wyandotte should always have access to a large supply of cool water and a large, shaded area.
Wyandotte chickens can tolerate small spaces but should be given at least two to three square feet of space per bird if kept in a coop. These chickens are also excellent foragers, so allowing the birds to roam freely for at least part of the day is an excellent idea.
When properly cared for, the silver laced Wyandotte can live for quite some time. Some chickens may reach eight or even 12 years of age.
3 Tips for Raising Silver Laced Wyandottes
- Hens can sometimes be broody
- Excellent cold weather chickens
- Cleanliness is crucial
The silver laced Wyandotte is thought of as a cold-weather bird, and in fact, it can even tolerate winters with snow. The thick feathers of the chicken help it stay warm, even in freezing temperatures.
In addition, the comb and wattles are small and lie close to the chicken’s head, so they are not prone to frostbite.
However, this cold tolerance comes with a downside in the summer. Wyandotte chickens can overheat if they do not have a cool enough space to rest. For this reason, it is very important to offer Wyandottes a large amount of shade and plenty of water.
One of the only issues Wyandotte owners experience is broodiness in the hens. Broody hens can sometimes become aggressive when owners attempt to collect eggs.
They may also pluck out their own feathers in order to better incubate the eggs. For those who are looking to produce chicks, a broody Wyandotte is good. If chicks are not desired, however, there are some ways to stop hens from brooding.
Collecting eggs as soon as possible can often help to solve the broody hen problem. Another good option is to block off the nest box that the broody hen has been using in order to break the habit.
If all else fails, chicken keepers can place the broody hen in a wire cage for a few days, offering food and water but no nesting materials. Airflow can help to cool the hen, which can actually stop her brooding instincts.
Occasionally, silver laced Wyandotte chickens may have cleanliness issues. This is due to the thickness of their feathers. These chickens can be bathed or the feathers at the rear can be trimmed to help cut down on dirt and mess.
In order to reduce the risk of mite and lice infestations, it is also very important to keep the coop, bedding, and yard clean and fresh.
The silver laced Wyandotte has been a standard for American chicken keeping for decades, and it is easy to see the reasons behind this. Although it is a good meat chicken, this bird is also friendly, docile, and lays eggs well.
For those looking to add a colorful, pleasant chicken to their flock, or to establish an entirely new flock, this is an excellent chicken for both beginner enthusiasts and those with more experience.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch.