Silver Spangled Hamburgs

Known to be a free-spirited bird, the Hamburg breed has earned themselves a reputation of being intolerant of confinement, partly because of their flying ability. They are characterized by a few key traits such as a good feed-to-egg ratio and quick maturation. This breed traces back to the late 1600's, and possibly before with an account of the Italian naturalist Aldrovandi, describing a spangled chicken the same in nearly every aspect of that of the spangled hamburgs. This entry was made in Turkey in 1599, which has led many to think that the Hamburgs came from Turkish origin, rather than a Dutch one. Either way, these chickens are a very ancient breed with deep roots, and their genetic origin is widely unknown.

  • Appearance:
    • Male: These roosters will have thin lacy (as in soft and wispy) white feathers with black dagger-shaped tips on the head, and hackle (back and sides of neck). On the saddle (swoop of back) there should be similar white feathers with black tips, but a bit stouter and less lacy qualities (click here for example). The saddle feathers may also appear similar to the hackle feathers. At the sickles (long tail feathers), the feathers will be longer and again with a slightly stouter tip. Throughout the rest of the chicken you should see a similar pattern to that of the saddle, but they may be lined up in row along the wing, as opposed to the appearance of randomness in other areas.
    • Female: The female has the appearance of being completely covered in the feather that is linked to above, with only marginally slighter tips on the head, and hackle. The female in general will appear to have a higher black-to-white ratio than the male.
    • Face: Red
    • Comb: Rose comb
    • Earlobes: White
    • Skin color: White
    • Beak color: Dark to light horn, for the base to the tip, respectively.
    • Eyes: Dark brown
    • Legs: Slate grey
  • Weight: Rooster-5 Hen-4 Cockerel-4.5 Pullet-3.5*
  • Purpose: Egg-laying
  • Origin: Though the name implies that the Hamburg chickens are of German origin they actually were initially bred in Holland, and before that it is said that they were from Turkey. Either way they are not German.
  • Common: Uncommon/Watch
  • Egg color: Hamburgs in general have a glossy-white egg.
  • Egg size: Small to Medium
  • Eggs a week/year: 4 or so eggs a week, and 200-225 eggs a year.
  • Broody: Almost never*
  • Confinement: Known as a flighty and sprightly bird, so they are somewhat intolerant of confinement.
  • Compatibility: They get along well with other chickens, and will be nearer to the top of the pecking order because the mature earlier and generally smaller chickens such as these are not as laid back in their attitudes.
  • Hardy: More cold hardy than warm, because of their developement in the colder, and damper region of Europe.
  • Bantam: Yes*
  • Personality: Generally a flighty bird, they are very active, and may try to fly over your chicken coop wall. If you have these chickens you may want to consider getting hawk-netting for their safety. They are also quite cautious and may avoid human contact, but this may be helped with handling while young.
  • Available from:*

    Though they lay a smaller egg, they lay a lot of them, and in addition they have a very exotic look to them. They used to be known for their usefulness in more ways than one, and this is what is valuable to the backyard chicken owner.

    Photo courtesy of Flickr user: reds_animals
    Information courtesy of:
    *For more information on terms above see Key to Chicken Entries

    Black Copper Marans

    Marans Hen by ninjapoodles.
    rooster idol continues by ninjapoodles.This bird has made a name for itself as one of the world breeds that produces chocolate brown eggs. It is highly prized by chefs, both for it's color and quality. However, it does not have a APA (American Poultry Association) Standard of Perfection, so there are many varieties, but the French Standard is your best bet. Unfortunately for us though there is no single strain that is the French Standard, so you might want to use the criteria below to find the one closest to it that you can. Though this may not be important to all of you, if this criteria is not fulfilled the chicken will probably not be pure Black Copper Maran, and not lay it's legendary dark eggs.
    • Appearance:
      • Male: One of the more complexly colored roosters, ideally this has: a  continuous shade of copper on the head, and hackle (back and sides of neck). Then there will be a slightly darker shade of copper on the saddle (swoop of back), and a mix of this darker shade with black feathers as you move towards the wings. On the lower part of the wings, and tail, there should be all black feathers, with a very prominent green sheen. Other parts as you move to the chest and under the wings will also be black, but without as much of a sheen, if any at all.
      • Female: A female has a nearly completely black body with copper on the head and neck areas, as above. It is good to have intense copper in these areas, but if any is found in the chest, or back, it is considered bad genetics, so you might want to stay away from mothers who may have these characteristics if you are going to breed your chickens. Also look out for white spots anywhere.
      • Face: Red
      • Comb: Large red single or rose comb
      • Earlobes: Red
      • Skin color: Yellow
      • Beak color: Yellow
      • Eyes: Red-Orange
      • Legs: Slate gray, with a pink underside. Preferably feathered, this is what is considered the French standard, but only on the leg and outer toe.
    • Weight: Rooster-8 Hen-6.5 Cockerel-7 Pullet-5.5*
    • Purpose: This chicken is dual-purpose.
    • Origin: Marans originated in France.
    • Common: Rare
    • Egg color: Chocolate Brown. This color is achieved by a coating that is applied in the last part of the laying process, that since it is only on the surface, you can rub it off with a little work.
    • Egg size: Large to X-Large
    • Eggs a week/year: 3-4 eggs a week 150-180 a year, but of it's legendary eggs.
    • Broody: Occasionally*
    • Confinement: They generally take confinement well.
    • Compatibility: They typically get along well with others.
    • Hardy: They are good with cold because they were initially bred in a damp environment.
    • Bantam: Yes*
    • Personality: Not as vocal as other chickens, generally they are active, but may become lazy if not given the proper space.
    • Available from: In this chickens case it is bad to buy from hatcheries because they will not reach all of the standards, and will not lay dark eggs. However below I have listed severaly popular lines of this chicken, and sellers.*
    Well known to be amazing egg-layers, they are also visually pleasing. Definitely a good addition to the backyard chicken owner's flock.

    Photo courtesy of Flickr user: ninjapoodles

    Information courtesy of:
    *For more information on terms above see Key to Chicken Entries

    Black Jersey Giants

    Black Jersey Giants were initially bred as table birds by the Black brothers of New Jersey. In their composition were Black Javas, Black Langshans, and Dark Brahmas. Initially called Black's Giants, they were developed between 1870 and 1890. They later received the APA standard of perfection in 1922, but never fulfilled their dream as a table bird because soon afterward the broad-breasted turkey was developed. Although they did not reach their market potential they are still good roasters. Another thing to note about them is to make sure that your water/food bowls are high enough so that they do not kick dirt into them, as they are the largest purebred chicken in the world.
    • Appearance: Black Jersey Giants have black feathers, with a green tint. They may also have some very dark brown in the shanks. They have a red single comb, red earlobes, yellow skin, a beak that at the base is black with a slight yellow tint at the tip, along with dark brown eyes.
    • Weight: Rooster-13 Hen-10 Cockerel-11 Pullet-8* These chickens will grow at the same rate as other chickens, but will not fill out until later in their life, so they are not used commercially.
    • Purpose: Black Jersey Giants are a dual-purpose chicken.*
    • Origin: New Jersey, America
    • Common: Watch
    • Egg Color: Light Brown
    • Egg Size: X-Large
    • Eggs a week/year: 3-4 a week/175-185 a year. This is more than most large chicken breeds.
    • Broody: Yes*
    • Confinement: Good, they are mellow by nature, and don't fly very high because of their weight.
    • Compatibility: Good, as with any other chicken they will participate in a pecking order, and might end up towards the bottom because of their more laid-back attitudes.
    • Hardy: They are rather cold hardy with their large frame, but may not be as heat hardy for the same reason.
    • Bantam: Yes*
    • Personality: They are laid-back and mellow by nature, but will not be as intimidated as other chickens might be because of their size.*
    Black Jersey Giants are a fun chicken to have in your backyard. They can grow to large sizes, but also may be very useful as well. They are good foragers, and would do well with other pets.

    Photo courtesy of Flickr user: winsomebulldog
    Information courtesy of:

    *For more information on terms above see Key to Chicken Entries