The Wyandotte chicken comes in a number of varieties. Not all colours are recognised by all poultry organisations. There are currently about 17 different colours overall. The American Poultry Association (APA) recognises eight colours. These are black, white, buff, Columbian, partridge, golden laced, silver laced and silver pencilled. The American Bantam Association recognises around another 7 varieties.
The silver laced Wyandotte was the first of the varieties to be developed. This happened in the state of New York in the early 1870s. All white feathers of this type have black edging, giving the effect of lacing. The silver laced was admitted to the standard in 1883.
By crossing silver laced hens with a 'black red' patterned cock, Joseph McKeen of Wisconsin developed the golden laced Wyandotte. Golden plumage is laced with black and the tail is black. The type was developed in 1880 and in 1888 it was admitted to the American Standard.
The rarest colour in the United Kingdom is the white which is white all over. The black is completely black and the buff Wyandotte all buff.
The Columbian has a base colour of white with a black tail and wing tips. The neck is mainly black but with some white.
Partridge Wyandottes are reddish with each feather having three black stripes. The stripes meet in the middle of the feather then angle out to the edge. The silver pencilled is similar but hens have a silvery undercolour. Cocks are white with black portions under the tail. The wings are black.
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The Wyandotte is of medium size with clean legs. The plumage is loosely fitting and very fluffy around the vent. The rose comb follows the head and ends at the back of the head in a neat spike called the leader. The APA describes the Wyandotte as a 'bird of curves'. They look well balanced with the legs set under the centre of the body which is carried horizontally on strong yellow shanks. The neck is short and curved and the breast broad and full. The hackle is well rounded. The Wyandotte has the broadest skull of all American chicken breeds. The general appearance is of a bold but cobby bird.
The Wyandotte is quite friendly and become tame easily. They are a good choice for a family with children who want pet chickens. They are also very vocal and will cluck around in a sociable manner.
Wyandottes sometimes go broody. They will be happy with a free range environment but will also do well in a confined situation.
Around 200 eggs a year is normal for a mature hen. The eggs are brown or tinted in colour. Hens weigh about 6 pounds and cocks about 8 1/2 pounds. As the vent is covered with dense, fluffy feathers, natural mating may be a bit difficult. The vent area may also become clogged with faeces in which case the feathers and vent area will need to be cleaned.
The Wyandotte is a very popular choice as a backyard chicken and deservedly so.
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