I LOVE admiring my gorgeous blue-laced Wyandotte boy. To be honest, I would rather he was a beautiful hen instead of a stunning cockerel, but such is poultry keeping.
He did begin life as a ‘she’, however, reared by me from three weeks. He began life indoors in our sunroom, and used to happily perch on my shoulder while I watched TV!
As for being a ‘he’, ‘Winnie’ was one of life’s late developers – hence the confusion for a while.
I was first alerted to his masculinity when I noticed some pointed saddle feathers, but there was never a peep from him and he was as far down the pecking order as one could get.
Then, when he was almost eight months old, the first ‘cock-a-doodle’ rang out around our yard!
From that moment, he has never looked back and is now a very confident, top of the pecking order cockerel.
When it comes to Wyandottes, it’s not just my lovely boy that I like. It’s all birds of that breed.
We have four Wyandotte bantams – two barred, one silver-laced and one blue-laced – as well as another large fowl hen. Definitely my favourite breed!
The Wyandotte is a heavy, curvaceous bird with a neat head and is instantly recognisable. It’s a no-nonsense kind of chicken but very friendly and an ideal ‘fancy’ bird for the novice to get started with.
Hens make very good mothers and broodies, and are often used to hatch the eggs of other breeds.
The Wyandotte can be found in an array of breathtaking colours – there are currently 14 standardised colours in the UK including barred, black, columbian, partridge, white, silver laced, gold laced, blue laced and buff laced.
The Wyandotte has a rose comb, which should always fit closely to the head.
The shape of the comb is very important if you plan on showing your Wyandottes.
The back spike of the rose comb should follow the line of the bird’s head and should not stick up in the air (a ‘flyaway’ comb). This breed should also have yellow legs.
The silver-laced Wyandotte was first developed in America between 1864 and 1872.
It was intended to be a pretty breed. Fanciers wanted to create a larger, practical fowl that would resemble the fancy laced, pretty Sebrights.
Indeed, in the beginning, the Wyandotte was known as the ‘American Sebright’.
The breed was then admitted into the American Standards of Perfection in 1883 and was called ‘Wyandotte’.
After the silver-laced varieties came the gold-laced, which was closely followed by other laced varieties including blue (my personal favourite!).
Soon, pencilled varieties also came to the fore.
According to the Poultry Club of Great Britain, the Wyandotte was introduced into England in the 1880s too with, partridge Cochin and gold spangled Hamburgh males crossed with silver females, to produce the gold laced variety.
Columbians were the result of crossing the white Wyandotte with the barred Rock, and it was the crossing of the gold-laced and the white varieties which produced the buff-laced and the blue-laced, first seen here in 1897.