The silver laced Wyandotte chicken breed was inspired from the need to have a chicken breed that was suitable for all rounds; for both eggs and meat.
Wyandotte’s are excellent layers of light to dark brown eggs with a minimum of 200 eggs per year.
Of course, other colors were introduced later, but this particular variety was the first and pretty much the most beautiful of the Wyandotte breed.
In this article, we talk about the history of the Silver Laced Wyandotte, the rooster temperament, egg production, recognized variety and most importantly, if it’s the right hen for you.
The History of Silver Laced Wyandottes
The Wyandotte belogs to the class of America’s oldest and most-well known and loved breeds. Looking back now, it is one of the first American chickens “designed” with two purposes in mind.
Early Americans had lots of various breeds providing them with meat and eggs, but no single breed provided both excellently. Most chickens had been brought over from Europe and Britain so there were other breeds available, but none had been really bred to fit the needs of the early homesteaders and settlers.
At the beginning, the bird that would become the Wyandotte was formerly called the the American Sebright, Mooney, or Sebright Cochin.
These birds had been mentioned since 1873 and were found over much of the United States after the Civil War, however, there is almost no information that has been discovered about this “proto” bird.
Within this confusion of the Sebright as known in England, is a bantam, not a full size bird, nor is it in any way related.
Silver Laced Wyandottes: The Creation
Houdlette, H.M. Doubleday, J. Ray, and L. Whittaker were the innovators of their time. They took it upon themselves to create a bird that was truly a utility bird that provides both eggs and meat to the average American family at an affordable cost.
At Michigan, they worked separately and upstate New York to try and perfect the Mooney bird.
There were single and rose comb varieties in the early trial days, but when the breed was admitted to the Standard of Perfection in 1883, rose comb was the desired “standard”.
Although the main origins of the Silver Laced Wyandotte are unknown, genetic materal from the silver spangled Hamburgs and dark Brahmas, Polish fowl, Breda, are likely contributors.
The name of the bird –the Wyandotte- was an acknowledgement of an Indian tribe- the Wyandot- who had initially made friends and helped the settlers in update New York and Ontario, Canada. It was coined up by Fred Houdiette in honor of his father’s boat, which had also been named in honor of the tribe.
When poultry farming became an industry in the mid-20th century, the Wyandotte were cast away as not being productive enough. It did not produce eggs in the needed quantity neither did it put on meat quickly enough for it to be profitable.
For several years, the number of Wyandottes reduced drastically and it became an endangered breed in its own country – the US.
The Silver Laced Wyandotte was listed as a “priority” breed by the ALBC until 2016 when it was removed because number had recovered enough to warrant an upgrade.
This is yet another bird breed that has been threatened by the almost disastrous rise of the “industrial” hen. Thankfully, hundreds of backyard keepers fell in love with this pretty bird and gave it a second chance.
Sadly, it’s sister bird, the white Wyandotte has not enjoyed such a resurging movement in popularity and still remains critically endangered.
SL Wyandotte Standard and Appearance
Nine varieties of the large fowl and ten bantam varieties are recognized by the American Poultry Association.
The Silver Laced Wyandotte were allowed in to the American Standard in 1883, the first of the Wyandotte varieties to do so.
The varieties of the Wyandotte admitted as follows:
- 1883 – silver laced
- 1888 – gold laced, white
- 1893 – buff, partridge, black
- 1902 – silver penciled
- 1905 – colombian
- 1977 – blue
The birds are kind of fluffy and round. All the fluffiness helps to keep the hen warm through the cold winter months. Plus, these birds are medium weight with the rooster weighing in at 8.5lb and a hen at 6.5lb.
The bird has a fairly “curvy” shape with a short but well arched neck. This leads down into a short but broad back on a medium length bird. The saddle rises up portraying a little “U” shaped silhouette. The body is deep and broad, well rounded, almost voluptuous.
Eyes are deeply set and are reddish bay color.
Skin, Toes, Legs, and skin are all yellow. The legs are stout and short, widely placed for perfect balance. There are 4 toes on each foot.
Face, Wattles, Comb, and Earlobes should all be vibrant red. The bird has a rose comb which is kind of useful in frosty, cold climates. It is far better at tolerating freezing and frost than a more pronounced comb is.
Part of the problems exhibited by these birds has been poor hatches, narrow backs, and undersized chicks. In fact, undersized chicks and poor hatches are two major contributors to the scarcity of the White Wyandotte.
There has always been significant different in color tones between US and UK birds.
Disposition and Egg Laying
Wyandotte birds are said to exhibit good temperament, although some of them can have strong personalities that might make them seem aloof. They are a friendly bird but not “cuddly” and can be chatterbox, although this varies from bird to bird.
They are often kind of dominant with other birds so are generally close or at the top of the pecking order. They don’t appear to bully other birds but are assertive and are seldom bullied.
As for egg laying, they are reasonable layers averaging around 200 light to dark brown eggs per year.
They make excellent mothers and chances are, they are prone to being broody which lots of owners do not like since they don’t want or can’t have more chicks. Also, the desire to be broody reduces egg production evidently. Other people use them to hatch eggs from breeds that aren’t good at being broody or being moms.
They do well in a confined place but are good forgers when allowed to roam free range.
The Wyandotte has a gorgeous, copious feather making it suitable for colder climates such as the upper Mid-West states, Northern New England states, and Canada. It will tolerate warmer weather, but needs to have a shade provided and of course lots of water.
The bird is known as a rose-combed bird, which is best for colder climates as they will not quickly get frost-bitten as the comb sits much closer to the skull. Occasionally, you will find a Wyandotte with one single comb, but these specimens are not recognized by the APA and should not be used for breeding.
On an average, they live between 6-12 years depending on the line of the birds.
They do not easily fall prey to any unusual chicken ailments. Since they have thick, dense feathering, lice and mites can be a big problem if not checked regularly.
All that fluffiness at the back end can lead to some poopy feathers, so the occasional trim may be necessary to keep them tidy and clean. If mating is a problem you may need to trim the feathers to help facilitate fertilization.
Is This Chicken Breed Right For You?
The Wyandottes chicken varieties do great in the show ring and in 4H projects- especially in the mid-West states.
Mainly, the Wyandottes is famous show birds in the UK, Australia, and Europe too!
The Wyandotte is a tolerant and calm bird, which makes for a compliant and easily handled bird. This is very important in the 4H arena where birds are mainly raised by youngsters, so this makes them a good “beginner bird”.
Birds need to have a “bomb proof” demeanor for the show ring. They endure the stress of being caged all day close to other strange birds. They must be able to handle the stress of being picked up, displayed, prodded and judged- not sure I would have the patience or temperament for all that, but Wyandottes seem to take in pretty well!
As a backyard hen, they are calm, quiet and beautiful to look at. Based on experience, these birds are good with children so are a great option for a family with children considering adopting a bird.
This breed is almost perfect if you’re looking for a strong yet docile breed that lays well.
Silver Laced Wyandotte Rooster Temperament
Wyandottes are mostly friendly and docile, but some can prove to be really mean and aggressive. They also handle confinement well, and they are excellent foragers, which make them well equipped for free ranging.
Silver Laced Wyandotte Hen vs Rooster
Point One: Males have pointed feathers and females have rounded feathers. To identify, you can look at their hackle feathers and feathers along their back. It will help to take them to an experienced chicken breeder to better point out the difference or Google up some pictures.
Point Two: Wyandotte hens possess a very uniform pattern. Every feather should be black with round white border on each feather. The rooster will have black curled down feathers in his tail. Plus, his comb will be larger on top of his head and a little brighter red than the hens.
Point three: Golden and Silver Seabrites are one of the breeds that the roosters have “henfeathers”
The roosters look almost the same with the hens.
How to tell a Male from a Female?
You can use the old timers with the hat. With a flock of chickens around your feet, you should reach down to pet them. The ones that have been bred will generally squat but the roosters will move away from you quickly. Try this and tell if it works for you.
Qualities of the Wyandotte
Wyandottes are a great multi-purpose bird, which can be raised to produce meat and eggs. They are primarily suited for regions that have cold winters.
Egg Laying — This chicken breed are good layers of light to rich brown eggs and are good winter layers.
Hardy — The rose comb, layer or collection of feathers covering the bird’s body, and good body size of the Wyandotte make it well suited to cold climates.
Temperament – Wyandottes are generally yielding to control or supervision and friendly, but some individuals can be aggressive.
Adaptability – Wyandottes do great in confinement, and they are also good foragers, which makes them well suited for free ranging.
Wyandotte Chicken Recognized Variety
Golden Laced: The golden laced Wyandotte has a gold color with black around the edge of its black tail and every feather.
Blue Laced Red: The blue laced red is a red/buff color with a blue that looks just like grey around the end of each feather.
Silver Laced: The silver laced Wyandotte features white feathers with black edges to all feather, an effect called lacing. The tail is black and often has yellow legs.
Buff Laced: The buff laced is buff but with white around the edge of the feathers.
Columbian: Columbian is white, but has a black tail, black wing tips and the neck black in color with a little bit of white.
Partridge: A red colored bird but with three black stripes, meeting at the middle of the feather and then going outwards at an angle in the hen, and the cock looks like a typical farmyard cock.
Silver Pencilled: This looks like the partridge variety, but with a silver undercolor in the hen and the cock is a white color but with tiny traces of black which reaches the tail and the wing which are black.
Blue: Colored blue all over is the hen but the cock is black with the tail and wing blue on some birds.
White: The white is purely white. The whites are the rarest color of this breed.
Black: The black is black all over. That’s right! Pitch perfect black!
Buff: The buff is a buff color all over. A buff is like a ginger orange color.
Barred: The barred, for male and female, has feathers which have white and black stripes across the width of the feather, all over the body.
Mille Fleur: The mille fleur Wyandotte is a dark brown color with black crescents with white spots on the tips.
Buff Columbian: Looks like the Columbian except buff in color.
Red: The red Wyandotte is a dark brown/red all over.
If you own a flock with different birds, you might consider adding a few of these beautiful birds. They are beautiful “eye candy” and require low maintenance hens.
If you are just starting out and want a productive yet pretty flock that passer-by’s are sure to admire, the Silver Laced Wyandotte is a real contender.
The Silver laced wyandotte may not be aggressive egg layers as the sex links, but 200 eggs per year is not really bad for a small family concern.
The fact that they lay all winter months may prick your interested since lots of other breeds slow production down or stop completely during the harshest months.
Have you any experience with some Silver Laced Wyandottes? Let us know in the comments section below about your experience with them…