Blue chickens have a striking appearance, with feathers that range from a pale, powdery blue to a deep, dark slate blue. They are a favorite among backyard chicken keepers and poultry enthusiasts alike and for good reason.
There are many different breeds of chickens that have blue feathers, each with their own distinct characteristics and personalities. Some are known for their docile nature, while others are more active and energetic. Some are better layers than others.
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Genetics of Blue Feathers
Two different genes create blue feathers in poultry, a diluted black gene and a lavender gene. The lavender gene, also called self-blue, is the only one that breeds true, meaning that if you breed two lavender birds together, you will get lavender offspring. The Lavender Orpington only has the lavender gene, hence the name.
Most blue chickens have the diluted black gene. If you breed two birds with a diluted black gene, you will get 25% black, 25% lavender, and 50% splash, meaning a blue bird with random black speckles.
If you want to show your chickens, note that the American Poultry Association only recognizes blue varieties of chickens that have black lacing on the feathers, which gets into three other genes: the pattern gene, the melanotic gene, and the Columbian gene.
If you want to get into breeding blue poultry, you will need to study these genetics more so that your offspring will be the color you expect.
But if you are simply looking to add a little variety to your barnyard that will also result in eggs and possibly meat, read on!
Popular Blue Chicken Breeds
Blue-feathered chickens are popular among poultry enthusiasts due to their unique and striking appearance. Here are 17 of the most popular breeds of blue chickens.
The Blue Andalusian is a medium-sized breed that originated in Spain. They have striking blue plumage with black lacing. They are known for being excellent layers, producing large white eggs, and are also a good source of meat.
The Blue Australorp is a popular breed that originated in Australia. They have blue-grey plumage with black lacing. They are known for being excellent layers, producing large brown eggs, and are also a good source of meat.
The Blue Cochin is a large, fluffy breed that originated in China. They can have a wide range of blue-grey plumage, and some have feathers around their neck that are almost black. They are known for their calm and friendly temperament and make great pets. They are also a good source of meat.
The Blue Ameraucana is a medium-sized breed that originated in the United States. They have blue plumage with distinctive beards and muffs. They are known for being excellent layers, producing large blue eggs, and are also a good source of meat.
Blue Plymouth Rock
The Blue Plymouth Rock is a medium-sized breed that originated in the United States. They have a blue-grey plumage with black lacing and feathers around the neck that are almost black. They are known for being excellent layers, producing large brown eggs, and are also a good source of meat.
Blue Copper Maran
The Blue Copper Maran is a medium-sized breed that originated in France. They have a blue-grey plumage with copper lacing. They are known for being excellent layers, producing large dark brown eggs, and are also a good source of meat.
The Blue Sumatra is a small breed that originated in Indonesia. They have a striking blue plumage with black lacing. They are known for their beauty and are often kept as show birds. They are too small to be a good source of meat.
The Blue Silkie is a bantam breed that originated in China. They have soft, fluffy blue-grey plumage, and there is also a splash variety available, which is pictured above. Their skin and meat is black. They are known for their calm and friendly temperament and make great pets. Because of their small size, they are not usually raised for meat. They don’t produce many eggs and are famous for being broody.
The Wyandotte is a medium-sized breed that originated in the United States and has more variety in blue genetics than any other breed. The Blue Wyandotte has a blue-grey plumage with black lacing similar to many other blue chicken breeds.
There is also a Blue-laced Red Wyandotte variety, pictured below, which is red with blue lacing. And there is a Blue-laced Silver Wyandotte, which is similar to the Silver-laced Wyandotte except that the lacing is blue instead of black. They are known for being excellent layers, producing large brown eggs, and are also a good source of meat.
Blue Bresse Gauloise
The Blue Bresse Gauloise is a large breed that originated in France. They have a blue-grey plumage that gets darker around the neck and head with a distinctive V-shaped comb. They are known for being excellent layers, producing large white eggs, and are also a good source of meat.
Blue Dutch Bantam
The Blue Dutch Bantam is a small breed that originated in the Netherlands. They are known for their beauty and are often kept as show birds. They are usually solid blue and sometimes have penciled or laced feathers on their neck. Like most bantams, they don’t lay many eggs and are not raised for meat, although their meat and eggs are delicious.
Blue Jersey Giant
The Blue Jersey Giant is a large breed originating in the United States. They come in a solid blue variety and a splash variety that has black speckles through the feathers. They are known for being excellent layers, producing large brown eggs, and are also a good source of meat.
Porcelain d’Uccles Bantam
One of several varieties of the d’Uccles bantams, each chicken has a unique blend of blue and cream with roosters sometimes having perfectly solid gray tail feathers. It has feathered legs, muffs, and beards. As a bantam, it doesn’t lay many eggs or produce much meat, so it is mostly used for exhibition and as a pet.
One of the only blue chickens that will always breed true, meaning that the offspring will always be blue because it has only the lavender gene. It is rare and popular, meaning that it costs more than other varieties of Orpingtons. It also has a reputation for not being as productive as a layer as other Orpingtons.
While the Leghorn is reputed to be one of the best egg-laying breeds, keep in mind that the egg-laying ability has probably been compromised in some strains as breeders focus on the color pattern. The leghorn is a medium-sized breed that lays large white eggs. Blue leghorns come in all shades of blue and splash. Although you can eat any chicken, this is not a dual-purpose breed because the males tend to be on the smaller side.
This breed originated in the Czech Republic and is only sold by one hatchery in the US. They are a medium-sized breed and lay close to 300 brown eggs per year, making them one of the best egg-laying blue chickens. They have a single comb and are tolerant to a variety of weather conditions.
Sapphire Olive Egger
This hybrid is similar in appearance to the Sapphire Gem and is also only available from one hatchery. It also lays close to 300 eggs per year, but they are green rather than brown. It does well in most climates and is medium-sized.
Egg Production of Blue Chickens
Blue-feathered chickens are not only beautiful but some are also great egg layers.
Egg Laying Ability
There is nothing about blue chickens that affects their ability to lay eggs, either good or bad, so it’s important to look at the egg-laying ability of the specific breed. However, in some cases, more emphasis has been placed on feather color than the egg-laying ability, so some, like the Lavender Orpington, may not lay as well as the other varieties within the breed. The Sapphire Gem and Sapphire Olive Egger are two of the best egg layers.
It is a common myth that chickens lay eggs that are the same color as their feathers. The color of the eggs laid by chickens varies depending on the breed. Some breeds lay brown eggs, while others lay white, blue, or green eggs. The Araucana breed, for example, is known for laying blue eggs, while the Plymouth Rock lays brown eggs, regardless of what color the feathers are.
The size of the eggs laid by blue chickens also varies depending on the breed. Most breeds of blue chickens lay what would be considered Grade A large eggs, but bantams obviously lay very small eggs.
Meat Production of Blue Chickens
While some blue chicken breeds are primarily raised for their eggs, others are dual-purpose breeds that are suitable for both meat and egg production.
One popular dual-purpose breed with blue feathers is the Plymouth Rock. These chickens are known for their good meat quality and are often used for meat production. They are also easy to raise and have a docile temperament, making them a popular choice for backyard flocks.
Another breed with blue feathers that is suitable for meat production is the Jersey Giant. As the name suggests, these chickens are known for their large size and can weigh up to 13 pounds. However, keep in mind that they are very slow to mature, and they will weigh considerably less than 13 pounds if they are butchered by 4-5 months, which is ideal. If you wait to butcher them until they reach their mature weight, they should be stewed.
When it comes to meat production, it is important to consider the breed’s growth rate, feed efficiency, and meat quality. While some blue chicken breeds may not be as fast-growing as others, they may have better feed efficiency or meat quality. It is important to choose a breed that suits your specific needs and goals.
Behavior and Temperament
Chickens with blue feathers have a wide range of temperaments and behaviors. Some are docile and friendly, while others are skittish and flighty. It is important to understand the temperament of each breed before deciding to keep them as pets or for egg production.
The Australorp and Orpington breeds are known for their docile nature and are great for families with children. They are calm and friendly, making them easy to handle and train. These breeds are not known to be noisy and are relatively quiet compared to other breeds.
The Leghorn is known for their skittish nature. They are easily frightened and can be difficult to handle. These breeds are also known to be noisy and can be a nuisance to neighbors.
Purchasing Blue Chickens
Many hatcheries sell a variety of blue chickens, which are fine if you simply want to add to your backyard flock. If you are interested in showing or breeding, however, it’s a good idea to find a knowledgeable breeder whose flock is certified disease free. Not only can they provide you with the best quality birds, they can also be a mentor to you, answering your questions about those tricky blue genetics.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are blue chickens rare?
Blue chickens are not necessarily rare but are less common than other feather colors. This color is more rare in some breeds than others.
Do blue chickens lay blue eggs?
Are blue chickens more expensive?
It depends on the breed. Typically the more rare they are, the more expensive they are.
Is blue chicken meat safe to eat?
Yes, blue chicken meat can be eaten safely. However, it is important to note that the blue color of the meat is not due to the blue feathers, but rather a genetic condition called fibromelanosis that causes the skin and muscle tissue to be black or dark blue. This condition is found in breeds such as the Ayam Cemani and Silkie. Most chickens with blue feathers have the usual colored chicken meat.
Curious about the other chicken breeds? Delve into a wealth of information on various chicken varieties by exploring our comprehensive list on “Encyclopedia of Chicken Breeds”.
Want to learn more about raising chickens? This Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens (+Pro Tips) will help you ask yourself all the right questions, and it will also give you a realistic idea of what to expect as a chicken owner.
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