Barnevelder: Everything you need to know

Barnevelder chickens are a relatively modern breed in the chicken world. These talkative birds are excellent layers of chocolate colored eggs.

They adapt easily and do well in small barnyard flocks. These chickens are good when integrated with other hen breeds and pose no threat to them.

My barnevelder hens are docile, calm and friendly birds that do not mind being held on the lap. They also utilize table scraps like carrots and green beans instead of throwing them in the compost.

In this article, I am going to cover everything you need to know about barnevelder. This will help you know whether it is the right breed for you or not.

Let’s roll!

Barnevelder chicken history

The Barnevelder chicken traces her ancestry in the municipality of Barneveld, Gelderland in the Central region of the Netherlands.

In Holland, local chickens were more common and could no longer lay enough eggs to satisfy the large market in Europe.

Dutch farmers wanted a chicken breed that could lay many eggs more than the native birds they had. So, a solution to seal the loophole was needed and breeding kicked off.

Holland breeders crossed Brahmas, Langshans; Gold laced Wyandotte’s and Cochin chickens with local chickens. The resulting offspring was the modern day barnevelder breed of chicken.

Although there is more than one barnevelder color variety, the double laced gold is the most common of all and the only recognized by the American Poultry Association.

Barnevelder chickens were standardized and admitted in the Poultry Club of Great Britain in 1923. The PCGB classifies then as a soft feathered heavy breed.

Later, in early 1991, Barnevelder chicken breed was admitted in the APA as a continental breed. However, only the double laced gold color variety was able to make it the APA standard.

Other barnevelder color varieties are: White, Black, Silver Blue, Double laced blue, Chamois and the Double laced silver.

Characteristics of Barnevelder chickens

These chickens are large birds that can be raised as a dual purpose for both meat and eggs. Barnevelder hens can weigh between 5-6lbs while the roosters weigh between 7-8lbs.

There are barnevelder bantams though rare and only found with a few dedicated breeders. Bantam roosters weigh 0.9-1.2kg while the bantam hens weigh 0.7-1kg.

The comb, wattles and earlobes are red in color. Comb is single, medium in hens, upright and large in roosters with five well –marked peaks on it.

Barnevelder chicken beaks are of a horn color while the eyes are bay. Legs and skin color is yellow with clean feet that have no feathers on them.

On each foot, there are four well-spaced toes and short brownish claws. The wings are held high and closely packed on the body making these chickens’ poor flyers.

Barnevelder chickens have a U-shaped back and a rectangular body. Their tails are held at an angle but with spread and somehow fanning tail feathers.

These chooks have slightly arched necks that have complete black feathers. The body feathers are often brown in color with a tipped and a double lacing.

Barnevelders have broad and full breasts with closely and tightly packed body feathers. Those packed body feathers makes them do well in cold climatic zones.

Temperament and Hardiness

Are barnevelder chickens cold hardy?

Barnevelder chickens are calm, cool and are very easy to tame. They are friendly where even the roosters are adored for their extreme docility.

These chickens make good house pets and pose no threat to your kids. They are cuddly and do not mind being held on the lap or taking treats from your hand.

They are very chatty and will often follow you around as you carry on with your daily chores. Call them names and hand feed them and they will get used to you.

Barnevelder chickens love treats and will be very happy if you toss anything tasty. Throw some peanuts, whole corn, carrots or those tasty mealworms from the tractor supply store to make them happy.

The hardiness with these chickens stands on another level. These feathered friends are cold hardy chickens just like Blue Cochin chickens, Jersey giants and Orloff chicken.

These robust birds love to roam vast areas on the backyard where they forage, collect seeds and tasty grubs they find.

I am not very sure whether Barnevelder roosters are predator savvy but it is wise to have someone herd them or confine them in a chicken run just in case there are possums and chicken hawks around.

Egg laying and uses

Unlike other hen breeds that reach maturity early at 16-24 weeks, barnevelder pullets will take 28 weeks to start laying.

During this time, female Barnevelder chickens are often seen hanging around the nesting boxes. This happens as they explore for a good nesting area to lay their eggs.

Barnevelder hens are faithful layers of 300 large eggs per year. The eggshells have a brown color almost similar to those of Cuckoo maran chickens.

The inside egg is white with a large yellow single yolk at the center. Eggs are darker at the beginning of the laying season but paler towards the end of laying season.

These chickens will continue to lay even during winter when other hen breeds have taken a break. This trait has made them more preferred because they can produce eggs at time when other chickens cannot.

In rare cases, barnevelder chicken eggs are speckled, a trait that is caused by intensive breeding. The bad side with these birds is that they rarely go broody.

If you want to hatch some barnevelder chicks, be ready to power on your egg hatcher or let Yokohama hens do the job for you.

Since they do not have motherly instincts, these chickens make awful mothers and are never ready to take care of their young. They dedicate most of their time in laying those dark brown eggs for you.

Barnevelder chickens for sale can are available in reputable chicken hatcheries like Hoovers and Cackle hatchery.

Because barnevelder chickens are large, they provide enough meat for a large family. These chickens also mature early and within four months, they are ready for market.

Barnevelder chicken lifespan

These chickens are robust and sturdy. They can live between 5 to 8 years if raised well. When kept as house pets, barnevelder chickens can exceed 10 years.

However, the period of time your chickens’ will live is not specified as they may live longer or shorter than expected.

Barnevelders kept for meat especially roosters and cockerels are likely to live for a few months until they attain the right market weight.

Laying hens will live until their bodies are exhausted from laying where they are culled when the egg production drops.

Barnevelder chicken pets may enjoy long life because they live until they succumb to severe illness, predation or old age.

In most cases, chicken pets enjoy the best care from their masters where they are well-fed, hosed, treated and also put on diapers and allowed to swim and cool their fluffy bodies.

Health Issues

As I said earlier, these chickens are hardy,strong and sturdy. They adapt well on every climate but will do much better in cold climates.

Although they are healthy, common chicken parasites like lice and scaly mites will infest them. A small amount of diatomaceous earth powder is a good chicken mite’s treatment.

The DE powder can be mixed together with your chicken dirt bath. As they sand bath, the powder will come in to contact with mites and lice removing their body oils and moisture therefore, dehydrating them to death.

Another common health threat is infestation by internal parasites like thread and gape worms. These parasites feed, live and multiply inside the chicken’s body.

Seek advice from a qualified bird vet near you on the right poultry wormer to administer.

Some sources say that these chickens are highly prone to Marek`s disease and should be vaccinated at birth.

Why choose barnevelder chicken?

Barnevelder is a strong and hardy dual purpose chicken breed. These chickens will keep your egg tray full of large brown eggs and offer enough meat for a big family.

They are calm cool and friendly birds making good house pets for you and your children. Barnevelder roosters are not rowdy and are the type you can trust near children.

These chickens can do well on free range where they will forage on weeds, eat insects, bugs and grass hoppers.

Keeping these chooks is easy because they do well on small barnyard flocks and do not intimidate or bully other chicken breeds.

Raising barnevelder chickens in winter

Winter is knocking the door and your barnevelder chickens need to make it to summer. The first question that lingers your mind is, what do these chickens require during this harsh period?

The obvious basic requirements like food, water, shelter among others are vital. So, let’s take a look at how to raise these birds in winter.

1 Food

Your flock of barnevelder chickens requires a well- balanced diet to keep their bodies warm and healthy. It should contain all the vitamins and minerals in balanced proportions.

Ensure that the food they eat during winter is rich in carbs. Carbohydrates are converted into fat which acts as insulation and will help keep these feathered friends warm.

Make sure you supplement their diet of crumbles and pellets with treats like nuts, raisins, broccoli, rice and other left over foods.

This way, your hens will get extra nutrients and vitamins. For the laying hens, make sure they get plenty of grit to boost calcium levels in their bodies.

I am sure you still need those tasty eggs for the winter breakfast. Calcium will make them lay eggs with strong eggshells.

Grit will act like teeth and help grind food down into small particles in the chicken gizzards.

2 Water

Water is still important even during winter. Chicken bodies need to be kept hydrated all through. Remember in winter all water turns into ice, so you need to be creative.

Heated chicken waterers are a good way to keep the water in liquid form as well as a few degrees warm for them to drink with much ease.

As for barnevelder chicks, use shallow heated waters preferably made of plastic material. They will keep the water warm if used with a heated base and clean. Additionally, those shallow waterers for chicks will help prevent cases of drowning.

3 Shelter

A well heated chicken coop is good during the cold weather. Chickens will remain warm and prevent them from chilling during the cold winter.

Keeping these chooks confined in winter will help prevent frostbitten combs. You can also use chicken heaters or sweeter heaters to keep these birds warm.

For chicks, let them remain in the chick brooder until they are fully feathered and the winter period is over.

The coop floor should be covered with a thick layer of best bedding for chickens like straw or pine shavings.

Any chicken bedding used should be dry, warm and free from draft. Any dampness may trigger respiratory issues by allowing bacterial growth.

The chicken run should be well ventilated to allow free movement of air in and out. Do not make the coop airtight thinking that cold will get in, chickens need sufficient air to breath.

4 Protect combs from frostbites

During winter, your chicken combs are likely to suffer from frostbites. This happens if they go out on the snow to roam.

Frostbites are very serious and can cause hypothermia leading to death. Smear Vaseline jelly or new engine oil on the naked combs.

Vaseline will act as insulation. Another way is keep them confined in a coop until winter weather is over for them to go out.

5 Utilize the sun heat

It is likely that the days are going to be shorter in winter. This means that the sun will only be out for a few hours and then vanish.

Utilize this sunshine by making sure that your barnevelder chicken coop is well ventilated to allow plenty of sun rays get in and raise the coop temperatures a bit.

6 Let them roost

Chickens prefer to spend the night on roost bars. Unlike ducks that will just lay on the bedding, chickens are not afraid of heights.

If you are raising these chickens on a deep litter method, put several roost bars and perches so that they can sleep off the floor.

When chickens roost, they can easily hurdle together and help generate warmth for one another. Their feathers are also arched and help trap some warm air.

7 A cabbage head might help

Hanging a cabbage head is good to keep them busy while pecking at it. This way the birds can break the boredom and generate heat as they eat the treat.

In case you do not have a cabbage head, chicken toys are good ways to keep these chooks occupied. They will play with these toys before dusk and generate some warmth.

You can also toss cracked corn, wheat and other starch rich foods for them before they roost to sleep. As these foods are digested, some extra metabolism heat is generated.

Wrap up thoughts

The barnevelder is a good dual purpose chicken breed for you looking for a bird that can give both meat and eggs.

They are calm, cool and friendly making good pets for you and the kids. No more wasting table scraps! Those leftovers are no longer waste but food for your flock.

Barnevelder chickens are hardy and cold tolerant chickens. These chooks will continue to produce the chocolate eggs even during winter when other chickens have stopped to lay.

Do you have barnevelder chicken? Share your thoughts.

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