Jersey giant chickens are among the heaviest and largest chicken breeds. These chickens are big and can easily scare away children or those afraid of large birds.
They are calm, cool and hardy breeds that do well in both cold and hot climates. Jersey Giants area good dual purpose breed that will offer both met and eggs.
In this article, I am going to take you through everything you need to know about these huge chickens. This will help you know whether this is the right breed for you or not.
History of Jersey Giant chickens
The Jersey giant chicken is an American breed just like their cousins Blue laced red Wyandotte chickens. They trace their ancestry in Jersey where they were developed.
In the late 19th century, there was a huge demand for roasted chicken in the United States. Poultry breeders had opted turkeys because they could offer much meat than chickens.
But, turkeys were not in favor because what was in demand were chicken and not the opposite. Two brothers noted the gap and soon began a breeding program to close the gap.
This chicken breed was quickly embraced because they could offer much meat enough for the market even more than a small turkey breed could.
However, these birds could not retain the favor for long because they were soon replaced by other commercial chickens that could mature fast.
These chickens are slow to mature and take more than 6 months before they can lay the first egg. In addition to this, they have a poor feed to flesh conversion ratio compared to others rooster breeds.
Jersey giants are available in three recognized color varieties that are black, white and blue. These three varieties were recognized by the APA in 1922, 1947 and 2003 respectively.
Although very rare, there are bantam jersey giant chickens but are only found with very few individuals.
Today, jersey giants are rare and only a few birds are remaining with some dedicated hobbyists and chicken breeders.
The Livestock Conservancy listed them on the watch list in 2017. This means that they are in the blink of extinction unless they are bred back in numbers.
Jersey Giant chicken characteristics
Jersey giants are large chicken breeds with broad and wide bodies. They are huge and heavy with thick body muscles full of flesh.
A mature jersey giant rooster weighs 5.5-6kgs while the hens weigh between 4-4.5kgs. Bantam cocks weigh 1.1kgs while the hens weigh 0.96kgs.
Roosters are tall and stand at about 26 inches while the hens stand at 22 inches. They are long bodied with flat back and lack long tail feathers.
The black variety is slightly heavier than the white jersey giants. Their body feathers are all black in color and under the sun have a beetle green sheen.
Their beaks are black and can be yellow tipped. The legs are black with four toes on each foot and are featherless.
The soles of the feet are yellow so is the skin. Eye color is dark brown while the combs, wattles and earlobes are red.
Jersey giants have single upright combs with well-marked peaks on them.
Blue jersey giant chickens have dark willow shanks and their feathers are dark blue or slate blue in color. The white variety has willow colored shanks with yellow soles and beak.
In all the three color varieties, the plumage is tight and closely packed in the body. This gives them a more solid and compact appearance.
Temperament and Hardiness
Jersey giants are calm and docile chickens. They are non-aggressive and even the roosters are loved for their extreme docility.
These chickens pose no threat to your kids and are the kind you can keep as pets. However, their huge appearance is enough to intimidate and scare kids away.
They will love it being around you and offer company as you go on with your daily chores. These chooks` do not mind spending some time on your lap if you can bear holding a heavy chicken.
Brand them good chicken names and built trust with them by hand feeding so that you can easily tame them.
Jersey giant chickens are strong and robust birds that are very hardy. They are cold tolerant chickens and can equally do fine in hot climates.
Weather will not deter your jersey giant hens because they will continue giving you those large eggs even during winter.
These birds will do well when free ranged because they love to roam, foraging and collecting tasty insects, seeds and grubs from your backyard.
Those who intend to raise these feathered friends in confinement should know that they will take many months before they reach maturity.
Egg laying and uses
As I said earlier, jersey giant is a good dual purpose chicken breed. This bird will offer enough meat for a large family and also keep your egg tray full.
The pullets will take 6 months or more to lay the first egg. Roosters will equally take the same time before they can start to mate with the hens.
In a week, jersey giant hens can lay 3 to 4 large eggs translating this to 150-200 eggs in a year. Their eggshell color is light brown while the inside egg is white with a large single yolk.
These chickens lay big eggs just like Minorca chickens do. Although they have big eggs, these shelled trophies are not double yoked but instead have a big yoke.
Chicks and chickens for sale can be bought from tractor supply stores or dedicated breeders near you. Since these birds are few, expect them to be pricy costing more than Golden Comets.
Jersey giants are huge chickens and heavy in weight. They are bigger than Dong Tao chickens and Brahmas are.
They can offer much meat enough for a big family. When butchered, roosters produce 5kgs of meat while the hens offer about 4kgs of carcass.
Jersey giant chicken lifespan
These chickens have a lifespan of 5-8 years. However, the period of time these chickens can live is not specified and they can live for more than 10 years.
Chickens raised as pets tend to live longer because they get good care. They are properly housed, well-fed and even have diapers put on so that they can live with humans.
Some hobbyists go an extra mile and allow their birds swim with them during summer to help cool their large bodies.
Laying hens will only be allowed to live until they can no longer lay as expected when they are culled. Roosters and cockerels are likely going to be butchered as soon as they attain the right market weight.
Jersey giant chickens are strong and robust chickens. They are very hardy and are not easily attacked by common poultry diseases.
Although they are healthy, chicken lice and scaly feet mites a serious threat. They infest these birds and hide under the feathers.
These parasites when not controlled cause serious damage to the skin and the developing feathers. Small amounts of diatomaceous earth can be mixed together with the chicken dirt bath.
As these huge chickens dust bath, the DE powder comes into contact with the parasites where they remove body oils and moisture dehydrating them to death.
During winter, their single combs are likely going to suffer from frostbites. Smear Vaseline jelly to act as insulation during winter.
A heated chicken coop will make sure that your jersey giant chicks remain warm and prevent them from chilling.
Thread and gape worms are another threat. These worms live, feed and reproduce inside the bird’s body. They compete for food with the host and can easily cause malnutrition or even death.
Seek advice from a qualified bird vet on the right wormer to administer.
So, why choose jersey giant chickens?
Jersey giants are good dual purpose chickens. These birds do well when free ranged where they look for their own food and help lower the cost of feeding them.
They are calm and docile making good house pets. They can be raised in mixed and small barnyard flocks with other chickens and farm animals.
These chickens are good if you want to have much meat. Their huge bodies have thick muscles full of fresh keeping your freezer full.
Their large brown eggs make a good breakfast snack for you and your family. When you have several hens, you will get enough eggs for you and your neighbors.
Jersey giant chickens are hardy and adapt easily on both cold and hot climates. They are very calm just like Salmon feverolle chickens and will not cause noise when raised in an urban setting.
Raising jersey giant chickens
Jersey giant are big chickens that eat a lot of food. They require a well-balanced diet for healthy growth and development.
If you have a large compound, let these chickens free range because they are excellent at it. On their own they can eat small weeds, seeds, grass, insects and tasty grubs.
Free ranging will bring down the cost of food letting you save a few dollars. However, make sure they get good commercial feeds from the store.
Avoid moldy and rotten foods because they can be a recipe for ill health or even death. Put their food in clean chicken feeders to avoid wastage and contamination.
Water is very important to chickens. It keeps their bodies cool, helps in digestion of food and keeps them well hydrated.
Ensure your Jersey giant chickens get plenty of clean drinking water throughout. Put the water in a clean chicken waterer to keep it clean and prevent your cockerels from spilling it.
A heated chicken waterer is a good way to keep chicken water from freezing. It works by either using a submergible heater or using a heated base.
For the baby chicks, use shallow waterers or open bowls. When using bowls put rocks inside to act as islands and prevent the chicks from drowning.
Jersey giants require a good chicken run to for shelter and to keep them free from predators. The coop should be well ventilated to allow air circulation and light to get in.
Ensure that the coop has enough roost bars for the chickens to perch on at night. Unlike ducks that prefer to sleep on bedding, chickens love height and roost.
Do not forget to put enough nesting boxes for your girls. These ladies need a good place to lay those large eggs for you.
The chicken house should be constructed on a raised ground to prevent flooding. It would be good if you locate the coop near your house so that you can monitor the birds.
An automatic chicken coop door is good because it will automatically open and close even when you are away.
Fix the latches properly to ensure they are well locked inside for security reasons. The chicken roof should be firm and water proof to keep of elements and bad weather.
Grit is a material fed to chickens that consists of ground stones, small pebbles, sand, oyster shells and crushed egg shells.
Unlike humans that chew food, chickens do not have teeth and swallow most of their foods whole. Grit is found in the chicken gizzard where it helps grind food particles.
There are two types of grit to feed to chickens. Soluble grit and flint grit. Flint grit is made up of sand, small stones and pebbles.
This type of grit is not soluble and remains in the bird’s body until it is worn out where it is later removed together with chicken poop.
Soluble grit is made up of oyster shells and crushed egg shells. This type of grit is very good since it is a good source of calcium for chickens.
5 Toss treats
Treats are a good way to make chickens happy. They are not the main course but are meant to supplement their diets with additional minerals and nutrients.
The general rule of thumb states that treats should only account for 10% of the chickens menu. The other 90% should be made up of their staple diet of crumbles, pellets and other commercial feeds.
Healthy treats to toss to chickens may include fruits, table scraps, vegetables, cracked corn, dried worms, nuts and well-cooked chicken.
All treats should be fed sparingly and in moderation. They should be used as boredom busters like hanging a cabbage head to keep chickens busy before dusk.
Jersey giant chicken breed is a good backyard bird that will offer both meat and eggs. They can be reared in mixed barnyard flocks.
These chooks can be used for showing because their feathers are easy to clean. Although the hens are not the type that will raise chicks, the eggs can be hatched using an egg hatcher and use buff silkies to raise the chicks.
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