Barnevelder Chicken: Breed Profile, Facts & Pictures

A portrait of a barnevelder chicken

If you’re curious about the Barnevelder chicken, you’re in for a treat. This breed is renowned for its beautiful double-laced feather pattern, which adds a touch of elegance to any flock.

But Barnevelders are not just about looks; they’re also prized for their practical qualities. Known for being good egg layers, they produce a decent amount of large, dark brown eggs.

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything about the Barnevelder chicken. From their history and characteristics to their care needs and price, you’ll get all the insights you need about these charming birds.

Barnevelder Chicken Quick Facts

Weight:Roosters: 7–8 lbs (3.1–3.6 kg); 
Hens: 5–6 lbs (2.2–2.7 kg)
Purpose:Dual-purpose (meat and eggs)
Egg Production:180–200 eggs per year
Egg Color:Dark brown
Temperament:Quiet, calm, friendly
Broodiness:Low to moderate
Hardiness:Very cold hardy; Heat tolerant
Lifespan:7–15 years
Unique Features:Distinctive double-laced feather pattern (black and brown), dark brown eggs
Beginner Friendly:Yes

What Is a Barnevelder Chicken?

Female double laced Barnevelder chicken

The Barnevelder chicken, or Barnie, is a dual-purpose breed originally from the Netherlands. They are medium-sized, friendly birds known for their striking black and brown feather patterns. Also, they lay dark brown eggs, make great pets, and are perfect for beginners due to their calm nature.

What makes these chickens popular is their ability to lay “chocolate” eggs. Their eggs are not only appealing in color but are also laid consistently, making Barnevelders reliable egg producers.

In addition to their practicality, Barnevelders are known for their gentle nature, which means they’re easy to handle and care for.

Their friendly nature and stunning appearance, combined with their utility, make them a well-rounded choice for both experienced poultry farmers and newcomers alike.

Where Do Barnevelder Chickens Come From?

Barnevelder chickens have their roots in the Netherlands, specifically in the region of Barneveld, a place renowned for its significant role in supplying eggs across Europe.

Back in the late 19th century, there was a high demand, especially from England, for eggs with brown shells. To keep up with this demand, the farmers in Barneveld started to get creative with their chicken breeding.

They took their local Dutch chickens and crossed them with chickens brought over from Asia. These were probably breeds like Brahma, Cochin, or Croad Langshan, known for their unique looks and size.

In 1898, the farmers decided to mix in Laced Wyandottes, a move aimed at making their chickens even better at laying those sought-after dark brown eggs.

Nowadays, Barnevelders are somewhat rare outside of Europe, but they’re gaining popularity. You can find them at most commercial hatcheries, where more and more people are discovering these unique and versatile chickens.

Barnevelder Appearance

Barnevelder appearance

Barnevelders are medium-sized birds primarily known for their beautiful feather patterns.

The hens, in particular, have this deep reddish-brown plumage that is intricately laced with double black lines. This lacing pattern is most prominent across their wings, breast, back, and tail.

In addition to their stunning feathers, Barnevelders have yellow feet and red combs and earlobes. They also have short wings relative to their size.

Their bodies are compact and well-built, and they have a broad chest. This is complemented by their upright stance and U-shaped back, which gives them a strong and grounded presence.

Note: The Barnevelder Club of the Netherlands recognizes a variety of colors for Barnevelder chickens, including double-laced brown, double-laced blue, black, and white.

However, if you’re in the United States, the American Poultry Association (APA) only accepts the double-laced variety of Barnevelders for show purposes.

Barnevelder Size and Weight

Medium-sized and solidly built, Barnevelder chickens are a sturdy breed. The roosters typically weigh between 7 and 8 pounds. On the other hand, the hens are slightly smaller, usually weighing around 5 to 6 pounds.

Unlike larger breeds that may require more space and feed, Barnevelders strike a balance between being big enough for meat production and manageable for egg-laying purposes.

Their medium size also makes them adaptable to various backyard setups, whether you have limited space or more room to spare.

Barnevelder Temperament and Behavior

Barnevelder chickens standing in the grass

Barnevelder chickens are known for their calm and friendly temperament. These birds are generally very easygoing, which is great for families with kids or anyone new to raising chickens.

They’re not overly active or energetic, so they’re quite content to hang around the yard or coop, which makes them a good fit for smaller spaces.

One of the best things about Barnevelders is that they get along well with other chickens, including different breeds.

So if you’ve got a mixed flock, they’ll fit right in. Even the roosters are known for being more docile than many other breeds, which is a big plus if you’re worried about aggressive behavior.

Barnevelders also enjoy foraging and will happily peck around the yard, looking for treats. However, they don’t mind being confined if needed.

Overall, if you’re looking for a breed that’s easy to handle, good with people and other chickens, and adaptable to various environments, Barnevelder chickens are definitely a great pick.

Egg Production and Broodiness of the Barnevelder

Although they’re not one of the top producers in the chicken world, Barnevelder chickens are known for their reliable egg-laying abilities.

On average, a Barnevelder hen lays about 3 to 4 eggs per week. This adds up to around 180 to 200 eggs per year.

Among my flock, which includes various chicken breeds, Barnevelder eggs stand out for their unique chocolate brown color.

Although Barnevelders may not lay as many eggs as some other breeds, their unique egg color adds a special charm to our daily egg collection.

However, one thing I’ve noticed is that the color of their eggs can get a bit lighter as the laying season progresses.

When it comes to broodiness, Barnevelders are generally not very inclined to sit on their eggs and hatch them. They’ve been bred to focus more on laying eggs than hatching them.

That said, there are some strains, particularly in America, that can show moderate broodiness.

Barnevelder Lifespan and Health

A Barnevelder chicken standing in a field

Barnevelder chickens usually live for 7 to 15 years — thanks to their hardiness and adaptability to various climates. However, like all chickens, they can face certain health issues. Here are some to watch for:

  • Common Parasites: Like other chickens, Barnevelders can be affected by parasites such as lice, mites, and worms. Regular checks and preventive treatments are important to keep these pests at bay.
  • Marek’s Disease: Barnevelders are prone to Marek’s disease, a viral infection that affects the nervous system and can lead to the formation of tumors. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent this serious disease.
  • Donald Duck Syndrome: Interestingly, Barnevelders are known to carry the gene that causes Donald Duck syndrome. This genetic trait can lead to abnormal growth of the bird’s beak, affecting their ability to eat and drink properly.

Being aware of these common health issues and addressing them as soon as possible can help maintain the well-being of your Barnevelder flock.

Barnevelder Chicken Care Guide

Barnevelder minature in the farm

Raising Barnevelder chickens is pretty straightforward, but understanding their specific needs is essential. Below are some handy tips to keep your Barnevelders healthy and happy.

Feeding and Nutrition

Caring for Barnevelder chickens means providing them with the right nutrition at each stage of their lives.

For the first eight weeks, Barnevelder chicks should be fed a high-protein diet, ideally with 20% to 24% protein content, to support their rapid growth and development.

As they mature into adults, their protein needs decrease, and a standard layer feed with about 16% to 18% protein is suitable.

Moreover, supplementing their diet with fresh fruits and vegetables provides essential vitamins and can be a healthy treat, but these should be given in moderation.

Pro Tip: To promote eggshell quality and boost calcium intake for your Barnevelder hens, provide crushed eggshells or oyster shells in a separate feeder. This not only supports their egg production but also helps prevent calcium deficiencies.

Housing and Shelter

When setting up housing for Barnevelder chickens, each chicken should have at least 4 square feet of space in the coop to avoid overcrowding.

When it comes to the run, a minimum of 25 square feet per chicken is recommended. This space allows them to engage in natural behaviors like foraging, scratching, and exploring, which is essential for their well-being.

Nesting boxes are also important, especially for laying hens. Typically, one nesting box for every three to four hens is enough. Each box should be around 12×12 inches to make sure the hens are comfortable.

Pro Tip: Keep your Barnevelder chickens happy and healthy by giving them a dust bath. Simply create a designated area in their coop or run filled with fine sand, wood ash, and diatomaceous earth.

This natural dust bath helps keep their feathers clean, prevents parasites, and keeps your chickens content and thriving.

Temperature and Lighting

Originating from the Netherlands, Barnevelder chickens are naturally more tolerant of cold weather. They thrive in temperatures around 70 to 75°F.

In hotter climates, it’s important to provide them with shade and water to prevent overheating.

As for lighting, laying hens require about 14 to 16 hours of light per day to maintain consistent egg production.

This can be achieved through natural sunlight or supplemented with artificial lighting, especially during shorter winter days.

Noise Levels of Barnevelder Chickens

Silver Barnevelder colorful rooster

Barnevelder chickens are known for being fairly talkative, but they’re not overly loud or disruptive. While some individual Barnevelders might be a bit noisier, most of them just chat softly among themselves.

Their vocalizations are more like gentle background chatter, which can be quite pleasant to listen to. That said, it’s important to remember that all roosters will crow, particularly in the morning, and Barnevelder roosters are no exception.

In my experience with Barnevelder chickens, I’ve noticed that they have this distinctive, deep-sounding crow.

Compared to the higher-pitched crows of some other chicken breeds, it’s less startling. Nonetheless, you can still expect to hear their unique crow, especially at dawn.

How Much Does a Barnevelder Cost?

When it comes to buying Barnevelder chicks, the price can vary depending on their gender. For straight-run chicks, which means they haven’t been sexed, you can expect to pay around $5 to $14 each.

If you’re looking specifically for female chicks, they typically cost around $6 to $16 each. Male chicks, on the other hand, range from $4 to $11 per chick.

You can buy Barnevelder chicks from various places. Hatcheries are a common source, and many of them offer online purchasing options.

Some well-known hatcheries where you can find Barnevelders include Hoover’s Hatchery, My Pet Chicken, Chickens for Backyards, and Meyer Hatchery.

These hatcheries often have websites where you can check availability and prices and order directly.

Additionally, local farms or poultry shows can be great places to find Barnevelders. Sometimes, you can also find them through online marketplaces or local classified ads.

Pros and Cons of Barnevelder Chickens

Like all breeds, Barnevelder chickens offer a mix of advantages and drawbacks that are important for potential owners to consider. To start, here are the pros of raising this breed:

  • Attractive appearance: Barnevelder chickens are renowned for their beautiful double-laced feather pattern. This unique feature makes them a visually appealing addition to any poultry collection.
  • Gentle and easygoing: Barnevelders are known for their calm and friendly nature, making them great for families and first-time chicken keepers.
  • Good egg layers: When it comes to laying eggs, Barnevelder chickens are pretty reliable. You can expect about 3 to 4 large, dark-brown eggs from them each week.
  • Tough and adaptable: Barnevelder chickens are strong and can handle different weather conditions well. They don’t need any special treatment to stay healthy.

While they offer many benefits, Barnevelders have their own set of cons that potential owners should be aware of. Here are some:

  • Delayed egg laying: Barnevelder hens may take longer to start laying eggs compared to other breeds, sometimes up to 10 months.
  • Risk of certain diseases: Barnevelders might be more prone to certain diseases, including Marek’s disease and Donald Duck syndrome. It’s important to keep an eye on their health and ensure they get the necessary vaccinations and care.
  • Potential target for bullying: Because they’re so gentle, Barnevelders can sometimes be picked on by more aggressive chicken breeds. Thus, owners need to monitor their interactions with more assertive breeds.

Overall, Barnevelder chickens are a delightful and practical choice for many, but understanding both their strengths and weaknesses is key to ensuring a successful and enjoyable experience with this breed.

If you’re considering getting Barnevelder chickens and would like to learn more about them, check out this video:

HFG Farm Animal Spotlight: Barnevelder Chicken

Frequently Asked Questions

A barnevelder chicken at a farm

Are Barnevelder Chickens Good Egg Layers?

Barnevelder chickens are excellent egg layers, typically producing around 180 to 200 large eggs per year. They continue to lay eggs even in colder months, providing a steady supply of eggs year-round.

​​What Color Eggs Do Barnevelder Chickens Lay?

Barnevelders are known for laying dark brown eggs. These eggs have a rich, chocolatey color, which makes them quite unique and sought after by egg enthusiasts.

Are Barnevelder Chickens Aggressive?

Generally, Barnevelder chickens are not aggressive. They are beloved for their friendly and docile temperament, which makes them a good choice for backyard flocks.

While individual personalities may vary, Barnevelders are typically easygoing and get along well with other chickens and pets.

Can Barnevelders Be Sexed?

Yes, Barnevelder chicks can be sexed with practice and patience. While vent sexing is the most accurate method, waiting for secondary sexual characteristics to develop is easier.

Vent sexing is best performed at day old, but if you prefer to wait, you’ll notice changes in feather patterns and secondary traits around 12 to 16 weeks of age, making it easier to distinguish between roosters and hens.

Thinking about welcoming Barnevelder chickens into your flock? We’d love to hear from you! Ask your questions or share your personal stories with Barnevelders in the comments below.

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