Dominique Chicken: Breed Profile, Facts & Pictures

Dominique chicken roaming on grass

The Dominique chicken holds the title of America’s oldest breed, with a history as rich and textured as its distinctive feather pattern. In other words, these birds represent a vibrant farming legacy nationwide.

But what has enabled such chickens to thrive for so long? What secrets do their distinctive black and white feathers hide? How do they fit into today’s world of poultry enthusiasts and backyard farms?

In this article, we will comprehensively discuss everything you need to know about Dominique chickens, including their history, traits, care needs, and price. Get ready to learn all about these delightful birds! Let’s start!

Dominique Chicken Quick Facts

Origin:United States
Breed Purpose:Eggs, meat, exhibition, and as pets
Weight:Roosters: 6–7 lbs (2.7–3.2 kg);
Hens: 5–6 lbs (2.3–2.7 kg);
Bantams: 1.5–1.75 lbs (0.7–0.8 kg)
Temperament:Calm, gentle, friendly, docile, easy to manage, easygoing, sweet, and chatty
Color Varieties:Cuckoo (black-and-white-like barring)
Egg Production:230–275 eggs per year
Egg Color:Light brown, dark brown
Egg Size:Medium
Broodiness:Moderate to high
Cold Tolerance:High
Heat Tolerance:High
Lifespan:6–8 years
Unique Features:Eye-catching coloration, fluffy plumage, well-arched neck, yellow legs, rose comb, small wattles, U-shaped back
Beginner Friendly:Yes

What Is a Dominique Chicken?

Group of Dominique chickens in coop

Also known as the Dominicker, the Dominique chicken is likely the oldest chicken breed in the United States. They’re iconic for their unique cuckoo pattern, resembling a hawk. Further, these birds are versatile, excellent for eggs, meat, and poultry shows, and can even become beloved pets.

Dominique chickens often get confused with the barred Plymouth Rock because of their similar black and white stripes. But they are not just about their striking looks.

These birds are famous for their calm and friendly demeanor, which makes them perfect companions for backyard farms. What’s more, they are prolific layers, producing a steady supply of medium-sized, brown eggs.

On top of that, these chickens are valued for their meat. In other words, they offer a dual-purpose benefit for those who are raising them.

Adaptability is another noteworthy attribute of Dominiques. They thrive in both hot and cold climates, which proves their toughness and suitability for various settings.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Dominique chickens have a bunch of other names besides “Dominickers”? In particular, they are also referred to as Pilgrim Fowls, Blue-spotted Hens, Dominicos, Dominics, and Old Gray Hens.

Dominique Chicken Origin and History

Dominique chickens in a green field

Generally speaking, the origins of the Dominique chicken are wrapped in mystery. Some say the Pilgrims brought them to the United States, earning them the nickname Pilgrim Fowls.

Meanwhile, others argue they came from the French colony of Saint Domingue, which is why some call them “Dominikers” or “Dominic” chickens.

No matter how they arrived, though, Dominiques were firmly rooted in America by the 1750s. Then, they soon became a farm favorite by the 1820s for their valuable eggs and meat.

Yet, note that the rise of the Plymouth Rock breed in the late 19th century led to a decline in Dominique numbers. By 1970, only four flocks remained in the United States, pushing the breed toward the brink of extinction.

In response, the Dominique Club of America was established in 1973, dedicated to preserving and promoting this historic breed.

Fun Fact: Just like most fluffy chickens on this list, Dominiques were highly sought after for their feathers, which were used for pillow stuffing in the past. It just goes to show how valuable they were to many homes!

Dominique Chicken Appearance

Dominique chicken side profile

Dominique chickens are recognized by the American Poultry Association for their unique cuckoo pigmentation, which is the sole color variety they exhibit.

This distinctive plumage makes them one of the black and white chickens, closely resembling barred Plymouth Rocks.

You’ll also see their feathers look closely woven together. But what really sets them apart is their distinctive red rose comb — a short, upward-curving spike that stands out against their black and white feathers.

Besides their notable comb, Dominique chickens have bright red faces, wattles, and earlobes, contrasting with their yellow skin, legs, feet, and beak.

At hatching, though, note that these chickens are sex-linked, allowing for easy differentiation between males and females.

In particular, cockerels display a larger, more scattered yellow spot on the head. Meanwhile, pullets have a smaller, more concentrated spot, which aids in early identification.

Watch this video to see what Dominiques look like in action:

Dominique chickens

Fun Fact: The first Dominique chickens came in both single and rose-combed types. But it was the New York Poultry Society that eventually decided Dominiques should have rose combs and set the breed’s standards.

Dominique Chicken Size and Weight

Fitting well into various farm settings, you can expect that Dominique chickens are medium-sized birds. Roosters weigh between 6 and 7 pounds, while hens are slightly lighter, typically ranging from 5 to 6 pounds.

For those interested in smaller varieties, Dominique bantams are also available. These miniature versions weigh between 1.5 and 1.75 pounds, offering the same charming characteristics in a compact package.

Check out this clip to see the size difference between standard Dominique chickens and their cute bantam counterparts:

Dominique 2 (Large Fowl and Bantam)

Note: The APA accepts both size varieties of Dominiques.

Dominique Chicken Temperament and Behavior

Dominique chicken walking on grass

Temperament-wise, Dominique chickens are known for their calm and gentle nature. Their friendly demeanor ensures they integrate well into mixed flocks without causing much trouble.

These birds are not only docile but also remarkably easy to manage. Their easygoing temperament makes them suitable for both experienced and novice chicken keepers alike.

Further, Dominiques are described as sweet, often forming strong bonds with their owners. They enjoy human interaction, which adds to their appeal as backyard chickens and family pets.

Moreover, they tend to be chatty, engaging in mild clucking that can be quite comforting. To be specific, they’re known to communicate with their keepers in a soft, pleasant manner, adding a lively ambiance to the coop.

Clearly, Dominique chickens’ pleasant temperament and behavior contribute significantly to their popularity. They’re adaptable; they can thrive in different settings and quickly become part of the family.

Egg Production and Broodiness of Dominique Chickens

Dominique chickens are prolific layers, as they can produce between 230 and 275 eggs annually. They typically begin laying eggs around 21 to 24 weeks of age, which makes them fairly early starters in egg production.

To be specific, their eggs are medium-sized and can vary in color, presenting a range of shades from light to dark brown. This variety adds a delightful aesthetic to the egg basket.

In terms of broodiness, Dominique hens have a moderate to high tendency to go broody. They are known to be attentive and protective mothers, often successfully hatching and raising their chicks.

Note: Besides egg production, Dominique chickens are valued for their meat. They can be processed at 14 to 16 weeks, with their meat being appreciated for its flavor and tenderness.

Dominique Chicken Care Guide

Dominique chicken with red comb

Caring for Dominique chickens goes beyond just enjoying their presence; it’s about providing the right feed, shelter, and environment. Here is a helpful guide on how to care for and manage these special chickens.

Feeding and Nutrition

Starting with chicks, keep in mind that Dominiques require a high-protein starter feed, ideally with at least 20% protein. Basically, this nutritional foundation is crucial for their early development.

As they become pullets and cockerels, transitioning them to a finisher feed with a protein content of 18 to 19% is recommended. This adjustment supports their continued growth and prepares them for adulthood.

For those caring for adult Dominique chickens, though, a layer feed containing 15 to 17% protein plus added calcium is essential for egg production. Including treats like fresh fruits and vegetables can also enhance their diet.

In my family’s journey with Dominique chickens, we also discovered the benefits of adding diatomaceous earth (DE) to their meals. We maintained a precise 2% ratio, blending it thoroughly with their regular feed.

This practice significantly reduced internal parasites among our flock, evident in their improved health and vitality. Further, the additional minerals from DE seemed to enhance their feather quality and eggshell strength.

Housing and Shelter

Each Dominique chicken requires at least four square feet of floor space inside the coop for ample living room. This ensures they have enough space to move around comfortably without feeling cramped.

When it comes to their roost, these chickens also need about 8 to 10 inches of space. This allows them to rest without crowding, promoting better sleep and reducing stress among the flock.

For nesting, a box measuring 12 inches wide, 12 inches long, and 18 inches deep provides the ideal dimensions for Dominique chickens to lay their eggs in privacy and comfort.

Outside, a run offering 8 to 10 square feet per chicken allows for sufficient exercise and exploration.

To add to that, incorporating environmental enrichments such as stumps, ramps, and ladders can significantly enhance their living space. In particular, these features stimulate activity and prevent boredom.

Fun Fact: Interestingly, chickens have a preference for the shape of their roosts. Studies show they favor square and round roosts over flat or peaked ones.

Temperature and Lighting

For Dominique chicks, the initial temperature at the floor level should be 95°F. Then, gradually reduce it by five degrees each week over the first six weeks. Doing so will help them acclimate to normal temps safely.

Additionally, while adult Dominique chickens adapt well to various climates, keeping the coop between 65°F and 75°F is ideal. This range ensures they remain comfortable in most weather conditions.

With regard to lighting for Dominique hens, note that they thrive with 14 to 16 hours of light daily for the best egg-laying conditions. Fortunately, this can be managed with natural daylight supplemented by artificial lighting.

Fun Fact: Light color can influence chicken behavior. In a 2012 study, green light made chickens curious, while red light reduced aggression and sped up the maturation of laying hens compared to white light.

Noise Levels of Dominique Chickens

Dominique chicken foraging in a field

Dominique chickens generally maintain noise levels similar to other chicken breeds.

But in most cases, their vocalizations are described as not excessively loud or disruptive. Individual differences do exist, though, with some being more vocal than others.

Growing up, my uncle had a small flock of Dominique chickens in his backyard. I remember their sounds blending into the background, never too loud or startling. They were just part of the day’s natural soundtrack.

The hens mostly kept to a soft clucking, especially when they were foraging around the garden. It was a calming, almost conversational noise that never disturbed the peace of our neighborhood.

However, Dominique roosters were quite vocal; they were crowing at all hours. Despite their enthusiasm, their calls were never as unruly as I’d feared. They became a familiar, if somewhat early, wake-up call.

How Much Does a Dominique Chicken Cost?

Typically, Dominique chicks range in price from $3 to $6, with females often costing more due to their egg-laying capabilities.

Factors such as location, shipping fees, and the quality of the bird can also influence the final cost. Additionally, the age of the chicken plays a role, with mature birds possibly commanding higher prices.

But if you’re already on the hunt for Dominicker chickens, check out your local poultry farms and specialized brooders — they’re great places to find them.

Well-known hatcheries such as Cackle Hatchery, My Pet Chicken, Chickens for Backyards, and Meyer Hatchery offer these birds as well.

Further, engaging with online communities through Facebook groups and forums can provide leads on where to find Dominique chickens.

These platforms often have listings from smaller breeders and can offer more personalized advice and insights.

Pro Tip: Don’t hesitate to check out various buying options for Dominiques. It helps you compare prices and find the perfect fit for your needs and budget.

Breeding and Raising Dominique Chicks

Dominique chicken in a yard

Breeding Dominique chicks starts with selecting healthy parents. Hence, look for pairs with good temperaments and strong physical traits. Doing so will make sure the chicks inherit these qualities.

Meanwhile, incubating eggs requires attention to temperature. Specifically, set the incubator between 99°F and 102°F.

Humidity levels should also be monitored closely, around 50 to 65%, to aid in the chicks’ development. Turning the eggs several times a day until the last three days is crucial, too.

After hatching, your Dominicker chicks will need a cozy spot with warmth. Luckily, a heat lamp works if the mother isn’t available. Bear in mind that they also require constant access to fresh water and starter feed.

On another note, Dominique chicks are hardy, but keep an eye out for any signs of sickness.

Make sure to regularly check for problems like pasting up, which is when their droppings stick to their feathers. Most importantly, keep their living area clean to prevent disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dominique chicken standing on grass

What Are the Pros and Cons of Dominique Chickens?

Dominique chickens boast several advantages, being a heritage breed celebrated for their gentle nature and versatility. In fact, they excel in both egg and meat production, and they thrive as efficient foragers.

However, note that there are drawbacks to consider. For one thing, their brooding instincts can be unpredictable. They range from being overly maternal to indifferent.

Furthermore, compared to single-purpose breeds, Dominiques may produce fewer eggs and less meat. While generally non-aggressive, they can also sometimes turn towards being too skittish or submissive.

Are Dominique Chickens Friendly?

Yes, Dominique chickens are known for their friendly and personable nature. Basically, these traits make them highly recommended for beginners in poultry keeping.

Their sweet, docile, and gentle disposition also makes them ideal pets for families, especially those with children.

Are Dominique Chickens Noisy?

Typically, Dominique chickens match other breeds in terms of noise levels. However, it should be noted that their vocalization will still vary from one bird to another.

To be specific, some may be chatty throughout the day, especially Dominique roosters, who love to announce themselves with a crow.

Do Dominique Hens Go Broody?

Dominique hens display variable broody instincts, often showing a moderate to high inclination to hatch their eggs. This means their urge to nest and raise chicks is relatively strong.

Specifically, when they do go broody, they become wonderfully attentive and caring mothers. They always look out for the safety and well-being of their chicks.

Are Dominique Chickens Cold Hardy?

Dominique chickens are exceptionally cold-hardy, thanks to their fluffy feathers. In particular, these feathers provide excellent insulation during freezing months, which keeps them warm and comfortable.

Additionally, their rose combs play a crucial role in preventing frostbite, further establishing their suitability for chilly climates.

As we’ve discussed the unique traits of Dominique chickens, what are your thoughts? Do you have any questions or experiences to share about this breed? Feel free to leave your comments below!

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