Known for their impressive size and versatility, Jersey Giants have captured the hearts of poultry enthusiasts around the world. These lovely birds shine through in every way, from their elegant presence to their gentle nature.
This article will look into various aspects of these remarkable chickens, including their history, different color varieties, temperament, and the pleasures of raising them in your backyard.
It will also touch on practical aspects of raising these chickens, such as their egg production and broodiness, noise levels, and even their taste.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of raising these magnificent chickens, then you’re in for an exciting journey!
Jersey Giant Chicken Overview
|Dual-purpose (meat and eggs)
|Rooster: 13–15 lbs (5.9–6.8 kg);
Hen: 10–11 lbs (4.5–5 kg)
|Black, white, blue
|Friendly, calm, docile
|Known for Broodiness:
|150–200 eggs per year
|$3–$5 per chick
Jersey Giant Origin and History
Jersey Giant chickens were developed by John and Thomas Black, who aimed to create a chicken that could replace turkeys as a premium table bird. The breed originated in New Jersey in the late 1800s.
The Jersey Giant chicken was bred using black Java, black Langshan, and dark Brahma. Initially known as Black Giants, the breed was later renamed Jersey Black Giant to honor its creators and its place of origin.
The American Poultry Association (APA) recognized the Jersey Giant around 1922, with the white variety being recognized in 1947 and the blue in 2003.
Despite their considerable impact on the poultry industry in the early 20th century, the Jersey Giant faced challenges in the following decades due to the rise of commercial hybrid breeds.
Nevertheless, dedicated breeders and enthusiasts have kept this majestic breed alive, preserving its historical significance and unique characteristics for future generations.
Jersey Giant Appearance and Breed Standard
True to its name, the Jersey Giant chicken is a colossal bird that stands out in any flock. This breed is recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) in three color varieties: black, white, and blue.
Each color variation has a slightly different appearance. The black Jersey Giants, the most common, have feathers that shine with a green iridescence under the sunlight.
Their legs are also black, and they have a red single comb and red wattles, brown eyes, and a black beak that may have a slight yellow at the tip.
The white variety has creamy or willowy legs and white plumage, while the blue variety is grayish-blue with darker blue lacing and black shanks. All Jersey Giants have yellow skin, regardless of their feather color.
The breed standard for Jersey Giant chickens states that males weigh between 13 and 15 pounds and stand at about 22 to 26 inches tall, while females weigh about 11 pounds and stand at 16 to 20 inches tall.
They have muscular, compact bodies, and their feathers lie close to their bodies, giving them a tidy, clean-cut appearance.
Moreover, Jersey Giants have black legs that don’t have feathers, and their tail feathers, even in roosters, are shorter than other breeds.
Jersey Giant Size and Weight
The Jersey Giant chicken is renowned for its impressive size and weight, making it one of the largest breeds of chicken globally. These chickens are truly giants among their feathered counterparts.
Jersey Giant roosters can weigh anywhere between 13 and 15 pounds, while hens typically weigh around 10 to 11 pounds.
In addition to their massive frame, their height is also notable. Standing tall, these chickens can reach up to two feet or more.
With broad chests and strong legs, they have a commanding presence that distinguishes them from other breeds.
Their substantial size and weight, combined with their attractive black plumage, contribute to their popularity in both poultry shows and backyard flocks.
Color Varieties of Jersey Giant Chickens
Jersey Giant chickens come in a range of attractive color varieties that add diversity to the breed.
Each color variant of this breed, namely the black, white, and blue Jersey Giants, brings its own unique charm and characteristics to the table.
This section will explore the different color varieties of Jersey Giant chickens, celebrating the beauty and diversity found within this impressive poultry breed.
The black Jersey Giant was the first to be recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1922. It’s the original and most common color type.
This black breed has beautiful, glossy black feathers that exude elegance.
It also has black legs and beaks, which further accentuate its dark appearance.
Beyond their visual appeal, black Jersey Giants are also admired for their hardiness and adaptability to various climates, making them a practical choice for poultry keepers.
Their striking appearance, along with their substantial size, makes these black chickens stand out in any flock.
Recognized in 1947, the white Jersey Giant is a stark contrast to its black counterpart. This variant has pure white feathers, giving it a clean and elegant look. Their legs are willow-colored, and they have yellow beaks.
Moreover, their light-colored plumage helps them stay cooler in warmer weather, which makes them well-suited for hot climates compared to the other varieties.
Although less common than the black variety, white Jersey Giants share the same friendly and docile temperament as the other variants and are admired for their regal appearance and large size.
The blue Jersey Giant is the most recent addition to the breed, recognized in 2003. These chickens are a captivating sight with their slate-blue plumage and legs that range in color from dark willow to black.
Moreover, the iridescence of their blue feathers shines under the sunlight and adds a touch of appeal to their already incredible appearance.
This color variation results from a dilution of the black pigment, giving them a unique and eye-catching appearance.
The blue Jersey Giant’s distinct coloration adds a touch of variety to the breed, making it a popular choice among poultry enthusiasts.
Jersey Giant Temperament and Behavior
The Jersey Giant chicken is known for its calm and friendly demeanor, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a peaceful addition to their backyard or farm.
These chickens are the gentle giants of the poultry world. They are docile and easy to handle, making them ideal for families with children or for those who are new to livestock keeping.
They enjoy human interaction and are just as content being held and petted as they are foraging.
Their calm nature makes them well-suited even in urban settings, where noise levels tend to be higher. Although this is a positive quality, it may also make them easy prey for predators.
Hence, providing them with adequate protection is essential to ensuring their safety and well-being.
Despite their impressive size, they are not known to be particularly aggressive or prone to pecking, which further adds to their appeal as backyard pets.
Due to their intimidating size, they won’t be bothered by most other breeds and can easily integrate into an existing flock without causing disruption.
Egg Production and Broodiness of Jersey Giants
Jersey Giants are renowned for their impressive size and equally impressive egg production.
These chickens lay between 150 and 200 eggs a year. This equates to an average of 2 to 4 eggs each week. They produce large eggs that are light to medium brown in color.
However, it’s important to note that Jersey Giant pullets, or young hens, may not start laying until around six months old.
Despite their size, Jersey Giant hens are not typically broody or inclined to sit on eggs to hatch them. When they do exhibit broodiness, they’re not the best setters due to their large size and the risk of breaking the eggs.
Nonetheless, Jersey Giant eggs can be placed under a broody hen of a different breed to ensure a continuous supply of this lovely chicken.
Noise Levels of Jersey Giants
Despite being a large bird, the Jersey Giant is known for its calm and docile temperament, which extends to its noise levels.
These chickens are not typically loud or disruptive, making them a good choice for backyard chicken owners in urban or suburban settings.
Jersey Giants do make noise occasionally, such as when laying an egg, or when they sense danger, such as a hawk overhead, but are otherwise considerably less noisy than many chicken breeds.
Their calm demeanor and lower noise levels can be attributed to their size. Due to their intimidating size, they are less likely to feel threatened, which reduces the need for alarm calls.
However, it’s important to note that individual noise levels can vary based on factors such as the chicken’s environment and individual personality.
How to Take Care of Your Jersey Giant Chicken
With years of experience raising chickens, I’ve learned a lot of useful information and practical tips for raising Jersey Giants.
These chickens are truly a unique breed; their size and temperament set them apart from the many chickens I’ve had around.
This section is dedicated to sharing everything you need to know about raising Jersey Giant chickens, from their lifespan and health issues to feeding, coop setup, and temperature requirements.
Lifespan and Health Issues
Jersey Giants are known for their robust health and longevity. With proper care, these chickens can live up to 6 to 10 years. They are hardy birds with relatively few health problems.
However, due to their large size, they are prone to leg injuries and bumblefoot, which is a bacterial infection and inflammatory reaction on birds’ feet.
Hence, keeping perches and roosts close to the ground is vital in order to prevent such injuries. Also, regularly monitor your chickens for signs of limping or discomfort, which could indicate the onset of bumblefoot.
Careful consideration is needed when feeding a Jersey Giant chicken due to its large size. They consume more feed and take longer to mature compared to other breeds.
Although Jersey Giants can eat standard rations, it’s crucial to supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals for bone strength and development.
They can be given standard chick starter feed from hatching until they reach maturity at around 20 weeks.
After that, you can switch to standard layer feed, which contains 16% protein and added calcium for strong eggshells.
Remember, these chickens eat a lot, so it’s best to leave their feed available at all times.
You can also supplement their diet with kitchen scraps, plants, and bugs, which not only saves on feed costs but also keeps them healthy and entertained.
Coop Setup and Roaming
Jersey Giants require extra space in the coop, run, and nesting boxes due to their large size. When designing your coop’s layout, keep in mind that they can stand up to 26 to 28 inches tall.
These chickens will need a space of at least eight square feet per chicken inside their coop and 15 square feet each in their run.
Despite their size, they also love to roost, so provide a low roosting space in the coop with 15 to 18 inches of space per chicken.
Nesting boxes should be low to the ground, and a good size for a Jersey Giant nesting box is 18 x 18 inches.
You should also ensure that there is plenty of nesting material in the nesting boxes to provide adequate protection for the eggs.
Jersey Giants are well-suited to colder climates thanks to their tightly woven feathers, which keep them warm and dry. However, they can struggle in warmer climates due to their size and thick feathers.
Make sure their coop has plenty of ventilation, someplace to take shelter from the sun, and maybe even a pool of water they can walk in to cool off if you live in a particularly hot area.
How Much Does a Jersey Giant Chicken Cost?
A single Jersey Giant chick typically costs between $3 and $5, with the actual price depending on the breeder, the location, and the chick’s age at the time of purchase.
On average, the price for a day-old Jersey Giant chick from a hatchery can range from $3 for a male to $5 for a female. Straight-run chicks, where the sex is not determined, can cost around $4 each.
For those looking to add multiple chickens to their flock, some breeders may offer discounts for bulk purchases.
Additionally, the rarity of specific color varieties, such as blue Jersey Giant hens, can influence their price, with these variants being slightly more expensive.
Is the Jersey Giant Breed Right for You?
The Jersey Giant chicken breed, known for its large size and docile nature, can be an excellent choice for many chicken keepers.
These gentle giants are calm and easy to handle, making them suitable for families with children. They’re also hardy birds, able to withstand various climates and conditions.
Moreover, they are good layers of large brown eggs, appealing to those seeking a dual-purpose breed for both meat and egg production.
However, deciding if the Jersey Giant is right for you depends on your specific needs and circumstances.
If you’re looking for a breed that matures quickly, this might not be the best choice, as Jersey Giants are known for their slower growth rate compared to some other chicken breeds.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of space and like the idea of raising a big chicken, the Jersey Giant could be a great fit.
But keep in mind that you’ll need to be careful with their housing because of their large size, making sure that perches are low and sturdy to prevent injuries.
Overall, if you have the space, time, and commitment to meet the needs of these lovely birds, the Jersey Giant breed would be a rewarding addition to your poultry flock, adding utility and a touch of elegance to your backyard.
See this video to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of keeping this chicken:
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Jersey Giant Chickens Good to Eat?
Jersey Giant chickens are indeed good to eat. Because of their massive size, they are highly sought after for meat production due to their substantial meat yield.
Their meat is said to be excellent, and one chicken can easily feed a family of four. Many people enjoy their delicious, tender meat, and their slow growth rate helps the meat become more juicy and flavorful.
What Do Jersey Giant Chickens Taste Like?
The taste of Jersey Giant chickens is often described as rich and flavorful. The meat is tender and juicy, making it a favorite among chicken enthusiasts.
The taste is often compared to that of a traditional farm-raised chicken but with a more robust flavor profile. Whether roasted, grilled, or used in a stew, Jersey Giants offer a delicious taste that is sure to satisfy.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the chicken’s diet and way of life can affect the taste. Free-range Jersey Giants that have access to a varied diet produce the best flavor.
What Are the Disadvantages of Jersey Giants?
One of the Jersey Giants’ primary disadvantages is their slow maturity rate. These chickens take longer to reach their full size and weight, which means chicken keepers need to invest more time and resources into raising them.
Another downside is their feed consumption. Due to their large size, Jersey Giants require more feed than the average chicken, which could be a deal breaker for those on a tight budget.
Lastly, their large size can also lead to potential health issues. For instance, they are prone to leg injuries and bumblefoot, a painful condition caused by hard landings or stepping on sharp objects.
Are Brahma Chickens Bigger Than Jersey Giants?
Although the Jersey Giant is the largest chicken breed overall, the Brahma is a breed that comes close, with individual chickens sometimes exceeding the average size of the Jersey Giant.
The size of the chicken can vary greatly within each breed, but on average, a Jersey Giant can weigh up to 15 pounds, which is heavier than the Brahma chicken’s average weight of about 12 pounds.
However, individual Brahmas can sometimes surprise you with their size. In fact, a Brahma rooster named Merakli from Kosovo holds the record for being the heaviest chicken, weighing in at a whopping 16.5 pounds.
Jersey Giant chickens are a unique breed that offers a host of benefits for those willing to accommodate their size and specific needs.
Their impressive stature, gentle temperament, and decent egg-laying capabilities make them a worthwhile addition to any backyard flock.
However, it’s essential to remember that these gentle giants require a bit more space and feed than your average chicken. Their larger size and longer maturity period may also present challenges for some chicken keepers.
Nonetheless, with proper care and understanding, raising Jersey Giants can be a rewarding experience.
If you have any additional knowledge you’d like to share about Jersey Giant chickens, don’t hesitate to share it with us in the comment section below.