When British geneticist Dr. Clive Carefoot introduced the chocolate gene to the poultry world, he chose to work with two breeds of chickens to advance his breeding program: Orpingtons and Wyandottes, both in the bantam version. Chocolate Orpingtons soon grabbed center stage and for years commanded astronomical prices in the UK and later other countries as hobbyists rushed to replicate the chocolate gene.
Left in the shadow of the chocolate Orpington craze was its more retiring pen mate, the chocolate Wyandotte. But, what is often overlooked is that in many ways the chocolate Wyandotte is the superior of the two. Chocolate Orpingtons are challenging to breed and maintain. Their laying patterns can be irregular, fertility is frequently an issue, and often the chicks that hatch are not particularly robust. While chocolate Orpingtons are a worthy project for the experienced poultry hobbyist, for successful propagation they may require more time and effort than the casual hobbyist is willing to give them. Chocolate Wyandottes, on the other hand, are hardy and productive birds that produce a chocolate color every bit as pleasing as their more finicky counterparts, the Orpingtons.
Greenfire Farms was the first to legally import bantam chocolate Wyandottes into the United States. In a sense this was a homecoming for this breed. The Wyandotte breed originated in New York in the 1870s and was given the name of the local Indian tribe. These birds were originally envisioned as a dual purpose breed and intended for market. They have gentle personalities and strong parenting instincts. The British Wyandottes we imported, although bantams, tend to be larger than their American counterparts. These birds are generally easy to introduce into a flock.
Ideally, the adult birds should have yellow legs and deep chocolate feathers. We have noticed that in our birds the leg color tends to be lighter when the birds are adolescents but the chocolate color may deepen in the skin as the birds age. We are working to improve the leg color in our breeding program, but know that the birds you buy will likely have some chocolate pigment in their skin including their legs. But, if you’re looking for a beautiful and robust chocolate chicken to add to your backyard, it would be difficult to do better than the chocolate Wyandotte.
Chocolate Wyandotte: Hatching Eggs, 1 Dozen