The Barnevelder chickens are lovely birds on the radar of most breeders today. Not only are they gorgeous, but they also have fantastic qualities. They should be on your future to-get list as well. But before you head on out to buy some, let’s look at the Barnevelder chicken: what you need to know!
Where Do Barnevelders Come From?
The Dutch created the Barnevelder chicken by crossing their local hens with a few Asian chickens. No one knows the exact combination that makes this beautiful breed. But we are glad they exist. Not only are they beautiful chickens, but they also lay plentiful eggs.
One of the reasons everyone loves the Barnevelder is their wonderful dispositions. Barnevelder chicken: what you need to know is that they are calm and gentle. They are some of the most docile and friendly birds you could ever meet. Barnevelders do well in mixed flocks with complimenting calm temperaments. Even roosters are known for their peaceful characters.
These qualities make them prime candidates for pets and children. The Barnevelder chicken isn’t even a loud bird. They might be a little chatty and talk to you regularly, but they aren’t yellers. Your Barnevelders won’t wake you up early or disturb your neighbors in the slightest.
The thing that draws people to the Barnevelder is their rich chocolate-colored eggs. Sometimes they even have speckles. You can expect medium to large eggs 3-4 days a week. That makes 150-200 eggs per year. So it’s safe to say that these chickens are excellent for egg production.
So when can you expect these delicious eggs? Barnevelder hens start laying their eggs later than most hens. Most Barnevelders don’t begin laying their eggs until six months old, but it’s not uncommon to wait until 8-9 months. But the good news is that they don’t stop laying as soon as other birds. Your Barnevelder could keep laying well past four years old.
But these eggs don’t always stay chocolatey brown. For the first six months of laying, these hens will lay their darkest eggs. As time goes on, the Barnevelder chicken egg color will lighten. Some might even begin to lay cream-colored eggs as they age. But in most cases, they are a darker tan.
Are They Cold Hardy?
The Dutch developed the Barnevelder chicken to lay their eggs in cold weather. But US versions don’t always hold to this tradition. If having a bird that lays faithfully throughout winter is crucial for you, talk with your breeder. They can point you in the right direction of a line that still lays eggs all year.
But even chickens that lay in winter need a little weather-proofing. Keeping your hens safe from frostbite will be your biggest concern. Even a Barnevelder hen has large wattles and combs that freeze quickly. With proper ventilation and a smear of petroleum jelly, your chickens will be perfectly fine.
How Do They Do In Summer?
We know that your Barnevelder chicken fair well in winter, but what about summer? Most people worry the most about their flock in the summer but never think twice about the summer heat. In truth, the Barnevelder generally does well in the hot summers. But they need lots of cool water and ventilation to keep cool. They also appreciate lots of cool shade to keep the breeze through their feathers.
Do They Make Good Mothers?
Barnevelders aren’t known for their excessive broodiness. But some American lines are slightly more broody than their European counterparts. If you have an American Barnevelder, they make wonderful mothers. You can even buy heritage breeds that go broody more often. They sit on their eggs dutifully and take care of the chicks without a problem. These are a breeder’s dream if you want to make money off the chicks in the spring.
Sexing Barnevelder Chicks
Sexing these small chicks is no easy task. Depending on the color variation you have, it can be impossible. You might even have to wait until the birds are close to 12 weeks old before you know for sure. By this time, the females will start to get their signature lace markings on their chests and wings. Males will be a solid color still and have larger combs and wattles.
You might find cases online of people saying that females grow feathers faster than males. Or that Barnevelders with particular coloring on the breast at hatch are females. But these are not accurate ways to tell them apart. They are not sex-linked chicks, so the best way to sex them is to wait until 12-17 weeks.
Are Barnevelders Dual-Purpose?
Barnevelders grow to be 5-8 pounds, and if bred for it, they make excellent table birds. Some people raise their Barnevelders for their dual-purpose use. But unless your breeder breeds for larger birds, they don’t make much. You may even find that they make better pets and eggers than dinner.
Feeding And Free-Ranging
You don’t have to worry much about feeding Barnevelders. They eat a simple layer feed and spend most of their time foraging. They are excellent foragers and find every bug in your garden, but they can also wreak havoc on your lawn. If you leave Barnevelders free in small spaces, they are likely to destroy everything.
But this same foraging ability also doesn’t make them the best candidates for being locked up all day. They prefer larger areas to roam and forage in. So if having a run is necessary for your needs, you might want to go larger. Ten sqft of space per chicken is average for a run, but you might want to go slightly bigger. It also helps if your chickens have a landscaped run to keep them busy.
Free-ranging can also keep your chickens stay in shape. Barnevelders are known to have weight issues and laziness. If you keep them in small spaces, they get too lazy and gain weight. This, of course, poses health risks to your hens and should be avoided at all costs.
Everyone who gets an animal should always ask what medical risks they may pose. The Barnevelder chicken is a reasonably healthy bird. As long as you keep up with their cleanliness and daily checks, you don’t have much to worry about. These chickens are hardy and easy for any new keeper to care for.
The only thing you should be cautious of is Marek’s disease. Marek’s disease can be a nasty thing to spread through your flock. And they can get it from wild birds, which poses a significant risk to our domestic flocks. Luckily for you, we have modern science that has created a vaccine for protection. You will want your Barnevelders and flock vaccinated at hatch to protect them from this gruesome disease.
If you take good care of your chickens, they could live as long as seven years. Sometimes even more!
Another great thing about the Barnevelder chicken is that they come in so many fascinating colors. Between double laced silver, blue laced Barnevelder, black, white, silver blue, and chamois. The silver laced Barenevelder is probably the hardest to find, while the double laced Barnevelder is the easiest. There is no end to the possibilities when it comes to these chickens. Some make excellent show birds, and others make better layers. You could have one of every variation in your flock.
Do you love the Barnevelder so far? Well, what if we told you that they also come in bantam sizing? While the bantam is not a recognized size for the Barnevelder, they are possible. These mini chickens are cute and everything you still love about the breed. But it can be challenging to find a reputable breeder. So make sure you vet your breeders well.
What About Roosters?
Everything you love about the Barnevelder hen can also say about the roosters. The Barnevelder rooster is a calm and docile bird. They protect their hens, but not overly so. You might even find that your Barnevelder roos make some of the best pets of any other rooster. But if you have a mixed flock, you have to be careful.
If you have other roosters, you will have to make sure they are docile as well. Barnevelder roosters don’t fair well in fights with more dominant breeds. They aren’t the most assertive, so it’s best to keep them as the only roos in the flock.
How Much Do They Cost?
And finally, Barnvelder chicken: what you need to know about the price. The Barnevelder chicken is easy to find all over Europe, but they have lost their touch here in America. Getting your hands on this dream bird is a little tricky. And you should always make sure that they are quality breeders that meet your standards. This is an essential part of becoming a chicken owner because bad breeding could decimate your flock.
Once you find your perfect breeder, they will cost you anywhere from $10-$15 for day-old chicks. Your average Barnevelder pullet will only cost you about $25. And they can cost up to $60 for an adult show chicken.
So, Are They Right For You?
Barnevelders are such magnificent birds. And now that you have read the Barneveld chicken: what you need to know, you are ready to have one. You won’t regret having one of these chickens in your flock.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!