Jersey Giants: Little Chicks with a Big Name

Once considered a critically endangered breed, the Jersey Giant is the largest chicken breed in the world. Here's everything you need to know about this gentle giant.

Fee-fi-fo-fum! When you hear the name of Jersey Giant, an image of a giant chicken towering over and angrily stomping its way through a small town might come to mind, but the reality of the Jersey Giant chicken is far from it. This large breed is actually known for its docile and calm nature.

This New Jersey native is one of the best, and not to mention, sweetest bird you can find for your backyard flock. Here's the 411 on this chicken breed from the United States.

The Story Behind Jersey Giants

The Jersey Giant breed has quite an interesting history. These large birds were developed in New Jersey by two brothers, John and Thomas Black, in the late 1800s. The brothers wanted to create a poultry breed to replace the main roasting birds at the time, which was primarily turkey; And boom, the Jersey Giant chicken was born. Fun fact: the Jersey Giant was later called the Black Jersey Giant in honor of the Black brothers, not because of the breed's color.

To develop this giant meat bird, the Black brothers used the Black Java, the Black Langshan, and the Dark Brahma chicken breeds to create the dual-purpose Jersey Giant. This breed of chicken was bred to serve a dual purpose: for both meat production and egg production - despite being a heavy breed, Jersey Giant hens can lay a good amount of brown eggs with large to extra-large egg sizes. The egg colors of these babies can be a pretty light brown to a dark brown, with occasional dark spots on them.

Appearance and Temperament

One of the most impressive things about Black Jersey Giants is of course their statuesque size - these brown egg layers can stand about two feet tall and weigh about 10 to 13 pounds: no wonder they are the largest chicken breed in the world!

They have just as impressive stats when it comes to appearance; this large size, egg laying chicken is listed in the American Poultry Association's 'Standard of Perfection'. According to The Livestock Conservancy,

"The standard developed for the birds included a gigantic frame, single comb, yellow skin color, relatively rapid maturity, good vigor, and fine foraging ability. The Jersey Giant was recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1922."

These robust birds also have attractive red wattles, comb, and earlobes, with feathers laying tight to their body. In fact, the feathers are tighter on the body of a Jersey Giant more than most breeds, making them great cold weather chickens.

The gentle giant truly lives up to his name - Jersey Giants are one of the best breeds for children and families given their mellow and friendly temperament, even Jersey Giant roosters adopt this calm and sweet nature.

Jersey Giant chickens are excellent layers of brown eggs and will lay all year. At maturity, they are not much bigger than other giant breed chickens. Jersey Giants have a tendency to become broody, and they make wonderful moms. Some hatchery strains, on the other hand, do not go broody. If broodiness (or lack thereof) is essential to you, verify with your breeder or hatchery before purchasing.

Do you have a Jersey Giant in your family? Please tell us on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

This post was originally published on November 13, 2020.

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