Promoting the Dominique

The Dominique, also known as Dominicker,  originated  in the United States. They are considered America’s oldest breed of chicken, probably descending from chickens brought to New England from southern England during the Colonial Era.  However, most modern Dominiques may be traced to stock developed by A. Q. Carter after 1900.

TBN’ Ranch’s Dominique Hen, ‘Mamma Too”

By the 19th century, they were widely popular and were raised in many parts of the country. The Dominique is a dual purpose breed, being valued for meat and their brown eggs. They weigh 5 to 7 pounds at maturity, are considered cold hardy, good mothers, and adapt well to confinement or free range. They are early to mature, and although sometimes considered flighty, I personally find then extremely calm. The birds’ plumage pattern, also known as “hawk coloring”, offers some protection against some aerial predators.

Egg Production

Although categorized as a dual-purpose breed, these birds are first and foremost egg producers with hens averaging 230-275  medium-sized brown eggs.

Sexing Dominique Chicks

Sexing the Dominique is really pretty simple, with about a 95% accuracy.  The cockerels have yellow shanks and toes, the pullets have a grayish black coloration on the front of their shanks and also on the top of their toes.  The color differences become less apparent as the chicks mature.

Popularity Concerns

Since the 1920’s the Dominique’s popularity was on a steady decline, by 1970 only four known flocks remained.  Dedicated breeders participated in a breed rescue and their numbers showed a rise in numbers from 1983 to 2006.  By 2007, once again a decline was observed.  Presently,the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) has put the Dominique on the ‘Watch’ list.

Of all the breeds of chickens I’ve kept here on the farm, the Dominique is by far my favorite.  They are very sweet, hardy, and most important in these parts, tolerant to our hot summer temperatures that climb above 110.

I hope other chicken keepers will give them a second look next time they buy chicks. Let’s get them off that watch list shall we?

Cominique

Who is the ALBC?

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy ensures the future of agriculture through the genetic conservation and promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry.

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect over 180 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction. Included are asses, cattle, goats, horses, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys.

Founded in 1977, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is the pioneer organization in the U.S. working to conserve historic breeds and genetic diversity in livestock. We hope you’ll browse through these pages and learn more about the diverse and valuable agricultural heritage that is ours to enjoy and to steward.

Back to Chicken Keeping Resources HOME PAGE

 

At 3 or 4 Months, Hen or Rooster?

Here’s a Helpful Hint on How to Tell

I chose this particular breed of chicken because sexing them is quite apparent by looking at their legs & feet. However, some breeds aren’t that easy, the Silkie in particular. But most heavy breeds like the Rocks, and Orphingtons it’s pretty obvious. Hope this little trick is helpful!

Back to Chicken Keeping Resources HOME PAGE

The Pecking Order Among Chickens

Managing the Thugs in Social Ranking

The pecking order determines which chicken may eat first, where which chicken is allowed to sit on the perch, or even even drink. It is often the stronger or larger birds that rank highest in the social order.

My Bullies, Rhode Island Reds

The organizational power among chickens can be pretty brutal, fighting, pecking, and injuries often occur. To minimize ciaos,  offering feeders, drinkers and nesting areas in more than one place is helpful.

Note:  It is also important to consider the fact that over crowding can contribute to argumentative behavior or feather loss due to pecking.

The perch is a common place for pecking or bullying, especially when there are rank differences.  Watching them find a place to retire for the night is a complicated process.  The pecking order rarely changes among an existing flock, however we have some power over the pecking order simply by removing the higher ranking birds for a few weeks.  I bring this up because it is sometimes necessary to intervene when the pecking order becomes so aggressive that weaker birds are plagued with injuries.

Once a weaker bird’s skin is exposed from being pecked on, the situation worsens and another problem occurs. One measly drop of blood is enough to create absolute havoc in the chicken yard.  Something happens to chickens when they get a taste of blood, and they become quite capable of literally pecking a bird to death. Of course, before this happens the injured chicken will have to be removed and placed in isolation to heal and grow new feathers. 

It is usually 3 weeks to a month before new feathers cover the affected area. Or, you can do nothing, and stay out of the pecking order process entirely, which many poultry keepers believe to be the best way.  But personally, I’m not at all fond of watching my birds one by one begin to look like they’ve been through a meat grinder.

It certainly makes better sense to remove the trouble makers rather than constantly doctoring chickens. There are usually 2 or 3 thugs that dominate a small flock, isolate them from the weaker birds for a few weeks. Then you can re-introduce them to the flock, but only one bird at a time over the course of a week. This will lessen the chances of them ganging up on the existing flock.

Back to Chicken Keeping Resources HOME PAGE

The Fertilization of a Chicken Egg

Basic Reproduction Explained

Silver Laced Polish

As in all animals, the fusion of ovum and a sperm is how fertilization occurs. Then an embryo forms and develops into a new organism. The chicken is no exception; their eggs need to be fertilized in order to develop a chick.

A chicken will begin laying eggs between five and six months of age, until then she is called a pullet. However, climate, seasons, and other various factors do play a significant role in laying cycles.  Certain breed types are also included in the variances of  egg laying, first time or otherwise.  One thing for sure, when a pullet reaches sexual maturity she will lay eggs whether or not there is a rooster present.

Roosters [males] have reproductive organs which produce sperms that are released during mating.  The sperms enter the oviduct of the hen [female] and continues a nearly week long reproductive journey to meet the eggs. The sperms final destination is in the infundibulum. This is where they will wait about a week for the partially formed and unshelled eggs. If there is a yolk, the eggs are fertilized instantly. So, it’s safe to say you can expect fertile eggs seven to ten days after mating.

Note:  It is possible the hen may produce fertile eggs the following week as well.

When hens are in the presence of a rooster there is a way to separate the fertilized eggs from infertile by a technique called candling.  This method uses a bright light source behind the egg to show details through the shell. Fertilized eggs will show a darker yolk on one end, usually when they are one or two days old.  Within two to three days, if incubated, you may actually see indications of a growing embryo.

Back to Chicken Keeping Resources HOME PAGE