|plates of ideal Gold-Laced Wyandottes|
from 1917 Wyandotte Standard and Breeding
|color plate from early 1900s of ideal Gold-Laced Wyandotte|
So, why exactly am I using century-old literature and standards? I am wanting old-fashioned Wyandottes, who were bred to be dual purpose utility birds. I like useful as well as pretty. I want cockerels who grow out fast enough to make fryers or broilers before they start trying to crow, or if caponized I want the capons to grow huge and meaty for a good-sized holiday dinner. I want hens who lay decent. They don't need to lay great, as they aren't a specific egg-laying breed, but I figure if a hen can average 180 large eggs her first and second years, that is good enough to perpetuate. Since I do not plan to use artificial lighting during the winter months, I figured I should use a realistic goal. For contrast, some strains of white Leghorn lay over 300 eggs average over their first two years, and the highly specialized commercial strains can top 320 eggs per year. I don't think we could eat that much quiche here.
So I am looking for some specific traits out in the grow-out tractors: nice fleshy cockerels, that put on meat at a good rate (we'll be eating the scrawny ones for a few years) and grow out huge when caponized, pullets that come in to lay at a decent time (I am going for 22-24 weeks as my goal) and lay at a moderate to decent rate their first two years ... and I would like to end up with hens that are still laying at age 5 or 6 years old while I am at it. All that, and beauty too. If the property will be basically covered with Wyandotte chickens, let's have them look pretty while doing their job!
A dual purpose breed does not excel in either purpose, meat or eggs. If you want meat birds, and fast, there are Cornish-Rocks (just don't let them go too long before slaughter). If you want eggs and lots of them, there are commercial egg layers who can put out phenomenal numbers of eggs. Leghorns for white eggs, or sex-links for brown eggs ... they tend to be leaner-bodied since their energy is directed to egg laying and not fleshy out. The dual purpose breeds are the happy medium between the two extremes ... and in my opinion the dual purpose breeds tend to also be pretty yard ornaments.