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Friday, January 19, 2018

Q&A: Jersey Giant chickens

Question from a reader:

I've been wanting to buy some Jersey Giant chickens for a while now. When I saw you got them I was thrilled. Could you tell me how they are doing? How do they deal with Idaho winters, their temper, how many eggs. Are they overall a healthy chicken? Would love some feedback on that. Thanks!

We've Jersey Giants for almost three years now. So far we've been very satisfied with them as a breed.

The females aren't especially large -- the same size as our one Black Australorp hen -- but the roosters are very big. At the moment we have way too many roosters -- five -- two of whom are our "herd sires" and the other three of whom we're waiting to reach their full size to butcher. We haven't butchered any of our own birds yet, but these boys look like they'll dress out at about ten pounds or a bit under. Jersey Giants take about nine months to reach their full growth, but unlike the fast-growing Cornish Crosses, they stay healthy instead of having their bodies fall apart.

We have not found the roosters to be at all aggressive to people; which, considering their size, is a durn good thing. The roosters tend to fight with each other, so one of our future projects is a rooster house where we can raise young roosters away from the older boys (and the hens) until they're of butchering weight.

The hens lay brown eggs, sometimes faintly speckled, of regular size (not especially big). They're just as good layers as any other breed of hen we've ever had.

One advantage of the ladies is they go broody at the drop of a hat, which is why I've taken to calling Jersey Giants the triple-purpose breed: meat, eggs, broodiness. Having hens so willing to hatch and rear their own chicks is a great contributor toward a sustainable chicken venture, IMHO.

While this winter has been fairly mild so far, last winter was quite bad: Lots of snow, lots of cold. The chicken coop is not heated, and the birds all did fine.

They're a healthy breed and we haven't noticed any problems with how they grow or mature. Overall I've been quite pleased with Jersey Giants, and I'm sure we'll be even more so when we get into full meat production (hopefully this year).


  1. Thanks so much for that.

  2. Can you talk about how the tractor has worked out? Reliability, parts availability, overall ergonomics etc? Thanks

  3. Where do you order yours from? We are in the market for a better breed.

    1. We got ours from McMurray Hatchery


      When you order a batch, they'll throw in an extra "mystery" chick for free. DECLINE THIS OPTION. It's kinda fun to get a mystery chick and see what breed it grows into, but invariably it's a rooster. If you want an extra rooster, great, then accept the free chick; but the free chick we got was a very handsome but very small breed, and he kept getting the tar beat out of him by the enormous Jersey Giant roosters, until we found another home for him. Otherwise the hatchery is great and highly recommended.

  4. You used to have some Ameraucanas because I can remember the blue eggs. We used to have some and I did enjoy the colored eggs but the coons managed to get them all in the end. We are raising buff orpingtons now and they are sweet just like the Ameraucanas but I do miss my blue eggs. Is Smokey still with you or has she passed on.

    1. Sadly. Smokey passed on last year. Something happened to her so her legs stopped working right, and Don mercifully put her down. I was quite upset because she was such a sweetheart, but we didn't want her to suffer. We have one Americauna left and, from the young pullet eggs we're getting, at least one half-breed Americauna (blue eggs).

  5. We love our Giants. Find the bigger birds like these are not bothered as much by the Hawks in our area.

  6. This is my first year with the Giants and I like them. They are the only breed in the coop that has been laying all winter with no lights or heat and it's been a cold one. I have a couple of leghorns and some americauana crosses, but they quit laying when the days got short and -30. Sadly my rooster died two weeks after I got him and so I'd like to find another and raise more of these.

  7. We purchased 15 Jersey Giants last spring on your recommendation of their broodiness, from Murray McMurray. We did get the extra chick but he died about a week after we got them. We added all of the hens to the rest of our flock and they combined very well. My brother-in-law is the "chicken broker" for our town so we have given some of them away to neighbors. We had two other families ask for chickens 'when they get their coop done' but no coop so far, which is why our coop is a little overcrowded.

    We're hoping they will start raising their own replacements this spring. They'll all be crosses since we didn't get a JG rooster. The hens seem to be slightly larger that the other hens we have, but they really are easy to keep. It's been a warm winter so far so we are still getting a good supply of eggs. I love their black color, and when the sun shines on them they are almost purple.

    Your recommendation was a good one so far, and we are keeping our fingers crossed for lots of baby chicks.