BLUE JERSEY GIANT
Origin: United States
Type: Standard Large Fowl
Size: Very Large (13-15 lbs for roosters,10-11 lbs for hens)
Rarity: Listed on the "watch" list
Colors: Slatey blue laced with darker blue
Egg Laying: Excellent (3-4/week, 150-200/year)
Egg Color: Light brown
Egg Size: Very large
Unique Feature: World's largest purebred breed
Cold Hardiness: Excellent Winter Tolerance
Heat Tolerance: Good Heat tolerance
Setter/Broody: Rarely broody
Personality: Very human friendly
This information is taken from www.thehappychickencoop.com which is a fantastic source of information on all things chickens and the raising of chickens.
Background and History
Jersey Giants are the largest purebred breed of domestic chickens. The breed was created between 1870 and 1890 by brothers John and Thomas Black in Burlington County, New Jersey. Their original intention was to breed a large table bird that could take the place of a turkey. The breeding program included Black Javas, Black Langshans, and Dark Brahmas. In the beginning, they were called "Black Giants", actually being named after the brothers and not their initial color.
The name "Jersey Giant" came into official use in 1921 when the American Association of Jersey Black Giant Breeders Clubs was created. The breed was officially recognized by the APA in 1922. There are now three recognized colors -- black, white, and blue.
Blue was developed from a white hen with gray smudges (a sport) in Golda Miller's flock sometime in the 1980's. Splash are produced by breeding two blues, but are not a recognized color.
Blue Jersey Giants color comes from the blue gene, which is an incomplete dominant, meaning that only one copy of the gene is needed to make a black bird blue. As long as you are breeding black to blue, you should come out with about 50% blue, 50% black. If you breed blue to blue, you will get 25% black, 50% blue, 25% splash.
Splash means that the chicken has two copies of the blue gene, and will be a pale blue in color, rather than deep slate. I've found this particular color to be variable in Jerseys. Some will just be very pale blue, others may appear whitish with flecks and streaks of blue in their feathering.
The Black Jersey Giant was admitted to the American Poultry Association in 1922. The White followed in 1947 and the Blue in 2003.
The Giant is a big bird – males can weigh in at around 13-15 pounds with the females weighing around 11 pounds.
The height of the male bird is usually between 22-26 inches with the female being 16-20 inches.
The bird has moderate to long body that is both wide and deep – giving the impression of a square bird. The back is very broad and flat and a tail that is relatively short for the size of the bird.
The Blue Jersey Giant should have nearly black shanks, occasionally a tendency towards dark willow. The feather coloring should be a slatey blue laced with darker blue.
Temperament and Disposition
The Giant is a docile, mellow bird in general, even the roosters. They are known as a friendly bird and several folks have kept them as pets rather than their intended purpose of a table bird.
They are good with children in general, although their large size can be intimidating to some smaller children since they stand so tall.
Due to their large size, they are not an easy prey for hawks. If they are to be totally confined, coop space should be minimally four square feet/bird – more is better and several sources recommend eight square feet/bird.
The feathers on all Giants are ‘tighter’ than most other common poultry breeds, making them easier to clean up prior to showing or exhibition. It also serves them well in cold climates and they are a good, cold tolerant bird.
The egg laying is not too shabby at 150-200 eggs per year, averaging between 2-4 eggs per week. Eggs are very large, light to medium brown in color.
The hens seldom go broody, but when they do they really aren’t the greatest setters because of their weight – sadly they are prone to breaking the eggs.
The egg size is very large, and because of this size chicks may take a couple of extra days to hatch. Also worth noting is that pullets may not reach their point of lay until around 6 months old.
However, the Jersey Giant eggs can be set under a regular broody hen to ensure a continuous supply of quality birds.
Common Health Issues
In consideration of their weight, perches in the coop should be placed a bit lower to the ground than standard to avoid leg injuries and the perches themselves should be robust.
Other than consideration for possible leg injuries, the bird does not suffer from any unusual maladies or genetic problems, in fact it is a robust and healthy breed.