Pets & Animals | 23 June 2017The Backyard Field Guide to Chickens: Jersey Giant Chickens Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Need a comprehensive overview of every breed of chicken ‘round the world, plus tried-and-true insight into raising your own flock? Author Christine Heinrichs has got you covered. The Backyard Field Guide to Chickens is a photo-filled exploration of every common breed of chicken from the Rhode Island Red to the Sicilian Buttercup (nope, that’s not a typo; we really mean Buttercup). Today, we’re taking a look at the heavyweight Jersey Giant. The Jersey Giant Chicken Recognize Jersey Giants by—you guessed it—size. At thirteen pounds and two feet tall, Jersey Giant roosters live up to their name. Hens, at ten pounds and a foot and a half tall, are bigger than roosters of most other breeds. Most Jersey Giants are black, the original color developed by the brothers Black, John and Thomas, of New Jersey back in the 1890s. They sold poultry to the city-dwellers of New York and Philadelphia, who wanted big roasting chickens. The Black brothers’ idea was to create a chicken big enough to replace the turkey at holiday feasts. To create the Giants, the Black brothers crossed Javas with Dark Brahmas and Black Langshans and selected the biggest birds for the next round of breeding. Big, muscular Cornish was probably added along the way. By 1895, their flock had the largest birds. They were mostly black, so they came to be known as Black’s Giants. Later, in 1917, another breeder suggested honoring the state where they were developed by calling them Jersey Giants. The breed was accepted into the Standard in 1922. Because they need more time to grow to achieve their larger size, their meat requires longer roasting. They are not recommended as fryers or broilers. Despite their large size, they are also good layers of large and extra-large brown eggs. Jersey Giants that are caponized, castrated like steers, grow faster and bigger. Jersey Giant capons could be as large as ten or twelve pounds by seven months old. Caponizing is rarely done today, but it could be a market niche for a small producer. Like the Javas, Giants have yellow skin. White sports were bred to create a white variety, which was recognized by the APA in 1947. Both varieties are solid color. Blue Jersey Giants were developed from a white sport bred back to a black male resulting in some chickens with splash plumage. Breeding those splash females to a black male eventually resulted in chickens with blue coloring. The blue color pattern in chickens never breeds 100 percent blue birds. It’s called incomplete dominance and results in about a quarter of the offspring growing up black, a quarter growing up splash, and half growing up blue. Bantams are on the Inactive list. But then, what’s the point of a bantam Giant? Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: The Backyard Field Guide to Chickens: Every common breed of chicken, organized into one information-packed guide. Fueled by the local and organic food movements, as well as a sea change in local ordinances, backyard chicken keeping is booming. Anyone who’s decided to join the new wave of chicken keepers knows that the poultry breeds available are dizzying in their variety. Calm your anxiety with this book–a guide for backyard chicken keepers in search of chickens that best fit their needs. Each breed of chicken listed in the field guide is thoroughly described and is illustrated by color photos. The book tells you all about the bird, detailing each breed’s particular usefulness, adaptation to climate, coloration, number of eggs typically laid, foraging ability, temperament, and unique qualities. There are fun facts about varieties of chickens, as well as information about color and comb varieties, rare breeds, classification, and hybrids. Christine Heinrichs is the author of How to Raise Chickens and How to Raise Poultry (both Voyageur Press, 2013) and has won many awards over the course of her 30-year writing career. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Northern California Science Writers Association, and Ten Spurs, the honorary society of the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. She is also a member of the American Poultry Association, where she serves on the Heritage Breeds Committee, the American Bantam Association, and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. She lives with her husband, chickens, and cat in Cambria, California. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.