The Barnevelder might strike your fancy when thinking of hen breeds to add to your flock—and it’s no wonder. This Dutch breed is hardy and valuable, touting a decent annual egg supply and pleasant temperament.

If you’re curious about the breed, we hashed out all the details so you can see if they would be a terrific addition to your already-stellar pack of poultry.

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Quick Facts About Barnevelder Chickens

Breed Name:Barnevelder
Place of Origin:Netherlands
Uses:Eggs, meat
Rooster (Male) Size:7 – 8 pounds
Hen (Female) Size:5 – 6 pounds
Color:Brown, black
Lifespan:7 – 15 years
Climate Tolerance:High
Care Level:Beginner
Production:180 eggs per year

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Barnevelder Chicken Origins

The Barnevelder chicken is a Dutch poultry breed in the late 1800s. After a group of Shanghai chickens came to Europe, they bred with local Dutch chickens, creating this crossbreed in the area of Barneveld.

The breed was developed for hardiness and winter egg production. The Barnevelder didn’t disappoint, being quite the decent meat chicken as well. It was finally standardized in 1923.

barnevelder chickens
Image Credit: Jolanda de Jong-Jansen, Shutterstock

Characteristics

The Barnevelder chicken, as most would agree, is a docile, charming addition to any existing laying flock. These chickens are slow, gentle, and good-natured, making them an ideal pick for children or beginner keepers.

Hens are often completely friendly, and roosters are calm. If you buy this breed and wind up with a rooster by mistake, they are likely to be much less aggressive than some other breeds.

Even though they are calm, they love to peck around the property. You will find these girls exploring the space, making them very good foragers. Active all day, they will love finding bugs, grains, and other edibles lying about.

These chickens are generally curious and friendly all the way around—and in some cases, even a bit too unafraid for their own good.

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Uses

Barnevelders are heavy chickens that make decent table birds if they are six months or older. However, most keepers use this breed for their egg-laying capabilities, finding it more valuable.

Eggs

These hens lay medium to large speckled golden-brown eggs. They are dependable layers, producing between 180 to 200 eggs per year—translating to roughly three to four eggs per week.

As with most chicken breeds, their production slows in the winter but still remains steady. Barnevelders produce beautiful chocolate-colored eggs. We should note that this breed might be slower to mature, not laying until eight months or later.

Meat

You could keep Barnevelders for a recurring meat source. However, this isn’t as common. They are considered a large chicken breed, slightly on the high end of standard chicken weight.

Broodiness

It is very likely that in a flock of Barnevelders, one or more will be broody. With natural mothering instincts, these hens are known to sit, even on eggs they did not lay.

If you find you’re having trouble collecting eggs, you might have to give her duds to “hatch.”

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Appearance & Varieties

The Barnevelder is a beautiful, heavy-bodied chicken that is muscular and fluffy-feathered. Hens have a very soft, light texture with a glossy double-lace feathering on a brown color base. Roosters, however, are melanistic black-breasted.

They have a single vertical comb on their head, though some varieties may differ. Barnevelder hens weigh roughly five to six pounds, and roosters weigh seven to eight pounds.

There was once a partridge Barnevelder in addition to the double-laced, but experts believe this variety might now be extinct.

Population

The Barnevelder is a relatively rare but not unheard-of chicken breed. Check with local and distant hatcheries, as some are willing to ship.

The health of your flock is of utmost importance, so make sure to buy from a reputable breeder or company.

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Are Barnevelder Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?

The Barnevelder would make a wonderful addition to any laying flock—and many slow-growing meat flocks. These birds often go broody, so you could have a mother hen or two on your hands, which is great if you’re interested in hatching naturally.

If Barnevelders sound like a good match for your needs, search locally for a hatchery near you.


Featured Image Credit: Chrislofotos, Shutterstock