At first glance, Java chickens may not seem that different from any other chicken breed. But, there is more to this breed than meets the eye. Java chickens are beautiful in appearance and they are very useful as well.

Without giving too much away, they make great backyard chickens and are highly adaptable. Keep reading to learn why you may want to consider bringing Java chickens into your life.

new chicken divider Quick Facts About Java Chickens

Breed Name:Java Chicken
Place of Origin:United States
Uses:Eggs, meat
Rooster (Male) Size:9.5 pounds
Hen (Female) Size:6.5-7.5 pounds
Color:Black, mottled, white, auburn
Lifespan:5-8 years
Climate Tolerance:All climates
Care Level:Easy
Production:Eggs, meat

Java Chicken Origins

Their name might lead you to believe that Java chickens were developed on the island of Java in Indonesia. But, the Java chicken was actually developed in the United States of America and is thought to be the second oldest breed of chicken that was developed here.

However, the thought that Java chickens came from Indonesia isn’t totally inaccurate. It was actually the ancestors of this chicken breed that were thought to have been brought to America from the Far East, with Java being the most likely place of origin.

It’s also unclear when the Java chicken was actually developed in America. But, the consensus is that they were known to be here sometime between 1835 and 1850. They were used mostly for meat production in the mid-1800s. The Java chicken was also used to create the Plymouth Rock and Jersey Giant chicken breeds.

Java Chicken
Image Credit: Tanx, Shutterstock

Java Chicken Characteristics

Compared to other chickens, Javas are a heavy breed with a very distinguishable body. Their body is rectangular in shape, but they have the longest backs of any American chicken. The back line is also sloped and they have deep breasts. They have a single comb that is red in color, and their wattles are red in color as well.

All varieties of Java chickens have yellow skin underneath their feathers. They produce brown eggs that are large in size. Java roosters usually weigh around 9.5 pounds, while Java hens weigh between 6.5 and 7.5 pounds. With proper care, the lifespan of Java chickens is between 5 and 8 years.

The temperament of Java chickens is very docile and calm. They are also a very hardy breed, which allows them to live in a variety of different climates. They tend to do best in a free-range environment, as they are excellent foragers. But, they do just as well in confinement and can be just as happy content when confined.


Java chickens are a great dual-purpose breed. Although they were originally bred for their meat, they are also very prolific egg layers. A single Java hen can lay up to four eggs per week starting when they are about six months old. If the eggs are allowed to hatch, they usually require an incubation period of about 21 days.

As far as their meat production, Javas are slow-growing compared to other chickens that are farmed for their meat. It takes a Java chicken about three to four months to reach a market weight of 6.5 to 8 pounds.

Appearance & Varieties

Java chickens come in four different varieties: black, white, mottled, and auburn. Only the black and mottled varieties are recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) as being the Standard of Perfection for the breed.

Black Java chickens have a brilliant green sheen to their feathers, a color that resembles the green often seen on beetles. They also have eyes that are dark in color as well as black legs and yellow feet. White Javas are solid white in color with yellow legs. They look almost identical to white Plymouth Rock chickens which is why they are no longer accepted as a Standard of Perfection by the APA.

The Mottled Java chicken is primarily black with mottles (splotches) of white. The legs are a gray-blue color and the feet yellow. Auburn Java chickens look very similar to the mottled variety, but the coloring is mottled with black and orange instead of white and they have never been officially recognized by the APA.

Population, Distribution & Habitat

Java chickens are a very hardy breed with a tolerance for pretty much any climate. With that being said, they are more heat-tolerant than they are cold-tolerant. If you allow them to free roam, it’s important that you also provide them with a coop during the colder months to keep them warm, especially when temperatures drop below freezing.

Java birds were very popular on the East Coast of the United States, particularly in New York and New Jersey. That’s why it was used in the creation of other breeds, including Plymouth Rock, Jersey Giant, and in the case of the auburn variety, Rhode Island Reds.

However, due to the creation of the aforementioned breeds and their increase in popularity, Java chickens became less popular. In fact, they became so unpopular that they were almost extinct by the late 1900s. Their numbers are increasing again thanks to a concentrated breeding effort, but they are still on The Livestock Conservancy’s Watch List.

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Are Java Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Java chickens are great for small-scale farming and make wonderful chickens for egg production, meat production, or both. They are very easy to handle as they are very friendly and docile, and they tend to get along well with other members of the flock.

Strong Foragers

They are excellent foragers and because of this, they do well in a free-range environment. You can also keep them in a coop and they will do just as well. But remember, if you live in a climate that frequently sees cold temperatures, a coop is necessary even if the chickens are normally free-range.

Hardy Birds

Java chickens also tend to be very healthy due to the overall hardiness of the breed. Their health mostly depends on how well you care for them as they can become ill just like any other chicken breed if they aren’t given proper care.

One of the biggest concerns you have to watch out for in any chicken breed is parasites. Parasites, such as worms, mites, ticks, etc., are much more common in free-range chickens due to them not being as confined, but any chicken can get them due to factors in their environment.

Health Monitoring is Essential

It’s very important to keep a close eye on the health of your chickens as well as keep their coop cleaned regularly to cut down on parasites and other illnesses. Otherwise, the exact care that you need to provide to your Javas just depends on if they are free-range or not.

Note that even free-range chickens still require food and shelter. They won’t get all of the nutrients that they need just from foraging, and shelters help them stay warm and dry which is essential for keeping them healthy. Making sure that they are up to date on their vaccines is important too.

new chicken divider Final Thoughts

If you’re interested in keeping chickens for the first time or just want to add to your existing flock of chickens, Javas are a great choice overall. This dual-purpose breed is very hardy and can live in a variety of different climates. They can also thrive in a free-range or confined environment. And by owning Java chickens, you’d also be helping to make a breed that almost went extinct more prevalent again.

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Featured Image Credit: Twilightdawn801, Shutterstock