Your Guide to the Dominique Chicken

Choosing the right hen to meet your needs can be a challenge because there are hundreds of chicken varieties to choose from. In our opinion, one of the better breeds is the Dominique chicken. This is the oldest chicken breed in America, and it arrived with the earliest European settlers. In this article, we will look at the Dominique chicken characteristics in more detail to help you make an informed choice.

History Of the Dominique Chicken

Dominique Chicken

The Dominique chicken is thought to originate from birds imported into a French colony known as Saint-Dominique at the time, which is now known as Haiti. Like most European chicken breeds, the exact origins are shrouded in mystery. The feathers have a barred feather pattern with single and rose combs that were common from the mid 1700s onwards in the Eastern United States.

The growing interest in poultry created a need for uniformity. In 1871, The New York Poultry Society decided that the rose-combed chicken would be part of the Dominque breed. The single comb birds were separated to become part of the Plymouth Rock chicken breed.

The American Poultry Association officially recognized the Dominique chicken in 1874, and it was given a “Standard of Perfection.” This bird is a heritage breed, and it has been known by several different names, including Dominicker. Dominic, Dominico. Pilgrim Fowl, Old Grey Hen, and the Blue Spotted Hen.

Although the Dominique chicken was never a commercial bird, it was a popular choice up to the 1920s. This breed is easy to care for and extremely hardy which led to a resurgence of popularity during and after the Great Depression. During the post-World War 2 years, industrial poultry farming became popular, and the Dominique fell into obscurity again.

In the 1970s, the Dominique chicken bloodlines were nearing extinction, and only four flocks remained. The owners of these flocks were: Henry Miller, Carl Gallaher, Robert Henderson, and Edward Uber. These men remained steadfast in their support for this breed and due to their efforts, it survived.

In the intervening decades, The Livestock Conservancy wrote and published articles about the Dominique chicken. This effort increased their popularity, and the numbers increased up to 2006. From that point onward, the breed began to dwindle again, and the birds are on the watch list for endangered heritage chickens again. This is a real tragedy because the Dominiques are a great breed, but they are becoming rarer, and they need some real help to survive and thrive.

Characteristic Of the Dominique Chicken

The Dominique are often confused with the Plymouth Rock due to their common origins. Both have that iconic barred black and white pattern, but the Dominique pattern is jagged, and the Plymouth Rock has a crisper definition.

The only reliable way for most people to tell them apart is their combs. The Plymouth Rock has an upright comb, and the Dominiques have a flat rose comb. Dominique chickens are medium sized birds, their combs, earlobes, and wattles are red, the short beaks are yellow and the legs are featherless. A Dominique rooster weighs 7 lbs, and the hen weighs in at around 5 lbs. There are bantam sizes, with roosters weighing 28 oz and hens weighing 24 oz.

Temperament Of the Dominique

Dominque breed

It is a gentle and sweet natured hen which is a great choice for a backyard flock with kids in proximity. The hens will run when chased, but if the child has learned patience, they will return for handling. They don’t tend to be lap chickens, but there are exceptions, and they are keen to follow if they think you have treats.

This breed will fly short distances, and they don’t typically start fights with their flock mates and other chicken breeds. Some other calm breeds can be easily kept with Dominiques; they are Cochins, Polish Crested, and Buff Orpingtons. If you have assertive breeds like the Rhode Island Red, they may bully your Dominiques. Due to their docility and hardiness, they can be confined or kept free-range, and they are a great choice for a beginner.

Are There Any Special Requirements

Dominiques are a healthy breed, and they have no specific health problems. They are easy to care for and well regarded as a self-reliant chicken breed. But, like any poultry, they can be prone to parasites and pests, and they need preventative treatment.

Egg Production

The Dominiques are known to be good egg layers, and they are amongst the best egg laying breeds. The Dominique chicken egg color is brown, they lay around four per week, and the eggs grow as the hen ages.

Frequently Asked Question’s

Can you breed Dominique chickens?

Yes, and by doing so, you will be helping an endangered breed to survive. An adult Dominique hen will lay around 230 eggs annually with a market weight of 4-6 lbs. The chicks will mature and feather out quickly, and the coloration is sex-linked. The female chick has darker leg markings than males and a distinct head spot. The male Dominiques also have a head spot, but it’s faded and more diffuse in nature.

Are Dominique chickens rare?

Dominque Hen

Yes, the Dominique chicken achieved “Critical” endangered status from the Livestock Conservancy in the 1970s. From 2015 this dropped to “Watch,” and at that time, there were only 2,625 heads counted.

Are Dominique chickens good with kids?

Yes, they like to forage, they are steady with gentle kids, and they do OK in confinement if that’s all you have to offer. But the roosters may be aggressive during the mating season, and yet this is rarely directed towards the keepers.

ConclusionDominique Chicken

The Dominique chicken is often overlooked, which is unfortunate because this breed has many laudable qualities and characteristics. A beginner will appreciate their laid back demeanor and low-maintenance approach. They mature quickly, they’re good layers, and they enjoy foraging for their own food to supplement their diet. If you have snacks, you’ve got a friend for life, and they have great patience with kids. If you want to help this chicken variety to thrive once more, it’s easy to sex the chicks by coloration alone. As an added bonus, they’re cute, and their relative rarity makes them a great talking point with other keepers and breeders.