It can be hard to find the right hen to meet your needs when you first set up a backyard chicken coop. There are so many chicken varieties to consider, but one breed that truly stands out from the rest is the Silver Spangled Hamburg chicken. This chicken is also known as the Spangled Hamburg and in this brief guide, we will explore the breed in more detail.
An accurate history of the Silver Spangled Hamburg is hard to determine because many European nations have claimed this breed as their own unique creation. Certain poultry experts believe the origin lies somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean area and perhaps even as far as what is modern day Turkey.
The decision was made to name this breed as the “Hamburg” in 1848 after an English clergyman named Reverend E.S. Dixon. Mistakenly believed that his imported birds had arrived from Hamburg in Germany.
We do know that the Silver Spangled Hamburg was developed into its modern form in Britain and Holland. In Britain, the Black and Spangled varieties were perfected and in Holland, the Penciled variety was the focus of attention.
This is an older poultry breed, the hens are prolific layers, the eggs are white and medium-sized. This laying ability led to the nickname “Dutch Everyday Layer” which was in common use at one time. To this day, the Hamburg is well regarded, it’s economical to keep because it requires less food than many other breeds.
The Silver Spangled Hamburg chicken has a diminutive stature with graceful outlines. it has lustrous green/black spangles that stand out against the silver/white plumage. This is a gorgeous breed with a polka-dot appearance available in both a bantam (miniature) and standard size. At the head, the Hamburg has white earlobes and neat combs in a vivid rose color.
The toes and the shanks are a leaden blue color. When the chicks are babies, they have a silver/gray color with lighter and darker parallel stripes across their backs. The standard size roosters and hens weigh-in at 5 lbs and 4 lbs respectively. The bantam roosters and hens weigh in at 26 oz and 22 oz respectively.
The Temperament of the Hamburg Chicken
They are Active and Adventuress
The Spangled Hamburg has an active lifestyle. They are lively and keen to experience adventures. As you might expect, this equates to a temperament that is wilder and more spirited than many other breeds that you may be familiar with. These chickens really love exploring, foraging and they will fly on occasion if they are in the mood. They are keen on informing you about everything that’s going on in their lives and they lay a lot of eggs.
Silver Spangled Hamburg Chicken need to be kept Happy with Plenty of Room to Move
These characteristics may sound ideal, but this breed is not for everyone, and they can be a lot of work. They will need a big yard and if they are not happy, they can become aggressive until the problems are resolved to their satisfaction. The Hamburgs hens are not particularly broody, which is fine if you don’t want to hatch chicks at home. But if you are interested in hatching chicks you cannot rely on these hens to incubate or ever raise their young.
They need to have a Warm, clean, Dry Chicken Coop
The Silver Spangled Hamburg is very tolerant of inclement weather, and they will often remain outside scratching when lesser breeds have retreated indoors. Many chicken keepers have reported that their Hamburgs have been seen out foraging when the snow is deeper than their legs! So, to keep these birds happy you will need a large, dry coop that’s draft-free for them to warm up and dry off after an adventure. If you add a heater over the roosting bars, your efforts will be appreciated by your Hamburgs.
As they like to Jump and Fly-A Roof on the Chicken Run is a good Idea
As a cautionary note, it’s important to understand that these chickens can jump higher than you might expect, and they are pretty good fliers too. If you want to keep them confined, you will need a roof on the coop, but they cannot be confined in smaller areas. If you have a larger backyard, you can set a boundary with a taller fence, and you will probably want to clip the wing feathers. But if you do clip them, you will degrade their natural ability to evade predators and they must have extra protection to compensate.
To put this into some perspective, a Silver Spangled Hamburg chicken can fly to a height where it could roost on your roof or in nearby trees. In fact, they are well known for this kind of behavior, and this can make them vulnerable to the elements and predators. If you don’t want to cover your yard it is possible to train Hamburgs to roost in the coop at night.
Hamburg Chickens are good Layers
If your primary focus of having hens is to maximize the egg yield, then you can’t get much better than a Silver Spangled Hamburg. The hens tend to mature very quickly at between 4-5 months, and they will lay approximately 200 eggs per year. These are medium-sized white eggs, and you can expect at least 4 eggs every week.
It’s natural for hens to lay fewer eggs as they get older and eventually, they won’t lay any at all. But, this decline in production is less pronounced in Hamburgs and they tend to lay eggs for longer.
The Spangled Hamburg chicken is not a good candidate if you want pets that enjoy cuddles. With early training, you may discover the occasional individual that bonds with you. But, generally speaking, this is not an affection breed, and they tend to retain a certain wildness that’s hard to tame.
Most Hamburgs are happiest when foraging and they don’t care about the presence of humans much. In fact, Hamburg chickens don’t enjoy close interactions with people and at less than 6 feet most will retreat.
Some chicken keepers have referred to them as “loud”, “bossy” and “excitable”. When they lay an egg some of them get very noisy and they are not shy about sharing their views. The Hamburg chickens can be aggressive with other breeds if they don’t have that extra space to roam.
If you want plenty of eggs and you don’t mind the extra work, the Silver Spangled Hamburg chicken may be ideal for your needs.