Jersey Giant Chicken Quick Facts
- Known for: among the heaviest of all chicken breeds, calm demeanor even in roosters, and a good dual-purpose meat and egg chicken
- Temperament: a docile, mellow bird that is friendly to chickens and humans alike
- Eggs: 150-200 large brown eggs each year
- Meat: excellent—reaches maturity at 20 weeks with 13 lb males and 10 lb females
- Climate: good heat tolerance and excellent cold tolerance, will continue laying through winter
- Broodiness: somewhat likely to go broody and sit on their eggs
Jersey Giant Chicken Overview
The Jersey Giant is the world’s largest chicken. They make huge meat birds and lay a good number of eggs despite the cold winter months. Jersey Giant chickens handle confinement well and are docile and friendly birds.
Jersey Giant chickens will lay 150-200 large brown eggs each year. Because Jersey Giant chickens are so large, they can be heavy eaters. They will also need a little extra space in the coop and run because of their huge size.
Jersey Giant chickens are not ideal for anyone who lives in a hot climate because they have so many feathers that they may overheat quickly. IF you do live where it’s extra warm, make sure their coop has plenty of ventilation. Jersey Giants are extremely quiet, so if you live near someone else, they might be just what you’re looking for, provided that there is enough space.
Pros and Cons of Jersey Giant Chickens
- Pros: docile, lays large eggs, beautiful to look at, mellow, friendly, likes to cuddle, quiet, and makes an excellent meat bird
- Cons: special coop requirements, eats a lot, slower to mature with a poorer feed conversion ratio than other meat birds
Jersey Giant Chicken Appearance
- Size: Extra large-sized birds 10 lb females and 13 lb males
- Color: Black, white, and blue varieties
- Egg Color: Jersey Giant chicken eggs are brown in color
The Jersey Giant is a huge chicken. The roosters can grow up to 2 feet tall, and the hens 1.5 feet tall. The Black variety is generally 1 pound heavier than the white variety of Jersey Giant.
The Jersey Giant has more tightly woven feathers than most breeds of chicken, which serves them well in the cold weather, keeping them warm and dry. The Black Jersey Giant has black feathers with a beautiful beetle green sheen.
Jersey Giant Chicken Egg Production
Jersey Giant chickens are decent egg layers and will lay a good amount of eggs—about 200 eggs per year. If you’d like to get more eggs from your Jersey Giant, collect eggs daily to keep them from going broody and sitting on a full clutch of eggs.
They lay wonderful large to extra large brown eggs. Hens will reach full maturity at 20 weeks, and they should start laying shortly after, though it can take up to seven months for some Jersey Giant hens to start laying. To keep your birds healthy and productive, keep their coop and run clean. You can also give them a separate bowl of oyster shells or crushed eggshells to consume as desired. These supplements will provide the extra calcium they require to lay eggs as well as possible.
Jersey Giant Chicken Meat Production
The Jersey Giant is great meat-producing chicken. Though they are slower growing, their size makes up for it. The one downside is that they do take more feed to get the same amount of meat as other hybrid meat birds do.
You can process Jersey Giant chickens as early as 8 to 10 weeks and they will often big as bigs as a 6-month-old chicken of a standard breed. You can also let them continue growing to get the most meat possible and butcher at 7 to 8 months old. If you are using Jersey Giants for meat chickens, do keep in mind they eat quite a lot of feed and factor that into your cost and the timing of harvesting your chickens.
Jersey Giant Chicken Broodiness
A Jersey Giant hen may take a very long while to go broody and set on a clutch of eggs. And once they do go broody, they don’t always make the best mothers because they are so heavy and often crush their eggs. If you want to hatch fertilized Jersey Giant chicken eggs yourself, you can purchase an incubator that automatically turns your eggs, and controls the temperature and some models even control the humidity.
Because broody Jersey Giant chickens are so large and heavy and have a tendency to crush their eggs, it’s a good idea to check on her regularly. To help her along, give her a separate brooding space from the rest of the flock that has ample space for her and her chicks to move around.
Jersey Giant Chicken Temperament
The Jersey Giant is a docile, calm chicken that is easy to handle. They are sociable and will follow you about and softly talk to you. Because of their size, they are unable to fly and tend to stay close to the ground. This helps them handle confinement and smaller urban spaces well, so they may be a great fit for your backyard farm.
Even though Jersey Giant chickens are so friendly and sweet, they’re not the kind of chicken you can easily pick up and hold or place in your lap, though some owners still do.
They are at the top of the pecking order since they are so massive, which means other chicken breeds leave them alone and don’t bother them. However, more aggressive breeds may intimidate a Jersey Giant because they are so docile and don’t confront their aggressors. They’re wonderful flock leaders and guardians due to their strong and gentle nature.
They are known for their calm personalities, although they can be a little goofy and fun to watch. They get along well with children and enjoy being petted. Jersey Giant chickens would make an excellent addition to any household or new chicken owner.
Jersey Giant Chicken Noise Level
Even though they are large, the Jersey Giant chicken is a quiet breed. Typically breeds that are mellow are also on the more quiet side. Though you will still hear them when are altering for a predator or making their egg-laying song, the sound will be soft and quiet. Another reason these chickens would make a great addition to a suburban farm or backyard.
Jersey Giant Chicken Care
Thankfully the Jersey Giant chicken is a hardy and healthy chicken with relatively few health problems that require extra care. When they do need special care, it is often due to their large size.
You will want to make sure their coop has plenty of space for your gentle giant chicken. Keeping it well ventilated will help your Jersey Giant handle the summer heat and all those tightly woven feathers. You can also get your chicks vaccinated or use medicated chick starter, and put a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in their plastic waterer to boost their immune systems.
If you live in a warm climate, you will have to take extra care your Jersey Giant chicken doesn’t overheat with its large size and abundant feathers. Make sure they have areas of shade, the coop has plenty of ventilation, and you can even provide a kiddie pool of water they can walk in to cool off.
To learn more about how to take care of your Jersey Giant chickens, read our Ultimate Guide to Taking Care of Chickens.
Jersey Giant Chicken Housing
Jersey Giant chickens will require extra space in the coop, run, and nesting boxes because of their large size. They need six square feet each inside their coop, and fifteen square feet each in their run.
Even though Jersey Giant chickens are so heavy they can’t fly well, they still love to roost. Make sure to provide a low roosting space in the coop with ten inches of roosting space per chicken. Your hens will need about one nesting box for every three hens so they don’t get too crowded and a good size for a Jersey Giant nesting box is 14×14 inches. Both the perches and nesting boxes should be low to the ground since your Jersey Giant chickens can’t quite fly.
Feeding Jersey Giant Chickens
Jersey Giant chickens can be given standard chick starter from hatching till they reach maturity around 20 weeks. Even though Jersey Giants may be slower to lay, you can begin to give them standard layer feed at 20 weeks. Layer feed contains 16% protein and added calcium to keep their eggshells healthy and strong. Roosters can eat the same feed as the hens unless you are planning to use them for meat then you’ll want to separate them and feed them higher protein broiler fed.
You will notice that Jersey Giant chickens eat a lot of food due to their big size. We don’t recommend you ration their food, which can make them cranky and bossy to other flock members. It’s best to leave their feed available at all times so they can freely choose how much to eat.
You may give your Jersey Giant chickens as much free-roaming space to eat plants and bugs as you can provide. They’ll also enjoy kitchen scraps (though there are some that are harmful, so avoid avocados, dried beans, junk or rotten food, green potato skins, citrus, onions, or tomato or potato leaves from the garden.) Giving them this variety will not only help you save money on their large feed requirements but will also keep them healthy and entertained.
Offering Jersey Giant chickens grit is important for their health. Since chickens don’t have teeth, they need fine gravel or coarse sand in their gizzards to digest their food. Free-range chickens can usually naturally find this, but if your Jersey Giant chickens don’t have access to pebbles, sand, or fine gravel, you’ll want to offer some supplemental grit.
Chicken scratch is also an important supplement to offer to Jersey Giant chickens who are confined to a run or small space. Scratch is a mixture of whole grains that stimulates pecking and scratching behaviors which are soothing to chickens.
Chicken Treats: You don’t HAVE to give your Jersey Giant chickens treats, but it’s a lot of fun! Mealworm and black soldier fly larva treats are excellent snacks for chickens that you can get from the feed store.
What is it like to own a Jersey Giant Chicken?
The Jersey Giant is the ruler of the flock. They don’t bully other chickens, but because of their large size, they keep the pecking order in line. They lay large eggs often. Every once in a while you can even get huge eggs from them. They are friendly, calm, and not too loud.
The Jersey Giant is a beautiful chicken. Its majestic large size is truly a sight to be seen, and its black feathers glisten with emerald green. They are curious, quiet, and good with kids. They also handle being in an enclosed run very well, so if you have the coop and run space for them, they would be perfect in a neighborhood.
If you live in a colder area with less winter light, you will appreciate that the Jersey Giant can continue laying well throughout the winter months. They are slower to grow, but the eggs and sweetness they give are worth the wait.
Jersey Giant Chicken Breed History
The Jersey Giant chicken was developed by crossing several large Asian chickens in New Jersey in the late 19th century. John and Thomas Black wanted to create a new breed of chicken large enough to replace turkey at the dinner table. They succeeded! Some big Jersey Giant Chickens can be bigger than turkeys.
The Jersey Giant was a combination of a Black Java, a dark Brahma, and a Black Langshan. It was accepted into the APA (American Poultry Association) in 1922. However in 2001, it was moved to the critically endangered list, and in 2017 to the watch list.
The Jersey Giant has slowly been returning in popularity mostly due to small backyard poultry farmers who enjoy their mellow temperament and huge size.
For many small poultry farmers, the Jersey Giant chicken becomes like a pet. It is calm and mellow and even likes to be held. Coming in around 1.5 to 2 feet tall it is like a medium-sized dog.
They also lay wonderful extra large brown eggs—about 200 per year, and make a good meat bird too. If you’re able to provide low roosts and nesting boxes and plenty of space in the coop, these quiet, gentle giants would make an excellent addition to your backyard or farm.
Do you own Jersey Giant chickens? Let us know in the comments below what your experience has been.