If we search Google for the biggest chicken breed, the majority of the sources would tell us that the biggest chicken breed is no other than Jersey Giant. The term “giant” alone would support this claim and in this article, we are going to learn more about the Jersey Giant breed.
The History of Jersey Giant
Originally developed by John and Thomas Black, near Jobstown, New Jersey, it was another bird that was produced to fill a marketing niche. At around that time (the 1870s’-1890s’) there was a demand for big, heavy roasting birds that would rival, perhaps even surpass, the more common turkey. Late in the development of this bird, commercial large, broad-breasted turkeys were presented to the public, so the Jersey Giant did not achieve the initial goal set for it.
The brothers used a mix of Black Java, black Langshan, and dark Brahmas’ to achieve the bird they wanted. It’s unclear if any other breeds were added in the beginning.
The name ‘Jersey Giant’ took some time to emerge. Originally they were simply named ‘Giants’, they were then called Blacks Giants around the turn of the century in honor of the Black brothers.
The name Jersey Black Giants was created around 1917 in honor of the State it was created in.
Originally, there was little attention paid to the color of the birds, which led to a variety of colors in the feathering.
However, a breeder by the name of Maloney and a few other breeders were working to make the breed more standardized in color and conformation. He began exhibiting them for the public to see and admire.
His work paid off and within a few short years, the Black Jersey Giant was accepted into the APA (American Poultry Association) in 1922, like a blackbird.
Jersey Giant Standard and Appearance
The Black Jersey Giant was admitted to the American Poultry Association in 1922. The White followed in 1947 and the Blue in 2003.
The Giant is a big bird – males can weigh in at around 5.9 kilograms with the females weighing around 4.5 kilograms. The black variety is usually around a kilo and a half heavier than the white.
The height of the male bird is usually between 22-26 inches with the female being 16-20 inches.
The bird has a moderate to a long body that is both wide and deep – giving the impression of a square bird. The back is very broad and flat and a tail that is relatively short for the size of the bird. As we have already noted this is a robust bird.
Black Giants should have a ‘beetle green’ sheen to their feathers in sunlight, which is absolutely stunning.
Legs should be black although they have yellow soles on their feet and four toes on each foot. There should be no feathering on the legs. A single comb and wattles should be red. They are yellow-skinned birds. Eyes are dark brown. The beak should be black with a slight tinge of yellow at the tip. White Giants have willow-colored shanks and yellow soles. The beak of the Whites is more yellowish.
The Blue Jersey Giant should have nearly black shanks, occasionally a tendency towards dark willow. The feather coloring should be a slatey blue laced with darker blue.
The feathers on all Giants are ‘tighter than most other common poultry breeds, making them easier to clean up prior to showing or exhibition. It also serves them well in cold climates and they are good, cold-tolerant bird.
Difference Between Jersey Giant and Black Australorp
Black Australorps and Jersey Giants are often mistaken by some people who are less familiar with both chicken breeds. Although Jersey Giants are huge, some look like Black Australorps.
The Australorp has white skin. The shanks and toes are dark slate. The undersides of the feet are pinkish white to grayish. The Jersey Giant’s skin is yellow. The shanks and toes are black to dusky yellowish-green. The undersides of the feet are yellow.
Australorps chicks have different colors as well. They have yellowish-white from the neck down the breast and white wingtip until around 2 months. Jersey Giant chicks have almost the same color but lighter and have yellowish and black shanks and legs.
An Australorp hen lays large eggs with tinted (light brown to pink) shells. An Australorp hen’s rate of lay for the first year or two ranges between 200 and 280 eggs annually. According to the Livestock Conservancy, an Australorp hen once set a world record by laying an amazing 364 eggs in 365 days. Being good layers, excellent foragers, and a dark color that reduces the chance of attracting predators, Australorps are popular for pastured egg production.
A Jersey Giant hen lays extra-large eggs with brown to dark brown shells. The average production rate ranges from 175 to 185 eggs per year, although Jersey Giants bred specifically for production lay somewhat better. Hens in Cackle Hatchery’s production-bred line may lay as many as 260 eggs per year.
Jersey Giant in the Philippines
Like many other American heritage chicken breeds, There are many breeders of Jersey Giants in the Philippines, and the price of both chicks and breeders could vary depending on a number of reasons.
Although there are a few extra considerations to think of when having Jersey Giants, mainly in space, feed, and height requirements, they really are an easy bird to raise. If you have a larger family and wish to raise your own birds, the Jersey Giant may be a great fit for you.
They are certainly not for the folks who wish to raise a table bird in under a couple of months, but the wait is worthwhile. They are becoming a favorite amongst the ‘slow food’ crowd who prefer the taste of the bird to the speed at which it’s raised. This is a superb bird worthy of the time and effort required in raising them, if you have space and ability, give them a try – you may grow to love them!