barnevelder chicken breed
Ed Henry / Flickr (Creative Commons)
  • Purpose: Dual Purpose — Meat And Eggs
  • Eggs: Light Or Dark Brown
  • Egg Size: Large
  • Color: Brown With Double-Laced Pattern
  • Comb Type: Single Comb

Chocolate eggs may sound like something that is only associated with imaginary bunnies at Easter time, but what if you could have lovely, dark-brown eggs throughout most of the year? Look no further than the beautifully-feathered, docile, and unusual egg-producing Barnevelder chicken!

The most popular characteristics of the Barnevelder hen are the dazzling dark-brown eggs, and the unique double-laced pattern on the majority of their iridescent, glossy feathers. Unfortunately, the focus on these traits may have begun to hurt the breed, rather than help it.

Intensive focus on breeding for egg color has led to some hens that don’t exhibit the patterned feathers. Conversely, breeding focused on the feather pattern has led to some hens that don’t produce nearly as dark an egg.

Though they are typified as hardy birds due to their cold-weather, Dutch background, some Barnevelder keepers also report that their birds aren’t as cold-hardy or disease resistant as other breeds.

We suspect that the attempts to perfect this already lovely bird’s unique feathers or egg color has led to a more fragile version of the breed. If you’re not too concerned about the look of your flock and prefer a more hardy hen, maybe the rock-solid Rhode Island Red is the egg layer for you!

Though they’ll certainly be more difficult to find, bantam varieties of these lovely birds do exist.


Very recently developed in Holland from mostly black chickens, the Barnevelder, or Barney, as it is sometimes affectionately known, is a gorgeous sight to behold in the chicken coop.

With iridescent-green feathers striped with double layers of light lacing, they will certainly merit a double-take! In addition to their looks, they are also renowned as layers of rich brown eggs. If you are looking for an egg collection basket that’s full of surprises, adding some Barnevelders and Easter Eggers to your flock will certainly give you something to discuss with the neighbors!

In addition to being visually interesting, Barnevelders are lively and friendly birds. With a willingness to be confined to smaller spaces and a docile, even lazy nature, they may be ideal birds for the beginning or young chicken-keeper.

What’s the Yield?

The medium-sized Barnevelder can reach somewhere between 6 and 7 pounds at maturity. Though, it may take them a while to get there! While they are slow to reach their full size, you can at least enjoy their emerging beauty while you wait for the eggs to arrive.

When it is time for full egg production, most hens are good layers, producing about three eggs a week. Keep in mind that your birds may not produce eggs as dark as those seen online, and that the color does diminish throughout the laying season. Even if they are slightly lighter than they were in the spring, Barnevelder chickens may continue to lay far into the winter–longer than most of your other birds!

Pictures Of Barnevelder Chickens


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