new hampshire chicken
Dornenwolf / Flickr (Creative Commons)
  • Purpose: Dual-Purpose
  • Eggs: Brown
  • Egg Size: Large And Extra-Large
  • Color: Red, Light-Gold
  • Comb Type: Single

If you are looking for a dual-purpose chicken with an emphasis on meat, look no further than the copper-bright New Hampshire chicken.

Developed in the state of – you guessed it – New Hampshire, this rather recently-recognized breed was derived entirely from carefully breeding Rhode Island Red chickens.

Folks trying their hands with chickens for the first time may be intimidated by the huge list of options, but this breed may very well be one of the best ones to start with.

Productive, robust and tolerant of most climates, this breed is a good go-to for both the new and experienced chicken keeper.

Characteristics

If you like the hardy and productive traits of the popular Rhode Island Red, consider the New Hampshire as an intensified option! Farmers and poultrymen are responsible for the creation of this breed, and the good sense of those practical-minded people seems to shine through in the birds’ attributes.

To distinguish between the breeds visually, there are a few points to consider. Since plumage was not a focus of the practical farmers, the New Hampshire ended up with a much more light-gold coloration than the near mahogany feathering of its forbears. They also grow a deep, broad body, and the hens sport a distinctive black collar of feathers around their necks.

The goal of the original breeders was to improve upon the desirable traits of the Rhode Island Red by focusing on individuals with quick feathering, rapid weight gain, and very early maturity. The result was a chicken that can offer the small homestead or farm everything they might need from a chicken, all wrapped up in a single breed!

They are good mothers, according to most sources, and some individuals are especially good at setting on eggs.

New Hampshire chickens are a toss-up, personality-wise. Like the proverbial box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get with these birds. Ranging from docile and mellow to aggressive and competitive, keep an open mind when introducing these birds to your flock and judge them individually.

What’s the Yield?

Though considered a dual-purpose breed, this chicken excels at producing quality meat. They fall on the heavier side of the chicken spectrum, with roosters usually reaching a satisfying 8.5 pounds and hens 6.5 pounds.

They are quite productive at producing large and extra-large eggs, too. Intensively managed hens can turn out as many as 240 brown eggs a year, but the productivity and vigor of the breed vary by strain. Both the Christie and Newcomber strains are noteworthy, yet difficult to locate. A respectable, yet slightly more modest 200 eggs a year may be the more typical output for the breed at large.

A Bird with a History

So, if the New Hampshire was made by combining only Rhode Island Red chickens, how is it considered a separate breed? The developers took 30 years to isolate and perfect the traits of their ideal bird, and it was considered physically different enough to earn its own name.

Historically, the New Hampshire has a fascinating and largely unknown presence in World War II lore. In Germany, the war had decimated the poultry population — both families and soldiers ate the birds to survive. As a good-will effort, American New Hampshire chickens were exported to the ravaged German countryside. The resulting unique strain of German New Hampshire chickens still exists today!

Photos of New Hampshire Chickens

new hampshire chicken
Cody and Maureen / Flickr (Creative Commons)
new hampshire chicken
Dornenwolf / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Resources

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *