California Grey Chicken – Breed Profile & Facts
Anyone looking for a versatile hybrid chicken breed has good reasons to consider the California Grey chicken breed. This breed can surpass the White Leghorn in longevity and laying capabilities. It’s highly adaptable and an extremely cold hardy breed.
California Grey hens are excellent winter layers. California Greys are quieter and less flighty than other hybrids. They are easy to handle, and they are also friendly chickens to raise.
California Grey Chickens – Quick Facts
|Egg Production||280-300 / year|
|Comb Type||Single comb|
|Coloration||Grey plumage with white spots|
What are California Grey Chickens?
California Grey chickens are American chickens originating from California. These chickens have been famous since the 1930s after their introduction to the poultry world by Horace Dryden. Horace successfully created these chickens by crossing the White Leghorns and Barred Plymouth Rocks.
These dual-purpose birds are rare, and the American Poultry Association (APA) doesn’t recognize them for exhibition. Livestock Conservancy doesn’t list these birds on its poultry conservation priority list.
California Grey Chicken Characteristics
Because California Grey chickens are a crossbreed of two beautiful birds- the Barred Plymouth Rocks and White Leghorns, these chickens boast the best traits of these two beautiful breeds.
They have a striking coloring, thanks to their grey barred plumage. These chickens’ coloring comes from their Barred Plymouth Rocks ancestry. Their bodies resemble those of their White Leghorns ancestry.
It is straightforward to distinguish a male or a female California Grey chicken from the hatching time because there is a palpable color difference between the two genders.
For instance, female California Grey baby chicks have a darker coloring than their male counterparts. You can also notice some physical attributes in these chickens that will help you determine their gender when they grow into adult chickens, such as the size of their bodies.
California Grey chickens have conspicuous red wattles and combs. If you observe their feet keenly, you will notice these birds have a bright yellow coloring on their shanks and toes. These chickens have much smaller ears than other breeds. California grey chickens are also among the breeds with featherless feet. These chickens have reddish-brown eyes.
– Size & Weight
California Grey chickens are small to medium-sized fowl. California Grey roosters weigh around 5.5 lbs., with females weighing approximately 4.4 lbs. These chickens are much lighter than one of their parent fowl, the Barred Plymouth Rocks. Nonetheless, these birds are relatively heavier than the White Leghorns, their other parent fowl.
The California Grey chicken breed is friendly and flexible. California Greys are pretty versatile, and they adapt quite quickly. You can easily adjust your farm, poultry, and home when these birds are around. These chickens are sociable, and their friendly nature makes them fantastic pets. Because of their friendly disposition, you can make sweet bonds with your California Grey chickens. These chickens handle petting, so they are excellent for kids.
Because of their highly adaptable nature, California Grey chickens can thrive in cold and hot weather conditions. These birds are fantastic foragers, so they cherish living in open spaces. They make lovely free-range birds. Furthermore, California Grey chickens can also thrive in confinement. They are also less flighty, unlike their parent fowl.
Unlike other hybrid chicken breeds, California Greys are pretty hardy. These birds can live many more years than most breeds. On average, California Grey chickens can live for six to ten years.
Some California Grey chickens can live for up to 12 years on the condition that they get excellent care. However, only a few California Grey chickens can live for almost a decade because of living conditions, diseases, and predation. You can expect your California Grey chickens to live longer than the average chicken breeds.
– Egg Production
Breeders develop California Grey chickens to meet the soaring demands for white eggs. Although these chickens fall under the category of dual-purpose breeds, these birds are famous for their incredible egg-laying capabilities. It is possibly because they are close relatives of the White Leghorns, which are wonder layers of white eggs.
Just like the California white chickens, California Grey hens lay approximately 300 eggs annually. Hens usually lay large-sized white eggs. The dozens of eggs these chickens lay and the size of the white eggs they produce proves how extraordinary these chickens are when it gets to egg production.
Given their terrific egg-laying capabilities, these chickens are excellent to raise for large-scale and commercial egg production. These chickens are also suitable for domestic egg production because they lay tons of white eggs. These chickens will continue laying provided they are healthy. Egg production in California Grey chickens will decline as the hens grow old.
– Meat Production
Although California Grey chickens are some of the best hybrid chickens for domestic and large-scale egg production, they are not the best fowl to raise for meat. These birds are smaller than the larger meat-producing breeds, like the Australorp chickens.
Thus, your California greys will only produce smaller meat quantities that are only enough for you and your family. That notwithstanding, California Greys have some of the tastiest white meats.
California Grey Chicken Care
California Greys are some of the easiest birds to handle and care for. They have fewer needs than other hybrids, and keeping these chickens, mainly for egg production, can be a big bonus.
However, these chickens will only thrive when they receive excellent care. The California Grey chicken care guide below will be instrumental in guiding you on the best practices to adhere to when raising these hybrid birds.
– Feeding & Nutrition
California Greys don’t have special dietary needs, and thus they can survive even in a free-range environment. However, California Grey baby chicks need to start with a nutritious starter feed to boost their growth.
— Baby Chickens
The baby chicks can also survive on crumbles, although the crumbles you give to your chicks should offer excellent nutrition. Ideally, California Grey baby chicks should consume a nutritious starter feed with around 20% protein.
As your California Grey chicks continue growing, you can introduce a regular feed to them because they can digest tough feed at this phase of their growth. However, the feed needs a lot of protein, calcium, vitamins, and other crucial trace minerals. Pullets that are beginning to lay need a protein-rich diet.
Because California Greys are superb layers, it would help to have your young California Grey hens consume loads of protein-rich foods to prepare them for egg production in the near future. That’s why your young hens should have multiple protein-rich food items on their menu. Some of the best protein–rich foods to introduce to the hens include cooked eggs, fishmeal, and mealworms.
Whether roosters, hens, pullets, or baby chicks, California Greys will need additional protein during molting. Molting can affect your chickens’ health because they must simultaneously maintain their dietary requirements while growing feathers.
Protein will be particularly crucial for your California Greys during their annual molt because it speeds up the feather-growing process. Unfortunately, the yearly molt of these chickens coincides with late winter. So, your featherless chickens need to keep warm while struggling to regrow feathers.
Protein will be helpful to your chickens in these instances, because it will help them generate heat internally since their bodies will use more energy to digest protein, ultimately generating heat for the birds. Protein will ensure the chickens get what they require to replace the worn-out feathers with new ones.
Calcium is an essential mineral for California Greys, just like for any other chicken breed. Your California Greys will need it for bone development. The hens will significantly benefit from this mineral because it will enable the hens to lay large eggs with remarkably strong eggshells.
They are a few calcium-rich foods you can provide to your California Greys. You can support your chickens’ calcium intake by mixing crushed eggshells or oyster shells with their feed.
Like other breeds, California Greys also need vitamins like vitamins K, C, A, and D. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of these vital vitamins. A few slices of fruits like melons, oranges, and mangoes will give your California Greys vitamin C to develop robust immune systems.
Vegetables like chard, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli will provide the California Greys with vitamins K and A to boost their body function and eye vision, respectively.
California Greys should have water throughout because it is vital for their thermoregulation. Watering these chickens will help them quickly digest their food. Have ample poultry drinkers for your California Greys to ensure every fowl has clean water.
Because California Greys are lightweight to small-sized chickens, they don’t need a large coop like Australops, Jersey giants, and other large breeds. The average California Grey chicken needs around 3 square feet of space. The cage should also be clean and capable of accommodating all the birds in your flock.
The coop must have good ventilation to help your birds regulate their temperatures during cold and warm months. Nest boxes should be enough for your California Grey hens because they will lay many eggs. The number of nest boxes you provide to your California Greys should be proportionate with the number of hens in the coop.
That means you will need fewer nest boxes if you have few hens. Similarly, you will need more boxes if you have many hens.
– Health Problems
Every creature, including California Greys, has its sets of health problems. However, California Greys don’t have many health concerns. Some of the common health problems in these birds include calcium deficiency, whereby they develop weak muscles because of a calcium deficiency.
California Greys also suffer from obesity because of gaining too much weight. Some California Greys can develop ongoing reproductive issues because of genetic disposition.
How Much Do California Grey Chickens Cost?
California Greys are affordable, although they are some of the rarest hybrid chickens. California Grey baby chickens cost around $8, adult laying hens cost about $15, while adult roosters cost approximately $10.
Are California Grey Chickens Good for Beginners?
California Grey chickens are excellent for beginners because the birds are hardy and easy to keep. They also have a friendly disposition, a bonus for beginner chicken keepers.
Are California Grey Chickens Hardy?
Yes, California Greys are hardy and can tolerate many climate conditions. Furthermore, unlike most hybrids, these chickens don’t succumb to health problems.
Can California Grey Chicken Fly?
California grey chickens are the least flighty chickens. Although their wings allow them to fly when running from danger, these chickens are docile and will remain calm throughout.
Tips on Keeping California Grey Chickens
- Provide a suitable environment for your California Greys
- Ensure predators don’t attack your birds
- Vaccinate your California Greys from multiple health conditions
- Give your California Greys a nutritious diet
- Protect your California Greys from external and internal parasites
California Grey chickens are extraordinary chickens to raise, particularly for eggs. These dual-purpose fowl also produce excellently tasting meat. Furthermore, California Grey chickens are hardy, so they are extraordinary chickens to raise in all environments and conditions.