New Hampshire Chicken – Breed Profile & Facts
As the name suggests, this breed is native to New Hampshire in the United States. It’s relatively new, having been developed in the early 1900s. It’s a derivative of the Rhode Island Red chicken species.
The New Hampshire grows fast, producing feathers a few weeks after hatching. Mature birds have light to medium red feathers that fade when exposed to the sun.
Despite being indistinguishable from its parent breed, the New Hampshire species isn’t as popular and successful. The Rhode Island Red overshadowed the New Hampshire, mainly because the two have similar looks and the former lays more eggs. It’s such a shame because New Hampshire is one of the best dual-purpose chickens.
If you want an excellent breed of chicken with a good egg-laying capacity and quality meat, consider the New Hampshire chicken.
History of New Hampshire Chickens
The development of the New Hampshire species began in the early years of the 20th century. The research, which involved local farmers and experts from the state Agricultural Experiment Station in Durham, lasted 30 years.
Researchers chose the best Rhode Island Red chickens and put them through selective breeding. The objective was to develop a species that grows faster, matures early, and produces high-quality meat.
During the selection, researchers didn’t consider color. This explains why the resulting birds had a lighter-hued plumage than the parents. In 1935, the American Standard of Perfection admitted the New Hampshire Red as a recognized chicken species. Twenty-five years later, the bantam was added.
After introducing the New Hampshire species, its creators used the bird in the ‘Chicken of Tomorrow’ contests to increase its popularity. In 1948, a documentary with the same name aired on national TV to educate the public about improvements in poultry farming.
Due to the effects of the two World Wars, chickens were the primary source of meat protein at the time. It’s why investors are so keen on advertising the importance of these birds, especially broilers.
Unfortunately, New Hampshire didn’t win the contest. However, it gained significant popularity among chicken meat lovers. For this reason, some researchers used it to create the Delaware chicken breed, another broiler.
In 2018, students from the Canaan Elementary School proposed the adoption of the New Hampshire Red as the state’s official poultry. The state government accepted the proposal.
New Hampshire Chickens Characteristics
Here are the distinguishing characteristics of the New Hampshire species.
The New Hampshire Red is almost similarly sized to its patent species, the Rhode Island Red. However, the former shape is more triangular. It’s one of the largest chicken species that feels meaty and plump on the hand.
As mentioned earlier, the feathers are lighter-hued than Rhode Island’s. A more accurate description of the color would define the New Hampshire as chestnut red with a few yellow spots, while the Rhode Island Red leans towards mahogany. When exposed to sunlight, the feathers fade.
Male birds have black tail feathers. On the contrary, hens have specks of black in the tail, wing primaries, and round the neck.
A single, five-point comb projects over the bird’s head. Its earlobes are long and oval, with fairly large wattles. All facial features and appendages are red.
The beak is reddish-brown, while the legs and feet are mostly yellow. Some birds have reddish-brown feet.
While the United States and the United Kingdom recognize the red variant, other European countries acknowledge the white and blue-tailed red New Hampshire chickens. The white is native to Germany, having been created in the 1950s.
– Size and Weight
The New Hampshire Red is a large chicken species. Mature cocks weigh up to 8.5 lbs. (3.9 kg), while hens weigh 6.5 lbs. (3.0 kg). Bantams are lighter, weighing a quarter of the common breeds.
The New Hampshire Red has varying temperaments. It’s friendly to its owner, allowing you to get close. However, the bird doesn’t like touching.
Because of its size, this breed likes to feed and can be aggressive when eating. Your New Hampshire will shove feeble competition away from the feeder. This aggression can turn into regular bullying if you keep New Hampshire chickens with timid and weak birds.
The best way to avoid bullying is by adding several feeders to your coop. Also, regulate the number of roosters in your flock.
On average, New Hampshire chickens live for seven years. However, several factors can shorten or prolong your bird’s lifespan.
For instance, high-quality feeds rich in protein make them healthy and reduce disease susceptibility. It also helps to allow the birds to roam, as they are excellent foragers.
Contrarily, poor feeds and improper practices shorten your birds’ life. For example, feeding them chocolates, sugary stuff, and rotten food makes them more vulnerable to infections. Also, overcrowding and poor hygiene increase the risk of spreading diseases.
– Egg Production
New Hampshire lays 150 to 200 large eggs yearly, translating to three eggs weekly. The eggs range from light brown to medium brown. A few strains lay beautiful, dark-brown eggs.
If you breed your birds for meat production, they will likely lay fewer eggs. Strains bred in hatcheries are usually more consistent and produce more eggs.
Regarding brooding, New Hampshire hens are average. However, they make great mothers if allowed to hatch the eggs. Some birds accept chicks from different mothers, but this varies from one hen to another.
– Meat Production
The creators of this breed develop it primarily for meat production, which explains its plump and meaty appearance. A mature broiler produces meat ranging from 6.5 lbs. to 8.5 lbs.
As a fast-growing breed, New Hampshire broilers are ready for slaughter 12 to 14 weeks after hatching. However, some birds take up to 16 weeks to mature.
Removing the feathers reveals a thick yellow skin, under which there’s rich, dark-red meat. The chicken breasts are a delicacy when fired, and the drumsticks guarantee tasty curries and stews. If you love soups, don’t throw away the legs.
New Hampshire Chickens Care
Generally, New Hampshire chickens are easy to look after and require little input. However, providing the following conditions for optimal egg and meat production is best.
– Feeding and Nutrition
When you purchase day-old chicks, feed grower’s mash because it’s easy to digest and rich in protein, and this should continue for six weeks. In the seventh week, introduce chicken pellets with slightly lower protein content.
At 18 weeks, hens will need more nutrients to facilitate egg production. This is the best time to introduce a layer’s mash or pellets. You will also need to supply grit to aid in egg production.
Chickens need water throughout the day. The water should be cool and full of electrolytes, especially during the hot season. Ideally, the feeders and water stations should be at the back level. The birds will contaminate it with litter and dirt if it’s lower.
Although New Hampshire chickens like eating, you can’t accelerate growth through overfeeding. You have to wait for their guts to grow big enough to accommodate more food. Overfeeding, causes choking, vomiting and possibly death.
On average, the birds eat 100 grams (3.5 oz.) of feed daily. Ensure that you give the food at intervals to minimize wastage. Also, allow the birds to roam for a few hours.
Like other chicken breeds, beans, and chocolate harm New Hampshire species. The same applies to moldy or rotten food. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, compounds that cause irregular heartbeat and multiple organ failure. On the other hand, phytohemagglutinin in beans causes death.
Each mature bird in your coop should have four square feet of floor space. Regarding population, it’s best to have one cock for every eight hens.
New Hampshire chickens can tolerate confinement but like roaming for bugs and worms. Allowing them on a free-range reduces your expenses because the birds are excellent foragers.
It’s worth noting that New Hampshire chickens aren’t flighty. They rarely fly unless in danger. This means that you don’t need high fences around your coop.
– Health Problems
New Hampshire chickens are healthy and fairly resistant to common poultry diseases. However, this resistance is subject to the type of feed provided and living conditions.
For instance, if you provide potential toxins to your birds, they are at a higher risk of getting sick. Poor hygiene, overcrowding, and lack of vaccination make them susceptible to diseases.
Are New Hampshire Chickens Good for Beginners?
New Hampshire chickens are easy to look after, making them suitable for first-time poultry farmers. They have strong immunity and can withstand harsh conditions.
However, some roosters can be aggressive. Be careful when handling mature cocks. Experts recommend purchasing chicks, as they are easier to tame.
Are New Hampshire Chickens Hardy?
Yes, New Hampshire chickens are relatively hardy and can survive a range of unfavorable weather conditions. Like the Rhode Island Red, they keep laying eggs when other breeds stop. Whether it’s summer or winter, your hens aren’t likely to stop producing eggs.
Also, New Hampshire chickens have better heat tolerance than other cold-hardy species. That said, you’ll need to give them water and electrolytes to replace those lost through heat dissipation. It’s also wise to keep them in shady spots.
Unfortunately, New Hampshire roosters have large combs that increase their vulnerability to frostbite. Although other characteristics might help them survive winter, the comb causes severe pain. The birds, however, will try to hide the pain.
Are New Hampshire Chickens Broody?
New Hampshire chickens are moderately broody. They lie on their eggs occasionally but make great mothers after hatching. They are so motherly that they take care of chicks from other hens.
Are New Hampshire Chickens Destructive?
If left to free-range for long, these birds can damage your garden. Ensure you keep them away from leafy greens if you want to harvest your crop.
Are New Hampshire Chickens Noisy?
New Hampshire chickens are louder than other breeds. Roosters like crowing, and hens like to squawk. You will probably want to consider other options if you live near other homes.
Tips on Keeping New Hampshire Chickens
Here’s a summary of how to keep New Hampshire chickens.
- Always feed the birds in time because they are aggressive feeders.
- Allow them to roam around for a few hours daily. Being excellent foragers can reduce the amount you spend on commercial feeds.
- New Hampshire chickens are cold-hardy. However, insulating and warming the coop is wise for optimal egg and meat production.
- Ensure that the coop has proper ventilation. Add absorbent and dust-free material to the floor to provide warmth and prevent dampness. This also prevents frostbite.
- Check your birds for parasites and adhere to the recommended vaccination schedule. When introducing new birds to the flock, ensure they’re healthy.
- Please avoid keeping too many roosters in a confined space. The recommended cock to hen ratio is one to eight.
What Are the Possible Alternatives to New Hampshire Chickens?
If you’re looking to diversify your poultry flock, here are some possible alternatives to New Hampshire chickens.
- Rhode Island Red – this is the most obvious choice because it resembles the New Hampshire species. Rhode Island Reds are better at egg production, but their meat quality is inferior to the New Hampshire. The rose comb variants are more resistant to frostbite.
- Delaware chickens – these are derivatives of New Hampshire chickens. Like their parents, they are good at egg and meat production.
- Sussex chickens – these are arguably the tastiest dual-purpose broilers, although they’re smaller than New Hampshire chickens.
- Wyandotte chickens – these are exceptional at handling cold weather conditions.
The New Hampshire species is an excellent all-rounder – it’s pretty hardy, produces a reasonable number of eggs, has tasty meat, and is beginner-friendly. Even better, it can tolerate confinement and thrive in free-range.
However, it can be challenging to tame mature roosters. They like bullying feebler birds and are unfriendly to strangers. If you’re looking to keep this breed, consider acquiring chicks.