Belgian d’Uccle chickens are known as sweet-mannered, lovely, and frilly chickens with bearded faces and fluffy legs. The breed is very popular with many chicken keepers. Are you interested in finding out more about this breed and seeing if it is the right breed for your flock?
If you are, then continue reading this article. You will find out about the origins of the breed, their behavior, including whether they are good with children and other chickens, and how to look after them among many other details.
The Breed Origins of Belgian D’Uccle
The Belgian d’Uccles originated in Belgium and take their name from the city of Uccle. The breed was developed in the late 1800s by the Belgian breeder Michael Van Gelder and it took him several years and over 1,000 chicks to get the standard he was after. His goal was a bearded bantam chicken that had feathered legs and feet, or boots.
The d’Uccles were first shown in a poultry show in 1905 and they quickly gained popularity among chicken growers. From the UK, it quickly traveled to the US, and the breed was accepted by the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1914 with three colors that were porcelain, mille fleur, and white.
There are now six additional colors accepted by both the American Bantam Association (ABA) and the APA. In Europe, there are more official colors than in the States, and in Belgium, more than twenty d’Uccle colors are officially recognized.
What are Belgian D’Uccles Like?
The Belgian d’Uccles may be small but they have plenty of character. They love people’s company and you shouldn’t be surprised if your d’Uccle will burst fly up to sit on your shoulder.
Both hens and roosters are reasonably quiet. You will hear your hens sing an egg song when they lay an egg but this is not a constant or loud noise. The roosters do have a high-pitched crow. Luckily, most of them are not known to crow too much but it can still be annoying to neighbors if you live close to them.
Because of their calm nature, the d’Uccles can become a target for bullies in a mixed flock. Therefore, keep an eye out for excessive pecking and that they are getting access to food and water, as well as nesting boxes and roosts. Some people prefer to house their d’Uccles on their own to avoid issues with bigger breeds.
Are d’Uccles Good With Children?
If you have kids, the d’Uccles are a safe breed to have since they tolerate being picked up and held. You should, however, keep a close eye on your kids’ interactions with the chickens, especially if they are new. Establish their personalities and let them get used to you and the kids before you leave them unsupervised, especially around young kids.
What Does the Belgian D’Uccle Look Like?
Both sexes of the Belgian d’Uccles have muffs and bearded faces. The fluffy feathers grow under the bird’s beak and around the eyes. The three sections of the beard should be full and grow backward to join the neck hackles. Because of their facial feathers, their heads look a little owl-like.
They have feathered feet and legs, which is why people refer to them as boots. The feathers should be thick enough so the scales or feet cannot be seen. The d’Uccles a have black iridescent crescent band running approximately halfway across the feather and the tips of the feathers have the shape and color of a white half-moon.
The d’Uccles are small chickens. The hens weigh approximately 4.5 lbs and the roosters 6 lbs. Their single combs are and they have reddish or orange eyes The hens have small, almost non-existent wattles.
You can expect to get between 150 and 200 eggs from your Belgian d’Uccles. Most d’Uccle hens will lay a couple of eggs in a week. The d’Uccle eggs are cream-colored and small as can be expected from a pint-sized bird. If you are using their eggs in a recipe, you can use two d’Uccle eggs when it asks for one normal-size egg.
If you are happy to get just a few eggs a week from your hens, then this bantam breed is suitable for you. However, if you are looking for more, for example, if you have a bigger family or want to sell eggs, then you would likely be disappointed with d’Uccles. Of course, you can make up the numbers by keeping several hens.
Belgian D’Uccle Broodiness
If you are looking to grow your flock by having your d’Uccles lay fertile eggs and become mothers, you are likely to succeed as the breed has a tendency to get broody. The downside of their broodiness is that it affects their egg-laying: they will stop production for several weeks when they have chicks.
The d’Uccle hens are not only great mothers to their own chicks but will also happily look after chicks by others. They make fantastic surrogate mothers to any chicks, regardless of the type or size of the eggs.
Belgian D’Uccle Health
There are no breed-specific health concerns among these bantams. However, like all booted bantam chicken breeds, you need to check their legs and facial feathers for potential lice or mite infestations. These are more likely to occur in summer when it is warmer.
The d’Uccles are sensitive to cold because of their high metabolic rate. If you live in a colder environment, ensure they are kept warm during the colder months. If you have a coop that is a stand-alone structure, it should have some insulation against the cold and you may want to consider installing a heater.
Belgian D’Uccles Living Environment
While this ornamental breed is small, it is still good to consider giving them around four square feet of coop space per chicken to avoid trouble. However, you can get away with two feet per chicken. Give them plenty of roosting spaces to choose from and ensure the space is free of cold drafts, especially in the winter.
Belgian d’Uccles will be the happiest in a living environment where they have space to free range. However, letting them free range may not be an option for everyone but you still need to give them enough space to roam or they are likely to become depressed or even aggressive.
If you have to keep them in a chicken run, provide them with activities to keep them stimulated and space to keep give them enough exercise. To prevent mites, give your d’Uccles lots of areas for dust bathing. They combat mites by rolling in the dirt, which suffocates the mites.
If you need to keep your Belgian d’Uccles within a set living space, you need to cover it. d’Uccles are much better fliers than standard chicken breeds and even five-foot fences are not enough to keep them in. Only a cover will guarantee they will not escape and find themselves in trouble or where they shouldn’t be.
Belgian D’Uccles in Mixed Flocks
As mentioned earlier, the d’Uccles can become the target of bullies in mixed flocks. Because they only weigh ounces, the larger birds may see them as easy targets and chase them away from feeding and watering stations. In mixed flocks, consider giving your d’Uccles their own, separate food and water stations.
Should You Get a Belgian D’Uccle?
The d’Uccles are certainly pretty birds with a temperament to match. These birds, whom some have given the nickname lawn ornaments, are great for people with families and people who do not expect an egg every day.
They are delightful birds to have around and they enjoy chatting to you and will be happy to be picked up and held, making them a good option when you have kids. However, you need to be careful introducing them to a flock with bigger breeds.
You also need to keep in mind that the d’Uccles are an active breed that enjoys roaming. So if you only have a small space for them, they may not be the best breed to choose. Also, remember that the rooster crow is rather loud and high-pitched, which may not make you popular with your neighbors if you live in a built-up area.
Now you know the key characteristics of the Belgian d’Uccle, you can make an informed decision on whether this breed is right for you. If you decide to get them, you will get an addition to your flock that will not only give you eggs but will also be a delightful and friendly chicken to have around.
Do you have anything else you would like to ask about the Belgian d’Uccles? If you do, write your questions in the comment section.