Although California Grey chickens are not the most common breed in the US, they are slowly gaining popularity.
Suppose you have never seen a California Grey chicken. In that case, it is a hybrid with an interesting feather pattern, making them special and attractive to chicken keepers and those keeping chickens as pets.
Like many other hybrids, California Grey chickens are an excellent dual-purpose breed known for their prolific egg production and meat quality. Let’s check the history and some of the other characteristics of the California Grey chicken.
History of California Grey Chicken
As its name implies, the California Grey chickens originated in California. When it comes to the creator of this breed, there is some misconception or contradicting information.
Certain websites claim that James Dryden, a professor, created the breed in the 1930s, and his goal was to develop a chicken hybrid that would meet the demands of the ever-changing market- more meat and bigger eggs.
On the other hand, other websites claim that Horace Dryden created it in Modesto, California, and such information is also found in “The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds.”
This extensive overview of 200 chicken breeds, their histories, and their characteristics was penned by Janet Vorwald Dohner and published by Yale University Press. The California Grey Chicken was developed by crossbreeding Barred Plymouth Rock and White Leghorn birds.
Or, more precisely, a Barred Plymouth Rock rooster was crossbred with a White Leghorn hen, and the result was the autosexing breed.
In case you are unfamiliar with the term, autosexing breed implies that the male and female of that breed can be distinguished by different patterns and colors. Furthermore, the sex can also be recognized by the size of the birds. Usually, males are bigger.
During their early life, males develop a lighter color than females and can instantly be distinguished, which is not the case with most chicken breeds.
Interestingly, the American Poultry Association never recognized this hybrid; therefore, it is considered fairly rare in the US.
California Grey Chicken Characteristics
Regarding its appearance, the California Grey chicken has a very captivating, attention-grabbing, and alternating white and black pattern, which is almost identical to that of Barred Plymouth Rock.
These birds have large and red single combs and wattles, while their earlobes are small; smaller than in other breeds. Their legs, shanks, and beak are yellowish. As noted, they have grey barred plumage as adults.
Also, the males and females have different feather patterns during their early life; males have light-colored feathers, while females have a white spot on the top of their heads, wing tips, chest, and abdomen.
Interestingly as they age, the color scheme switches, adult females have darker black marks. At the same time, California Gray roosters have lighter-colored feathers that appear to be gray from a distance, hence the name.
The California Gray chicken feather pattern has one color, unlike most chicken breeds, and it is a single-colored variety.
2. Size and Weight
3. Egg Production
One of the reasons chicken keepers tend to acquire this hybrid, in addition to their wonderful plumage, is their prolific egg-laying. They lay around 300 eggs annually, which are large and weigh around 50 to 60 grams each.
Their egg color is white, which can be established by looking at their small white earlobes. The California Grey chicken eggs are very sought-after because they are white and large- the definition of a perfect chicken egg. Pullets start laying eggs when they are between 20 and 25 weeks old.
Basically, broodiness is a condition in which a laying hen starts developing maternal instincts and wants to mother chicks, which can hinder the production of eggs. Luckily, that is not the case with this breed.
Therefore, the California Grey chicken is great for large-scale and domestic egg production. Keep in mind that as the hens grow old, their egg production will decrease.
On the other hand, even if you are not interested in large-scale production of eggs, you can keep a couple of these for your personal use because a couple of these chickens will produce around 10 eggs a week, which is enough for you, and your family’s needs.
The California Grey chicken’s life span is between 6 to 10 years. When it comes to the life span, numerous factors can affect it, such as chicken’s diet, climate conditions, exposure to stress and predator attacks, and many others.
With excellent care, a healthy eating regime, and a predator-proof coop, this breed can reach 12 years of life.
Although many think climate and weather conditions are minor factors when deciding whether to keep chickens, exposing chickens to extremely high or low temperatures will kill them.
Obviously, if you have the right equipment and care, you can keep chickens where ever you want. This means that if you live in an extremely cold area, you should not let them free-range for longer periods, and having a large and well-insulated coop is implied.
On the other hand, if you live in a hot and humid area, you must provide your California Grey chickens with a lot of shade and water so they can stay hydrated throughout the day.
When it comes to California Gray chickens, they are very versatile and easily adaptable to any climate with the appropriate care and conditions. They are often referred to as low maintenance.
The California Grey Chicken is known as a friendly and docile breed, suitable for those new to the field. In fact, they are so friendly that some people keep them as pets. They are not prone to violence; they can be kept free-range and in confinement rearing.
Keep in mind that keeping chickens for a longer period in a smaller area or coop will most likely change their behavior regardless of the breed. Generally, chickens should feel comfortable in the coop and have their areas, perches, and open space.
If you have a large flock, you need a large coop, and cramming them into a smaller one might result in mutual pecking, aggression, and boredom. Furthermore, California Grey chickens are very social and get along with other breeds.
They are highly flexible, hardy, and adaptable, plus they are also passionate foragers and must have their run space. You do not have to worry that your California Grey chickens will fly away because they are not particularly flighty.
1. Are California Grey Chickens Good for Meat Production?
Even though California Grey chickens are known as dual-purpose chickens (which they are), they are rarely commercially kept for their meat production.
Why? Although they are not quite small, the amount of meat they produce is far lesser than Australorp chickens. Therefore, they are mainly kept for personal use rather than commercial when it comes to meat production.
On the other hand, despite their small meat quantities, their meat is very tasty and can make a wholesome meal for the entire family.
2. Can I Keep California Grey Chickens with Other Chicken Breeds?
One common question in the discussion about chicken keeping is whether it is okay to have a mixed flock. The answer is yes! The California Grey chicken is super friendly and can be kept with other breeds.
However, it would help if you watched out for the aggressive chicken breeds, and it is important that you do not mix those with the overly friendly ones. Due to their docile nature, they can easily be targeted by the more dominant breeds, and that is a situation that you want to avoid.
3. Are California Grey Chickens the same as California White Chickens?
Although these chickens do not look alike, people tend to mix them due to their names! So why are they called both California chickens? The California White chicken is a crossbreed between the California Grey rooster and the White Leghorn hen.
That is why they have that name and the appearance of a White Leghorn hen. The California White chicken is known for the traits associated with the California Grey chicken, which include friendliness, adaptability, and large egg production.
Ultimately, the California Grey chickens are a great chicken breed with a dual purpose. They are perfect as backyard chickens but also make great pets.
In this article, we have covered the history of California Grey chickens and their characteristics, which include temperament, appearance, egg production, character, climate, and lifespan.
We have also answered some common questions, such as whether California grey chickens are good for meat production and whether you can mix them with other breeds. Have you ever had a California Grey chicken, and do you plan to acquire this rare breed?
If you have any questions or want to share your experience with us, do not hesitate!