The Dominique chicken is one of the most prestigious and historic breeds in American history. Sadly not as popular as it once was, the Dominique chicken is still loved by many breeders and backyard enthusiasts for its kind nature and high production.
But is the Dominique chicken right for you? Here we’ll give you all the information you need to know. That includes what its useful for, its behavior, and how easy it is to keep. All you need to do is read on to find out more!
History and Origin of Dominique Chicken
It’s thought that the Dominique chicken has been in America since before the country was even founded. Early settlers bought the chicken to the country in the mid-1800s and that would make it the oldest breed in the country.
The Dominique chicken played an important role in the foundation of the country as it gave these early settlers an indispensable source of food. Its ability to forage also made it valuable, as very little feed was required for its upkeep.
Exactly when are where the breed formed, however, is a history. One idea is that it originally came from Saint-Domingue, which was a French colony situated in modern-day Haiti. However, it’s impossible to know for sure where the breed started its existence as it hasn’t been documented before the 1800s.
While vital to those early settlers, in recent times the chicken has declined in popularity. That is mostly due to the industrialization of chicken breeding. The eggs and meat we eat today come from separate breeds of chickens, which are both bred solely for their production.
While the Dominique chicken is a good egg and meat producer, there are better chickens out there for both these purposes. Due to this, there wasn’t much reason for those in the chicken industry to keep Dominique chickens.
Due to this, they were in danger of becoming extinct. Thankfully through the work of breeders, this glorious breed of chicken has been kept alive and is now around in much greater numbers.
Physical Characteristics of Dominique Chickens
The Dominique chicken is a classical-looking chicken with no quirky or fancy features, aside from perhaps its feathers. Those feathers are a barred black and white color, which helps to give the Dominique chicken a very attractive appearance.
Those black and white feathers mean that it’s easily confused with a Barred Plymouth Rock but there are a few key differences. Mainly, the colored bars on a Dominique chicken are not as sharp as on the Plymouth Rock and are more curved.
Another key difference is that the Barred Rock has a single upright comb, whereas the Dominique has a much flatter and wider comb, which is called a rose comb. Finally, it’s important to note that the Plymouth Rock can come in many colors, but the Dominique only ever has black and white feathers.
In terms of size, the Dominique would be classed as a medium-sized chicken. The hens will reach around 5 lbs, with the roosters being a couple of lbs more than that. The Dominique has quite broad shoulders which adds to its classical chicken look.
Uses of a Dominique Chicken
Now we know all about the history and physical characteristics of the Dominique chicken, what is their use? As we hinted at above, they are known as dual-purpose chicken which means they are good for both meat and eggs.
But for early settlers, you could say they were a triple-purpose chicken! The reason is that their feathers were often used for mattresses and pillows which showcases how important these birds were at that time. Let’s take a look at their uses in more detail.
The Dominique chicken is known as an excellent meat bird. For those looking to live a sustainable life by eating their own meat and eggs, they are a great choice. They are easy to breed and can be slaughtered at around two to three months old.
But they aren’t used for the meat they sell in shops. The reason is that other breeds such as the Cornish chicken are even stockier, larger, and grow very quickly, allowing them to be killed at approximately eight weeks old.
While that’s true, there is no doubt that Dominique is also a great meat producer. The quality of meat is excellent, but many prefer to keep them just for their eggs.
When it comes to eggs, it’s the same story. They are excellent egg producers but don’t quite reach the same production levels as a purpose-bred hybrid.
Dominique chickens will produce approximately 250 medium eggs per year, which works out to around 4 per week. If we do the math, that means a flock of four hens will give you just under three eggs per day on average.
Not only are they good producers, but they are cold hardy birds that produce eggs all year round. To note, many chicken breeds drastically reduce egg produce egg production in the winter and some shut down production entirely!
They can be a little broody, which means the hens want to lay on their eggs but it’s rarely an issue. If they are broody, then this can make breeding them easier but can cause some difficulties when collecting eggs.
How do they compare to an egg-laying hybrid? A chicken such as the ISA Brown can lay over 300 large eggs per year. So they compare quite well, but can’t quite reach the size or quantity of the best egg layers.
- Eggs per Year: 250
- Eggs per Week: 4 to 5
- Size: Medium
- Color: Brown
You may be excited by the Dominique chicken being a great food producer but are they a good idea for small backyard coops? The answer is that they are perfect for those looking to keep a small flock!
The Dominique breed is known as being one of the friendliest in the world. They never show any aggression to humans and are very docile in nature. This also means they are perfect for kids or young chicken keepers.
Not only are they friendly, but Dominique chickens also have a tendency to follow you around. You’ll enjoy admiring their personalities and curiosity. They have an expected lifespan of 6 to 8 years, which is around average for medium chickens.
Another factor that makes them great for smaller coops is they handle confinement very well, so you don’t need to worry about them getting stressed out. Their desire to roam around and forage also cuts down on feeding costs.
Feeding and Housing Dominique Chickens
Along with being great producers with charming personalities, Dominique chickens are also easy to keep. It doesn’t matter what type of climate you live in, your chickens will thrive in both hot and cold temperatures.
But what type of coop space do they need and what do they need to be fed? Thankfully we have all the answers right here.
Being medium-sized birds that don’t mind confinement, the Dominique chickens don’t require as much space as many other breeds. This makes them perfect for those who don’t have a large backyard area.
The minimum requirement is to have 4 square feet per chicken but ideally, you’ll want a little more than that. As for nesting boxes, you should have at least one for every three hens and these should be both 12 inches high and wide.
You don’t need to worry about having any specific features in your coop. You can buy/build a standard coop and it will be good enough for your Dominique chickens.
These chickens love to forage so you’ll either want to have a nice large run or allow them the be free range during the day. Either way, you’ll want to ensure they are adequately protected from predators.
As with the coop, there are no special requirements here. They will happily eat standard feed without any issues. For fast-growing chicks, you’ll want to add a little more protein to their diet until they’ve reached their adult height.
As mentioned, Dominique loves to forage! This can be great for owners as they are happy to go out and get their own food. If given the space, they’ll happily search out bugs and insects, along with plant life too.
If you have the space and a good enough fence that they can’t escape, you can more or less just let them feed themselves as free feeders. However, it’s usually the best idea to supplement this with high-quality feed.
You shouldn’t worry about overfeeding them as chickens do a great job of regulating their diet and won’t eat food just because it’s there.
Dominique chickens are known for their ability to thrive in a wide variety of environments and don’t easily get sick. With them, you don’t need to worry about any common diseases or genetic health issues.
As with all chickens, they are prone to getting parasites such as lice and mites. The threat of this can be reduced by keeping their coop clean and even if they do get a parasite, these can usually be cured quite quickly with medication.
Reasons to Keep Dominique Chicken
By now, you should know that Dominique is a great chicken! But we thought it might be best to round up all the reasons to keep a Dominique chicken in one neat list. Let’s take a look!
- Dual Purpose – A dual-purpose chicken means they are great for both egg and meat consumption. They are good layers and taste delicious. For those wanting fresh produce, a Dominique is a great idea.
- Gentle – The Dominique is one of the gentlest and most docile chickens in the whole world. You never need to worry about them being skittish or aggressive, especially towards children. They are the perfect beginner chicken.
- Tolerate Handling – Many chickens don’t like being picked up or stroked, especially medium to large-sized birds. Thankfully, Dominique doesn’t mind, which is another reason they are great for small backyards.
- Not a Lot of Space – As a comparison, many large chickens need at least 10 square feet of space. If you have a flock, then that quickly builds up into a significant number. These chickens need just 4 square feet, meaning you can use a much smaller coop.
- Low Maintenance – Don’t have a lot of time to care for chickens? If so, then Dominique is amazing. They handle all climates well, don’t require a lot of feed, and have no common health conditions. Just top up their feed, clear out their coop occasionally, and you’re good to go.
- Efficient – In the chicken world, efficient means cheap. This links to them being low maintenance. As they don’t need a lot of feed, there is a minimal cost for the output of eggs and potentially meat.
- Quiet – If you didn’t love Dominique enough already, they are also quiet! Surrounded by bothersome neighbors? Thankfully you don’t get any angry knocks on your door as Dominique is a very quiet breed of chicken.
- Attractive – There is no doubt that Dominique is also an attractive breed of chicken too. They have that stunning black-and-white barred coloring that sets them apart from the more boring chicken breeds!
Reasons to Not Keep Dominique Chicken
We found six amazing reasons to keep Dominique, but it would be wrong of us not to mention the downsides. Thankfully there aren’t many but let’s see what they are!
- Can Be Bullied – Their docile nature can be taken advantage of by other chicken breeds. It’s usually the best idea to keep them away from larger chickens.
- A Little Broody – While they are good layers, they can sometimes get broody and want to sit on their eggs. This is rarely a big issue, but something to keep in mind.
Good But Not Great Producers – It’s worth pointing out that there are better chickens for meat, and there are better egg layers. So if this is the only reason you want a chicken, then you may want to choose another breed.
There are many great reasons to keep the Dominique chicken. They are a lovable breed that is not only kind in nature but also a brilliant producer of both eggs and meat. If you’re looking for a friendly dual-purpose chicken, then look no further!