Are you looking to add Sapphire Gem chickens to your flock but would like to know more about them first? Perhaps you have heard that they are easy to keep and produce plenty of eggs all year round and wonder if what you have heard is true.
If you are looking to find out more about the Sapphire Gems, their characteristics, egg-laying capacity, and care requirements, you can find all that information in this article. So continue reading to help you decide if Sapphire Gems are a breed for you.
Background of Sapphire Gem Chickens
The Sapphire Gem chickens are a new hybrid breed and few details are known about their origins. There isn’t even a clear consensus on what qualities real Sapphire Gem chickens have.
However, what is known for a fact is that Sapphire Gems’ origins are in the Czech Republic when a breeder crossed a Barred Plymouth Rock with a Blue Plymouth Rock. Through these breeds, the Sapphire Gems are related to the Andalusian chickens. A heritage breed that originates from the 1800s.
The Andalusians carry a blue gene and are excellent egg producers all year round. The Sapphire Gem has inherited the Andalusian’s blue plumage gene, which is where it gets its coloring. Because of their blue feathering, some people think they lay blue eggs, but their eggs are brown.
Characteristics of Sapphire Gems
There is no breed standard for Sapphire Gems because they haven’t been officially recognized by the American Poultry Association. However, because of the dominant blue gene, most Sapphire Gems are easy to identify from their distinct features.
You can tell the male and female Sapphire Gems apart from early on because they are sex-linked. This means that the chicks have a distinct appearance. The males have a white spot on the head and the females have a golden or gray spot around their neck that makes it look like they are wearing a necklace.
The bodies of young Sapphire Gems have blue, lavender, gray, and black tones. Adult Sapphire Gems mostly come in blue or gray tones but some can have a hint of lavender in their coloring. The adult roosters still have the white spot on the head and the hens have the ”necklace”.
Both males and females have red wattles and combs, and the beaks are gray or black. They have dark eyes with light red skin around them and some white in their earlobes. A fully-grown rooster weighs between five and seven pounds. Hens are lighter and weigh between four and six pounds.
You can learn various things about a chicken by observing its comb from its maturity to health issues. In hens, a small comb can mean it isn’t ready to lay eggs yet, while a rooster’s comb can help it attract a mate.
A rooster with a large and noticeable comb is usually more attractive to hens as it is seen as a sign it can produce healthy chicks. While hens have smaller combs than roosters, they still help them attract a mate.
The comb, when the chicken is healthy, will feel elastic. Any changes to it can mean that your chicken is not in full health. A comb that is dry and pale, can mean dehydration, anemia, or fever. A blue comb can be a sign that the chicken is cold. Sometimes it can be a sign of a problem with the heart or lungs. A hot, dark red comb can mean a fever.
If you notice any of these changes, it is always best to consult a vet to make sure your chicken is treated and to stop any illness from spreading around your flock.
Sapphire Gem Behaviour
The Sapphire Gems share similar characteristics to the two breeds used to create them: the Plymouth Rock and the Barred Plymouth Rock. They are mostly calm and quiet chickens, which makes them suitable for backyard chicken coops in urban areas. They are generally friendly but some can be a little aloof.
They are not the most curious chicken breed but enjoy spending time foraging for food. The Sapphire Gems try to avoid trouble as much as possible and are not likely to challenge others in the flock. This means they are often low in the pecking order when mixed with other breeds.
Despite their laid-back appearance, Sapphire Gems are alert to what is happening around them and have a keen eye for danger. They can often be one of the first to perceive the danger and alert others in the flock to it.
Sapphire Gems Around Children
One of the key questions many people with children ask is how good are the chickens around children. Because they have a friendly and laid-back temperament, you don’t need to worry about them around your children. They even won’t mind if the children were to pick them up for a cuddle.
However, you should always exercise more caution with roosters. Even with calm breeds such as the Sapphire Gems, roosters can sometimes become aggressive and protective of their flock. You should establish the rooster’s personality first before you let your children play near it.
Sapphire Gems were bred to be excellent egg layers so if you are looking for hens that will produce eggs all year round, this is a good breed to consider. They start producing eggs when they are between 18 and 24 weeks old.
Fully matured, healthy, and happy Sapphire Gem hens can produce about five eggs per week, which is about 300 eggs in a year. Many hens will lose around 20% of their egg-laying capacity after two years. When they stop producing eggs, some people will use the medium-sized birds for meat, others will continue to look after them as pets.
When chicken growers talk about broodiness, they refer to a hen wanting to become a mother. A broody hen will continuously sit on its eggs, or sometimes eggs they have stolen or even egg-like objects, to try to get them to hatch. Broody hens will also become defensive when anyone tries to take their eggs.
Broodiness varies between different breeds and the Sapphire Gems are not a broody breed. This means that they will rarely get defensive when you come to take their eggs away. Rarely, because there are exceptions to the rule and you might come across the odd broody Sapphire Gem.
Looking After Sapphire Gems
The Sapphire Gems are an undemanding breed and are often considered an easy breed for new chicken keepers. However, there are guidelines for setting up your chicken coop and run to ensure your chickens are happy and healthy.
Sapphire Gems Need Time and Space to Roam
The Sapphire Gems are happiest when they have plenty of space to roam and forage. Because they dislike confrontation, they need plenty of personal space to feel happy and relaxed. Confined Sapphire chickens can become depressed or stressed and that will affect their egg-laying.
Therefore, you should only get Sapphire Gems if you can provide them with the space they need. Your chickens will be even happier if you provide them with an entertaining environment. This includes treats and toys as well as free roaming to stop them from getting bored.
Winter and Summer Maintenance
While Sapphire Gems are resilient, you still need to protect them from extreme temperatures. For example, their single comb can get frostbite and even fall off so you should not let them out when it is snowing, or the temperature drops below freezing. Ensure the coop is kept warm at all times during the colder months.
In the summer, make sure the chickens have constant access to fresh water. To protect them from overheating, ensure there are plenty of shady spots around for them to hide from the sun. Keep the coop well-ventilated and cool.
After hatching, the chicks will need a lot of protein to support healthy growth. Their feed should include 18-24% protein. As they mature, you can reduce the protein to 16%. To support their egg laying, make sure your hens get plenty of calcium as well. You can also give them fresh fruit and vegetables as an occasional treat.
Setting up Their Living Environment
When setting up the chicken coop, apply the rule of four square feet for each chicken. If you can provide them with more space, even better. Let them roam free as much as possible.
During the hotter summer days, the chickens like to spread out more when they are roosting. This will help them keep cool so consider this as well when setting up your chicken coop.
Do Sapphire Gems Have Health Issues?
Sapphire Gems are not known to have any major health issues. They are hardy chickens that can thrive in a range of climates as long as they get plenty of water. With the right setup, these hybrids are resilient and rarely get sick.
However, you need to watch out for parasites such as worms, lice, and mites. You also should know the symptoms of diseases that can spread easily and endanger your chickens: avian influenza, coccidiosis, and fowl pox. You can prevent parasites and diseases by checking your chickens regularly and keeping their environment clean.
What Are Hybrid Chickens?
The Sapphire Gems are hybrid chickens but if you are new to chicken keeping, that may not mean much to you. A hybrid is a chicken that is an offspring of two different breeds or sometimes two varieties.
They are purposely grown by crossbreeding two specialized chicken strains to get the desired results. With the Sapphire Gem, the desired result is to have chickens with the ability to lay eggs all year round.
While you might get chickens crossbreeding in a flock, the chickens born from interbreeding are not hybrids. They are usually called mutts or barnyard chickens. While you might get perfectly good chickens as a result of barnyard crossbreeding, remember that hybrids are not random but produced by selecting the parents carefully.
Breeding Sapphire Gems
Because the Sapphire Gems are a hybrid breed, it means that they will not breed true. That means that when you couple a Sapphire Gem rooster with a Sapphire Gem hen, you might not get Sapphire Gem chicks.
This is because the parents were bred using two different breeds and the chicks can have more features from one breed than the other. The only way to create more chickens exactly like them is to cross Barred Plymouth Rock with a Blue Plymouth Rock again.
You also need to remember that because Sapphire Gems are not a recognized breed, they are not exhibition chickens. So if you would like to show off your chickens, you will need to choose a different breed.
However, many people who choose Sapphire Gems are not interested in raising them for exhibitions. Rather, they pick the breed because they produce lots of eggs and make great backyard pets.
Although not yet an officially recognized breed, the Sapphire Gems are growing in popularity largely because they are excellent egg producers and also because of their calm and friendly temperament. They are perfectly suited for backyard coops even in urban areas, and are a safe breed to have around kids.
If you are looking to add Sapphire Gems to your flock, you should mix these hybrid chickens with other easy-going breeds to avoid them being pecked on too much. Another key thing to bare in mind is that you should only get these great foragers if you can provide them enough space or they may become depressed which can affect their ability to lay eggs.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the breed and can decide if they are the right chickens for you. If you would like to know anything else about them, you can write your questions in the comments section.