Some heritage chicken breeds have roamed the Earth unchanged for hundreds of years, and have played an important part in establishing human settlements. The Sebright chicken? Well, it couldn’t be further away from that!
This chicken was the result of one man’s relentless pursuit to create a beautiful chicken with laced feathering. Here we’ll tell you that story but, more importantly, also see how easy this chicken is to keep by giving you all the key info you need. Let’s go!
History and Origin of Sebright Chicken
This chicken is named after its creator Sir John Saunders Sebright who, among other things, was a member of parliament in the UK. He was also passionate about breeding animals and was even mentioned in some of Charles Darwin’s published works.
He had a vision of creating a bantam chicken that had beautiful, laced feathers. If you’re unaware, lacing in feathers is where the edges of the feather have a sharp contrast in color to the rest of the feather.
This distinctive outline can be white but is more often black, as is the case with Sebright chickens. And also, if you’re unsure, ‘bantam’ is just the name we give for exceptionally small chicken breeds.
The creation of the Sebright chicken didn’t happen overnight. It took many years of experimentation with a wide variety of different breeds. It took John Sebright at least 20 years to create the chicken he wanted, but he eventually got there!
Interestingly, the exact breeds he used to create the Sebright are unknown and there is no larger counterpart to them. These days, the Sebright chicken is sadly a threatened breed as they aren’t easy to keep and don’t have any practical purpose.
Physical Characteristics of Sebright Chickens
These chickens are very small and can easily be carried in the palm of your hand. The hens weigh just over a pound and the roosters are only a couple of ounces heavier than that. It makes them ideal for those who don’t have a lot of backyard space.
While there can be some color variations, the Sebright has two accepted colorings either gold laced or silver laced. Here these birds either have golden or white/silvery feathers along with a deep black outline.
For their small size, these birds are quite broad in the chest. Their feathers are quite short and rounded, along with a short tail. They have quite an elegant posture and stand very upright, almost like a traditional game bird or pigeon.
They have what’s called a rose comb on top of their heads, which is fairly flat but with raised bumps. Under their chin, the wattle is fairly small and deep red in color. They have large, black eyes with legs and skin that are pale blue in color.
Uses of a Sebright Chicken
While its attractiveness can’t be doubted, what are the uses of a Sebright chicken? Let’s take a look at why people keep this delightful little breed.
Unless the apocalypse is happening and you have no other means of food, there is little point in seeing the Sebright as a source of meat! These chickens barely weigh over a pound which means they would barely have enough meat to feed one person. Bantam chickens are never bred for their meat.
Some small chickens can actually be good producers of eggs but the Sebright chicken isn’t one of them. On average you’ll get just over one egg per week and that egg will be very small. The Sebright’s eggs are either white or cream.
As with meat, these chickens are never bred for their eggs. The hens don’t get broody so if you wanted to breed your own Sebright chickens, it’s best to either use a broody hen from another breed as a surrogate or use an incubator.
- Eggs per Year: 60 to 80
- Eggs per Week: 1 or 2
- Size: Small
- Color: White/Cream
Now we move on to what Sebright chickens are commonly used for. They are known as ornamental birds which means they are kept either for exhibitions and shows or by those who just want to keep them as a pet and admire their beauty.
One thing it’s important to know about Sebrights is that they are not docile. They are energetic and can be a little cheeky but are rarely seen as aggressive. That being said, the roosters can get a little protective at times.
In terms of being handled, Sebrights can be a little hit-and-miss. They are generally a little wary at first, but over time, they can develop trust with their owners and become affectionate. Even then, they aren’t known for sitting still for long.
Along with this, there are a few other reasons why the Sebright is not seen as a beginner chicken. One of those reasons is that they’re quite good fliers. Due to this, it’s best to keep them in an enclosed aviary pen.
The Seabright also loves to explore and is energetic. Even though they don’t need a lot of coop space, you will want them to have plenty of room to roam around even though they aren’t huge foragers.
The hens are quiet, but the roosters can be a little noisy and can let out a call that is loud and high in pitch. The average lifespan of a Seabright is around 7 to 8 years, which is quite long for a bantam breed.
Overall, many keepers love this breed for their stunning feathers and charming personalities. They are mostly friendly but can be a little cautious around humans. If you’re a beginner, it may be best to look for a different breed as your first chicken.
Feeding and Housing Sebright Chickens
If you’re interested in looking after a Sebright, how do you care for them? Despite their size, these chickens are quite hardy which means they cope well with both cold and hot days. However, in freezing temperatures, it’s best to consider a coop heater. Here’s everything else you need to consider with a Sebright chicken.
You don’t need a large coop when keeping Sebright chickens. Large chickens often need at least 10 square feet each of coop space but here you can get away with a bare minimum of two. However, we’d recommend giving them at least three square feet per chicken.
As they aren’t good egg layers, you also don’t need many nesting boxes. Usually, you need one for every three hens but with Sebrights, you can stretch that to one box for every five hens. Also, give them approximately seven inches of roosting space.
Along with the coop, you’ll also want them to have a nice large run of around 4 square feet per chicken. With them being curious and active, you should fill the run with items to feed their curiosity such as ladders, bridges, dig boxes, and treat balls.
Another advantage of keeping a Sebright is that they are cheap to feed. All they need is standard high-quality chicken feed that you can get from any retailer. Added to this, you can treat them to the likes of leafy greens, perennial flowers such as daisies, and mealworms.
It should be noted that any treats should not be significantly more than 10% of their diet. As Sebrights only eat around 2 lbs of feed per month, you want to ensure that you’re not giving them too many treats.
The Sebright doesn’t have any specific genetic conditions to worry about. As with any animals, they can be susceptible to diseases and parasites, so you’ll want to ensure they stay clean and look for any changes in behavior.
The only notable health issue with these chickens is that they seem especially susceptible to Marek’s disease. This is a viral disease that can cause paralysis, enlargement of the nerves, tumors, and brain swelling.
It’s also a highly infectious airborne disease that can easily be spread among chickens. Sadly there is no effective treatment for Marek’s disease but the good news is that there is a highly effective vaccination. If you’re keeping Sebright chickens, make sure to vaccinate them.
Reasons to Keep Sebright Chickens
Still unsure about whether or not the Sebright chicken is for you? Let’s summarize all the reasons why keeping this chicken is a great idea.
- Attractive and cute – If you want a beautiful chicken, it’s hard to look past the Sebright. They have beautiful feathering and are one of the most attractive breeds in the world.
- Fairly hardy – In terms of climate, these chickens are quite easy to keep. They cope in almost all environments, and you’ll only need to worry when there are extremes in temperature.
- Cheap – Sebright chickens are neither expensive to buy nor expensive to keep. Add in not needing to buy a huge coop and this is a chicken ideal for those on a budget.
- Minimal space – Don’t have a huge amount of space in your backyard? If so, then a bantam breed is a good idea as you’ll only need two to three square feet of coop space per chicken.
Reasons to Not Keep Sebright Chickens
While looking at the advantages, it’s also good to consider the disadvantages., Here’s why keeping a Sebright chicken may be a bad idea.
- Hard to breed – Sebright roosters aren’t the most fertile, the eggs have a low hatching rate, and Sebright hens aren’t broody. This all adds up to them being very difficult to breed.
- Health issues – With the prevalence of Marek’s disease, you’ll want to ensure that your chickens are vaccinated.
- No production – Wanting to keep chickens that can provide you with eggs or meat? If so, you should definitely look at other breeds.
- Need to be confined – They are active birds and good fliers. This means they need a large run and to be enclosed.
The Sebright is no doubt a beautiful chicken but they aren’t the most docile, are very active, and need to be kept in an enclosed space. Due to these factors, they are not advised as chicken for novice keepers.
However, if you have your heart set on keeping a Sebright then you’ll love them for their curious personalities, stunning feathering, and sociable nature.