|Dominique Chickens are wonderful general purpose chickens. They provide both meat and eggs. The butchered birds weigh out on average at 3 pounds. Their eggs are mediums sized and brown. They are active and alert birds, good egg layers and great foragers.|
Brief History of Dominique Chickens
Prior to the 1800s chickens were generally not kept on farms in America. Too much local game was present to warrant the time, effort and cost of maintaining chickens. As the eastern part of the US became more populated, though, chickens became increasingly common. The precise lineage of the Dominique variety is unknown. It likely evolved fairly haphazardly from a number of European and Asiatic breeds that were crossbred indiscriminately. Originally referred to as blue-spotted hen or hawk-colored, the Dominique chicken variety eventually became recognized for it superior characteristics and people began to actively select and improve the breed. The traits of the Dominique that made it so attractive included its production capabilities, for both eggs and meat, its excellent foraging skills, its ability to withstand inclement weather, and its instinctive skills at hatching and rearing its young.
During the early to mid 1800s the Dominique was the most popular chicken in the US. Selective, consistent breeding had developed them into a medium sized chicken (Roosters weigh in at 7 lb. hens at 5 lb.) They had bright yellow legs, black barred feathering, 4 toes and both single and rose combs. The late 1800s however saw them lose popularity as people became increasingly infatuated with Asiatic breeds and a desire to develop their own strains. The strong genotype of the Dominique encouraged people to cross it with everything. In particular the Dominique was crossed to produce what is now known as the Barred Plymouth Rock. This bird differs from the Dominique primarily in its stature (it is larger) and that it only has a single comb. In the mid-1870s the American Poultry Association reclassified single comb Dominique chickens as a Barred Plymouth Rocks chickens. Now Dominique chickens must be rose combed.
The Dominique chicken continued to decline in popularity till the early 1970s when only 3 breeders could be found. During the 1970s, though, a resurgence in things American fanned a renewed interest in Dominiques and a number of breeders took up the strain. Today the breed is a safer distance from extinction, but its future is still not secure. Many flocks around today have been in existence 5 years or less.
The Dominique, Americas unique and oldest strain of chicken, is still endangered. Its hardiness and practicality make it as desirable a choice for the family farm today as it was back in the 1800s.