The Jersey giant is a breed of chickens that is admirable at first sight. From the name it is immediately clear that the bird is large in size. The plumage of the Jersey giant is not as beautiful as that of the brahma, but it is also very attractive.
The history of the creation of the breed began in America, in 1870, on the farm of John and Thomas Black, which is located in New Jersey. The source material was the Dark Brama breed, famous at that time for its incredible size (up to 7 kg) and very popular among farmers, Orpington, Black Langshan and Black Java. Work on the breed lasted about 20 years, and in 1890 the authors were able to get very large birds of bright black color, which consistently gave a monotonous offspring. But the breed did not immediately become widely known and until 1922 remained a very small local group of chickens. Only later, having got to Europe, the birds were appreciated for their good meat qualities and large eggs. Over time, European poultry breeders developed two other color variations within the breed: white (in Germany) and blue Jersey giant (in England).
The modern Jersey giant is a large bird of black, white or ash blue color. In black chickens, the beak is black in color, with yellowness at the end, the hock is almost black; whites have a yellow beak, sometimes with dark veins, gray or yellowish metatarsus; the ash-blue has a black, slightly yellowish beak at the end and black metatarsals. The plumage of the Jersey giant is dense, shiny, the tail is small, with short braids. The eyes are large, dark brown and black in black individuals. The ridge is leaf-shaped, according to the breed standard it should have six approximately identical teeth, but in practice this is not always the case. In our climate, roosters often partially freeze this leaf-shaped crest in winter, in severe frosts, so the livestock needs a warm chicken coop.
Physiologically, the bird is late maturing. The intensive development of Jersey chickens ceases after five months of age, but they continue to grow up to one and a half years. In good housing conditions and with proper feeding, chickens begin to lay after they reach seven months of age and gain four kilograms of weight. Roosters at seven months weigh on average 4.5 kg, at one year old – 5 kg, at a year and a half – 6 kg. Some roosters reach more weight, but such individuals, unfortunately, are rare and often they are not suitable for fertilizing chickens.
Even a live bird (not a carcass) shows its meat orientation: a relatively short and thick neck, a very wide and full chest, a wide, horizontally set back, thick legs. The legs of the representatives of this breed are short, which is why the chickens seem to be squat and massive.
It is better to slaughter giants for meat before the age of one year, because the meat becomes too tough in an adult bird. Bottom hole output – not less than 75%. The carcass has a rounded shape, a yellowish skin tone, which creates an attractive presentation.
If we talk about the practicality of choosing this breed for keeping in your personal subsidiary farm, then we can say with confidence that it is most suitable for an amateur peasant farmstead. Perhaps the story of its appearance is affected. It is very important for Jersey giants to have a lot of walking, or better – an unlimited walking area. With such a content, feed consumption in the warm season can be reduced by almost half without compromising the productivity of chickens.
Laying hens of this breed exhibit very good egg production for meat hens. In the first year, it is up to 170 pieces, and as the bird grows up, it gradually decreases. Eggs – light brown, with different shades, large (60 – 70 g). From the point of view of food costs, this breed cannot be called economical. Due to its large size and mobility, the bird consumes a lot of feed. This is especially noticeable in winter, when, due to the lack of cheap pasture, chickens have to be fed with grain mixtures and boiled potatoes. For this reason, the cost of each egg of the Jersey giant chickens is approximately 40% higher than that of egg breeds.
By the way, if you have a lot of layers, then you need to collect eggs twice a day. Heavy, clumsy hens, climbing into the nest box, often crush the eggs laid earlier.
Most giants cannot fly because of their weight, therefore, perches and nest boxes should not be placed high, limiting themselves to a distance of no more than 40 cm from the floor. Having fallen from such a height that happens quite often, chickens are not injured. It is better to make perches not from a pole, but from a board about 15 – 20 cm wide. It will be easier for a bird to maintain balance on such a support. It is advisable to nail a flat board with transverse jumpers to each perch to make it easier for chickens to climb on it. Also, for the maintenance of giants, high hedges, fences, walls of enclosures, etc., are not needed, since the meter height is an insurmountable obstacle for the Jersey. This property eliminates many of the problems associated with keeping chickens on a personal plot in a densely populated village, and, in addition, saves building materials.
This large bird has a calm disposition. Fights between roosters, of course, sometimes happen, but they are quite friendly with other inhabitants of the chicken coop and get along without problems, regardless of age and gender.
To obtain fertilized hatching eggs, the ratio of hens to males in the breeder flock must be 10: 1.
Most chickens have a well-developed parental instinct, but during incubation they can inadvertently crush eggs and hatched chicks. Therefore, it is recommended to incubate the giants artificially or under more skillful hens. Chicks in black and blue color variants hatch black with white spots on the chest and light wing edges. Their white areas disappear after the first molt. For rapid growth, young animals require abundant nutrition with mixtures high in protein and calcium. With good feeding and careful care, chicks grow quickly, and already at 5 months old males that are not needed for further breeding can be slaughtered for meat or sold.
In general, if the breed is not considered as a means of obtaining the main income, then the bird is quite acceptable for keeping in a peasant farmstead. She will always thank her caring owners for their troubles with quality products and a beautiful appearance. Successful poultry farming!