As America’s oldest chicken breed, it is no surprise Dominique Chickens had to be self-reliant, capable of foraging for their own food, successful mothers, and hardy to both extreme cold and heat. Dominiques are a dual-purpose breed that provides our farm with a sustainable, efficient, and affordable source of meat and eggs.
The advantages of Dominique Chickens do not stop with affordable meat and eggs, their exceptional, innate foraging ability make them the perfect breed to co-graze with livestock. They scratch and aerate the soil, spread manure, help reseed the livestock pastures, and leave natural nitrogen rich fertilizer behind. Their friendly nature makes them a great addition to any farm.
Benefits of heritage breed chickens
Heritage breeds, like Dominique Chickens, were raised on small family farms during the Pioneer Days. They had to be disease resistant, capable of surviving weather extremes, and able to fend for themselves.
As chickens became selected for Commercial Egg Production or Meat Markets during the 1900s, many desirable traits were disregarded like Foraging Ability, Self-Reliance, and Disease Resistance.
Help Conserve This Amazing Heritage Breed
How can you help to preserve this historic breed? Consider buying a rooster and a few hens to start a flock of your own. You can learn more about conservation efforts at The Livestock Conservancy.
Dominiques are America’s oldest chicken breed and existed on most settler’s farms by the 1750’s. To survive the harsh Colonial days, they had to be self-reliant, capable of foraging for their own food, successful mothers, and tolerant hardy to both extreme cold and heat.
This Heritage breed survived the Great Depression due to their self-reliant nature. With the introduction of the commercialized poultry industry, the Dominiques’ popularity declined. By the 1970’s, they were nearly extinct.
The American Livestock Breed Conservancy (ALBC) worked with the few remaining flock owners to increase their numbers and save the Dominique Chickens. As of the 2021 Census, Dominique Chickens have been upgraded from “critical” to “watch.”
Dominique Chicken Characteristics
Homestead farmers have helped increase flock numbers drastically while taking advantage of the breed’s unique characteristics. Dominiques are a family friendly breed. They are great for beginners who have space to allow foraging.
Dominique Chickens prefer Free-Ranging and are exceptional foragers for their own food. They make a great “clean-up” crew to co-graze with livestock and scratch soil, help reseed pastures, spread manure to fertilize fields, and control pests and parasites.
Their black and white barred feathers also help camouflage them from aerial predators. Their single rose comb is less prone to frostbite.
Dominiques chicks are mostly black with a yellow or white spot on the top of their head. They are an auto-sexing breed and genders are easily identifiable soon after birth. Chicks with larger, more diffuse spots are cockerels, whereas chicks with a smaller, more concentrated spot are pullets.
Dominique Chicken Production
Dominiques are a dual purpose meat and egg laying breed. Hens lay between 230 – 275 medium brown eggs per year on average. Egg laying starts at approximately 6 months of age and egg size will continue to increase during the first year.
For the most tender meat production, hens should be processed prior to one year of age and cockerels should be processed between 5 to 6 months of age before hormones influence meat toughness. Processing older Dominiques will still result in flavorful meat, but may best be cooked in stews, or other slow cooking methods to eliminate toughness.