Black Jersey Giant
BIG BEAUTIFUL HENS! – LOCAL PICK UP!
These friendly large birds make great pets!
But known for their ability to feed a family of 4 or more!
The History of Jersey Giant
Originally developed by John and Thomas Black near Jobstown, New Jersey, another bird was produced to fill a marketing niche.
At around that time (the 1870s’-1890s’), there was a demand for big, heavy roasting birds that would rival, perhaps even surpass, the more common turkey.
Late in the development of this bird, large commercial, broad-breasted turkeys were presented to the public, so the Jersey Giant did not achieve the initial goal set for it.
The brothers used a mix of Black Java, black Langshan, and dark Brahmas’ to achieve the bird they wanted. It’s unclear if they added any other breeds in the beginning.
The name ‘Jersey Giant’ took some time to emerge. Originally they were named ‘Giants’; they then called them Blacks Giants around the turn of the century in honor of the Black brothers.
They created the name Jersey Black Giants around 1917 in honor of the State it was created in.
Originally, they paid little attention to the color of the birds, which led to a variety of colors in the feathering.
However, a breeder named Meloney and a few other breeders worked to make the breed more standardized in color and conformation. He began exhibiting them for the public to see and admire.
His work paid off, and within a few short years, the Black Jersey Giant was accepted into the APA in 1922 as a blackbird.
They created the White Jersey Giant from the ‘sports’ of the black Giant. Sports are offspring that are a different coloration from the parents.
These sports were refined and eventually became the White Jersey Giants. They were recognized as a breed in 1947.
In 2001, they were listed as a ‘critically endangered’ breed by the Livestock Conservancy – now, in 2017, it has been moved to the ‘watch’ list.
They are still considered rare in the US, although backyard keepers are helping this unique bird to regain its’ popularity.
It is yet another fine breed that has been almost forgotten after the advent of the faster-growing ‘industrial bird.’
Jersey Giant Standard and Appearance
The Black Jersey Giant was admitted to the American Poultry Association in 1922. The White followed in 1947 and the Blue in 2003.
The Giant is a big bird – males can weigh in at around 13-15 pounds, with the females weighing around 11 pounds. The black variety is usually around a pound heavier than the white.
The height of the male bird is usually between 22-26 inches, with the female being 16-20 inches.
The bird has a moderate to a long body that is both wide and deep – giving the impression of a square bird. The back is comprehensive and flat, and a tail that is relatively short for the size of the bird.
As we have already noted, this is a robust bird.
Black Giants should have a ‘beetle green’ sheen to their feathers in sunlight, which is absolutely stunning.
Legs should be black, although they have yellow soles on their feet and four toes on each foot.
There should be no feathering on the legs.
A single comb and wattles should be red. They are yellow-skinned birds.
Their eyes are dark brown. The beak should be black with a slight tinge of yellow at the tip.
White Giants have willow-colored shanks and yellow soles. The beak of the Whites is more yellowish.
The Blue Jersey Giant should have nearly black shanks, occasionally a tendency towards dark willow. The feather coloring should be a slatey blue laced with darker blue.
The feathers on all Giants are “tighter” than most other common poultry breeds, making them easier to clean up before showing or exhibition. It also serves them well in cold climates, and they are good, cold-tolerant birds.
Jersey Giant Temperament and Egg Laying
The Giant is a docile, mellow bird in general, even the roosters. They are known as friendly birds, and several folks have kept them as pets rather than their intended purpose of table birds.
They are good with children generally, although their large size can be intimidating to some smaller children since they stand so tall.
The hens seldom go broody, but when they do, they really aren’t the greatest setters because of their weight – sadly, they are prone to breaking the eggs.
The egg size is huge, and because of this size, chicks may take a couple of extra days to hatch. Also worth noting is that pullets may not reach their point of lay until around 6 months old.
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