The California Gray chicken is a fantastic option for those backyard chicken owners who are looking for an animal that serves multiple purposes. One of the unique features of the California Gray is that it is an ‘autosexing’ chicken breed.
Let’s look at the chicken in a bit more depth.
California Gray Chicken at a Glance
|Eggs||300 (per year)|
|Use||Dual-purpose (Meat + Eggs)|
|Weight||Male: 5.5 lb (2.5 kg) |
Female: 4.4 lb (2 kg)
|Country of origin||United States|
The Origins of the California Gray
The California Gray chicken is NOT a recognized official breed in the United States by APA. It is, instead, regarded as a crossbreed. The California Gray appeared in the 1930s.
It was meant to be a mixture of the White Leghorn (great for egg-production) and the Plymouth Rock (perfect for meat). Basically, it was meant to be a breed of chicken that was meant to serve a variety of purposes, and it does to an extent.
It is worth noting that the California Gray chicken is at risk of dying out completely in the United States, if not the world, in the not-so-distant future.
While the California Gray is fantastic at laying eggs, it is never used in commercial egg production. This is because it is too large to be raised on a battery farm. The same goes for meat production.
Although it is a great meat producing chicken, there are better chickens for that purpose. The White Leghorn (the origins of the California Gray) is one of the chickens that springs to mind here.
Since it is not a recognized breed, you will also find that it isn’t really bred for shows either. This is because it can’t really enter those more prestigious shows, and the fact that it is not a recognized breed means that even then, you would struggle to sell the offspring of a show winning chicken.
Most California Gray chickens can now be found in backyard chicken coops.
The Look of the California Gray
There is only one variant to the California Gray chickens. Gray striped, which are the males. The second will be darker striped (but still gray), which are the females.
They have single comb which is far larger than on most other birds. They have yellow legs, and they have white earlobes.
California Gray Eggs
For backyard chicken owners, the California Gray is a fantastic breed. This is because it can easily produce 300-eggs per year. In fact, this is one of the breeds that is able to keep up egg production throughout the cold winter months.
When other chicken breeds will have slowed down their egg production, the California Gray will continue to be pumping them out.
Not only this, but you are going to get larger white eggs with the California Gray. This means if you solely want egg production, then there is rarely a chicken that is going to be as good.
The only downside is that the chicken is going to be somewhat on the heavier side of things, which means that it is going to take a little bit more to feed. However, let’s be honest, the difference in feed between chickens is never going to be all that high.
California Gray Meat Production
As we said before; the California Gray is a chicken also reared for meat. Yes. There are chickens which would produce a lot more meat than the California Gray, but there are very few that will be able to pump out the same meat while at the same time laying eggs so consistently throughout their life.
This is part of the reason as to why the California Gray is such a fantastic chicken for those who want to raise chickens in their backyard. It really is the complete package.
For the most part, the California Gray chicken is going to be fairly friendly. It is a larger bird, which can cause issues if you have some small birds in the coop with it. But the California Gray isn’t really a chicken known for ‘bullying’ other chickens.
It is more than happy to be touched by humans, which makes it a fantastic breed for families too.
Autosexing Chicken Breed
One of the unique features of the California Gray is that it is an ‘autosexing’ chicken breed. You do not need to understand how chick sexing works. This means that it is pretty easy to tell which sex a chicken is when it has freshly hatched.
Autosexing chicken breeds are those breeds where there is a clear difference between the cockerels and the pullets. They have clearly distinct characteristics at hatch.
Of course, this has resulted in the California Gray sometimes being used in the commercial farming industry. The males will be lighter in coloring.
However, it is worth pointing out that this is a rare chicken. This is because while it is a dual-purpose bird, there are other chickens that do things a little bit better than the California Gray chicken.
The one autosexing chicken breed that you may encounter normally is the California Gray. However, there are other autosexing breeds like the barred Plymouth Rocks and other barred varieties of the Dominique Chicken and varieties of Leghorn chicken.
Many people are confused with the terms Autosexing and Sex-link and they are using the terms interchangeably. Let’s clarify this.
Purebred chickens are called autosexing breeds, while the crossbreeds are called sex-link chickens.
The only reason why the term autosexing was introduced was to differentiate between sex-link purebreds and sex-link crossbreds.
Read also our article about the famous Cream Legbar chicken – the British auto-sexing chicken breed.