The Dominique Chicken a.k.a. Dominicker, was the very first chicken breed in the United States. While we do not know exactly where it originated from, it is likely that the chicken was brought over from somewhere in Southern England.
For a good long while, this was actually one of the most important chickens in the United States. It was incredibly useful, for a multitude of different reasons. Let’s take a look more in depth, shell we?
Dominique Chicken at a Glance
|Eggs||230 – 275 eggs per year|
|Use||Eggs + Meat (Dual Purpose)|
|Weight||Male: 7 lb (3.2 kg)|
Female: 5 lb (2.3 kg)
|Country of origin||United States|
We are not going to go too deep into the origins of the Dominique Chicken. This is because we do not know exactly what the origins are, only the fact that it was one of the first chickens in the United States. Some say that the breed name derives from the chickens brought from the French colony of Saint-Domingue.
Actually, it was the first chicken in the US. It was known to exist since at least the 1750s, but it may have arrived far earlier than that. The Dominique chicken have being mentioned in the earliest chicken books as an indigenous and valued breed, an excellent layer and incredibly good meat.
However, these chickens were not really ‘farmed’ as such. This is because the settlers probably didn’t have much time for that.
They were allowed to free roam, and then the settlers would slaughter them and collect their eggs as needed. Actually, they used the chicken for a whole lot more than that… but more on this soon.
The popularity of this chicken is somewhat odd. Throughout history, it has become immensely popular, and then it has been close to extinction before swapping around again.
If you look at the ebbs and flows of the popularity of the bird, you will actually find that a lot of their popularity lines up with times of strife e.g. during the war.
This is because it is a hardy bird, and one that you can always rely on. While in this day and age it isn’t a chicken that is used for anything more than backyard use, it is a fantastic chicken to introduce to your flock.
The Appearance of the Dominique Chicken
The Dominique chickens is described as erect and graceful, denoting an active fowl.
They may be large or bantam, and comes in one color — irregular barring, or cuckoo. Their eyes are red in color.
The Dominique chicken looks virtually the same as a Barred Rock. In fact, unless you knew exactly what you were looking for, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Dominique was a barred rock!
The Dominique chicken is an autosexing breed just like the California Gray Chicken. The hatch Dominique cockerels are a shade or two lighter than pullets.
Dominique chicken VS Barred Rock
Perhaps the only major difference between the two is the comb type. The Dominique chicken has a rose comb (this is something that actually contributes towards the hardiness of the breed), while the Barred Rock has Single comb.
Dominique Chicken Egg Production
In the past, the Dominque was regarded as a decent egg layer. A small flock could feed a family for a week, easily.
Even today, these chickens are god egg layers for families. They are just not productive enough for the commercial egg industry.
If you own a Dominique Hen, then you will be able to enjoy at least four large eggs from it every single week. In an year, you can expect up to 275 eggs from a single Dominique Hen.
The Dominique chicken egg production is something which actually seems to continue during the winter months too, with only a small fall off during the molt. However, the Dominique chicken seems to molt quickly, so they are back on the job rather quickly.
As a backyard chicken, the Dominicker is a good ‘all-rounder’. It matures fairly quickly, and there is a fair bit of meat on it. This makes it a good chicken for the table.
The problem is that with very few breeders of the Dominique chickens in United States, and them being relatively difficult to breed on your own due to the Dominique not being that broody, it can be difficult to get a decent supply of meat for the table.
Other Uses of Dominicker chicken
Probably not all that relevant nowadays, but we do want to point out that the Dominicker was prized in the past due to the fact that it was an incredibly useful chicken.
Not only could it produce meat and eggs, but it also made some great feathers. Many of the pillows that were stuffed in a bygone era would actually have been stuffed with feathers from the Dominique chickens!
Dominique Chicken Temperament as a Backyard Breed
If you are a backyard chicken owner looking to get their hands on a fairly hardy chicken breed, then we really can’t think of anything better than the Dominique chicken. Having an active temperament, the Dominicker is an excellent backyard chicken; primarily a laying bird, but has nice breast proportions for meat too.
They can be a touch tricky to track down, but no matter where you live, this is a chicken that is able to cope with the circumstances. Does well in both hot and cold climates.
There is a reason why this is the longest lived chicken breed in the United States.