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.
10 Facts about Dominique Chickens
Here are 10 interesting and informative facts about Dominique chickens:
- Historical Heritage: The Dominique chicken, often nicknamed “Dom” or “Dominicker,” is one of the oldest American chicken breeds. It dates back to the colonial era, and its history is intertwined with the nation’s agricultural heritage.
- Distinctive Appearance: Dominiques are known for their unique feather pattern called “barred” or “cuckoo.” This pattern features alternating dark and light stripes across the feathers, giving them a striking and recognizable appearance.
- Dual-Purpose Utility: These chickens are dual-purpose birds, meaning they are raised for both meat and egg production. Dominiques are valued for their practicality, adaptability, and ability to contribute to both the kitchen and the coop.
- Good Egg Layers: Dominiques are moderate egg layers, typically producing around 200 to 230 brown eggs per year. Their consistent egg production makes them a reliable source of fresh eggs for households.
- Cold-Hardy Champions: Hailing from the Northeastern United States, Dominiques have developed a natural resilience to cold weather. Their hardiness and adaptable nature make them well-suited for diverse climates.
- Gentle and Docile: Dominiques are known for their calm and friendly temperament. They are gentle birds that can often be handled easily, making them suitable for families and beginners.
- Free-Range Foragers: These chickens excel at free-ranging and foraging for their food. They are adept at finding insects, plants, and other tidbits in the yard, contributing to a more sustainable diet.
- Good Broodies: Dominiques are renowned for their broody behavior, which means they have a strong inclination to sit on eggs and hatch them. Their maternal instincts make them excellent mothers for raising chicks.
- Natural Pest Controllers: Due to their foraging skills, Dominiques are excellent at pest control. They can help reduce the population of insects and other unwanted critters in your yard or garden.
- Conservation Status: Dominiques were once considered endangered, but dedicated efforts by poultry enthusiasts and conservationists have helped revive and promote the breed. They are now recognized by various poultry organizations and are gaining popularity once again.
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.
Dominique Chicken vs Other Breeds
The Dominique chicken, with its historical significance and adaptable nature, stands alongside several other notable breeds. Let’s delve into a detailed comparison between Dominiques and five diverse breeds, shedding light on their individual strengths and attributes.
1. Dominique vs. Plymouth Rock:
Dominique: As a heritage breed, Dominiques are renowned for their historical relevance and hardiness. They exhibit a distinctive barred feather pattern and lay around 200 to 230 brown eggs annually. Dominiques excel in foraging and adapt well to various environments.
Plymouth Rock: Plymouth Rock chickens are also hardy dual-purpose birds, known for their calm demeanor and suitability for both meat and egg production. They lay around 200 to 280 brown eggs per year and come in various color varieties, including Barred Plymouth Rock.
2. Dominique vs. Rhode Island Red:
Dominique: With their adaptable and forage-friendly nature, Dominiques are ideal for small farms and backyards. They lay approximately 200 to 230 brown eggs per year, showcasing their dual-purpose attributes.
Rhode Island Red: Rhode Island Reds are celebrated for their prolific egg production, yielding around 200 to 300 brown eggs annually. They also boast meat quality and a friendly temperament, making them a popular choice.
3. Dominique vs. Leghorn:
Dominique: Dominiques exhibit a classic beauty with their barred feather pattern and have a respectable egg-laying capacity of 200 to 230 brown eggs per year. They excel in free-range settings and demonstrate hardiness.
Leghorn: Leghorns are known for their remarkable egg-laying abilities, producing up to 280 to 320 white eggs annually. They have a high energy level and thrive in active environments.
4. Dominique vs. Orpington:
Dominique: Dominiques offer historical significance, hardiness, and moderate egg production (200 to 230 brown eggs per year). Their friendly disposition and foraging skills make them suitable for diverse settings.
Orpington: Orpington chickens are dual-purpose birds valued for meat and egg production. They lay around 175 to 200 brown eggs per year and boast a gentle temperament, making them a favorite among beginners.
5. Dominique vs. Sussex:
Dominique: Dominiques are characterized by their gentle nature, adaptability, and solid egg-laying performance (200 to 230 brown eggs per year). They thrive in family-friendly environments and are excellent foragers.
Sussex: Sussex chickens are versatile and adaptable, producing around 250 to 280 brown eggs per year. They are known for their meat quality and friendly demeanor, making them a well-rounded choice.
Common Questions about Dominique Chickens
What is a Dominique chicken’s appearance like?
Dominique chickens are known for their distinctive barred or cuckoo feather pattern. This pattern consists of alternating dark and light stripes across their feathers, giving them a unique and recognizable appearance.
How do Dominique chickens behave temperament-wise?
Dominiques are generally known for their calm and friendly temperament. They tend to be gentle birds that can be easily handled, making them suitable for families, beginners, and those who want interactive and approachable chickens.
Are Dominique chickens good egg layers?
Yes, Dominique chickens are moderate egg layers. On average, they lay around 200 to 230 brown eggs per year. While they might not be the most prolific egg layers compared to some breeds, their steady and reliable egg production is appreciated.
Are Dominique chickens hardy and adaptable to different climates?
Absolutely, Dominiques are known for their hardiness and adaptability. They were developed in the Northeastern United States and have naturally evolved to withstand cold weather. Their foraging skills also make them adaptable to various environments.
Do Dominique chickens brood often?
Yes, Dominiques are known for their tendency to go broody. They have strong maternal instincts and often exhibit a desire to sit on eggs and hatch them. This behavior can be advantageous for those interested in raising chicks naturally.
Can Dominique chickens be raised in urban settings?
Yes, Dominique chickens can be raised in urban settings, provided that local regulations permit backyard poultry keeping. Their relatively calm demeanor, smaller size, and adaptability make them suitable for smaller spaces and urban environments.
Caring for Your Dominique Chickens: A Guide for Backyard Enthusiasts
Owning Dominique chickens in your backyard can be an enriching experience, bringing a touch of history and charm to your homestead. Ensuring their well-being through proper feeding and care is essential to enjoy the rewards of their company and the eggs they provide. Let’s explore the ins and outs of looking after your Dominique chickens in a backyard setting.
Feeding Your Dominique Chickens:
1. Balanced Meals Matter: Feeding your Dominique chickens a balanced and nutritious diet is key to their health and productivity. Opt for a good-quality layer feed available at local feed stores. This feed is specially formulated with the right mix of proteins, vitamins, and minerals to keep your hens in top shape.
2. Fresh Water Always: Make sure your chickens have access to clean and fresh water all day long. Water is not only vital for their hydration but also helps with digestion and maintaining body temperature.
3. Treats and Scraps for Fun: Spoil your Dominiques occasionally with kitchen scraps and treats like leftover veggies, fruits, or grains. Just be mindful not to overdo it, as too many treats can upset their balanced diet.
4. Little Grit Goes a Long Way: Offer grit, which are tiny rocks or crushed oyster shells, in a separate container. This helps your chickens break down their food in their stomachs, acting like the “teeth” they lack.
5. Keeping an Eye on Protein: When your hens are laying eggs, they need extra protein. Ensure their feed has the right protein levels, or give them some protein-rich snacks like mealworms.
Caring for Your Dominique Chickens
1. Comfortable Coop: Create a cozy and secure coop for your Dominique chickens to roost and nest. This is their safe haven from predators and the elements.
2. Nesting Nooks: Provide nesting boxes filled with soft bedding material like straw or wood shavings. Dominique hens are natural brooders, so cozy nesting spots encourage egg-laying.
3. Perches for Rest: Install roosting bars in the coop where your chickens can perch while sleeping. They’ll appreciate this and have a better night’s rest.
4. Gather Eggs Gently: Collect eggs daily to keep them fresh. If eggs are dirty, you can gently wipe them with a damp cloth. Avoid washing them, as water removes their natural protective coating.
5. Health Check Ritual: Regularly check your Dominique chickens for any signs of illness or discomfort. A vigilant eye can catch problems early, ensuring their well-being.
6. Backyard Adventures: If you have the space, let your Dominiques roam in a fenced area of your backyard. They love to scratch and peck, and it’s a natural way for them to forage for bugs and plants.
7. Friendly Flock Time: Spend time interacting with your Dominiques daily. They’re sociable birds and enjoy human company. Consider having a small flock to keep them company and happy.
By providing proper care and attention, you’re ensuring that your Dominique chickens thrive in your backyard sanctuary. Whether you’re enjoying their charming antics or relishing their fresh eggs, these small steps contribute to a happy and healthy flock. Remember, each chicken has its personality, so get to know them, and tailor their care accordingly. Your Dominique chickens will surely reward you with their delightful presence and the eggs they produce.
In conclusion, the Dominique chicken offers a blend of historical significance, hardiness, and moderate egg production that aligns well with both small farms and backyard flocks. While it might not match the egg-laying prowess of Leghorns or Rhode Island Reds, its well-rounded attributes make it an appealing option for those seeking a balanced and versatile breed. The choice ultimately hinges on your specific goals, available space, and preferences for temperament, egg production, and meat quality.