We’ve all heard of Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks, but there’s a new star blazing its way into the hearts of homesteaders across the world.
The Black Star chicken!
Black Star chickens shine brightly in a backyard flock, outdoing the Plymouth Rock and other popular heritage breeds with their excellent egg production.
Every breed comes with a few quirks, however, and the Black Star Sex-Link is no exception. In this article, we’re going to explore every aspect of this hybrid breed to see if they live up to their reputation as productive layers and hardy birds.
What Are the Origins of the Black Star Chicken?
The Black Star Sex-Link chicken was developed shortly after the Second World War. With food still rationed and soldiers returning home, eggs were in short supply. This hybrid breed came about with one thing in mind – eggs!
Experts experimented with various separate breeds before discovering a match made in heaven.
By crossing a Barred Plymouth Rock hen with a New Hampshire or Rhode Island rooster – they produced an excellent brown-egg-laying chicken.
Not only were these chickens prolific egg layers, but they were also sex-linked. While the female chicks would all emerge from their eggs brown, the roosters hatched with a distinctive white spot on their heads.
Suddenly, it’s much easier to distinguish males from egg-laying females!
From those humble beginnings, this black sex-link breed has established itself as an excellent dual-purpose bird.
What Does a Black Star Chicken Look Like?
Black Stars reach maturity at around 20 weeks, by which time the hens will weigh approximately 5 lb and the roosters 7 lb. These medium-sized birds have a single comb and red earlobes and wattles.
The Black Star hens have gold or silver flecks decorating their black plumage, while the roosters look similar to Barred Rocks, with their beautiful plumage of black and white feathers.
What Are the Benefits of the Black Star Chicken?
# 1 – Hardy Breed
Black Stars enjoy living in free-range conditions and will happily forage for bugs and other treasures in all weather conditions.
Despite being a relatively active breed, the Black Star adapts well to a more confined space. They’re not particularly flighty and tend to live together peaceably – even in a smaller enclosure.
# 2 – Excellent Layers
Black Star hens start laying at approximately 22-24 weeks of age and, from that moment on, will reliably produce around five eggs per week, making a total of 250-300 eggs per year.
Black Stars are excellent winter layers, especially if you keep them on a diet of high-quality layer feed.
Best chicken feed for egg producers
If you’re raising chickens for egg production and feeding your family, then your chickens need the best quality food possible.
We recommend Producer’s Pride 16% Mini-Pellet Layer Chicken Feed for your Black Star chickens and other egg-producing hens in your coop.
Producer’s Pride is perfect for egg-laying hens, and the reviews are excellent. I also bet your chickens will appreciate the small and easy-to-eat pellets!
# 3 – Affordable
Black sex-link chickens are widely available and affordable.
You can pick up a clutch of 10 for less than $30. A similar clutch of heritage breed chickens, on the other hand, could cost you more than $8 per chick, and even then, you may end up with a few roosters in amongst the female chicks.
The Black Star is also a low-maintenance breed with an excellent feed conversion ratio, which means you’ll get more bangs (or eggs) for your buck.
# 4 – Friendly
A popular choice of backyard chicken, Black Stars are friendly birds that respond well to human interaction. Spend some time petting them, and you’ll soon have them sitting on your lap and eating out of your hand like a highly regarded pet chicken!
# 5 – Quiet
One of the quieter breeds, Black Star hens seldom raise their voices. They usually complain when laying and otherwise content themselves with the occasional cluck.
Their calm nature makes them ideal for urban environments where noisier breeds, like the Orpingtons, are liable to irritate your neighbors.
As the Black Star is a sex-linked breed, you can be sure you’ll only end up with hens, which means no noisy chicken rooster waking you up at dawn.
# 6 – Dual-Purpose
As a dual-purpose breed, the Black Star can excel for either egg or meat production, or both. Eating your pet chicken may not be high up on your to-do list! However, if you did decide the Henrietta might look delicious as a main course, you’d find she’d make a decent and pretty tasty meal.
# 7 – Sex-Linked
One of the chief benefits of the Black Star is its sex-linked color trait. This color sequencing guarantees that when you buy new stock, even if they’re day-old chicks, you’ll always get hens and never any unwanted and potentially disruptive roosters.
Is the Black Star the Right Breed for You?
Although there are many benefits to introducing black sex-link chickens to your flock, there are, inevitably, one or two quirks that may make them less than perfect.
# 1 – Tricky to Breed
Backyard breeders, for instance, should stay away from the sex-linked chicken. They aren’t known for being particularly broody and are “not reliable setters.”
Furthermore, the sex-linked color trait will only appear in first-generation hybrid chickens so, sexing your baby chicks afterward will be as tricky as it is with heritage breeds.
# 2 – Short Period of Egg Production
The Black Star chicken may give you lots of eggs, but it can only keep that production rate up for so long and, after a couple of years, these reliable layers will start becoming less productive.
Also – Black Star hens, like many production chickens, tend to suffer from reproductive issues – especially as they get older. Common problems include egg binding and egg yolk peritonitis.
Did you know?
If you want to learn more about how sex-linked chicken crosses work, may I suggest dabbling into the world of avian genetics? Don’t worry – put that science book away. It’s much easier than you think!
I’ve been reading this fun article from the University of Kentucky that talks about the various sex-linked crosses of chickens – perfect if you’re trying to learn more about chicken’s offspring and their characteristics.
Black Stars, the Perfect Hybrid Egg Layer?
The benefits of this hybrid chicken breed far outweigh the negatives, which are why they are such a popular choice for backyard flocks.
Unlike other black sex-links and hybrids, Black Stars are large enough to be considered a dual-purpose breed while maintaining a steady supply of eggs that rivals the best commercial egg layers.
The Black Star is rarely raised as a meat bird, primarily because they’re such friendly birds their owners get too attached to consider eating them!
These hardy birds cope well with both hot and cold climates and happily forage and lay regardless of the weather, meaning they’ll keep laying eggs throughout the winter, provided they’ve got food and shelter.
While their lack of broodiness makes them less than ideal for the backyard breeder, their quiet, friendly dispositions make them ideal for urban environments – while their hardiness means they can also flourish in a free-range environment.
It’s little wonder this type of chicken excels as the rock star of backyard chicken breeds! If you’re looking for a low-maintenance breed that will produce an abundance of eggs without shouting the house down, the Black Star could be just the thing.
Do you have experience with Black Star chickens or a similar variety? Please let us know your thoughts!
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- Confused by all of this sex-link chicken talk? Read our easy sex-link chicken tutorial here.