A pair of Jersey Giant pullets
|Conservation status||Livestock Conservancy: Watch|
|Country of origin||USA|
|Weight||Male: Standard: 13 lb (5.9 kg)
Bantam: 38 oz (1.1 kg)
|Female: Standard: 10 lb (4.5 kg)
Bantam: 34 oz (0.96 kg)
|ABA||Single comb, clean legged|
|PCGB||Rare soft feather: heavy|
Gallus gallus domesticus
The Jersey Giant is a breed of chicken which originated in the United States in the late 19th century. Named for their state of origin (New Jersey) and their large size, Jersey Giants are the largest chicken breed.
The Jersey Giant was created by John and Thomas Black; with the intent of replacing the turkey, the kind of poultry used primarily for meat at the time. They were produced by crossing Black Javas, Black Langshans, and Dark Brahmas. The Black Jersey Giant was added to the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1922. The White variety was added in 1947, and Blue in 2002. Black Jersey Giants are, on average, a pound heavier than White Jersey Giants. Though the breed's present size is considerable, they were heavier in the past. For a time, they were raised as capons and as broilers by the meat industry. They grow much more slowly than today's more common meat birds, and are thus not widely used in the industry.
In Europe the breed fell out of favour to such an extent that they nearly became extinct, however in the mid 1980s a breeder in the UK, Sam Hay of Shropshire, located the last surviving trio and decided to save them. He built up his stock but they were suffering the ill effects of inbreeding. He was very fortunate to find that Dutch chicken breeder Jaap Beekman had the last few Jersey Giants in The Netherlands. The two were able to share stock and reintroduce the breed to both countries. Within a few years Jersey Giants were regular winners at rare breed poultry shows.
Jersey Giants became extinct in Australia in the 1950s, only a few decades after they were introduced to that country.
A large amount of food and time are required for the Jersey Giant to reach its full size. The Jersey Giant are a calm and docile breed. The cocks are rarely aggressive. The hens lay very large brown eggs, and are fair layers overall, known particularly as good winter layers. The birds are robust and fairly cold-hardy. The breed's plumage comes in Blue as well as Black and White; legs are willow in hue. Jersey Giant hens will go broody.
- Conservation priority list: chickens. The Livestock Conservancy. Accessed August 2014.
- Ekarius, Carol (2007). Storey's illustrated guide to poultry breeds. North Adams, Mass.: Storey Publishing. pp. 94–95. ISBN 978-1-58017-667-5.
- APA Recognized Breeds and Varieties As of January 1, 2012. American Poultry Association. Accessed August 2014.
- Breed Classification. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Accessed August 2014.
- Jersey Giant Chicken American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
- Bassom, Frances (2009). Chicken breeds & care : a color directory of the most popular breeds and their care (1. ed.). Buffalo, N.Y.: Firefly Books. pp. 142–143. ISBN 978-1-55407-473-0.
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