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California Grey


Pros: Mine are just chicks but they seem to have a social personality

Cons: They like to fly...get a lid on your brooder

I chose California Greys because they lay a white egg and I wanted to add white eggs to my basket.  They also have a reputation as a less flighty breed than most other white egg layers and it is somewhat important to me to have a friendly flock.   Of my current brood of chicks the CA Greys have distinguished themselves as the most curious and friendly in my mixed flock of babies.  When the other chicks are crowding to the back of the brooder the CA Greys are rushing up to see what I am up to or flying out to sit on my lap or shoulder.  They were just hatched on 5/24/13 so are not yet three weeks old as I type this.  I am only keeping 1 or  2 but I find myself wishing I could keep more of them.  They are also lovely to look at.  Here is one next to a mutt that I hatched who is just three days younger.  She will be barred but right now  is several shades of silver and grey.  I will update when they get older but I am excited about my CA Grey chicks.

The only reason I am not giving all 5 stars is that I have no idea how they will lay though they are supposed to be great layers.   Also wanted to add that I got mine from Privett and for hatchery birds they were big healthy and robust.


ETA got my first egg this past weekend.  Huge for a pullet egg.  I don't have a scale but by the looks of it it would be large.  Pullet who laid it was 20 weeks 4 days.  These girls are smaller then BRs, less flighty then leghorns and if this egg is an indication we will get great production.  I will update after she gets into a regular lay cycle.


ETA That first egg turned out to be a double yolker.  She has not missed a day since.  Every morning she has produced a lovely med/large white egg.  She is still sweet still curious and hopefully by this time three days from now I will have a chick from her.  A coop mate is sitting on eggs due to hatch in the next two days.


Pros: Started laying at 5 months, lay nearly every day

Cons: More nervous and flighty than most breeds

The first pullet laid an egg at exactly 5 months of age and before they were 6 months old, I was getting 20 eggs from 24 pullets. None of my other breeds come close to that. I am using them to produce black sexlinks that lay blue eggs by putting an Ameraucana roo over them. I'm pretty sure this cross will be a great layer of blue eggs.


They are similar to leghorns in temperment, much more nervous than the Barred Hollands I used for the sexlink cross the previous year. Once they matured they were considerable calmer.


Pros: Good layer of medium size eggs, good feed to egg ratio, smaller bird

Cons: A bit flighty, not overly friendly, mine lay a medium sized egg

Overall I am pleased with my 2 California Greys. This is the first opportunity I've had to assess the breed, though they've been on my wish list for a number of years, as they are harder to find even in my area, which is close to where the breed was originated. That original line is long lost, so I've been told, so what the hatcheries have today are a crossing of White Leghorn and Barred Rocks. This makes for a smaller bird that is a bit skittish but calmer than the Leghorn. It keeps the same feed ratio as the Leghorn and likewise lays very well if not quite as prolific as the WL. However mine continue to lay a medium size egg though slowly gaining in size their first laying year vs. the large to extra large of the WL or Brown Leghorn. I would get them again as I like having the nice stark white egg against the dark browns and greens of my other layers but would prefer a larger egg size. Hopefully that will come in their second season. The Cal Greys are calmer and less noisy than the Leghorns I've had, but definitely less inquisitive than Barreds, which actually I kind of prefer as my Barreds have been too curious to the point of annoyance. The Cal Greys keep to themselves, are a bit wary, yet still come to the shake of the treat bucket, though shy away from any hand contact. Most importantly they overall remain quiet. Good foragers as well and seem hawk savvy. Overall productive and useful for a white layer.


Pros: good egg to feed ratio,

Cons: excellent fliers, which might be a plus if you free range.

   I wanted to add white eggs to my colored egg basket so was looking for some non flighty hens to get along in the dual purpose mostly heritage breed flock I have.  So many of the white egg layers are described as "flighty"  I read about and was interested in California Greys but they certainly are not the easiest breed to find so they went on the back burner and I almost got another.

   Then this spring I was able to order several.  Sizewise they're the smallest of our large fowl, being the same size or some are slightly smaller than our Easter eggers, our smallest breed.  They're friendly and they forage well.

     We have coops with covered runs but do let the chickens forage inside a fenced in area.  The  other chickens all stay within the fenced in area but the California Greys can easily fly the fence, but also come back in and can reach the high roofs on the coops.

    They may not be practical for urban or suburban chicken fanciers unless kept in covered runs or their wings kept clipped, but they do stay nearby.  If they go over the fence, they come back.  They tend to leave our garden and flower beds alone (Don't know if this is a breed characteristic, but I appreciate it.)

   And while friendly to us and they easily tolerate our dogs running around them, they are very aware of their surroundings (wary) so may be an excellent choice for someone who wants to free range.

    Recently my husband announced that if we want more hens next year without hatching our own and we want sexed ones we should get more California greys. Considering the number of breeds we have and could choose from, this is quite a complement.

    Added later:  Now that our California Greys are laying, they are little egg machines.  I want to say they've never skipped a day since they started.  While other breeds take a break, the CG's just keep going.

    I have noticed their egg shells are slightly thinner than my heritage breed egg shells (But still much better than store bought egg shells) and I did read that because they lay so many eggs this could happen so I do keep a bowl of calcium out in addition to their feed.   already have an order in for some more for this spring.

    They aren't the easiest breed to find, but if you can, they are well worth it.


Pros: excellent breed

Professor James Dryden, NOT Horace Dryden, developed them; he began the groundwork at OAC, where his breeding program produced Lady McDuff, the first hen documented to lay 300 eggs in a year, and Oregona, who laid her thousandth egg at the beginning of her sixth year of lay. To this day the photographs of several of the outstanding birds bred by Professor Dryden are on display at Oregon State University.


Professor Dryden was probably the world's foremost breeder of poultry in the early 20th C.


Pros: Curious, fast growing, friendly

Cons: Good flyers so a covered run is preferred unless one wants to clip wings.

I'll post more of what I witness as my chicks mature. So far I am pleased with the health and vitality of these chicks.

California Grey

from the Privett website " California Greys are a breed cross of Barred Plymouth Rocks and White Leghorns. Mature hens weight is 4.5 pounds. This breed is one of the most efficient white egg producer of breeds or crosses that are not primarily white." from the Stromberg website: "The California Gray is a single comb, clean legged variety that originated in the U.S. Developed during the 1930's by crossing White Leghorns with Barred Plymouth Rocks. Great layer of white eggs" They are said to be among the least flighty of the white laying breeds they are dual purpose. Roosters reach about 5.5 lbs and hens about 4.5

Breed PurposeDual Purpose
Climate ToleranceAll Climates
Egg ProductivityHigh
Egg SizeLarge
Egg ColorWhite
Breed Temperamentless flighty
Breed Colors/Varietiescuckoo
Breed SizeLarge Fowl
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC

Chicken Breed Info:

Breed Purpose: Dual


Broodiness: Rare

Climate Tolerance: Cold Hardy


General Egg Info:

Egg Productivity: Good to Excellent ven in Winter

Egg Size: Large

Egg Color: White


Breed Temperament:  Calmer and less flighty than other white egg layers



Breed Colors / Varieties: Cuckoo with hens being quite a bit darker than Roosters.




taken from an article found here: 

Breed Details:

by Kim Dieter

Created on: April 03, 2010

The Californiaicon1.png Gray breed of chickens was developed in the United States to be a dual-purpose breed.  The hens lay large white eggs and both roosters and hens are meat producers.  However, the California Gray breed was never recognized officially by the American Poultry Association and today the breed is rare with few raised in the United States.


In 1908, Dr. Horace Dryden, a professor at the Oregonicon1.png Agricultural College (now known as Oregon State University) experimented by crossing white Leghorns and Barred Plymouth Rocks.  White Leghorns are small white chickens known for excellent white egg production.  Barred Plymouth Rocks are a very popular heavy breed of dual-purpose chickens with alternating black and white stripes.  In 1927, Dr. Dryden moved to Modesto, California, and started the Dryden Poultry Breeding farm.  The Leghorn and Barred Rock crosses were sold as California Grays, a high producer of white eggs.


California Grays are an autosexing breed.  Very young cockerels (males) are a lighter color than the young pullets (females).  Thus the sex of the young birds can be easily determined by color.  The roosters are barred with light gray and white stripes.  The hens are also barred but with very dark gray or almost black and white stripes. The color is similar to a Barred Rock but the body style more resembles the Leghorn breed.  The chicks are black with a white spot on the top of their head.  The abdomen, chest and wing tips are also white. 


California Grays are heavier than the Leghorn breed but not as large as the Barred Rock breed.  The roosters average 5.5 pounds and the hens 4.5 pounds. They have a red single comb and small white earlobes.  The eyes are reddish-brown and the shanks and toes are yellow.  

California Grays produce large quantities of white eggs. They are well known for their winter egg production in cold climates.


The California Grays are described as having a quieter temperament than Leghorns. They are not as flighty. California Gray roosters have been crossed with white Leghorn hens to produce the California White hybrid.  California Whites are known as a hardy breed and are excellent white egg layers.


Because the American Standard of Perfection has not accepted the California Gray, it is not subject to classification by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.  

Ekarius, C. (2007). Storey’s illustrated Guide to poultry breeds. Storey Publishing.






Chicken Breed Photos:


Primary Image




California Gray


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