- Breed Purpose:
- Dual Purpose
- Climate Tolerance:
- Egg Productivity:
- Egg Size:
- Egg Color:
- Breed Temperament:
- Friendly, Calm, Bears confinement well.
- Breed Colors/Varieties:
- No variations in color, but also available as a Bantam.
- Breed Size:
- Large Fowl and Bantam
Buckeyes came into existence through the efforts of Mrs. Nettie Metcalf in Warren, Ohio. This is the only species of chicken known to have been developed by a woman.
Mrs. Metcalf started crossing Buff Cochin males with Barred Rock females. She was not happy with this cross because she considered them large and lazy so a black breasted red game fowl male was introduced to the resulting Buff Cochin/Barred Rock offspring. This produced several red offspring and the early ancestors were born.
Mrs. Metcalf's chickens were being bred and raised at the same time as another red breed which was gaining popularity. That "RED" breed is known as the Rhode Island Red. Many believe Mrs. Metcalf's red chickens predated the now common egg layer. As early as 1896, she learned of RIR being bred on the east coast and traded stock with breeders of the new variety. She promptly named her birds, "Pea Combed Rhode Island Red". This hurt her new breed more than it helped with their popularity, so prior to exhibiting at the fair in 1902, she introduced her chickens as Buckeyes. The American Poultry Association first recognized the Buckeye as an individual unique breed in 1904.
Buckeyes, structurally, are very different from a Rhode Island Red. They are more slanted with broader backs and more muscular thighs. Buckeyes, in the early 1900s, had a similar appearance to the Cornish chicken. Buckeyes have a rich mahogany outer plumage with a slate color down. They are tight feathered with the roosters having black/green irridescent tail feathers. The hens have black tips. Both sexes have pea combs with small to medium sized wattles. The occasional single comb with larger wattles is still found in the breed but is not preferred by poultry exhibitors. The pea comb and tight feathering makes the Buckeye very suitable to colder climates. In fact, they handle the cold so well, they will continue to lay throughout the winter months. They are also tolerant of very hot and dry conditions.
Roosters average about 9 pounds and hens 6 1/2 to 7 pounds. They make wonderful dual purpose birds with yellow skin, large breast area and good thigh meat.
Buckeyes have their own unique personalities. They are a very active bird that prefer to free range though a large coop with run is suitable. They are a vocal bird and will spat with each other, lifting their neck feathers frequently asserting their place in the pecking order. Roosters can be territorial during breeding season. Hens are friendly and make good pets. Pullets will start to lay medium sized eggs at about 6 1/2 months. They are good egg layers. Buckeyes will sometimes go broody and raise chicks.
Buckeye chicks will range in color from light yellow to almost a light mahogany. Chicks can have a dark strip on their backs. They feather quickly though growth rate may be slower than other dual purpose breeds. Another unique trait to the Buckeye is they will actively mouse as well as a cat, even better at times. Buckeye roosters have a range of calls they make.
The Buckeye shows some traits of game fowl in its frame and disposition, being assertive in character and a very good forager. They are known for their friendliness and are wonderful with children. Despite its game heritage, it tolerates confinement well, although it will be much happier and produce better if allowed to range on grass. A good meat producer and layer of between 150 to 200 eggs per year, the Buckeye is a dual purpose chicken well–suited to small farmyard and backyard flocks. The Buckeye breed has also been gaining popularity in the exhibition world and gained possibly it's first ever Grand Master Exhibitor (Joe Shumaker of Shumaker Farm) in 2014.
For more information on this breed and their owners' and breeders' experiences with them, see our breed discussion here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/chicken-breed-focus-buckeye.1018336/
Chicken Breed Info:
Breed Purpose: Dual Purpose
Climate Tolerance: All Climates
General Egg Info:
Egg Productivity: Medium
Egg Size: Large
Egg Color: Brown
Breed Colors / Varieties:
No Variations in color, but also available as a Bantam.
I have raised and bred Buckeye chickens since 2007, NPIP 43-694. After an entire year of researching what chicken would be best suited to our ever changing weather and sometimes quite cold winter and very hot summers. A chicken that was a good egg layer that would lay med/large brown eggs, but also would make nice table fair. I was also searching for a chicken unlike sometimes a Rhode Island Red (which I also raise) that did not stress easily as a chick, were easy brooders and feathered out quickly. Although they do feather out a bit slower than a Rhode Island Red, the ease of raising the Buckeye makes the slower maturing bird inconsequential. I have found all of this and a bird with a very unique personality all in one bird, the Buckeye. For more information please visit: http://www.americanbuckeyepoultryclub.com or http://www.americanbuckeyeclub.org/ with whom this detailed history on the Buckeye was written. Thank you Jeff Lay for the gorgeous picture of Brutus the top picture and your help.
Recent User Reviews
"Always Getting Injured"
Pros - Independent from flock and hardy to weather.
Cons - Low egg production, broody, lowest on pecking order.
I've just had the one buckeye raised from a day old chick. I purchased her thinking that she might kill mice. I watched her completely ignore mice eating out of her feeder. I always had to go looking for her at night when she was missing from the coop. She would have gotten her self stuck in some obstacle around the yard and injured herself trying to escape whatever she got stuck in. This required me to constantly nurse her back to health. I've never had such a dumb and needy bird.
Pros - Lively, friendly, beautiful, consistent medium-egg layers, great meat birds, cold-hardy, heritage
Cons - None. None at all.
These are some of the best birds I have ever owned, and are a staple in my flock. The roosters are consistently the sweetest full-sized roosters I've ever owned. The hens are lovely to have around, and are more than willing to be handled.
Their feathers or ridiculously shiny at times. They don't peck at each others feathers, and don't fight or pick on each other (or other breeds). Their pea combs makes them fantastic for the winter, and are the only American developed pea comb (and are specifically bred to be cold hardy.) They are a good sized breed, and their meat is wonderful.
I honestly could go on and on about the great things about this breed. Personally, I think they should be renamed the awesome-st birds alive (but that might just be me). They are a fabulous breed, for the new and the old.
They're a great dual purpose breed, but primarily are used for meat. They don't grow as fast as some of the modern cross breeds do, but they grow faster than other heritage breeds.
The only fault I have for this breed is that few people raise them, and they are on the critical-endangered chicken breed list. If you want a great, all around breed, this is the breed for you.
"My favourite of our chickens!"
Pros - Beautiful, hardy, great layers, friendly, calm
Cons - Get picked on a lot!
We added a few buckeyes to our flock late last spring simply because we needed some filler chicks to get the last 4 easter eggers from the feed store and the only others they had were buckeyes... weren't we lucky?
I absolutely love our buckeyes. They are beautiful birds with wonderful burgundy colouring and reddish heads. They are the hardiest of our chickens who go out and have dust baths when there's no snow even when it's 20 degrees out and windy! Nothing stops them from going out in the outdoors, whether it's rain, wind, or snow... tough and resilient they are. They fared well with no frost bite on their mini combs or feet this winter, even in the dry, cold, bitter windy weather.
Our buckeyes lay big, brown eggs almost every day, all winter long. They lay very early in the morning, and we only catch them a few times, but those big brown eggs with the thick shells are hard to miss!
Our buckeyes aren't going to come running up to sit in my lap like some of the others. But they're friendly and calm, and one of the best words I can think of is 'stoic'. They don't flinch with the others, and are always alert and calm when other birds are panicked from something flying overhead or a scary noise in the woods. They will walk up to you and follow you without you even noticing it, and many times I turned around and nearly stepped on them because I didn't even hear them following me. They are rather routine, hang out mostly together, perch together, and always go to the same areas at the same time of the day. It's hard to see one buckeye without the other nearby.
The only flaw from mine is that they don't protect themselves. They don't make any effort to get themselves a pecking order, and are routinely attacked by our mean, young rhode islands who are trying to establish themselves. Both our buckeyes have pecked heads every night but they always just sit together and do their best to avoid the mean birds. I only saw one fight back once, and it was when the other hen would not leave them alone, chasing them everywhere, pecking them. She won that little fight and fortunately won her rights to be able to walk around the yard without being harassed.
If you like a bird who isn't a bully and is tough, hardy, beautiful, and a good layer, the Buckeye is quite possibly a good choice!
I will be adding more of these to my flock as soon as I can. I really like these girls. They look at you with calm, curious, seemingly thoughtful eyes.