Jersey Black Giants
There are Giants among us.
How big do Giants get?
Giants are the largest purebred chicken. The weight of mature roosters is 11 to 15 pounds and they are usually 22 to 26 inches tall. Mature hens 9 to 11 pounds and usually 16 to 20 inches tall.
What color are they?
Black, Blue and White are the colors recognized by the American Poultry Association.
Splash colored Giants are usually a byproduct of breeding the Blue variety, though Splash should also breed true as a separate variety.
Are they good layers? How many eggs do they lay? What color are the eggs?
Giants were developed to be a dual purpose breed, good for producing eggs as well as meat. They lay more eggs than other heavy breeds. The eggs are large and the color varies from dark brown to light cream, sometimes with dark “freckles” on them.
How fast do they grow (mature)?
Actually, Giants grow as fast as most other pure breeds of chickens. It seems that they grow slower because they are larger than most other breeds so it takes longer for them to reach maturity at 8 to 9 months. First they develop their large frame and then put on weight later.
Are they good to eat? Fry or bake?
Yes, and because it takes them longer to mature, they are generally better for baking than frying. It was once thought that Giants would rival turkeys as a table bird before broad breasted commercial turkeys were developed.
Are they aggressive (mean)? Are they good around children?
Giants tend to be quite mellow and almost never mean. Of course if you try to take an egg from a hen determined to set you can expect a few pecks. Once in a while you will come across an ornery rooster but this is the exception, though growing roosters will get feisty with each other especially when kept in close confinement, and older roosters will fight amongst each other.
Will they get along with other chickens?
Generally OK. Giant roosters will be roosters just the same as other breeds, and the hens will set up a “pecking order” just the same as any other breed. More of a concern is having the feed and water at the proper height for all birds in the pen. They should be at back level. If the water is too low in order to accommodate bantams, the Giants may be scratching litter into it. Bantams and Giants get along fine if not too closely confined and there is room for the bantams to get out from under foot.
Are they a good breed for a 4-H project?
Yes, but unless they are hatched very early in the year they may not be as mature as some other breeds for county fairs that start in mid-summer. Hens especially tend to be easily tamed down and very friendly and easy to handle for showmanship.
Are they easy to get ready for poultry shows?
No more difficult than any other large breeds and easier than some. Washing any large breed is more difficult than bantams. However Giants are a relatively tight feathered breed compared to Cochins or Orpingtons, so you can clean up black or blue Giants without always going to the trouble of complete washing.
Do they fly much? How high?
Because Giants are less high strung than many other breeds, they are less “flighty” and more docile. Giants usually limit flying to a few feet high, five feet or so maximum, unless being chased or otherwise scared and then may fly several times this.
How big should their house be?
This depends on if they have access to an outside pen. The minimum would be 4 square feet per mature bird, 6 would be better, and 8 or more would save having to clean the coop so often, especially if the birds spend much time confined inside.
How high off the ground should the roosts be?
Recommend no more than one or two feet high. They will roost as high as four feet or more high, but jumping down from this height may cause foot and other problems because they are such big birds. Provide at least 15 inches of roost space for each female, and at least 10 inches between perches. Slightly more for males - 18 inches or more.
How big should nests be? Does each hen need a nest? How high off the floor?
For a large flock a nest for about every 5 or 6 hens, but for smaller pens of 10 or less there should be a nest for every 3 or so. Recommend at least 18 inches x 18 inches. Nests may be on the floor or not over one foot high. Giants will fly up to higher nests but it is not recommended.
Do they need an outside pen? If so how big? How high a fence?
If possible provide an outside range area as large as possible. Giants are more active than many other heavy breeds. Giants like to forage outside. This not only gives them exercise needed for good muscles and faster growth, but also saves on the feed bill. Any fence higher than 5 feet is needed more to keep other critters out than to keep Giants in. However, Giants can be kept confined inside.
Do they have good fertility without artificial Insemination?
Yes. Some folks do recommend trimming or pulling fluff and feathers around the vents.
How many hens should I have for each rooster?
Normally 5 or 6 hens per rooster is the maximum for best fertility. Roosters can be rotated in and out of the pen every few days since some roosters prefer certain females.
How well do they hatch compared to other breeds?
No different except that Giants sometimes but not always take 1 or 2 days longer than other breeds, so be patient.
What do they eat?
Rations similar to other breeds but because they grow so fast, be sure they get all vitamins and minerals for large and strong frame and muscle development.
How do they get along in cold weather? Do their houses need to be insulated?
Giants get along well in cold weather. Insulated houses are not required except in areas of extreme cold temperatures.