THEY ARE LIVING AMERICAN HISTORY!
The red rose comb, wattles, and ear lobes are a striking contrast to the dark and light slate feathers. They have yellow beaks, legs, and feet. Their eyes are round and alert, bay in color. Large fowl Dominiques weigh 5lbs. (pullets) – 7lbs. (cocks) pounds while bantams weigh 1.5-2 pounds. Dominiques are unlike other standard breeds in size, shape, and body. The type is more along the lines of the Mediterranean breeds than most American fowl. The breed’s feathers were once prized as stuffing for pillows and mattresses. Dominiques bear confinement well, but they are excellent foragers and as with most chickens, prefer free-ranging. Fortunately, egg production is acceptable in both confinement and free-range situations. They also do well in various climates but are known for their cold tolerance, as the rose comb and heavy plumage make them tolerant to cold and frostbite in harsh winter conditions in the north and mountainous regions of the US. We have found that they also tolerate high temperatures and humidity well, as is common in the Deep South during the summer. Dominique hens are considered good mothers. They mature and feather out faster than some other breeds, and typically can go without a heat source for around 6 weeks if raising them in a brooder. The chicks vary from light gray to black with light yellowish-white patches on the head, chin, and underside. As with the Barred Plymouth Rock, the sex of the chicks can be determined by their color, head spot, and leg markings, thanks to sex-linked traits. This is another bonus for breeders, in that sales of young sexed chicks can be done accurately.
The hens are good layers of medium-size brown eggs, which may be surprising, considering their smaller than average size. The egg size does increase with the age of the hen – our two-year-old hens lay large eggs. They average 230 eggs per year. They are also good meat birds with exceptional flavor, even though utilizing heritage breeds such as the Dominique for meat has, for the most part, become a thing of the past. The Dominique has a very calm temperament, and this may have contributed to their popularity in the past. It is said that the roosters can be aggressive, but our roosters have always been very gentle and calm toward humans, although they will fight with other roosters over territory and hens given the opportunity. The adolescent chicks are very friendly, and if you aren’t careful, you can accidentally step on them.
In the Mid-1800s the Dominique was the most popular chicken breed in the US. The importation of Asiatic and some of the fancier ornamental breeds led to a decrease in interest in breeding Dominiques, as they became considered ordinary barnyard fowl. In 1874, the Dominique was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection. As with many of the heritage breeds, the popularity of the Dominique declined once more chickens began to be raised commercially and less on family farms. These days the Dominique is gaining popularity once again, as many hobby farmers have grown to love all the wonderful things that the Dominique has to offer as a productive egg layer and wonderful family pet with a friendly disposition.
Purchase Interpreting the Dominique Standard by Mark Fields in the Club Store (Coming Soon), or read the PDF version free with membership. Join here!