buckeye chicken hen

Ultimate Guide To Buckeye Chickens

People keep backyard chickens for many reasons, such as for fresh eggs, meat, a hobby, pest control, natural fertilizer for their garden, or for companionship. Backyard chicken keeping is an increasingly popular hobby that is experiencing a resurgence. More and more cities are rolling back ordinances that prevent keeping chickens on your property, leading to an uptick in interest. There are hundreds of different types of chickens to choose from – hybrids, heritage breeds, and crosses. One of those breeds is the Buckeye chicken.

Buckeye chickens are an American breed of domestic chicken, named after the American state of Ohio, which is often referred to as the “Buckeye State.” They aren’t the most common type of chicken and are rarely found for sale in feed stores every spring, but they are a nice, docile chicken to raise.

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All about Buckeye chickens

When it comes to picking the right breed of chicken for your home or farm, knowing the basics of the breed will help you make that decision. 

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  • Appearance: black and red feathers
  • Origin: USA
  • Temperament: Docile
  • Noise: Quiet
  • Purpose: Dual purpose
  • Maturity: 24 weeks
  • Eggs per year: 150-200
  • Egg color: Brown
  • Egg size: Large
  • Size: Large
  • Hen weight: 6lbs
  • Rooster weight: 9lbs
  • Broody: Yes
  • Lifespan: 10+ years
  • APA Recognized: Yes, 1904

A Buckeye Chicken is a breed of chicken originating in the United States in Ohio in the late 1800. It is a large bird, typically weighing 8-10 pounds with a plump body and a deep chest. The breed is easily recognizable due to its striking black and red coloring. The feathers of the Buckeye Chicken are a deep red color with a black head, neck and tail. Its comb and wattles are bright red, while its beak and legs are a yellow-orange color.

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It was originally bred as a dual-purpose breed, meaning it was raised for both its eggs and its meat. Buckeye chickens are known for their hardiness and egg-laying ability, as well as their good temperament and docility.

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Temperament

Buckeye chickens are known for being hardy, docile, and friendly birds. They are good layers of medium to large-sized brown eggs, and they are known to be quite friendly and social with other chickens. They are known to be very fond of their people and don’t tend to antagonize new chickens when introduced to the flock. They are also great foragers and can handle cold climates with ease.

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When it comes to roosters, and this applies to just about every breed of chicken, if you treat them with respect and are kind, they will typically return the favor. Knowing their boundaries and reading their body language is important. If, despite all your best efforts, your Buckeye rooster won’t stop being aggressive, it may be best to remove him from the flock and look for a nicer rooster.

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Purpose

The Buckeye is considered a dual-purpose chicken. A dual-purpose chicken is a breed of chicken that is specifically bred for both egg-laying and meat production. They are usually medium in size, with a good amount of meat on their frame, and have a good feed conversion rate. They have excellent temperaments, so they make great pets, too. They lay eggs, but not as many as a more prolific breed, like the Novogen. Dual-purpose chickens are great for anyone who wants to have a sustainable source of eggs and meat all in one.

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Coop and run

Chickens tend to pick up bad behaviors when their coop and run aren’t up to their standards, so making sure you have the appropriate cook and run for your Buckeye chickens is vitally important.

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Buckeyes like to have plenty of coop and run space to go about the business of being a good chicken. The more space you can provide them, the happier they’ll be and the more eggs they’ll lay. [breed] chickens should be provided 10 or more square feet of free-range area per bird.

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Chicken runs and coops should be kept properly cleaned out and provided with fresh straw regularly. At least one nest box per laying hen is preferred, although they can tolerate “buddying up” and laying eggs in the same nest box. These chickens are known to wander some and will occasionally find creative places to lay their eggs.

Common Buckeye chicken problems

Buckeyes don’t seem to have many built-in health problems due to the nature of their breed. They aren’t very good egg layers, taking up to 6 months to start laying eggs and then only laying an egg about every other day on average. Other than that, they are susceptible to all the usual chicken problems.

Viral diseases

Chickens are susceptible to a number of viral illnesses, including Marek’s disease, avian flu, fowl pox, Newcastle disease, and bronchitis. Some of these conditions are more common than others. Signs of a viral infection among your chickens include sneezing, coughing, reduced egg production, reduced eating, lethargy, discharge around the eyes and sinuses, sores, and paralysis in the case of Newcastle disease.

Most chicks acquired from a reputable breeder or hatchery are vaccinated against the more common viral infections, like Marek’s. Chicks acquired from smaller-scale sellers may not be vaccinated. Always ask if your chicks have been vaccinated and what they’re vaccinated for.

Bacterial illness

Bacterial infections are a real concern for chickens, as coops, runs, and the outdoors, in general, can be havens for bacteria. The most common bacterial infections for chickens are salmonellosis and colibacillosis. These infections can be fast spreading and infect entire flocks.

Signs your chickens may be struggling with a bacterial infection include reduced egg laying, breathing problems, reduced appetite, and death. Salmonellosis doesn’t always present symptoms in chickens.

Fungal diseases

The two most common types of fungal diseases are brooder pneumonia and ringworm. Ringworm can be spread to humans as well, so if you suspect your chickens have ringworm, handle them carefully and wash your hands and clothes immediately.

Brooder pneumonia tends to only infect young chicks spending their first few weeks in a brooder. Ringworm usually clears up on its own with time. Keeping brooders and coops clean is key to avoiding these fungal infections.

Parasitic infection

Like most of our pets, chickens can experience parasitic infections. Worms, ticks, lice, and mites are some of the more common ones. Symptoms of these parasites include loss of appetite, lethargy, skin irritation, and unexpected loss of feathers outside of normal molting.

Be wary of used coops. Always disinfect them thoroughly before introducing your chickens. Replace coop bedding often and periodically disinfect chicken coops to reduce the presence of parasites.

Injuries

It can be a rough and tumble life for chickens as they go about establishing pecking orders and foraging for food. Injuries, particularly foot injuries, aren’t uncommon. Most surface-level injuries will clear up on their own, but foot injuries are particularly concerning as the chickens’ talons tend to come into contact with their own manure as well as other pathogens in the soil and on the ground.

Common signs of a foot injury are difficulty walking or putting weight on the foot as well as lethargy. In the case of bumblefoot, a type of staph infection, both the chickens’ digits and sometimes entire feet can become swollen with pus-filled abscesses. Foot injuries should be treated and bandaged as soon as they are noticed.

Egg binding

Egg binding is an often tragic issue for chickens. It’s caused when an egg becomes stuck between the hen’s uterus and cloaca. Signs of egg binding include weakness, inability to perch, often choosing to sit or lay on the ground, straining, and a lack of egg laying. Egg binding can quickly become a fatal condition and will generally require a trip to an avian vet to fix.

“Pasty butt”

Pasty butt, sometimes called pasty vent, is a fairly common condition that afflicts chicks. It can quickly become a life-threatening issue if not addressed. Pasty vent tends to be caused by stress and dehydration. It occurs when thick stools block the chick’s vent, preventing it from passing droppings.

Eventually, the chick will become ill and refuse to eat. Signs of pasty butt include smaller chick size and a pasty mat of droppings over the vent. This condition is easily treated by cleaning the affected area and removing the stuck droppings.

Breeding Buckeye chickens

Breeding your Buckeye chickens doesn’t differ significantly from breeding other types of heritage chickens. Providing your Buckeye hens access to a Buckeye rooster and allowing nature to take its course will yield healthy, strong chicks. A ratio of 10 hens for every rooster will typically yield good fertility rates. You can allow a broody hen to sit on her eggs or hatch them in an incubator. A quick guide to hatching:

  • Incubation time: 21 days
  • Incubator temperature: 37.5°C (99.5°F)
  • Incubator humidity: 40-50%
  • Egg turning: 4 times a day
  • Candling eggs: Day 7
  • Lockdown Date: Day 17
  • Lockdown temperature: 37.2°C (99°F)
  • Lockdown humidity: 65%

For more information, check out our comprehensive guide on incubating chicken eggs.

What to feed Buckeye chickens

Up until about 16 weeks old, your Buckeye chicks should be fed a commercial chick starter feed with 18% protein. This added protein will help your young chicks grow and develop into healthy birds. After 24 weeks, they can be switched to a 16% protein layer feed to support healthy feathers and good egg production. Chickens enjoy being put out to pasture where they can eat grass, bugs, and other plants. They will also gladly eat some fruits, vegetables, grains, and leafy greens. Free-ranging your birds will also cut down significantly on your feed costs.

For more information, check out our comprehensive guide on what foods chickens can and cannot eat.

Thomas Nelson
Gardening Expert
Hi! I'm Thomas, one of the founders of The Garden Magazine. I come from a long line of gardeners who used the art of gardening as a way to live long, healthy lives. I'm here to share my knowledge of gardening with the world!
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