Breed Profile: Golden Comet Chickens

Breed Profile: Golden Comet Chickens

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Breed: The Golden Comet chicken is a breed hybrid also known as Golden Buff, Red Star, Cinnamon Queen, and Gold Sex-Link.

Origin: Golden Comet chickens are bred for the commercial egg market in the USA from strains of Rhode Island Red roosters, such as New Hampshires or Cherry Eggers, mated with White Rock or Rhode Island White hens (with the silver factor rather than the dominant white gene), depending on hatchery preferences.

Rhode Island Red chickens were developed in the late nineteenth century from Malay chickens and brown Leghorns as a dual-purpose breed. Modern strains are selected for egg production. New Hampshire chickens were bred from Rhode Island Reds around 1935 as early maturing, large brown egg layers. White Rocks were selected as broilers from the Plymouth Rock chicken, a dual-purpose breed created in Massachusetts in the early nineteenth century from Black Java hens and a barred rooster. Rhode Island Whites are dual-purpose birds developed in 1888 from partridge Cochin chickens, white Wyandotte chickens, and white Leghorn chickens.

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Golden Comet Chickens Are Great Layers

History: Hybrid chickens have been popular for commercial production since the early twentieth century. A faster rate of growth, earlier maturity, and increased egg yield was apparent in crossbred chickens due to hybrid vigor. This led to the accepted nomenclature of hybrid, denoting the cross of selected breeds for commercial production. Golden Comet chickens are the most commonly kept rescue hens sold to the public after their first two years in commercial production. As Golden Comets have proved to adapt easily to the free-range environment, they have become popular with backyard and small-farm chicken keepers and can be bought direct from hatcheries.

Golden Comet chickens are friendly, calm and prolific layers, making excellent backyard birds, but at the price of a short life and susceptibility to reproductive tract issues.

golden-comet-chicken-fledging
Golden Comet chick fledging. Photo ©
MH50000000/Flickr

Biodiversity: Parental strains are selectively bred for high productivity, which is known to have an effect of limiting genetic diversity. According to Vivek Kapur, Professor of Animal Science at Penn State University, the breeding of such birds does not focus on survival traits, as “… there is usually a trade-off between increased resistance to disease and egg or meat production.”

golden-comet-chickens
Photo courtesy of Cackle Hatchery®

Golden Comet Chicks Are Sex-Linked

Description: Golden Comet hens have an upright U-shaped body bearing mainly red-brown feathers interspersed with white. Golden Comet roosters are all white or mainly white with red shoulder feathers. Both sexes have yellow eyes, beak, and legs. They are sex-link hybrid chickens: you can tell the sex of baby chicks when they first hatch. Females can be distinguished from males according to color. Females are a golden buff with stripes, while males are pale yellow.

golden-comet-chicks-female
Female Golden Comet chicks. Photo © MH50000000/Flickr

The hens rarely go broody. As they are already a crossbreed, their offspring retain neither their adult colors, nor their sex-link trait. Their offspring will show varying color patterns.

Golden Comet pullets are fast growing and maturing, and hens start laying when young, normally from 19 weeks, but they can lay as early as 16 weeks old.

Skin Color: Yellow

Comb: Single

Popular Use: Layers

Egg Color: Brown

Egg Size: Large to extra large

Productivity: 250–320 eggs per year during their first two years, after which laying drops off noticeably.

Weight: Hens 4–7 lbs (2–3 kg), roosters 6–8 lbs (2.75–3.5 kg), depending on strain.

golden-comet-chicken-hen
Golden Comet hen. Photo by Putneypics/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Temperament: A confident and friendly bird that enjoys human company, they are also peaceful with flock members and avoid any kind of confrontation. It is recommended that they are kept with non-aggressive companions. They are energetic and curious, liking to roam and forage.

Golden Comet Chicken Lifespan Is Short

Adaptability: As young birds, Golden Comets are hardy and adaptable, although their large comb is susceptible to frostbite. As active foragers, they are low maintenance and self-sufficient when free range. This makes them ideal for beginners in the backyard or small farm. However, selection for prolific egg production has its downside in that the body wears out quickly. Their lifespan is short: only four to five years. After three years of age they become susceptible to reproductive organ issues, such as peritonitis and tumors, due to the heavy use of these body parts.

Quotes “The Comet is great for kids; they are gentle, enjoy people and aren’t easily ‘rattled’ in most situations. They seem to take everything in their stride.” The Happy Chicken Coop.

Sources: Cackle Hatchery®
Feathersite
Purely Poultry
Pennsylvania State University. 2019. Researchers find genes that could help create more resilient chickens.

Golden Comet hen takes a dust bath – in slow motion

Originally published in the October/November 2019 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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