Raising Chickens for Eggs
Everything You Need to Know About Barnevelder Chickens

Everything You Need to Know About Barnevelder Chickens

Do you want to learn everything there is to know about Barnevelder chickens? If so, you have come to the right place! In this article, we will discuss everything from their history to their personality traits. We will also provide tips on how to care for Barnevelders and how to breed them. So, whether you are a beginner or an experienced chicken keeper, read on!

What are Barnevelder chickens?

The Barnevelder chicken is an old Netherlands breed that can be hard to source nowadays. It was developed to produce brown eggs for the Dutch market.

What does a Barnevelder chicken look like?

The bird is a medium to heavy bird and has a compact, well-balanced body with an upright stance and a broad breast. The short wings are carried high. The head is neat and held high. The single comb is of medium size.

The cock has a similar coloring to the Partridge Plymouth Rock with a black breast and tail with iridescent bronzes and greens in the hackle feathers and saddle. The hen is also similar to the Partridge Plymouth Rock but with heavy lacing and secondary lacing within the feather. The majority of non-show stock has plumage of mixed black and red. The skin is yellow and the earlobe red.

Origins of the Barnevelder chicken

It was originally bred in the town of Barneveld and is a mix of several 19th-century breeds. Between 1850 and 1975, Brahma, Cochin, Malay, and Croad Langshan were imported from Asia and crossed with local birds.

One strain was reminiscent of a Black Cochin and was kept as a meat bird. Around 1885 a further cross took place with Brahmas then Langshans. From the Croad Langshan came improved hardiness, brown eggs, and increased winter production

In 1921 the Association of Barnevelder Breeders was founded. This association fixed the standard for the breed.

Before the Barnevelder became so popular as a show bird the eggs were a darker brown and the birds were possibly more productive. Show breeders often give more attention to external characteristics and color than to production figures.


Black, silver, partridge, and double-laced were the four colors recognized with double-laced being the original color and now the most popular. Since those days a number of varieties exist with not all countries recognizing all the different types. There are bantam versions of most of the large fowl colors.

The United States recognizes the Double-Laced Partridge while European countries recognize various other colors. Some of these are the Black Barnevelder, White, Dark Brown, Partridge, Double-Laced Blue, Blue, and Silver.


These birds will start laying eggs a little later than most breeds, but once they start? You will see 3-4 eggs a week, per hen. Usually, 6 months is when a bird starts laying and this breed is more like 8-10 months.

Known for their year-round egg-laying abilities, they lay between 180 to 200 light coppery brown eggs per hen each year. They are exported to many countries on the strength of that fact alone!

Your Barnevelder hens will lay their darkest eggs in their first 6 months of laying. As time passes, their eggs will get lighter in color.

When you want to expand your flock, they will go broody and are good mothers. The cocks weigh around 8 ½ pounds and the hens 6 ½ pounds.

Are they suitable for backyard life?

The Barnevelder has remained an efficient forager. Being docile and calm, foraging on free-range gives them some healthy exercise. Add in their unflappable nature, they will adapt well to confinement.

They are also kind of lazy so they should do beautifully in a coop or chicken run too.

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Barnevelders are considered to be one of the more placid chicken breeds. They are not as active as some other breeds and so make good pets for those who have limited space. Despite their laid-back nature, Barnevelders are quite curious and will explore their surroundings if given the chance.

Are Barnevelder chickens friendly?

Barnevelder chickens are very friendly and make great pets for both children and adults alike! Barnevelders love to socialize with humans, as well as other animals like dogs or cats but really enjoy hanging out with their flockmates most of all.

Barnevelders can be a little skittish at first since they tend to be shy around new people but once they get used to you, Barnevelders are very affectionate and sweet. Barnevelder chickens can learn their name if given enough time!

Basic Barnevelder Chicken Care

Barnevelder chickens require a little extra care than other breeds of chicken like the Buff Orpington. They are susceptible to a few diseases, so it is important that you keep an eye on them and know what to look for.

The Barnevelder hen has a single comb which can make her more susceptible to frostbite in cold weather. In hot weather, be sure to give your Barnevelder plenty of fresh water and shade as they can easily become overheated.

If they have enough area to forage, you will see them often feeding themselves and your feed costs will seem minimal to that of other breeds. The downside? Heavy foraging birds can tear up your lawn.

Barnevelder chickens are highly susceptible to Marek’s disease

Marek’s disease is a highly contagious viral disease that affects chickens. Barnevelders are particularly susceptible to this virus and can die from it. The virus attacks the bird’s nervous system and can cause paralysis, blindness, and death.

There is no cure for Marek’s disease and so the best way to protect your Barnevelders is to vaccinate them against it. Be sure to get your birds vaccinated at least two weeks before you plan to introduce them to any other chickens.


Marek’s Disease can be prevented by vaccination

If you are worried about Marek’s disease, there is a vaccine available to help protect your Barnevelder chickens. The vaccine should be given to your birds at least two weeks before you introduce them to any other chickens and should be repeated every year.

How long do Barnevelder chickens live?

Being such great egg layers costs them a bit here – they tend to live a little shorter life than other breeds, coming in at an average of 4-7 years for a lifespan. Make sure you take care of them well to optimize their lifespan/

Can you eat a Barnevelder chicken?

As these are slightly smaller birds and bread for egg production, they do not produce much meat compared to other breeds. Yes, you can eat them, and they should be table-ready at about 6 months of age.

Just keep in mind that even if this is a dual-purpose breed, there are other breeds better for eating.

Is the Barnevelder chicken right for you?

Barnevelders are one of the best breeds out there for beginners. They are chill birds, friendly with both humans and other chickens alike. Even roosters tend to be friendly. And kids love them!

The Barnevelder has remained an efficient forager. Being docile and calm, foraging on free-range gives them some healthy exercise. Again, because of their unflappable nature, they will adapt well to confinement. They don’t escape like other birds tend to — I would often get birds in my yard that literally came over the fence from my neighbor.

Check out some other chicken breeds we have talked about:

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