Barnevelder Chicken: Care Guide, Color Varieties and More…

The Barnevelder chicken is a lovely breed for your backyard flock.

They love human attention and are a reliable egg layer.

There are several colors you can choose from but the most popular is double laced gold.

Are you interested in adding this breed to your flock?

Keeping reading to learn why they are worthy contenders for a spot in your flock…

Gold Double Laced Barnevelder

Barnevelder Chicken Overview

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A Laced Barnevelder

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Barnevelder Rooster In Field

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Barnevelder Chicken

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Close Up Barnevelder Chicken


The Barnevelder comes from Holland (Netherlands) and was first bred just before the turn of the 20th century.

This chicken brought wealth to its keepers and the surrounding countryside as at the time they were one of only a few breeds that laid brown eggs.

Brown eggs were something of a rarity and they were suddenly in vogue (especially in England).

They thrived throughout the early 1900s right up to the industrialization of the poultry industry.

Sadly during this time industrial breeds were created that laid more eggs than the Barnevelder. This started the decline of this lovely chicken as well as many other heritage breeds.

They are now considered rare in their homeland and ever rarer in the US.

Barnies still have a valuable place on homesteads and small independent farms. They may not be as prolific as some of their sisters but they make a great dual purpose hen.

They are very personable and are not known for nervousness or bullying.

If you add to breed to your flock they are certain not to cause trouble. They are also good mothers and are very attentive to their chicks.

As an added bonus their feather pattern is beautiful and folks always comment on the simple beauty of it.

Barnevelder Chicken
Beginner Friendly: Yes.
Lifespan: 7+ years.
Weight: Hens (5lb) Roosters (8lb).
Color: Double laced gold most popular color.
Egg Production: 3-4 per week.
Egg Color: Chocolate Brown.
Known For Broodiness: No.
Good With Children: Yes.
Cost of Chicken: $10-$12 per chick.

Why We Love This Breed

  • This is an excellent dual purpose breed.
  • Barnevelders have unique brown and black feathers that are in an arrowhead pattern.
  • Their eggs are a unique dark chocolate color.
  • These chickens will lay eggs throughout the year (even during the winter).
  • A friendly and quiet bird that is good for homes with close neighbors.
  • Make good moms and will look after little chicks.
  • Can tolerate confinement well.

Appearance

Barnevelder Pullet

The double laced golden Barnevelder is the most popular variety.

This breed will have a single red comb with small wattles and earlobes.

Her eyes are a red bay color and her beak is horn colored. Their head and neck feathers should be black with no markings.

Now onto their body.

Their feathers should be black with mahogany markings that cause the double lacing look.

The plumage of the roosters is mainly black with red/brown feathers found on the back, shoulder and wing triangle.

Hens and roosters both her yellow legs and skin.

Size and Weight

Barnies are standard sized chickens with hens weighing around 5lb.

Roosters can reach up to 8lb.

You can even find Bantams are available and should weigh between 1.6-2lb.

Color

There are several color varieties to choose from with this breed:

  • Gold (double laced)
  • Silver (double laced)
  • Blue (double laced)
  • Black
  • White
  • Silver
  • Blue
  • Chamois

The double laced varieties in particular have a beautiful plumage.

There is also an auto-sexing barred Barnevelder but they can only be found in Europe and not the US.

What Is It Like To Own A Barnevelder?

Barnevelder Rooster

This breed loves to free range and forage for themselves.

You will often find them ranging and looking for tidbits to eat – they are good at it too and can supplement a lot of their diet doing this.

Also they are quite cold hardy so you will see them on some of the coldest days wandering in the yard looking for a tasty snack or two.

If you are planning on keep them in a pen then a three foot fence should keep them safe.

They are poor fliers so you do not need to worry about them taking off!

Personality

Barnies are very friendly chickens.

They rarely squabble with others and if they do you can be pretty sure they did not start it. Their docile nature puts them around the middle of the pecking order in a mixed flock. They enjoy the company of their humans and are always one of the first to greet you whether you have treats or not.

Barnevelders are an intelligent and curious breed.

They will follow you around if they think you have treats or are doing something interesting. They are always willing to help you with chores such as digging the garden – they are very good at pest removal!

Overall this is a calm and self-assured chicken that is a delight to handle. You may be lucky enough to encourage them to become lap chickens if you start to handle them right from birth.

Barnevelder Chickens

Egg Production

You can expect your Barnevelder to lay around 3-4 eggs each week – or around 150-200 eggs per year.

Pure bred varieties will lay a dark brown (almost chocolate) colored egg. Hatchery birds are much more likely to produce a medium to dark brown large egg which may occasionally have speckles.

As an added bonus she will even lay eggs throughout the winter.

Egg Production
Eggs Per Week: 3-4 Eggs
Color: Chocolate Brown
Size: Large

Noise Levels

This is a talkative breed but they are not known for being squawky.

They tend to talk quietly for the most part with the usual exceptions being the egg song and danger alarms.

Barnevelders are suitable for an urban setting as they are unlikely to disturb your neighbors.

Facts About This Breed

  1. This breed is terrible at flying.
  2. Roosters will weigh about eight pounds and hens will weigh around six pounds.
  3. They are affectionately known as Barnies.
  4. This breed originally comes from the Netherlands.
  5. You can find this breed in 8 colors but the Gold double laced is most popular.
  6. Sadly this breed is nearly extinct and is considered a rare breed.
  7. Although the females have feather patterns the roosters do not have any patterning.

Barnevelder Chicken Care Guide

Chamois Barnevelder

Health Issues

The Barnevelder is a hearty chicken that rarely suffers from any real health problems.

As with most poultry you can expect to see the usual parasites (lice, mites and worms).

These should be treated as soon as they are found as both lice and mites are distressing and can cause anemia. Worms should be checked for as these too can cause problems for your chickens.

You can treat them either on a regular basis or treat as needed – it is up to you.

As for other health problems you will need to watch out for Donald Duck syndrome and Marek’s disease.

There is an incredibly rare yet lethal gene in Barnevelder chickens which is called Donald Duck syndrome. This gene causes the beak to become deformed and chicks that have it rarely incubate successfully.

In addition to this breed is more susceptible to Marek’s disease so you should request vaccinations if you are buying from a hatchery. If you are buying from a private breeder ask about Marek’s and whether or not they have had any problems in their flock.

A Barnevelder

Feeding

Hatchlings and young chicks should be raised on 20-24% protein crumbles for the first eight weeks. From eight weeks to the point of lay (around sixteen weeks) they should be fed a 20% protein feed.

Once they reach the sixteen week mark they can be transitioned over to a 16% layer feed (crumble or pellet).

Birds that are undergoing stressful things such as molting should be given 20% protein feed as a boost for their metabolism.

Additional calcium (in the form of oyster shell) should be available in a separate container. Hens that need it will take it.

Insoluble grit is also very important as it helps your Barnevelders digest food.

This should be available in another separate container. The insoluble grit is not so important if they are allowed to free range but if they are confined it should be offered routinely.

As always, clean fresh water should be available.

Coop Setup

This is a standard sized chicken so they will each need 4 square feet of coop space.

They are not a breed that squabbles or fusses much with others so they can get picked on because of their docile nature – so try to have some quiet spaces available inside the coop.

As for roosting bars they will each need 8-10 inches.

This is quite sufficient for these hens as they do not mind being up close and personal to their neighbors in the depths of winter.

The summertime warmth will see them all spreading out a bit more, but even so the Barnevelder is not a breed that usually has personal space issues.

Finally for the nesting box, the standard 12×12 inch box is plenty big enough for these ladies. This size gives them enough room to get comfortable but deters any double occupancy of nest areas. It may look cute with two chickens in one box but the eggs can get damaged or broken.

Run and Roaming

This breed makes great pest control workers.

They love to free range and are good at finding all sorts of additions to their diet.

If you lot them into your vegetable or flower beds at the end on the season they will do a great job of cleaning up any bugs and grubs – and they will be very happy chickens.

However if you cannot let them free range then they do tolerate confine well.

You just need to give them plenty of things to hold their interest and they should thrive. All the usual activity type things: leaf piles, lots of perches, dust bathes and various quiet areas should keep them interested and busy.

If you are keeping them in a pen then just try to let them out to forage periodically as they will benefit from it. They tend to become lazy and lethargic if kept in total confinement.

Barnevelder Breed History

Golden Barnie

The Barnevelder is a relatively new addition to the chicken family and first appeared in 1911 at the Hague agricultural show, however breeders had been working on this breed since the 1850s.

Surprisingly little is known about the Barnevelder’s origins.

It is believed that this breed was created by crossing a landrace bird with some of the recent Asian imports such as the Brahma, Cochin and Croad Langshan. There is also speculation that Indian Game and possibly Orpingtons were added to the mix.

The distinctive patterning of plumage on the double laced makes the Indian Game genes almost a certainty I think.

Back in the early 1900s the plumage was not uniform in appearance.

So a Barnevelder Club was formed and after much effort and work the plumage was standardized. The breed was finally recognized and accepted to the Dutch standard in 1923. It was not accepted by the American Poultry Association until 1991.

They are named after Barneveld town which is in the Gelderlands area of central Holland.

During the 1900s various marketing towns around Holland (one of which was Barneveld) exported dark brown eggs to the English market. The addition of the Barnevelder to the already existing breeds was a definite boon to the industry.

At that time brown eggs were something of a novelty and it was thought that they were superior to white eggs. So the Dutch looked at breeding birds that laid brown eggs as an investment that paid well.

Sadly however with the advent of industrialization the Barnevelder chicken and many other good old fashioned breeds were cast aside.

There were new breeds around that could lay more eggs and fit better into the industrial model.

Barnevelders have declined over the years but they have recently been rediscovered by a new generation of homesteaders and backyard chicken enthusiasts.

They are well suited to backyards and are a good dual purpose breed that can tolerate confinement or freerange.

Summary

I have kept a few Barnies over the last ten years or so and have found them delightful chickens.

They were once in high demand but sadly since the industrialization of poultry they have fallen from favor and are now considered a rare breed.

This is such a shame for such a useful and lovely breed.

They are calm and not aggressive – even the roosters are said to be calm and somewhat mellow.

If you are looking for a gentle breed that is cold hardy and will lay through the winter then give the Barnevelder a try

You will be pleasantly surprised.

Let us know in the comments section below…

Chris Lesley Bio Picture
Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and is a fourth generation chicken keeper. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and are interested in backyard chicken health and care. Her work has been shared on HuffPost, Mother Nature Network, Community Chickens, Mother Earth News and many more outlets. Today Chris keeps 11 chickens including 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Silkies. She is our backyard chicken expert at Chickens And More, and shares her knowledge on raising healthy, happy chickens with our readers. You can contact Chris at chris@chickensandmore.com

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