4 Key Benefits of Owning a Barnevelder Chicken

Barnevelder Chicken Featured Image
Barnevelder Chickens lay 150-200 eggs per year which are just over 2 ounces in size, and they're also very delicious to eat. Not only are they a great dual-purpose bird, but they're also beautiful to keep and get along well with other pets, kids and adults alike. 

With so many varieties of chicken to choose from, picking the right one for your farm or home can feel like an overwhelming task. However, there are some breeds of chicken that stand out for a variety of reasons.

While some chickens are bred exclusively for one purpose, such as the Onagadori which is bred for strictly ornamental reasons, there are also birds that have been created to fulfill multiple purposes.

The Barnevelder chicken is an excellent example of a dual-purpose chicken that can also bring a lot of beauty and personality to your flock. In this article, we will go over 4 key reasons why the Barnevelder makes a great addition to any chicken coop.

1. The Aesthetics of the Barnevelder

Simply put, Barnevelder chickens are beautiful birds. Because of the variety of breeds that went into creating the Barnevelder chicken, there are now several different color options available.

Some of the most popular colorations include double-laced silver, double-laced blue, black, white, silver blue, chamois, and partridge. With so many color options available, you’re able to select a Barnevelder that can stand out amongst the rest of your flock. 

a single Barnevelder

The double-laced Barnevelders are particularly striking. Each double-laced feather has an additional lacing band that creates an incredible feather pattern throughout the entirety of the bird. Barnevelders also come in the bantam size, though these can be rarer to find.

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Both roosters and hens have a red single comb, red earlobes, and a small wattle, with yellow legs and skin. These are common attributes for most common breeds of chicken, however, the colors work remarkably well with each of the colorways of the Barnevelder. 

2. Providers of Both Eggs and Meat

Considered a dual-purpose breed of chicken, Barnevelders are known to be both good for laying eggs and also to be harvested for their meat. 

As mentioned earlier, the Barnevelder’s beautiful chocolate brown egg is what first brought it into popularity. The egg size is usually between 2-2.5oz, which is about average for a heritage breed.

3 Barnevelder chickens

A Barnevelder hen will produce between 150-200 eggs each year. This is considered decent production for a heritage breed, and hens will continue to lay eggs even throughout the winter. Barnevelder hens are naturally broody, so breeders find that they are easy to hatch and raise.

Barnevelders will on average grow to between 5-8lbs, making for a decent size carcass. They have a fairly upright posture with a broad breast, which allows for a good amount of breast meat.

The overall flavor is delicious, mostly due to Barnevelders being avid foragers. Having a large variety of food sources for Barnevelders to eat from will improve the overall flavor of the bird.

3. Easy to Raise, Easy to Keep

Considered to be overall easygoing birds, Barnevelders are known to be calm and lovable chickens. Barnevelders have laid-back personalities verging on being seen as lazy. In a mixed flock of chickens, they will usually end up in the middle of the pecking order because they are so docile.

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However, they are still highly curious birds that enjoy foraging and exploration. Their low energy levels paired with their intuitive nature make Barnevelders perfect companions.

They will often follow you around as you do other work around the yard, and are great to free-range. In fact, Barnevelders are known to grow lethargic if kept strictly confined, so it is good to allow them room to explore and be active as backyard chickens.

young girl with Barnevelder chicken

When compared to other chicken breeds, Barnevelder chickens are seen as very hardy birds and can tolerate cold weather quite well. This makes them highly adaptable to most climates, and will allow for much easier care during the colder months of winter.

Though they have minimal health issues, Barnevelders are affected by Marek’s Disease which is common in many breeds of chicken. Fortunately, this is usually treated with a vaccination given to baby chicks.

4. Family-Friendly Birds

The gentle nature of Barnevelders makes them great candidates to have around families. Barnevelders are eager to greet you and are usually pretty chatty. They like to talk, but aren’t excessively loud or noisy. Hens will often run right up to you, and if you’ve raised them accordingly, will even make great lap chickens.

a single Barnevelder on grass

Being docile by nature not only makes Benevelders easy to raise, but also easy to get along with. They are rarely aggressive and like interacting with humans, which makes them incredibly kid-friendly. This is perfect if you’re looking to raise a family alongside your chickens, and will allow you the confidence to have children around the chicken coop.

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Barnevelders And Their Rich History

Barnevelders are a domestic breed of chicken that originates from Holland. When “Shanghai” chickens first arrived in Europe in the 1850s from Asia, they were naturally cross-bred with local poultry. In the Netherlands, these Shanghai birds were bred with a variety of local farmyard chickens such as British Buff Orpingtons, Langshans, Brahmas, Cochins, and Malays. 

Barnevelders first debuted at an agricultural exhibition known as the Landbouwtentoonstelling in The Hague, Netherlands in 1911. However, the Dutch Poultry Club determined that there were too many variables in the breed, and decided to not accept the breed initially. Barnevelders became formally accepted in 1923, when a Barnevelder breed club was formed and drafted a standard for the breed.

a Barnevelder next to pathway

In the 1920s, Barnevelders were highly sought after for their brown egg production, being one of few breeds that laid brown eggs at the time. Eventually, as the poultry industry grew, industrial breeds overtook popularity from the Barnevelders in terms of egg production.

The American Poultry Association officially recognized the Barnevelder chicken in 1991 by adding them to their Standard of Perfection.

Final Thoughts

Barnevelder chickens are a remarkable heritage breed that is a fantastic addition to any farm or homestead. Their remarkable looks, relaxed demeanor, and ability to put food on the table make these highly versatile animals.

Whether you’re looking to have a chicken that lays beautiful dark brown eggs, or to simply have a calm and curious backyard friend, Barnevelders will prove their worth for the unique breed that they are.


Raised in Wisconsin, Leland has spent most of his life adjacent to the rich farmlands of the Midwest. He has visited many farms while exploring his home state, which eventually led him to work directly with farmers on a variety of projects. Between building furniture with Amish-milled wood and helping a local farmer construct a greenhouse, Leland developed a deep interest in homesteading and wants to one day have farmland of his own. Leland is able to combine his love of writing and recent passion for agriculture by writing articles focused on a variety of aspects of farming and homesteading.

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