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Hamburg Chicken: Facts, Uses, Origins & Characteristics (with Pictures)

Hamburg chickens

If you’re looking for a flashy chicken breed to add to your flock, the fancy Hamburg chicken might fit the bill. These incredible, sleek-feathered beauties will add zeal, personality, and a charming aesthetic to any barnyard!

Small or large-scale farms alike, it doesn’t matter–the Hamburg chicken will fit right into any flock with their docile nature and superb social skills. Find out more about what to expect from your potential Hamburg chickadees.

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Quick Facts about Hamburg Chicken

Cory's chickens 10 - Silver Spangled Hamburg cockerel
Cory’s chickens 10 – Silver Spangled Hamburg cockerel (Image Credit: Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)
Breed Name: Hamburg
Place of Origin: Holland
Uses: Eggs
Rooster Size: 9.5-12 pounds
Hen Size: 7.5-8.5 pounds
Color: Varied
Lifespan: 8 years
Climate Tolerance: Hardy
Care Level: Easy
Production: Low/moderate
Temperament: Active

Hamburg Chicken Origins

Hamburg chicken history can be surprising considering they were bred initially as a contest of physical features. Breeders were in somewhat of a battle as to who could make the flashiest rooster, and on came the Hamburg (along with the spiky-haired Polish chicken.)

By the 14th century, Hamburg chickens were prevalent in Holland, though it is unclear where the breed originated. There is much speculation about the origins, but nothing definitive enough to make concise conclusions. Along with the quirky Polish chicken, Hamburgs started making their way through hatcheries all over—first in Holland, Germany,  and Poland—then exported to England.

It’s theorized that many color variations of the Hamburg were perfected in England—most of which were deemed suitable in the 1800s. The tiny bantams soon followed, gaining traction for their spunky temperaments, compact size, and fancy feathers.

Keepers were so impressed with the looks of the Hamburg chicken that they kept flourishing and gaining popularity over time. Now, they add pizzazz to any flock—charming owners with their extravagant coloring and feathers.

Cory's chickens 03 - Silver Spangled Hamburg pullet
Cory’s chickens 03 – Silver Spangled Hamburg pullet (Image Credit: Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 2.0 Generic)

Hamburg Chicken Characteristics

Although they have docile temperaments that keepers love, physical characteristics are definitely the Hamburg’s strong suit. Even the bantam chickens will warm your hearts with their loving personalities and antics.

These chickens come in several color variations to make them stand out from the others in your flock. They have quick movements with active, ready-to-go actions. They love foraging, exploring, and coexisting with other barnyard life.

Even though roosters are eye-catching and impressive, they march to the beat of their own drum. Hens are not often broody, so having a mother hen willing to make successful babies is not on the menu. Instead, have another hen take on the duty if they accept eggs that aren’t theirs.

What they lack in mothering skills, they make up for with impressive foraging skills.

Uses

Because of their beautiful appearance, you might wonder if the Hamburg chicken is an ornamental species. You definitely can keep them for that purpose, but these chickens are also excellent layers.

Hamburg chickens lay glossy white medium-sized eggs—totaling an average of 150 to 200 annually for standard. While bantams usually lay roughly the same amount, they also have the potential of laying even more—totaling around 250 gorgeous oblong eggs.

While they might lay a substantial number of eggs annually, these chickens are not notably broody. The likelihood that you will get a chicken willing to hatch a batch of their own eggs is slim to none. So if you plan on hatching any of the Hamburg eggs, you will want another much more broody chicken in your flock to get the job done. You can also incubate the eggs yourself if you have the tools and resources.

Because the Hamburg chicken tends to have a thin, lean body, they don’t make the best meat chickens. They are very agile, fast, and athletic so they tend to be a little tougher as well. Keeping them for ornamental or egg purposes is definitely advised.

Appearance & Varieties

The Hamburg chicken has slight size variations in the standard breed. These chickens and cocks are heavy-bodied compared to some other breeds, though their feathers are sleek and form-fitting. These chickens are also available in bantam sizes, weighing between 1.5 to 3 pounds.

Hamburg Roosters are absolutely stunning in appearance. Their feathering is tight and bold, creating a sleek, clean, and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Their lovely multi-colored tail feathers cascade out beautifully.

Hens are equally beautiful without such extravagant feathering. There are color variations that really add to the flock.

Something really unique about the Hamburg is that, unlike many other chicken breeds, their skin, legs, and bones take on a dusty gray coloring.

In Holland and Germany, you can find the Hamburg chicken in the following colors:
  • silver-spangled
  • gold-spangled
  • gold-penciled
  • citron-penciled
  • silver-penciled
  • white
  • black
  • citron-spangled

American Poultry Associations only acknowledge six of these color variations.

Population/Distribution

These ornamental birds are pretty widespread in the poultry community. You shouldn’t have any problem locating one of these chickens from a local hatchery, though you might have to order them in some circumstances.

Since these birds are available in both standard and bantam sizes, you have quite a variety to choose from. Colors for all might depend on where you fall on the map, but versatility is one of the best things about the breed—and they aren’t hard to get your hands on.

Habitat

The Hamburg chicken will do just fine in both free-range and enclosed situations. At the same time, they prefer to be able to forage on their own. But as long as they have the proper setup, they will be equally happy in an enclosure.

Another really nifty thing you can do for chickens, such as those who prefer to forage, is creating a movable coop. That way, you can place the coop on various parts of the yard so they can get different insects, plants, and other forms of sustenance.

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Are Hamburg Chicken Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Standard and bantam-sized Hamburg chickens can make exquisite additions to any small-scale farm. These chickens blend very well with existing flocks or make excellent starters for inexperienced poultry keepers.

They have a dazzling appearance, and the hens also make extremely good layers. Remember that these chickens are not broody and are very unlikely to hatch their own clutches. But you can elect another breed to sit for you if you choose to hatch some Hamburg eggs.

Sources
 

Featured Image Credit: Amy McNabb, Shutterstock

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