Breed Profile: The Buckeye

Please excuse the lack of pictures.

Class: American

Origin: Ohio

Comb Type: Pea

Egg Color: Brown

Skin Color: Yellow

Buckeyes were created by Nettie Metcalf from Warren, Ohio in 1896. This is the only known breed to have been bred by a woman. Their breeding includes Barred Rocks, Buff Cochins, and a red breasted game I have yet to find the name for. The Buckeye was produced before the Rhode Island Red and were used in their breeding. Buckeyes are a rich mahogany red (think the color of a buckeye) with a slate bar through the middle of the feathers and black tails. The breed was inducted into the APA in 1904.

Now that all that is out of the way, there are several things I’ve noticed about this great breed. So here we go.

Buckeyes are great free range birds. Even when confined they keep an eye out on what’s going on around them. There are way too many predators in my area to free range them here (cars being one of the worst), but if it weren’t for that I’d free range them. They seem to be able to look after themselves and go on high alert before I even notice one of the hawks flying overhead.

Not the best layers. Of course, this could be because my hens are less than a year old.  I have to give it to them though, they recovered from being moved from one county to another quickly. I’m sure they’ll pick up in cooler temps.

Heat is not their friend. Since Buckeyes are a large and cold hardy breed the heat doesn’t treat them too kindly. I keep my birds in shaded areas to keep them from overheating. I also check to make sure they have cool water to drink all day. In an email to Chris McCary (whom my Buckeyes originally come from) I asked him about caring for them during the summer months. He told me that in a past year when it got too hot for them, he turned on a hose for them to walk under. He told me that they did, in fact, walk under the water to cool down.

High feed requirements. Shortly after my birds arrived I discovered that they are pretty needy when confined since one of my hens decided to eat her egg after she laid it. I rake up grass after it gets cut to feed to them and give them any grubs I find, but that isn’t enough for them. I ended up mixing 16% layer crumbles, high quality scratch grain, and 19% gamebird maintenance to fill the gap. Sprouting and fermenting are in the future since so many people have good luck with it.

This isn’t intended to discourage anyone from getting Buckeyes. They are wonderful birds. Mine are very friendly and I adore the sweet nature of both of my boys. These are just things I’ve noticed, but they aren’t enough to make me sell my breeders. I absolutely love this breed and I have no idea why I didn’t consider getting them before!


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