1 chicken in the yard

Black Star Chickens: Complete Breed Profile

Learn about the characteristics of black star chickens, what makes the breed, and if they are the right fit for your homestead or backyard coop.

black chicken

We have a few Black Star Chickens gracing our homestead. They eagerly run our direction to greet us and look for treats… ok, perhaps more on the treat side of things. However, they still don’t mind our presence even if we don’t have any goodies for them.

Although we like all our chickens, the wonderful personalities of our black stars have made us very fond of them.

They keep our family generously supplied with eggs, outmatching the other hens in that arena as well. We often have plenty left to share.

Black Star Chicken Breed Background

Black Star Chickens are a cross of a Rhode Island Red Rooster or New Hampshire rooster and a Barred Plymouth Rock Hen. This cross was developed in response to food shortages after the return of soldiers or troops following World War 2. This breed soon became very popular among backyard chicken keepers.

Having an egg laying superstar, which lay extra-large brown eggs, really helped families when other food was scarce. With feeding less chickens, but getting more eggs, made the black star chicken breed very economical in tough times. Their size also made them a viable option for meat, when their laying diminished with age.

The Black Star chicken breed is “sex-linked”.  This basically means that when the chick has hatched, the hatchery can determine whether it is a pullet or cockerel visually. Female chicks are black and male chicks are black with a light spot on their head. With these colorations, they are known as black beauty or black sex link chickens. They have red combs, wattles and ear lobes as well.

The pullets produced are primarily black with varying amounts of rust-colored breasts. One of our Black Star Chicken’s plumage was all black with an iridescent green cast to the feathers. I think they are very attractive hens.

Among other sex-linked chickens, there is the Red Star, Red Sex-Link, Golden Comet, and Golden Buff. They’re pretty much the same bird, but each hatchery has its own strain (and name) of the cross.

Characteristics of Black Star Chickens

  • Purpose – This breed of chicken is dual purpose, meaning they are great layers, but also large enough to be used for meat. While most people don’t equate layers with meat birds, a hen no longer laying makes a great soup or you could try this old hen in parsley sauce recipe.
  • Size – Hens are a medium size chicken. They grow to be around 5 pounds. Roosters grow to be about 7-8 pounds.
  • Appearance – Hens have an average-sized single comb. Overall they are black, but may have rust-colored breast feathers. Roosters have more variance in color, kind of like a barred rock.
  • Maturity – 20 weeks
  • Temperament – These are docile & friendly birds. They are not flighty so they are easy to keep around. Compared with other breeds, they are relatively quiet – only announcing they’ve laid their egg. They are easy to tame, if raised being held and pet which makes a wonderful “pet chicken”.
  • Broody – They tend to not get broody, but if they do, they are often unreliable setters.
  • Estimated Annual Production – 300+ per year
  • Egg Description – Large to Extra Large Brown egg
  • Winter Hardy – Yes They don’t mind a cold climate.
  • Heat Tolerant – Yes
  • Foraging – If left to free range, they are very good foragers, but they also do well confined to a coop and a run.

Pros of Black Star Chickens

I have found their personalities to be friendly and family friendly.  However, and more to the point, they are bred to lay really well. This helps give us eggs when other chickens are molting and during the cold winter months when otherwise we might not get any fresh eggs. Also the Black Star breed can adapt to many climates.

Learn about why you should (or should not) add Black Star chickens to your flock of laying hens, how many eggs they lay, and more.

Cons of the Breed

Because these hens are geared for egg production they have a few health issues. Their reproductive systems are sometimes dysfunctional because they lay so many eggs. This was the case with one of our hens where, within the first week or so of beginning to lay, we found a clutch of 22 eggs most of which were double – or triple – yolked. It was too much for her body to handle and she died soon after.

Black star chickens are a hybrid, which means if you breed a black star rooster and a black star hen, you will not get a black star chick. You will have just a barnyard mix chicken.

In Conclusion: My thoughts

While I love the heritage breeds in our flock, there’s nothing wrong with crossing two breeds in order to increase your homestead’s productivity. I will always have a few of these hardy, production-bred gals among our laying hens.

I have a soft spot in my heart in particular for the Black Stars since our first layers were a group of six of these gals. We have one left from that original flock.  She’ll be needing to be culled this spring since she surely is no longer laying and most likely is the culprit behind our flocks’ egg-eating troubles.

Overall, I think they are a hardy, friendly, thrifty, adaptable bird that lays generously.  They would be very well suited to any set-up you have on your homestead, especially a “permaculture chickens” system.

Do you have any experiences with Black Star Chickens? Would you recommend this breed? Please share your thoughts with us!

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7 Comments

  1. When my children were young, we lived on a small farm just outside Rochester, Michigan. We had chickens, horses, and sheep. We had an outside pen that was attached to our chicken coop in the barn. At the height of the seseason we would have 100 chicks/chickens. We had very good success with our Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns. We also had silkies. Keep a few silkies if you want the chickens to hatch some themselves. Silkies are so broody that I had a hen at one show that just wouldn’t stand for the judge. She placed second in the show. I would suggest limiting how many eggs the hen is allowed under her. The silkies are so docile that she would probably let you grab an egg, or better still keep track of which nesting box is devoted to hatching. These Black Stars sound like a wonderful breed to have. All mixed breed animals, poultry, dogs, etc are always healthier. When I get chickens again I will be looking seriously at the Black Star.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I feel better about a production hybrid. I love the heritage breeds, but I am trying to be more understanding and loving towards the production and meat hybrids. I have yet to own a meat hybrid. I depend on my birds foraging and enjoying a very small portion of our 169 acres that is 1/2 wooded. Our new black star should fit right on in.
    As for now we will continue to get our meat from our Brahmas, Delawares, Dorkings, Buckeyes, and Langshans.

    1. Wow! Impressive! I’ll have to reference this when we make out our purchase list this year. If you do get into meat birds, think about the ranger broilers. We’ve had good success with them so far. So much so I plan to experiment with raising a couple up alongside our laying chick’s this year who don’t get supplemental feed between brooding and the first frost. I suspect they’ll take longer to get to a finishing weight but that they’ll be able to do it without feed inputs. Now if I was to go heritage meat I’d consider those brahma. We had a rooster once and we was a hefty fellow!

      1. Either the Ranger or the Pioneer. The Pioneer has another name, but I can not bring it to mind at this moment.

      2. Dixie Rainbow is the other name. We do keep the 5 breeds that I listed for meat. I am considering the Dixie rainbow. My 1st Black Star will be here in March. I didn’t want a red star. Everyone has those. Lol.
        I think we will be good for a while. Next year I may try something new or with the spring coming I may find another bird that peeks my interest. But for now we are fine with all 19 breeds that we have.

        1. I remember reading a description about the Pioneers and being thoroughly intrigued! If ever we can’t get the Rangers locally and have to pay higher prices and shipping from a hatchery, I do believe we’ll give them a test run. Thanks again for sharing about your awesome flock!