The California Grey Chicken is a breed of chicken that was developed during the 1930s by Professor James Dryden to meet the market demand for white eggs.
It’s not one of the more common breeds in the U.S., yet it’s one of the best dual-purpose birds and makes for a great backyard or homestead chicken.
They are sex-linked cross-bred birds created by crossing a White Leghorn with a Barred Plymouth Rock.
They display the best traits from each of these breeds. They are prolific egg layers, like Leghorns, and are larger than Leghorns making them a good choice for meat production.
If you’re looking for an excellent layer – of white eggs too – for your backyard flock, I recommend considering the California Grey.
California Grey Chicken Temperament And Personality
They are one of the most versatile and adaptable breeds, which is why they are perfect for urban backyard settings and homesteads.
They are also great for busy households with children and other pets as they’re friendly and fairly docile.
I’ve always found them to be one of the more social breeds. If you’re looking for a breed you can interact with and talk to (it’s not as crazy as it sounds) then you’ll make some friends with California Greys.
They are also adaptable to most weather conditions. I have a friend who has a couple in his flock up in Alaska. It gets very cold there during the winter, and he said they can still be seen roaming around happily foraging in the snow.
Overall, I don’t have a bad word to say about them. Friendly, fun, adaptable, hardy, what more do you want from a backyard chicken?
To look at the California Gray, they look a lot more like a Barred Plymouth Rock than they do a White Leghorn and are often confused for them.
This is because they have similarly barred plumage. Which means they have that striped-like pattern across their feathers, while Leghorns are predominately white.
They are smaller and lighter than Barred Rocks though. Roosters are around 5.5 lbs, and mature hens are around 4.5 lbs.
As a sex-linked breed, they can typically be sexed at hatching. Chicks are mostly black, with a white spot on their heads, and the males start off darker on color. As they mature, however, the females have darker black markings in their plumage.
California Gray roosters are crossed with White Leghorns to make California White chickens. Another excellent egg-laying bird with some interesting characteristics that are also awesome backyard pets.
Related content – Take a look at the California White Chicken here.
California Grey Chicken Egg Color, Size, and Production
They are up there with the best layers like the Rhode Island Red and will lay around 5 eggs per week. That’s a massive 260-300 eggs a year!
Their eggs are large and white too, which is often the most desirable egg color.
Pullets start laying at around 20-24 weeks of age. They lay at full capacity for a few years before starting to slow down.
You’ll certainly be popular with friends and family if you have a couple of Greys in your flock producing 10 or so eggs per week.
Are They a Good Backyard Chicken Breed?
In a word – yes!
They are perfect for the backyard setting. Whether you have a lot of space to allow them to roam free-range or an enclosed coop, they are just as happy.
Here are some of the reasons why backyard owners often add a couple of Greys to their flock:
Low maintenance – they have a low feed conversion ratio for the number of eggs they lay. They are inexpensive and easy to keep.
Lots of large eggs – this is the main selling point for California Greys. They lay lots of large, white, eggs.
Low flight risk – if you have neighbors or are concerned about your chickens escaping, they’re on the lower end of the scale. Not known to be very flighty at all.
Friendly temperament – no one wants a moody or aggressive chook. They’re one of the more friendly and sociable breeds.
Adaptable – known to be hardy and adaptable to a wide range of weather conditions.
California Grey Chicken Lifespan
They have an average life expectancy for a backyard chicken, around 6-10 years.
California Grey Roosters
The roosters are used to create the sex-linked California White by mating with a White Leghorn.
If you’re adding a Grey rooster to your flock they act and behave much as you’d expect from a rooster. Nothing unusual or details specific to the breed to add.
Some Interesting Facts About California Grey Chickens
If you’re looking for some facts about California Grey chickens to impress your friends with, here are some interesting ones:
- They are prolific layers putting out up to 300 large white eggs per year
- They look similar to a Barred Plymouth Rock but weigh less at around 5.5 lbs and 4.5 lbs for males and females respectively
- They are cold hardy and will lay throughout winter
- As a sex-link breed, they are not recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA)
- They are not a very broody breed, although they can be encouraged to incubate a clutch
- They were developed to help serve the demand for white eggs at the time
Where to Buy California Grey Chickens?
If you need help finding a local hatchery in your state, please check out the Find a Hatchery category on the site and type your state in the search box.
If you’re unable to find a hatchery nearby, or if you’d prefer to order online I can recommend a couple of online hatcheries:
Welp Hatchery – At the time of writing this you can order female, male, or batches of straight run Greys from Welp Hatchery online. Straight runs start at $2.94, and females are $3.47 with some minimum order restrictions.
Stromberg’s Hatchery – At the time of writing this Stromberg’s Hatchery had females, males, and straight run chicks available. Females start at around $4.79 depending on the number you order.
Related content – Don’t know what straight run chickens mean? Check this post for an explanation.
If you’re looking for an easy to keep, hardy, white egg-laying breed then the California Grey ticks all those boxes.
In my opinion, they are wonderfully social and fun birds. I love the look and markings on their plumage, their curious nature, and the fact that they’re fairly quiet and not flighty.
Whether you’re starting or adding to your backyard or homestead flock, I recommend considering this breed.