Whether you are trying to start your very own flock as a brand new keeper, or just looking for a choice addition to your existing flock as a veteran chicken wrangler, choosing the right breed of bird can be downright bewildering.
There are so many breeds of chicken on the market today it can be tough even for seasoned keepers to make a good decision, and positively paralyzing for beginners. But today, we are bringing you a guide to one of the best hybrid breeds around, the Golden Comet.
Resulting from a mix between a white Plymouth Rock hen and a New Hampshire red rooster, these birds are known for being spectacular layers, easy going, and very easy to care for.
Keep reading and I will tell you everything you need to know…
Golden Comet Quick Facts
Purpose: Egg laying.
Plumage: White to golden blond (roosters); medium to light red-brown (hens).
Eggs Laid Year on Average: 300+ medium to large eggs per year.
Egg Color: Brown.
Broodiness: Minor. Rarely broody, and not hard to break from being broody.
Average Weight: 4-6 pounds. Hens usually top out at about 4 pounds.
Average Height: 18-20″
Lifespan: 5 years on average.
Temperament: Friendly, curious. Rarely prone to fighting for any reason. Energetic and sometimes flighty.
What Color and Pattern are Golden Comet Chickens?
Golden Comet chickens vary slightly in color between hens and roosters. Adult hens or anywhere from a medium to light red brown color with typically glossy plumage. Roosters tend to be a golden color, but can be so pale they appear white.
Both males and females are known for having lustrous feathers that are said to appear golden when the sun hits them just right, which is where they got the “golden” in their name from.
It is also worth pointing out that this is not an officially recognized breed standard: Golden Comets are hybrids, and as such there is no truly official guide or mandate for coloration, though you will only rarely find true Golden Comets of other colors.
How Big are Golden Comets?
Golden Comets are firmly in the smaller end of the medium size classification. Roosters usually average around 5 pounds or a little more, and rarely get larger than 6 pounds. Hens are rarely bigger than 4 pounds.
These chickens tend to be around a foot and a half tall though some can close in on the two foot mark, though this is rare.
In all cases, Golden Comets tend to be of delicate, slight build and though they are renowned for their calm, even temperament they can be surprisingly athletic and sometimes flighty.
Golden Comet Essential Characteristics
The most important thing to understand about Golden Comets is that they are not a true breed of chicken, or rather they are not an officially recognized breed by the American Poultry Association or other international poultry groups.
Instead, they are a hybrid, typically bred from a white Plymouth Rock hen and a red New Hampshire rooster, though there are some other lineages that will reliably produce these chickens.
So why the popularity of the Golden Comet? Two reasons: Golden Comets are autosexing at birth and they are stupendously good layers.
Upon hatching, as with adulthood, males tend to be much lighter in color than females and this makes it very easy to determine how many laying hens you will have in the future.
This combined with their tremendous egg production (more on that in a minute) and their sweet, friendly temperament with people and other chickens alike means that Golden Comets are absolutely ideal in larger flocks or backyard settings, and you can hardly do better if you are a first-time keeper or just want some loveable chickens as pets.
What are Golden Comet Chickens Raised For?
Golden Comet chickens are bred and kept for pretty much one thing and one thing only: laying eggs!
They can be raised and harvested for their meat, but they have a slender build that means you won’t get a very good return for your investment if you want meat.
Are Golden Comet Chickens Good Layers?
Yes, extremely good layers! The standout attribute of Golden Comets is their laying capacity and speed: they crank out a ton of eggs and start doing so quickly!
You can expect an average Golden Comet to produce at least 300 eggs a year, and 320+ is not out of the question.
These chickens are fantastically good layers, some of the best around, but the chicken that lays twice as much usually only lays half as long.
Golden Comets tend to burn out on egg-laying pretty early, with these highly productive hands usually only lasting about 2 years before their production declines quickly. Once they reach 3 years old, you’re not going to get nearly as many eggs from them.
But that first two years is going to be a doozy, with many Golden Comets laying eggs every single day, most days!
A dear friend of mine is a savvy chicken keeper, but she is, let’s say, hung up on the idea of the classic heritage breeds (I’m telling it like it is, Kimberly!).
A chicken purist, she shunned entirely the idea of owning any “mutt” breeds or the modern super-producer birds.
But after she was forced to seriously downsize her flock after a move. Accordingly, her egg production went way, way down. To skip to the end, she finally bit the bullet and picked up a few Golden Comet hens.
She is now getting more eggs from these few birds than she was her fancy flock of legacy breed chickens!
The moral of the story? Never underestimate the laying potential of a Golden Comet!
Also, Golden Comets are not known to be very broody. Every now and then a hen might get intent on hatching a clutch of eggs, but she is just as likely to lose interest or forget about them entirely.
This is yet another good reason why they’re superstars for egg production: because you won’t have to fight the hens very often to get the eggs.
However, Golden Comets also have a tendency to lay their eggs in out of the way places, especially when they reach egg laying age initially.
That’s why you need to keep an eye on your hens that seem to be isolating themselves or exploring out of the way places and try to encourage them to use a nesting box.
What Color Eggs Do Golden Comets Typically Lay?
Golden Comets lay medium sized brown eggs.
When Do Golden Comets Start Laying?
Another interesting trait inherent to the Golden Comet is that they usually start laying eggs really early compared to other heritage breeds, often as young as 4 months old.
Some Golden Comet hens may take a little longer to start laying, but it is almost unheard of that it takes any longer than 16 weeks for them to start cranking out eggs regularly.
What Do Golden Comet Chickens Eat?
The diet of Golden Comets is nothing unusual, and that’s because they eat what pretty much all domestic chickens eat.
The basis of their diet should, as always, be a high quality and nutritionally-rounded chicken feed but you should supplement this with various whole foods or allow them to forage.
Also like all other domestic chickens, Golden Comets will need their diet supplemented with grit and potentially vitamins and minerals to help keep certain ailments at bay.
One thing you should definitely consider supplementing is calcium, because these super layer chickens will be burning through it at a prodigious rate.
Calcium is the primary component of eggshells, so your hens are going to need tons of the stuff not only to maintain egg quality and viability but also for their own wellbeing.
If you were going to allow your Golden Comets to forage, you’ll be happy to know that they are generally pretty good at it.
They won’t have any trouble tracking down the bugs and worms, picking out choice bits off of plants and finding other food.
Allowing your Golden Comets to free-range is also a great way to improve their overall health and mood; though they rarely respond negatively to being cooped up, all chickens enjoy being able to move around freely during the day.
How Long Do Golden Comet Chickens Typically Live?
If there’s one major downside to Golden Comets, it is that they just don’t live that long.
The typical lifespan of these unique hybrids is only around 5 years, with many of these birds perishing at around 4 years of age and one’s living past six being quite rare indeed.
Whether this is simply a quirk of biology brought on by cross breeding to other chickens to make them, or just a natural consequence of their extremely, fast maturation and high metabolism is unknown.
They live fast, lay fast and die young, sadly. This is definitely something to keep in mind if you want your chickens primarily as pets, and not as resources for eggs alone!
However much you might love them and they love you, this is not a relationship that is going to last for a significant amount of time.
Are Golden Comets Prone to Particular Health Issues?
Aside from the aforementioned shortened lifespan, Golden Comets are remarkably healthy birds.
You won’t have too much to worry about when it comes to specific vulnerabilities or genetic issues.
But you will of course need to deal with all the common problems that chicken keepers must be aware of, namely parasites like lice and ticks, vaccinations to protect against preventable diseases and so forth.
The other major drawback concerning Golden Comets is that they cannot breed true.
Even if you take two first generation Golden Comets, a hen and a rooster, and then mate them they won’t lay viable eggs that will hatch Golden Comet chicks.
Instead, you’ll wind up with chicks of decidedly mixed genetics – the resulting chicks will have all kinds of different characteristics and they will not reliably have any of the traits associated with their Golden Comet parents.
This means that you cannot rely on what Golden Comets you have to produce more Golden Comet birds to grow your flock if that’s what you want to invest in. This is irrelevant for some keepers, but could be a major annoyance for others.
Are Golden Comet Chickens Friendly?
Yes, very! Golden Comets get along famously with each other, and they are as a rule quite friendly with people.
Golden Comets are known to be among the very best chickens that you can get if you want a dedicated pet, and they will definitely look forward to seeing you and interacting with you.
Combined with their typically calm and easy going attitude, this makes them some of the easiest birds to handle, take care of and keep.
My friend Kimberly I mentioned has also sworn that her new additions are among the very sweetest birds she’s ever owned.
They love seeing her every day, and one follows her around constantly when she is in the yard- even when she doesn’t have treats for her!
Do Golden Comets Get Along with Other Chickens?
Yes. Perhaps surprisingly, Golden Comets also get along remarkably well with other chickens, even chickens that have a known tendency for troublemaking.
Not only will Golden Comets generally avoid fighting among themselves over pecking order, sleeping arrangements and other typical chicken related dust-ups, they’ll avoid fighting with other breeds of chickens over the same, too.
This is not to say they are proper peacekeepers like some other breeds, but you can depend on your Golden Comets to stay out of trouble and avoid causing problems.
At the very least, this eliminates one set of variables if you’re going to introduce other breeds to your flock.
What Kind of Chicken Owner are Golden Comets Right For?
Golden Comets are ideal for several different kinds of owners.
First, if you are a beginning chicken keeper, and I mean brand new, the overall good health of Golden Comets combined with their fantastically friendly and easy going temperament with people and other chickens alike is going to greatly reduce your workload and your anxiety.
You aren’t going to have to worry about separating a problem bird or multiple troublemakers from the rest of the flock and you aren’t going to worry about getting pecked or flogged half to death if you make a mistake or intrude on their space.
For keepers with smaller children that want to join in on the fun of raising chickens, this is a godsend.
The other, obvious ideal keeper of Golden Comets is a person who wants a ton of eggs, and I do mean a ton.
For a family, even a large family, with a backyard flock just a couple of hands could produce way more eggs than you and yours could eat in an entire year.
A large flock of Golden Comets is basically a self-contained farm fresh egg business!
Golden Comets are also a great idea for keepers or breeders who want autosexing chicks.
This can greatly simplify your life when you are raising hatchlings and determining which ones you are going to keep and which ones you are going to get rid of, and it also means that you can more easily plan the expansion of egg production.
All in all, Golden Comets are super friendly, easy to care for and excellent layers, hampered only by their short life spans and inability to breed true.
Not particularly, though you might have to look around to find a seller that is breeding them responsibly and has taken care of to know the parentage of their birds.
Yes! Upon hatching, males will have noticeably lighter plumage than females, meaning you could easily separate the boys from the girls.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
Find out more about the team here.