Posted Sep 22, 2014
When I got my first chickens, I’d carefully researched which breeds I wanted to try. I’d placed an order early with the feed store, but they ended up being short on one of my chicks and offered me a Dominique instead.
Honestly, for the first three to four months I couldn’t even tell the Dominique and Barred Rocks apart. The chicks look extremely similar, the pullets have the same barred pattern and I was too new to chickens to recognize the different combs.
The main visual difference between young Dominiques and Barred Rocks is the comb. Dominiques have a petite rose comb while the Barred Rocks have a standard comb. As they grow, they can also be told apart by their body type. The Dominiques are a smaller, but still sturdy bird.
They look so similar because this old heritage breed was one of the founding breeds used to create the Barred Rocks. Like the Barred Rocks, Dominiques are a dual purpose breed that isn’t terribly large or fast growing, but doesn’t eat a lot and still makes a decent meat bird.
Their egg production can vary based on the strain. My Dominique was an infrequent layer of very pale brown eggs that were the closest to white eggs of any of my chickens.
While she didn’t win any production awards, my Dominique was one of the calmest, sweetest chickens I’ve ever kept. She was extremely laid back and quiet.
She never squabbled with the other birds and was also good with people. She wasn’t one of the outgoing chickens that ran up to greet me, but never ran away or minded being picked up. Everything about her was peaceful.
Given that she wasn’t a heavy layer, I was surprised when she developed ovarian cancer. I don’t know whether or not that’s common in this breed, but she was extremely healthy for the first five years of her life.
She wasn’t especially attached to the other chickens and had a fondness for sitting and observing so I brought her inside to live in the office with my indoor chicken for her last couple months. My Dominique was as calm inside as she had been outside, sitting on my desk and lap while I worked.
Dominiques are a wonderful choice for backyard chicken keepers looking for a quiet, peaceful bird that doesn’t mind confinement. They’re also good foragers and would do well for anyone interested in preserving heritage breeds.