reading time: 4 minutes
Discover the positives of owning a Golden Comet chicken, a one-of-a-kind chicken.
Story and photos by Erin Snyder.
Often sought after by owners of small backyard flocks, Golden Comet chickens have been bred mostly by commercial farms and for those who want to start their own egg business. However, the Golden Comets have a lot to offer the backyard enthusiast. With excellent egg production and winning personalities, Golden Comets can’t be beat.
What are golden comets?
Golden Comets are part of a group of chickens called sex links, which means the sex of the breed can be determined by the color of its down when the chick is hatched, saving backyard chicken owners the stress of unwanted roosters. Hatching male chicks have a pale yellow coloration that changes to creamy white plumage as the rooster matures. The tailed cocks also feature a bit of red in the neck and saddle feathers. Hatching female chicks have a reddish-orange coloration that grows into beautiful golden red plumage as the hen matures. Female comets have a few white feathers with a uniquely colored feather pattern.
Comets, like all sexual relations, are hybrids. The reason for this is that the strain does not reproduce properly. If you raise a Golden Comet hen and rooster together, the chicks will not be sexually related. The only way to have sex strictly is through traditional catharsis sex. The no-breed trait is often considered true by many chicken lovers.
The positives of not being able to breed properly is that golden comets (and other sexual bonds) are not susceptible to many of the health problems found in purebred chickens. Also, starting each generation of chickens from the new parent stock prevents these chickens from breeding too much.
Golden comets should never be confused with autosex chickens. The difference between spontaneous sex and sexual bonds is that autosex chickens reproduce properly, which results in spontaneous sex of the young.
The number one reason most people keep comets is because of their excellent egg production. Hens produce an abundance of very large eggs for the first 3 years of their life (averaging 5+ large brown eggs per week) before egg production declines. The color of the eggs varies from light brown to dark red brown. Some comet hens even lay eggs with spots similar to those of the Welsh Hen.
Golden Comets are reliable egg layers and will easily outpace all the other hens in your henhouse. There’s a reason commercial brown egg farms and small egg business owners alike would choose Golden Comets over any other breed.
A beautiful personality
The Golden Comet Hen’s personality is easily her best trait. Her gentle and people-loving personality will win the hearts of even non-chicken enthusiasts. Comet hens bond very closely with their human families and will happily follow their owners anywhere. Some comets even prefer the company of their favorite human to their pack mates.
Golden Comets require a lot of attention from their owners, especially if they have been associated with a human from an early age. They are sweet and affectionate chickens that will happily sit on your lap for hours. When not snuggled with their favorite human, comets can often be found begging for a treat. These girls have a huge food drive, and some will even try to beg for treats from your neighbors. (Yes, this is a speaking experience.)
Common comet myths
The most common comet myth is that they don’t behave like regular chickens. Many poultry lovers believe that because they are not breeding properly, this somehow makes these live chickens inferior to the heritage chicken breeds.
Having raised both heirlooms and crossbreds side by side, I can honestly say that Comets behave just like every other chicken breed.
Myth: Comets don’t know how to feed.
Golden Comets love to forage and can easily clear a six-foot fence to find “greener pastures” or your next-door neighbor’s garden. While it is a good idea to cover all chicken tracks with 1-inch tarp to keep poultry in and predators out, Comets must have a covered track to keep these chicks contained.
Myth: Comets are not good mothers or incubators.
This myth is true and false. Comet hens generally do not reproduce, and oftentimes they will not act as a surrogate mother. However, my Golden Comets are usually the first hens to welcome new members to the flock. Most are very tolerant of young chicks and will gladly hang out in the brooder with them. Consider only allowing the hens to interact with the new chicks when they are there to supervise.
Myth: Comets mean other hens.
In my personal experience, Golden Comets are the calmest chickens in my flock. They don’t usually peck at my other chickens and prefer to stay out of flock quarrels.
save a life
As mentioned above, Golden Comets are layers of brown eggs for commercial egg farms, and they produce all the brown eggs you see at your local grocery store. Commercial hens (often referred to as battery hens) are forced to live in crowded conditions, with each chicken living their entire life in the space of a standard sheet. The battery hens have never seen the light of day nor felt the green grass under their feet. So, why comets? Perhaps the question should be, “Why don’t comets?”
Chicken battery life is very sad, but fortunately, there are several things backyard chicken keepers can do to help.
REHOME EX BATTERY HENS: Some backyard chicken breeders have begun adopting battery-powered chickens and providing them with a loving home. To find out more about this quest to save battery hens, please visit https://www.bhwt.org.uk/.
Buying local eggs: Refusing to buy eggs at your local grocery store is the most common practice to avoid subsidizing battery-powered chicken farms.
Save a chicken: Choosing to add one golden comet to the chick’s next order will prevent that chick from knowing the harsh life of a battery-powered chicken. While this may seem like a small contribution, knowing that you made a difference in the life of one chicken is very rewarding.
Erin Snyder She lives in the Northeast with her family and a flock of pet chickens. I first fell in love with Golden Comets 14 years ago and refused to have a chicken flock without at least two of these amazing chickens.