Silver Laced Wyandotte: Breed Profile

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

Characteristics | Eggs | Hen vs Rooster | Chicks | Climate | Silver Laced Color Pattern | History | Genetics | Breeding | Personality

The Silver Laced Wyandotte is an iconic variety of the Wyandotte chicken breed with silvery-white plumage and dark, intricate lacing, giving it a truly remarkable look and royal presence. The Silver Laced Wyandotte is more than just a chicken – it’s a living work of art. But their charm doesn’t stop at their looks: Silver Laced Wyandottes are docile, great egg layers, and quick to mature.

Let’s take a closer look at the Silver Laced Wyandotte’s unique traits, including the black scalloped pattern in their plumage, their genetics, how to sex them, a little bit of history, and breeding challenges.


Silver Laced Wyandottes (SLW) have silvery-white ground color plumage, with each feather featuring a single black stripe that tapers to a fine point at the end.

Silver Laced Wyandotte foraging in grass

Like the other birds in the Wyandotte chicken family, the Silver Laced birds are rather large and rounded. Silver Laced Roosters tip the scale at 8 pounds (3,6kg), and Silver Laced hens weigh around 6.5 pounds (2,9kg). The Silver Laced Wyandotte variety also has an APA-recognized bantam miniature version of roughly 3.3 pounds (1,5kg).

Eggs200 eggs/year
Egg ColorBrown
Egg SizeLarge
Weight6.5 – 8 lbs
HardinessCold Hardy
TemperamentFriendly but assertive
ColorSilver with black lacing

Silver Laced Wyandottes have a rose comb on their rather broad skull. Their legs are clean and yellow-skinned. Wattles, earlobes, and faces are red. The beaks are dark golden, and the eyes are yellow.

Like all Wyandottes, they have nice, full, and rounded breasts, which makes them great meat chickens next to their excellent egg-laying capabilities.


A Silver Laced Wyandotte chicken is a dual-purpose breed and a decent egg layer. The hens lay about four large cream to brown eggs per week, or more than 200 eggs yearly.

In the winter, they usually slow down or stop laying, but if you add extra light, these cold-hardy birds tend to keep laying eggs. The only time Silver Laced Wyandottes stop laying eggs is during molting.

Two silver laced wyandotte hens brooding eggs in their nesting boxes

Oftentimes Silver Laced Wyandotte hens tend to go broody, which can also cause them to stop egg production.

Pros and Cons of the Silver Laced Wyandotte

The Silver Laced Wyandotte is a breed cherished by many chicken keepers, but it has pros and cons. Let’s address the most ones.

On the positive side, these chickens excel in cold climates. They are equipped with small rose combs and fluffy bodies, which make them remarkably self-reliant and resilient to chilly temperatures. Additionally, their striking silver-white and black laced plumage adds an ornamental touch to any flock, making them a popular choice among poultry enthusiasts. The dual-purpose nature of this breed, known for both egg production and meat quality, enhances its practical appeal. Silver Laced Wyandottes are also excellent foragers, reducing the need for excessive feeding.

However, this also means they need more space than most other breeds. Next to that, despite their cold-hardy nature they do not fare well in warmer climates. Additionally, Silver Laced Wyandottes are a dominant breed, which can result in conflicts if you keep a mixed flock. It’s best not to keep them together with submissive breeds like Silkies or Faverolles.


  • Cold-hardy
  • Excellent foragers
  • Dual purpose breed
  • Beautiful colors
  • Don’t need much extra care


  • Need more space
  • Dominant breed
  • Don’t do well in warm climates

Silver Laced Wyandotte Hen vs Rooster

Both Silver Laced hens and roosters have the iconic silvery-white and black laced plumage. They share several features, such as the silvery-white head, dark slate undercolor, black fluff, and a green luster in the back plumage sections. Young birds can be challenging to distinguish.

Silver Laced Wyandotte Rooster (on the left) vs Silver Laced Wyandotte hen (on the right), showing different color patterns in the feathering

Roosters grow faster and have slightly more prominent and redder wattles and combs. Those of the hens tend to be more pink. The roosters are also sturdier and have longer legs.

FeatureSilver Laced RoosterSilver Laced Hen
Weight8 lbs6.5 lbs
BackPointed saddle feathersRounded feathers
PlumagePatchy (cockerels)Uniform lacing (pullets)
Tail FeathersLong sickles, pointed, no lacingLaced, shorter, rounded on the edges
Tail CovertsBlack with green lusterBlack with a white center in each feather
Comb, WattlesBig, redSmall, pink
BodyLarge and broad with long legsSmaller, shorter legs
Silver Laced Wyandotte Rooster vs Hen (Cockerel vs Pullet)

The silver lacing pattern can also give some clues. Silver Laced Wyandotte roosters have pointed saddle feathers and don’t have laced tail feathers. Rooster have black tail coverts with a green luster, while the hens have a black tail with black coverts having some white in the feathers.

A Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster together with two Silver Laced hens

Young cockerels don’t have a pronounced plumage and can look patchy. Pullets have a pretty uniform lacing.

You can distinguish the gender in Silver Laced Wyandottes definitively by the age of 5 months.


Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks have various patterns in their down. Some are almost completely black, while others will be silvery gray. Most chicks have dark stripes on their back.

silver laced wyandotte chicks in the brooder
Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks in the brooder

When they hatch, you can immediately see the yellow shanks and beaks. The down of Silver Laced Wyandotte hatchlings can also show some yellow coloring, as you can see in this photo.

silver laced wyandott chicks just after hatching
Silver Laced Wyandotte Chicks showing some yellow in the down

Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks are not sex-linked, so you can’t tell whether they are female or male at first. It takes a couple of months to identify the gender. When they grow up, the cockerels generally look more patchy, while the pullets have a uniform pattern.

In general, Wyandotte hens are excellent mothers for their chicks.

silver laced wyandotte hen nurturing her silver laced wyandotte chicks
Silver Laced Wyandotte raising her Silver Laced chicks


Silver Laced Wyandottes are the first variety of Wyandottes and have especially been bred since 1870 to stand cold American winters. Their small rose comb and fluffy body help them stand the cold and prevent frostbite.

However, just because they are black and white does not mean they are penguins, either. Their combs and wattles can still suffer from frostbite.

A large flock of Silver Laced Wyandottes eating food

The other side of the medal is that Silver Laced Wyandottes don’t like tropical temperatures.

So when dealing with a heat wave, always keep them cool. Wyandottes are not the best breed to be kept in a Mediterranean or southern climate because of their body structure and comb size. They’ll quickly overheat and suffer heat stress.

The Silver Laced Color Variety

The Silver Laced variety is just one of the many color varieties of Wyandottes. And when it comes to different types of Wyandotte chickens, things can get pretty complex pretty fast.

While there are only ten official varieties in The Standard of the American Poultry Association, the Europeans have thirty colors listed.

In general, Wyandottes come in three groups:

  • Laced Wyandottes: silver laced, gold laced, blue laced, …
  • Marked Wyandottes: black-white Columbia, Silver Penciled, …
  • Single-colored Wyandottes: white, blue, black, buff, …
white laced wyandotte vs splash laced wyandotte
White Wyandotte vs Splash Laced Wyandotte

The Silver Laced Wyandotte is a pure white bird with a black edge to its feathers. This usually translates to a Black Laced Silver/White in European languages. The Silver Penciled Wyandotte has multiple nested lines instead of single lacing, which results in an entirely different pattern.

Silver Laced Wyandotte vs Silver Penciled Wyandotte – showing different color patterns

A Golden Laced Wyandotte is a gold bird with black lacing. The hens are mahogany brown.

While Silver Laced Wyandottes have white bodies and Gold Laced Wyandottes have a brown ground color, the Blue Laced variants don’t have a blue (greyish) body. Only their lacing is blue, which makes things utterly confusing.

gold laced wyandotte with black lacing vs blue laced wyandotte with blue lacing and a brown ground color
Gold Laced Wyandotte with Black lacing vs the Blue Laced Wyandotte, with blue lacing on a brown ground color

The Blue Laced Silver Wyandotte is sometimes called a Blue Silver Laced Wyandotte or Violette. Its color pattern is similar to the Silver Laced Wyandotte, but the lacing is greyish blue rather than black.

If we take one step further down the rabbit hole, there is also the Splash Laced Silver Wyandotte. This is the same as the Blue Laced Silver Wyandotte, but these birds have two copies of the Blue-gen. This fades away almost all of the black lacing, which turns the birds almost white.

History of the Silver Laced Wyandotte

The Wyandotte chicken was created in the United States during the 1870s by four breeders: H. M. Doubleday, John Ray, L. Whittaker, and Fred Houdlette. The Silver Laced Wyandotte was the first official color variation, gaining recognition in the American Standard of Perfection in 1883.

The logo of the Silver Wyandotte Club of America with an Indian tipi in the center of the logo
The logo of the Silver Wyandotte Club of America with an Indian tipi

At the same time, the Wyandotte chicken breed crossed the Atlantic and made its way to Britain, garnering admiration on both sides of the ocean.

The first breed varieties went by various names referring to black-and-white Sebrights, like Sebright Cochin or American Sebright. The name ‘Wyandotte’ was introduced in 1883, taking inspiration from a Native American tribe that inhabited upstate New York and Ontario regions.

The origin of the Silver Laced Wyandotte remains a mystery, but according to Livestock Conservancy, it is believed to result from breeding efforts involving spangled Hamburgs and dark Brahmas. The Hamburg’s contribution is seen in the breed’s rose comb, making them well suited for colder climates.

Silver Lace Genetics

Basically, the pattern is the result of two effects:

  • the silvery-white ground color
  • the black lacing

The Silver Laced Wyandotte is white because its DNA contains the Silver gene (S). This sex-linked gene is located on the Z chromosome. Roosters carry two copies of the S-gene, hens only one. So a Silver Laced Rooster can carry some gold (suppressed by the S-gene), but a hen can’t hide any gold if it’s white.

flock of silver laced wyandotte chickens

The black lacing does not result from a single gene but originates from the intricate interplay of multiple genes that shift the black pigment in the feather:

  • Pattern Gene (Pg): the pattern gene creates lines, but with Pg alone, the rim of the feather would not be black, and the feathers would have concentric penciling
  • Melanotic (Ml): this gene makes the lines broader and causes them to shift toward the edge of the feather
  • Columbian (Co): removes the inner laces and creates single-lacing

Breeding the Silver Laced Wyandotte

Silver lacing was the first color in the standards and is still the most common among breeders today.

One of the advantages is that Silver Laced Wyandottes breed true. If you cross a Silver Laced Hen and Silver Laced Rooster, the offspring will also be Silver Laced. This is not the case for other variants, like the Blue Laced Red, as the blue gene does not breed true.

Breeding Challenges

Silver Laced Wyandottes often captivate novices at exhibitions, where breeders and judges frequently engage in conversations beside the bird cages. Although widely bred nowadays, they are relatively infrequently showcased, as it’s difficult to get the color and lacing perfect.

Silver Laced Wyandotte Champion Bird by Cactus Hill Poultry, 2021, hold by the owner in te exhibition hall
Silver Laced Wyandotte Champion Bird by Cactus Hill Poultry, 2021

It can be challenging to get the characteristic curved lines and roundness due to a harder and somewhat longer feather structure. Oftentimes, many breeding cycles are needed to get a uniform and beautiful lacing around the inner field of the feather.

However, silver is easier to breed than gold, where you have to balance the gold color to prevent it from being too light, making black lacing stand out, or too dark, which results in a mahogany-like color.

Silver Laced Wyandottes Crosses

Since Laced Wyandottes are so popular as show birds, many people are breeding Silver Laced Wyandottes and creating all kinds of standard and non-standard color varieties. One of the most common is the cross with the Gold Laced Wyandotte.

  • the Gold Laced Wyandotte was created in 1880 from a Silver Laced Wyandotte by Joseph McKeen. He used Silver Laced Wyandotte females with a sizable fowl known as the Winnebago, which exhibited a Black Red pattern. His variety was recognized by the American Standard in 1888 and swiftly earned a reputation.

Crossing a Silver Laced Wyandotte with a Gold Laced Wyandotte

The Gold Laced Wyandotte has a gold ground color with black lacing. In this cross, the results are all about the Silver gene. The Silver gene makes the ground color white. Birds without Silver look gold.

The silver gene is sex-linked on the Z chromosome of a chicken. Roosters have two Z-chromosomes (ZZ), and hens only have one (ZW). Silver is dominant, so if a Rooster has a single copy (S s+), it will be white.

graphical representation of the distribution of W and Z chromosomes in chickens

The following table lists all the possible outcomes for the cockerels and pullets in the offspring, when you cross a Silver Laced Wyandotte with a Gold Laced bird.

RoosterHenRooster OffspringHen Offspring
Gold Laced (s+s+)Silver Laced (S-)Silver Laced (Ss+)Gold Laced (s+-)
Silver Laced (SS)Gold Laced (s-)Silver Laced (Ss+) *Silver Laced (S-)
Silver Laced carrying Gold (Ss+)Gold Laced (s+)Silver Laced (Ss+) *
Gold Laced (s+s+)
Silver Laced (S-)
Gold Laced (s+-)
Silver Laced carrying Gold (Ss+)Silver Laced (S-)Silver Laced (SS)
Silver Laced (Ss+) *
Silver Laced (S-)
Gold Laced (s+-)
Possible crosses of Silver Laced and Golden Laced Wyandottes. * Ss+ is not pure white and can leak yellow

Bear in mind: if you have a Silver Laced Wyandotte Rooster, you can’t see if it is pure silver (SS) or carrying Gold (Ss+). Only the parents can tell you.

One thing to note for breeders is that the Silver gene (S) exhibits incomplete dominance over wild-type (s+). The Silver-gene allows partial expression of red pigments. Roosters with Ss+ will, therefore, leak some yellow or buff in the breast and shoulder areas. The extent of yellow coloring depends on modifying genes and the individual genetics of your bird.

Crossing a Silver Laced Wyandotte with Other Varieties

If you cross a Silver Laced Wyandotte with other color varieties besides the Gold Laced, you will get an interplay of the different genes:

  • Blue Laced Red Wyandotte: adding the Blue gen into the mix will dilute the black lacing to blue or splash. The offspring will have all kinds of colors.
  • Columbian Wyandottes: the Columbians don’t have the Ml-gene, the offspring will mostly have incomplete lacing and all kinds of issues
  • Silver Penciled Wyandottes: the silver penciled wyandottes are genetically Silver Laced Wyandottes that lack the Columbian gen (Co). It’s the Co-gen that turns the penciling into single lacing. Offspring will be mixes of double lacings, and some will look Columbian.
  • Buff Wyandottes: combining the Buff Wyandotte gene pool with a Silver Laced will give many different colors and patterns (e.g. half spangled, transv. pencilled, etc.)


Silver Laced Wyandottes are generally tame and have a calm, friendly nature like other Wyandottes. They are kind to humans and children but a bit too big to be lap chickens.

flock of silver laced wyandottes in a backyard foraging in green grass

They go well with other birds in the flock, but the roosters can be a bit overwhelming if you are unlucky. Wyandottes are usually high in the pecking order as they are assertive chickens with a little bit of weight.

Related Articles

Here are some of the articles we mentioned:

If you are considering to get Silver Laced Wyandottes, here are some other resources:

Credits for the photos go to Cactus Hill Poultry breeders, specializing in breeding silver-laced wyandottes.

Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of 3rd generation chicken owners Kat, journalist, editor-in-chief, and Nick, working with illustrators and specialists in the field.