Silver Penciled Wyandotte: Breed Profile

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

Characteristics | Eggs | Hen vs Rooster | Pros & Cons | Climate | Silver Penciled Color Pattern | History | Genetics | Breeding | Personality

The Silver Penciled Wyandotte is a stunning variety of the Wyandotte chicken that has earned a special place in the hearts of poultry keepers. Originating in the United States, the Silver Penciled Wyandotte has a fascinating history and proves the efforts of passionate poultry breeders.

We’ve collaborated with Wyandotte breeders worldwide and experts from the Dutch Wyandotte Club to compose a full breed profile of the Silver Penciled Wyandotte. This should cover all your questions, whether you are looking for silver-penciled birds in the backyard or breeding purposes.


The Silver Penciled Wyandotte has a striking appearance. Its plumage carries the unmistakable markings of the Partridge Wyandotte, with one notable difference: the base color of the feathers is a crispy white.

The females show a penciled pattern, with fine, parallel lines of black and white that create a captivating design on their feathers. The roosters display plumage reminiscent of wild Jungle Fowl, with a striking contrast of white and black feathers instead of the typical red and black colors seen in many other chicken breeds.

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

Like the other chickens in the Wyandotte chicken family, the Silver Pencilled Wyandottes are rather large and rounded. Roosters tip the scale at 8 pounds (3,6kg), and hens weigh around 6.5 pounds (2,9kg).

They have a red rose comb, and their legs are clean and yellow-skinned. The wattles and earlobes are red. Their beaks are dark golden, complemented by yellow eyes.

In line with the Wyandotte breed’s characteristics, they possess well-developed, plump breasts, making them a superb choice for both meat production and laying capabilities.

Silver Penciled Wyandotte Hen vs Rooster

The Silver Penciled feather pattern is more pronounced in females. The hens exhibit the penciled pattern characterized by fine, parallel lines of black and white on a white base color. This pattern extends across their entire body, creating an impressive appearance.

Silver Penciled Wyandotte Hen (left) vs Silver Penciled Wyandotte Rooster (right)

As you can see in the photo above, the roosters of the Silver Penciled Wyandotte breed do not have the same penciled pattern as the hens. Instead, they have white hackles and saddles with some black mixed in and black bodies and tails.

However, the difference between hens and roosters isn’t that obvious after hatching. Young cockerels don’t have a pronounced plumage yet and can look patchy. Pullets usually have a pretty uniform penciled pattern.

FeatureSilver Penciled RoosterSilver Penciled Hen
Weight8 lbs6.5 lbs
BackPointed saddle feathersRounded feathers
PlumagePlumage resembles wild Jungle FowlIntricate penciled pattern
Tail FeathersLong sickles, pointed, no patternPatterned, shorter, rounded on the edges
Tail CovertsBlack with green lusterBlack with white
Comb, WattlesBig, redSmall, pink
BodyLarge and broad with long legsSmaller, shorter legs
Silver Penciled Wyandotte Rooster vs Hen (Cockerel vs Pullet)

Relying solely on the down and plumage to determine gender can be tricky. Some of the chicks are rather yellow, but most of the silver penciled chicks have some black in the down. This is what the down of Silver Penciled Wyandotte chicks looks like just after hatching:

silver penciled wyandotte chicks
Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks showing black pigment in the down – Credits: Ruud Buff from the Dutch Wyandotte Club

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


The Silver Penciled Wyandotte is a versatile chicken that’s not only stunning but is also a decent egg-layer.

Silver Penciled Wyandottes lay around 200 eggs annually, which is almost four eggs per week. The eggs are typically brown and medium to large in size. According to the breeders, the eggs of the Wyandotte tend to vary in color, but within the same color variety, the chickens do lay the same shade of brown.

Wyandotte eggs from Silver Penciled Wyandottes and other color varieties show various shades of brown. Credits: Dutch Wyandotte Club

Wyandottes can display a tendency for broodiness: some hens are urged to sit on their eggs. This can be advantageous if you plan to hatch eggs, but unfortunately, a sitting hen will stop laying.

silver laced wyandotte hen with her day old chicks
Silver Laced Wyandotte with her chicks – Credits: Ruud Buff from the Dutch Wyandotte Club

Pros and Cons of the Silver Penciled Wyandotte

Many people love the Silver Penciled Wyandotte, but like any breed, it has its perks and quirks.

First of all, Wyandotte 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.

silver penciled wyandotte flock with a  rooster and hens
Flock of Silver Penciled Wyandotte chickens – Credits: Ruud Buff from the Dutch Wyandotte Club

Additionally, their striking silver-white and black 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.

Pros – Reasons to choose for WyandottesCons – Reasons to go for another breed
Excellent foragers
Dual purpose breed
Don’t need much extra care
Friendly towards people
Need more space
Dominant towards smaller breeds
Don’t do well in warm climates
Some breeds lay more eggs
They are no lap chickens
Tend to go broody

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. Silver Penciled Wyandottes can also be dominant if you keep a mixed flock. It’s best not to keep them together with submissive breeds like Silkies or Faverolles.


Silver Penciled Wyandottes are known for their adaptability to various climates, making them suitable for different regions. They are very cold-hardy, as they were originally bred to withstand harsh American winters.

Their low rose combs are less susceptible to frostbite than single combs, and their dense feathering helps to keep them warm during colder winters. However, just because they are black and white doesn’t make them penguins.

On the flip side, Wyandottes aren’t too keen on tropical temperatures. During a heat wave, always keep them cool. Otherwise, they’ll quickly overheat and suffer heat stress.

Silver Penciled Wyandotte Variety

The Silver Penciled Wyandotte is one of the many color varieties of the Wyandotte. It’s a recognized variety by the American Poultry Association for Large Fowl and Bantam chickens.

The world of Wyandotte chicken colors can be complex. While The Standard of the American Poultry Association recognizes ten official varieties, the Europeans list thirty colors, including the Silver Penciled Wyandotte.

The Wyandotte chickens generally come in three classes:

  • Laced Wyandottes: silver laced, gold laced, blue laced, …
  • Marked Wyandottes: black-white Columbia, Partridge, Silver Penciled, …
  • Single-colored Wyandottes: white, blue, black, buff, …
close-up of the penciling pattern of a silver penciled wyandotte chicken

The Silver Penciled Wyandotte and the Partridge Wyandotte hens both have distinct, sharply defined black lines on their feathers. Ideally, the penciling follows the form of the feather and is even and uniformly spread.

However, in the Partridge Wyandotte, the base color is golden yellow, while the Silver Penciled Wyandotte has a white ground color.

rare blue silver penciled wyandotte standing in front of a partridge wyandotte
A rare blue silver penciled wyandotte – credits: Jacob Hofsteenge from the Dutch Wyandotte Club

At European exhibitions, you can occasionally spot a Silver Blue Penciled Wyandotte. In these birds, the black marking is replaced by a blue, greyish color.

Silver Laced vs. Silver Penciled Wyandotte

The Silver Penciled and the Silver Laced Wyandotte are both visually striking varieties within the Wyandotte breed. The primary difference lies in the arrangement of markings on their feathers.

The Silver Laced Wyandotte is a white chicken with a wide black lacing on its feathers. Each feather has a black edge, contrasting sharply against the white background. The lacing pattern is singular, with a single black edge outlining each feather.

silver laced wyandotte (left) vs silver penciled wyandotte (right)

The Silver Penciled Wyandotte, on the other hand, shows a more complex feather pattern. Instead of a single lacing, this variety has multiple nested lines on each feather. The penciling consists of fine, parallel lines of black and white. The base color of the feathers is white.

In short, the key distinction is that the Silver Penciled Wyandotte has nested lines, forming a penciled pattern, which differs significantly from the single, bold lacing of the Silver Laced Wyandotte.

Penciled or Pencilled?

We’ve had some people asking about the right way to spell Penciled. The distinction between “penciled” and “pencilled” is a classic example of the subtle differences in spelling between American and British English. Both ways work, but it just depends on where you’re from.

In the United States, the preferred spelling for describing something marked with fine lines or strokes is “penciled.” In contrast, the preferred spelling in the United Kingdom and Europe is “pencilled.”

The American Poultry Association uses ‘penciled’ in their Standard of Perfection, while the Poultry Club of Great Britain uses ‘pencilled’.

History of the Silver Penciled Wyandotte

The Wyandotte chicken breed is named after the Wyandot (or Wyandotte) Native American tribe. It was developed in the US during the late 19th century. The exact origins of the Wyandotte breed are unknown, but it is generally believed to have been developed through selective breeding involving the Dark Brahma and Spangled Hamburg.

The Silver Laced Wyandotte was the first official color variation, gaining recognition in the American Standard of Perfection in 1883. It was appreciated for its dual-purpose nature, and as a utility breed, it was well-suited for both egg production and meat.

The Silver Penciled Wyandotte is one of the many color varieties that followed. Its distinct penciled feather pattern was developed in the late 19th century in the United States.

Extract from the book The Wyandottes from The Reliable Poultry Journal about Penciled Wyandottes in 1903
Extract from the book The Wyandottes from The Reliable Poultry Journal about Penciled Wyandottes in 1903

George Brackenbury and Ezra Cornell, both from New York, played a significant role in the creation of the Silver Penciled Wyandotte. They initiated a breeding program that crossed several chicken breeds, including Partridge Wyandottes, Dark Brahmas, Silver Laced Wyandottes, and Silver Penciled Hamburgs.

Ezra Cornell was particularly proud of the exquisite penciled pattern on his Silver Penciled Wyandottes. In 1897, he publicly stated that the markings on his Silver Penciled Wyandottes surpassed those of his Partridge Wyandottes. This accomplishment contributed to the breed’s recognition and popularity.

In 1902, the Silver Penciled Wyandotte variety was officially admitted to the American Standard of Perfection.


The Silver Penciled pattern is the result of two effects:

  • the silvery-white base color
  • the black penciling pattern

Ground Color

The Silver Penciled 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 Penciled Rooster can carry some gold (suppressed by the S-gene), but a hen can’t hide gold if it’s white.

diagram showing inheritance patterns in sex-linked genes in chickens

When the gold comes through (s+), you get Partridge Wyandottes. Nothing else is going on. In Wyandottes, the partridge color isn’t related to the partridge gene, which is a specific allele of the black Extension (E) gene. They’re simply the gold (s+) variant of the Silver Penciled Wyandottes.

Penciled Pattern

The black lines of the penciling pattern in Silver Penciled Wyandottes result from the “Pattern gene” (Pg). This gene arranges the black pigments in concentric lines on the feather, keeping the outer lace in its natural color.

silver penciled wyandotte hen penciling pattern on body and wings
Penciled pattern of the silver penciled Wyandotte hen on the back and the wing – Credits: Ruud Buff from the Dutch Wyandotte Club

Single Laced Wyandottes also have the pattern gene (Pg), but they also have Melanotic (Ml) and Columbian (Co) genes. Ml makes the lines broader and causes them to shift toward the edge of the feather, while Co removes the inner lacing.


The major challenge for breeders is to get the lacing nice and tight. Oftentimes, dilutions occur in the pigmentation of the pattern. Many breeding cycles may be needed to get a uniform and beautiful lacing on the inner field of the feather.

If you have Silver Penciled Wyandotte roosters that carry some invisible gold, crossings with Partridge hens can give Partridge offspring. This happens when the chicks inherit the gold from their Silver-looking father.

Wyandotte chicks – Credits: Ruud Buff from the Dutch Wyandotte Club

For roosters, the most common issues are too much white in the chest, sickles, or tail. Sometimes, they also have a yellow hue in the ornamental feathers.

Hens often show weak or incorrect markings in the chest feathers, wing cover, and back. It’s common to see them too rusty, leaking the gray-brown base color. Sometimes, they have peppered markings instead of a clear lacing pattern, with many small black dots on a yellow-brown background.


Silver Penciled Wyandottes, like other members of the Wyandotte breed, are known for their friendly and sociable personalities. Many chicken keepers favor them for their wonderful temperament and adaptability.

silver penciled wyandotte hen (front) and rooster (back)

They are often described as docile and approachable, making them a good choice for families and beginning chicken keepers.

Wyandottes tend to be relatively calm and non-aggressive when interacting with other flock members, although they can be dominant. They can establish a pecking order but do so without excessive aggression.

Due to their assertive nature and slightly heavier build, Wyandottes are mostly positioned high in the pecking order.

Related Articles

Here are some of the articles we mentioned:

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

Special thanks for photos and contributions go to Cactus Hill Poultry breeders and the experts at the Dutch Wyandotte Club, specializing in breeding 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.