I have a type when it comes to chickens. I like pretty, unique-looking birds with sweet personalities.
If you feel the same, cinnamon queens are worth checking out. These prolific layers get along with anyone and they offer up heaps of brown eggs for most of the year.
They’re not flashy as some birds, but cinnamon queens are all business, and unlike my experience with Rhode Island reds, cinnamon queens are friendly and easy to handle. They’re an ideal bedrock to build a flock of layers on.
Cinnamon Queen Basics
In my years of chicken raising, I’ve tried to avoid the more conventional breeds. I also steer clear of temperamental birds whenever possible. But I can’t pass up free chickens, so I always end up with a few cast-off Rhode Island reds and buff Orpingtons.
I don’t mind the buffs so much, but I have an ongoing battle with my moody, peckish Rhode Islanders. At one point, I swore off them altogether, determined to deny any reds, or crossbreeds access to my coop.
But that didn’t last long. A neighbor had 21 chickens to unload. He was moving, and they all had to go.
When I asked what on earth the brown and white birds he was offering were, assuming they were golden comets, he called them “cinnamon queens.”
He assured me that the Queens were sweet birds and great layers and were more even-tempered than Rhode Island reds and golden comets. I took all 21 birds, and those five cinnamon queens were exactly as he described them – sweet, placid, and productive.
If you’ve seen golden comets or Isa browns, you can imagine a cinnamon queen. All of these breeds look similar and sometimes are lumped together in one category. They are all crosses between Rhode Island reds and other chickens.
Depending on what you read, that other breed can be anything from a Rhode Island white to a silver-laced Wyandotte or a white leghorn.
It seems that no one knows. Cinnamon queens were developed in the 1990s, along with golden comets and Isa browns. The goal seemed to be a low-maintenance, heavy-laying breed that could produce a huge amount of eggs for a couple of years and then be butchered.
Like both Rhode Islands and Wyandottes, cinnamon queens are great in the cold and in the heat. They manage well in quite a wide range of climates, and they are relatively low maintenance.
The Crossbreed Controversy
There are noticeable differences between cinnamon queens and golden comets. While you’ll see a few people say the birds are the same breed, or parallel hybrids, developed from the same two starting breeds, it’s more likely they are developed from similar but markedly different breeding programs.
In my experience, there are some noticeable differences temperamentally between golden comets and cinnamon queens. I’ve never had behavioral problems with cinnamon queens, while the comets have a Rhode Island temperament. So, I tend to believe that queens aren’t a Rhode Island white cross, but rather a Wyandotte or leghorn cross.
Cinnamon queens also tend to be a bit fluffier than golden comets. They’re larger overall, weighing in at 5-7 pounds rather than the lighter 4-6 of the comets. It wasn’t until I ended up with a pair of golden comet hens that I could really see the differences between these two, similar breeds.
The physical differences are negligible, but the temperamental ones are obvious. In the same conditions, my queens will behave beautifully while the comets are out looking for a fight.
Cinnamon queen hens have a basic, reddish brown and white coloration. They’re primarily a soft, cinnamon brown but with a few creamy white feathers mixed in. Cinnamon kings (roosters) are primarily white with a reddish brown saddle and a brightly mingled white and brown tail.
Cinnamons have clean legs and medium-sized wattles, and single combs Even roosters rarely grow over eight pounds. The hens are prolific layers of medium-large brown eggs.
It’s always helpful to know at hatching what gender you’ve got. True cinnamons are auto-sexing. The female chicks are reddish brown at hatching, while the males are white.
But cinnamons aren’t a true breed; they’re a hybrid. If you’re breeding two cinnamons at home, your chicks are not guaranteed to auto-sex. So, while you can be sure that the hatchery sent you the right sex of birds, you can’t confidently recreate it at home. At least not without a bit of guidance.
Cinnamon queens definitely inherited the Rhode Island red’s prolific laying. These birds can be the backbone of your henhouse. Often laying over 300 eggs each year, cinnamon queens are truly the queens of production.
Unfortunately, that productivity can lead to burnout. If you’ve ever kept Rhode Island reds, you know that their abundant laying rarely lasts longer than two years. Three and four-year-old hens slow down a lot.
Cinnamon queens have a bit more longevity, but they will drop from about 300 eggs are year to less than 200 within the first four years of laying. I don’t mind because I have too many eggs as it is, but if you’re keeping a small flock and want layers with staying power, the cinnamon queen might not be for you.
Queen eggs are a basic, mid-range brown. Since cinnamon queens aren’t a broody breed, if you want to hatch eggs, you should give them to a good sitter or put them in the incubator.
What About Meat?
Cinnamon queens are decent dual-purpose birds. They’re slightly leaner than buff Orpingtons but not as scrawny as Rhode Island reds. Cinnamons have a heavier body than most of the egg-production breeds, and they’re fast-growing.
They’re an excellent breed to raise for eggs and then send to the stew pot, but they are not an ideal meat bird. Still, they provide a decent roaster or a perfect bird for coq au vin.
Cinnamon Queen Personality
One of the reasons I think queens have Wyandotte heritage is their personality. These are seriously sweet birds. They don’t get involved in flock politics, they don’t peck kids, they just want to forage, bask in the sun, and lay eggs. My birds get along with everyone, even the geese!
Cinnamon queens have none of the personality flaws of Rhode Islands, and all the friendliness of Wyandottes.
Even the roosters tend to be low-key, personable boys. But, neither the hens nor the roosters are particularly predator-wary. If you live somewhere with a lot of predators, bring in another, more danger-conscious breed to keep your cinnamon’s aware.
Cinnamon queens like to forage and confidently wander away from the rest of the flock. In fact, they seem to prefer foraging alone or with one close companion. This isn’t ideal on my little homestead, as we have a forest full of hungry predators, but in a suburban yard, it isn’t usually a problem.
They don’t wander far, they just like solitary foraging. Unlike some of the heritage breeds, queens seem primarily interested in foraging for dainties rather than for the bulk of their food. You can’t trust them to scratch most of their food from the yard and garden. But you can trust them to snatch up every tick or grasshopper they find.
Health and Wellness
Cinnamon queens are generally pretty healthy. But, because they’re high-production birds, they do have a tendency toward egg-related health issues. Watch for egg binding (where the hen can’t pass the egg), vent prolapse, and calcium deficiencies.
I’ve only ever had calcium issues with my queens, and adding a bit of ground oyster shells or even toasted, ground egg shells to your hen’s diet will help.
Cinnamon Queen Pros and Cons
Productive and versatile, cinnamon queens can be a boost to any flock. They’re moderately cold and heat-hardy and sweet-tempered, and despite being a new hybrid with little information about its origins, they have a lot going for them.
Queens are excellent layers. Their laying peeks early, but they’ll continue to be reasonably consistent layers later in life.
They are sweet, easy-going birds who get along with everyone and everything.
Cinnamon queens are auto-sexing, so you’ll know the day you pick them up what sexes you’ve got.
They’re relatively good meat birds, producing a medium-weight, well-bodied roaster or an older, sustaining stew bird.
No bird is perfect; Cinnamon queens aren’t everyone’s ideal.
They’re not flashy. These are truly basic birds. They’re fluffy and plump, but there’s none of the visual interest that you’d get with some of the heritage breeds.
Because of their strong laying, cinnamon queens can develop many of the health issues of continuous laying. These birds were primarily bred to produce eggs fast for a few years and then be discarded. If that’s not how you want to manage your coop, seeing your hens burn out quickly can be frustrating.
These sweet birds are a bit too sweet when it comes to predators, don’t trust their instincts, and make sure you have them in a safe run or with more wary birds.
Auto-sexing is inconsistent after the first generation. Cinnamon queens are a hybrid, not a true breed, so you can’t count on them auto-sexing if you’re breeding two cinnamons.