Breeds Of Chickens From A To Z
Rare & Unusual
Colored Layers: Araucana - Ameraucana - Easter Egger - Olive Egger - Whiting True Blue
Araucanas originated in Chile. It is speculated that this breed was developed prior to Old World contact, which would make them the only breed of chicken native to the Americas.
Araucanas are very rare in the United States. They are rumpless, meaning they have no tail feathers, and have ear tufts. They do not have beards or muffs (like an Ameraucana). Their rarity is likely due to the fact that the gene for ear tufts is a lethal gene. Offspring with 2 copies of the gene will not survive to hatch. When breeding Araucanas, 50% of chicks will have one copy of the gene (and ear tufts), 25% will have zero copies (and no tufts), and 25% will have two copies of the gene (and not survive).
So, if you have an Araucana in your flock, consider yourself a very lucky chicken keeper!
Ameraucanas were developed in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. They are descended from Araucanas brought from Chile (a breed we'll talk about next week!). Ameracaunas lay pale blue eggs. So, if you're looking to brighten up your egg basket, they make a great choice! They have a pea comb, white skin, slate or black legs, muffs and beards. Color varieties include black, blue, buff, silver, wheaten, or white.
Hens can be fairly broody, and will lay about 250 blue eggs per year.
Please be advised!!! Ameraucanas are only available through reputable breeders!!! You won't be finding this breed at your local feed store. You may find Americanas, which is actually a hybrid, not this true breed.
A relative of Ameraucanas and Araucanas, an Easter Egger is any chicken that possesses the blue egg gene, but doesn't fully meet any breed standard defined by the American Poultry Association. This means that they are a hybrid, not a true breed of chicken. They can be any mix of breeds, with one parent carrying the blue egg gene.
What makes EE's great is that they can lay a rainbow of egg colors! Hens can lay any hue of blue or brown, or combination of the two (check out Olive Eggers!). Please note that each hen will only lay one egg color in her lifetime. They are also bred to lay lots of eggs! You'll get somewhere in the range of 280 eggs per year.
Easter eggers are a very popular type of chicken, and can be found in just about any feed store that sells chicks. They may be labeled as Americana, but remember we already talked about how they are not true Ameraucanas. EE's are a great addition to any backyard flock!
Olive Eggers are a hybrid chicken that are the result of crossing a bird hatched from a Dark Brown Egg and a bird hatched from a Blue Egg.
Olive Eggers can be a really fun breed to raise! The exact shade of green in their eggs and also their appearance is highly variable and changes based on the breed of parents. Try experimenting with a combination of different breeds! These birds are hardy, curious, and active and are a great addition to any backyard flock!
Whiting True Blue
The Whiting True Blue is not a heritage breed, but a modern breed developed by poultry geneticist Dr. Tom Whiting. His goal in creating this breed was a production bird that lays a consistent blue egg. Their plumage will vary across a myriad of colors, but is most commonly "chipmunk" or grey. If you're a fan of a blue egg basket, this breed may be for you!
White Layers: Ancona - Andalusian - Cinnamon Queen - Hamburg - Holland - Leghorn - Minorca
Ancona chickens originated in Italy and are named after the capitol of the Marche region. Anconas were developed in to their present form in England in the 19th century. They were bred to have very consistent plumage. About 1 out of every 3 beetle black feathers has a V-shaped white tip on the end.
Hens are good layers of white eggs and lay about 220 per year. This breed is typical in personality of Mediterranean breeds: rustic, lively, hardy, and ranging.
Andalusian chickens are indigenous to Spain. Also called Blue Andalusians, they commonly have slate-blue colored plumage, but depending upon genetics, they can also be off-white or even black. Like other Mediterranean breeds, they have white earlobes. Their light body shape and their large pointed combs make them well-suited for warmer climates. Andalusians are very active foragers, so think twice if you keep your poultry in a coop and run. They do not do well in confinement, and thrive in a free-range environment. Hens lay about 165 white eggs per year.
The Cinnamon Queen is a modern day production breed that lays brown eggs. They are a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Rhode Island White hen. At hatching, cockerels are a different color than the pullets so you can be sure of what you are getting—no surprise roosters! They are also known as Golden Comets.
Cinnamon Queens were developed specifically for their prolific egg laying ability. Pullets will lay 250-300 eggs per year and start much sooner than heritage breeds. These girls are a perfect fit if you're looking to start a small egg farm or just want a ton of eggs!
"History has it that the first chicken show was a contest to settle the dispute of whose rooster was most magnificent. This was conducted in a pub in England, about 1800, the bartender acting as judge, a copper pot as prize, and the roosters competing are said to have been Hamburgs."
- The Livestock Conservancy
Hamburgs were found in Holland in the 14th century, but their origins are unclear. These birds are popular for their egg production. They only lay about 200 eggs per year, but they consistently lay for years longer than other breeds.
These birds make an excellent addition to a backyard flock with room to forage. They are robust, active, and spirited, and are light eaters. Not to mention they have beautiful plumage! The silver spangled variety is the flashiest (pictured).
In 1934, white eggs brought premium prices at market because it was believed that they had a better, more delicate flavor. Most of America’s eggs were produced by small farms at the time. Small farmers prefer dual-purpose chickens because they provide a source of meat as well as eggs. Because dual-purpose chicken breeds tend to lay brown eggs and white egg-laying breeds available at the time were light-weight and not well fleshed, this prompted Rutgers Breeding Farms to set about producing a dual-purpose breed that would lay white eggs. Thus, the Holland was created.
Hollands are great backyard chickens! They are calm, good foragers, and the hens will raise their own offspring. They are also great table birds and lay plenty of large eggs. You can also enjoy that they are helping to conserve what is likely the rarest living breed of American chicken!
Is it pronounced "Leghorn" or "Leghern" ? Either way, these birds are great! This breed was developed simultaneously in England and the U.S. in the 1850s, with ancestry tracing back to birds in Northern Italy. Leghorns are very active birds - scratching and foraging the day away. They are hardy and easy breeders, but are mostly known for their egg production. You could easily get 280 eggs in a year, even up to 300! Many of the white eggs you see in grocery stores are produced by this breed of chicken.
Minorcas are a Mediterranean breed of domestic chicken, and are in fact the largest fowl from this region. They have a greenish-black glossy plumage, and very large, bright red combs and wattles. These help with dissipating heat. They also have very large, almond shaped, white earlobes, common to other Mediterranean fowl.
Minorcas are not broody, but excellent layers of large, white eggs. They are very hardy and rugged, taking well to free range conditions.
Brown Layers: Australorp - Barnvelder - Black/red Star - Brahma - Buckeye - Chantecler - Delaware - Java - Jersey Giant - Maran - Naked Neck - Orpington - Plymouth Rock -rhode Island Red - Sussex - Welsummer - Wyandotte
Around the same time that Orpingtons were being developed as a breed, Australorps were as well. Australians liked the black Orpingtons that were being brought over from England, and valued them for their egg laying ability. With maximum egg production in mind, Australians continued to develop their own distrinct breed. The breed went by many names, struggling to distinguish itself from Orpingtons, and finally settled on Australorp in the 1920s.
These birds are known for their excellent egg production. You'll easily get 250 light brown eggs per year. The record holding hen laid 364 eggs in a 365 day period, without assistance of artificial lighting!
Barnvelders are named after the Dutch town of Barnveld. They are a medium sized, dual-purpose bird. They are hardy and make good foragers. They lay a fair number of dark brown eggs, are good winter layers, and have a calm disposition.
The original and most well-known variety of this breed is the Double-laced pattern. They have beautiful plumage, with each feather having copper, black, and metallic green coloring. They make an excellent addition to a backyard flock, and are quite the conversation piece!
Black Star/red Star
Red Stars and Black Stars are hybrids that have been bred to have their color at hatching linked to the sex of the chicken (pullet or cockerel). This makes chick sexing an easier process, and you as the purchaser are less likely to be surprised! Ever had a pullet start to crow one day? Not with these birds!
They've also been developed to be extremely good egg layers. Don't be surprised if you see 300 eggs in a year! Egg color and size will vary, depending on the cross-breeding.
Black Stars are a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Barred Rock hen. Red Star's are a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and either a White Rock, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Rhode Island White or Delaware hen.
Often referred to as the “King of All Poultry”, the Brahma chicken is appreciated for its great size, strength, and vigor. By 1901, birds were documented to have reached the incredible weights of 18 pounds! This breed, together with the Cochin, fueled what became known as “Hen Fever” – a national obsession for poultry that hit both America and England around 1850.
Brahmas are an excellent addition to a backyard flock. They are hardy chickens in winter climates, they cannot fly over low fences (because of their size), and they have calm and docile personalities. The best part, they lay the majority of their eggs October thru May! That means while the rest of your girls may slow or even quit production for the winter, your Brahmans will keep the egg cartons full of large, medium brown eggs.
One thing to keep in mind, Brahmas are not ideal for hot climates. Their anatomy makes them susceptible to overheating. So, if you keep Brahmas, make sure to keep them cool in summer!
The Buckeye breed was created by Mrs. Nettie Metcalf in Ohio in the late 19th century. In fact, the Buckeye is the only American breed of chicken developed solely by a woman. She crossed Buff Cochins and Barred Plymouth Rocks to create a large, lazy fowl, and then added some Black-Breasted Red Game birds.
Buckeyes are a dual-purpose breed of chicken with a lustrous red color. They have pea combs (distinguishing them from Road Island Reds), are cold-weather hardy, and adaptive to a variety of living conditions. These active, friendly birds are well-known for their abilities to hunt and catch mice!
In 1907, a monk, Brother Wilfrid Châtelain, noticed that no breeds of chicken had yet been established in Canada. All the birds were from Europe or America. He set out to change this and create a practical chicken that would be suited to Canada's climate, and be an excellent dual-purpose bird. By 1918, he debuted the Chantecler.
Chanteclers are large birds with white plumage that lays tight against the body. They have exceptionally small cushion combs and wattles, which attributes to them being one of the most hardy breeds. They are fairly tame, but do not thrive in confinement, so consider this breed for free ranging. They lay about 200 brown eggs annually.
Delawares were developed in 1940, in Delaware, by George Ellis. The were originally known as "Indian Rivers." The breed originated from crosses of Barred Plymouth Rock roosters and New Hampshire hens. Although originally intended as a meat bird, Delawares make an excellent dual purpose bird. They are known to have a calm and friendly disposition, and lay jumbo brown eggs - about 4 per week in ideal conditions. Plus, let's not forget to mention their beautiful plumage!
The Java is the 2nd oldest chicken breed developed in America, going back to 1835. Its ancestors come from the island of Java in the Far East. Javas are an excellent breed for free-ranging homesteads and are known for their egg production and table qualities. Javas come in white, black, mottled, and auburn. The Black Java is known for the brilliant beetle-green sheen of its feathers.
The Jersey Giant chicken was developed between 1870 and 1890 in New Jersey. You can probably guess that these birds are pretty big! Roosters weight in at 13 pounds, and hens can easily grow up to 10 pounds! They are the largest purebred chicken breed.
They are known to be fairly good layers compared to other large breeds, and are good winter layers. Expect about 260 large brown eggs per year.
Marans originated in western France and were imported in the 1930s. There are 9 recognized colors: Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Black, Birchen, Black Copper, Wheaten, Black-tailed Buff, White and Columbian. If you find Marans chicks at a feed store, they will most likely be the Black Copper or Cuckoo variety. Hens are active and enjoy free ranging, and also have friendly, outgoing personalities.
Marans are renowned for their dark chocolate brown eggs. If you’re looking for unique eggs, these are quite the conversation peace! You’ll get about 150-200 each year in your nesting boxes.
The Naked Neck is a breed of chicken that is naturally devoid of feathers on its neck and vent. The breed is also called the Transylvanian Naked Neck, as well as the Turken. The name "Turken" arose from the mistaken idea that the bird was a hybrid of a chicken and the domestic turkey.
They make for a good dual-purpose utility chicken. They only have about half the feathers of other chickens, so they are easier to pluck if raised for meat. They also lay a respectable number of eggs. They are very good foragers and are immune to most diseases, plus they are pretty fun to look at!
Orpington chickens were developed in the town of Orpington, England of all places! During the late 1800s, William Cook wanted to create a new breed that was dual purpose, but had white skin, which the British preferred for meat. Within 10 years, Orpingtons were a favorite in both England and America, and came in a variety of colors - black, white, buff, jubilee, and spangled.
Orpingtons lay about 200 eggs per year. If you're thinking about adding some to your flock, we suggest the Buff Orpington. They are known for being very docile - they make great pets!
Developed in America in the middle of the 19th century, this breed of chicken is historically the most popular in the United States. Up until WWII, no other breed was kept as extensively as the Plymouth Rock. The original birds were all of the Barred variety - with black and white stripped plumage - and other color varieties were developed later. The popularity of this duel-purpose breed came from its qualities as an outstanding farm chicken: hardiness, docility, broodiness, and excellent production of brown eggs. This chicken is usually what comes to mind when you think of the chickens Grandma used to keep!
Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Reds are a great choice for beginner chicken-keepers, or expert small flock keepers alike! Developed in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the late 1800s, these birds are a hardy, dual purpose breed. They are very low maintenance, and can tolerate less than favorable conditions. Hens lay about 5 - 7 eggs per week.
This breed has ancient connections going all the way back to 43 A.D., when the Romans invaded Britain. They grew a reputation of being the finest poultry in Britain, and reached America in 1912. They are a dual-purpose breed and will put on fat very easily, so be careful in feeding them too many treats! If they become too overweight, you will see a decline in egg production. Sussex chickens are a wonderful breed for a small farm or homestead, being active and all-around an excellent breed for meat and eggs. Hens lay an average of 250 light brown eggs each year, and come in three recognized color varieties: Speckled, Red, and Light.
Welsummers are a Dutch breed of domestic chicken, developed in the 1920s. It is a light, friendly, and intelligent breed, with rustic-red and orange color. Hens lay large eggs, that are a dark, terracotta brown, and often speckled. Roosters are considered to have the "classic rooster" look, and often used in media.
Developed in the 1880s, Wyandottes are named after a Native American tribe prevalent in parts of upstate New York and Ontario, Canada. They are thought to be developed from the Dark Brahma and Spangled Hamburgs.
The Silver Laced Wyandotte was the original color recognized, but since then black, blue, buff, buff Columbian, Columbian, golden laced, partridge, and silver pencilled have been added as recognized color varieties.
Wyandottes are friendly, calm, and cold hardy. Hens lay on average 200 light brown eggs per year. They make excellent setters and mothers.
Crested Breeds: Appenzeller - Brabanter - Crevecoeur - Houdan - Polish - Sultan
The Appenzeller originated in Switzerland and comes in 2 varieties. The Spitzhauben—named for a women's hat—has a V-comb and feather crest. The Barthuhner ("bearded hen") has a rose comb and no crest. Color varieties include black, golden spangled, and silver spangled.
This breed is mainly ornamental, but hens do lay a respectable number of white eggs. These birds prefer to range rather than be cooped because they are active and good foragers. Appenzellers are also small bodied enough that they are able to roost up in trees.
The Brabanter is a Dutch breed of chicken originating between Belgium and the Netherlands. They appear in paintings from as far back as the 17th century. The Brabanter is a small bird with a V-shaped comb and a crest similar to the Appenzeller.
Hens lay a moderate number of white eggs and are fairly good winter layers. Brabanters are a calm and intelligent breed that are better-suited for colder climates. The small comb and wattles of the Brabanter make them less susceptible to frostbite.
The Crevecoeur is one of the oldest breeds in France. It is named for a small town in Normandy and translates to "broken heart." Although popular in France, the breed hasn’t quite caught on in other countries.
Crevecoeur chickens are solid black and have a distinctive V-shaped comb. They are quiet and have peaceful temperaments. They are primarily a meat bird and only lay a moderate amount of white eggs (about 120 per year).
Houdan chickens were developed in France. They are descended from the ancient 5-toed fowl that were once common in France and Belgium. Houdans are historically held in high esteem for both meat and production qualities.
Houdans have both crests and beards, and are black with mottled white plumage. They also have five toes on each foot. They are moderately hardy but in the right climates can rival Leghorns in egg production. Good looks and good use—this bird has it all!
The Polish is immediately recognizable by the crest of feathers that almost covers its entire head. The breed's origins are unclear, but it was standardized in the Netherlands. They arrived in America in 1830 and became fairly widespread.
Polishes were originally bred as productive egg layers of white eggs. Nowadays they are considered more of an ornamental breed. They are vulnerable to aerial predators because their crests can obscure their vision. These are shy and skittish birds, so they won't be cuddling with your kiddos.
Native to Turkey, Sultans there are known as "Serai Taook," which translates to "Fowl of the Sultan's Palace." The breed first arrived in England in 1854 when Mrs. Elizabeth Watts, editor of the Poultry Chronicle in London, received the fowls from a friend living in Constantinople.
If you’re looking for a unique bird, Sultans are for you! They have a V-shaped comb, crest, beard, muffs, large nostrils, low-carried wings, vulture hocks, feathered shanks, and five toes. Their feathers a pure white and their legs are slate blue.
Sultans have happy personalities. Hens lay large white eggs from March through September. They also make a good table bird. Their personality and dual-purpose nature make them a great bird for backyard flocks!
Bantams: Barbu D'uccle - Belgian Antwerp D'anvers - Booted Bantam - Chabo - Dutch Bantam - Nankin - Pekin Bantam - Scots Dumpy - Sebright - Serama
The Barbu d'Uccle is a Belgian bantam breed. They were developed in the town of Uccle on the outskirts of Brussels. These chickens have a beard and muff and full hackle feathers around their neck. Hens weigh about 20 ounces. In the U.S. there are seven recognized varieties: Black, Golden Neck, Mille Fleur, Mottled, Porcelain, Self Blue, and White. The Mille Fleur is a popular variety, translating to a "Thousand Flowers."
These birds have sweet, friendly personalities and are known for their mysterious, quirky expressions. Hens lay tiny, cream colored eggs. They are a must have for bantam enthusiasts or anyone with limited space that wants a pet chicken!
Belgian Antwerp D'anvers
One of the oldest true bantam breeds, the Belgian Antwerp d‘Anvers has been around since the 1600s. They have upright bodies, round breast jutting forward, and arching tail. They have a profuse beard of feathers that cover the earlobes, and a small rose comb. Roosters weigh around 24 ounces and hens around 21 ounces.
These birds can be found in numerous color variations. In Belgium, there are 29 recognized colors. If allowed open space and free ranging, these birds make excellent pets and are friendly to humans.
The Booted Bantam goes by many names. "Federfuflge Zwerghuhne" in German, "Sabelpoot" in the Dutch, and "Booted Bantam" in the UK and Belgium. They are known for extravagant feathering on their feet and legs. Hens weigh around 22 ounces and roosters around 27 ounces. Almost exclusively an exhibition bird, they can be found in more than 20 color varieties, the most popular of which in the UK is the Lemon Millefleur.
They are friendly and calm when kept as pets. They are good foragers, and hens will readily go broody. Booted Bantams are very similar to Barbu d'Uccles.
The Chabo, also known as the Japanese bantam, is the largest true bantam breed. Their hefty, upright tails reach well over the birds' heads. They come in many different colors and also in frizzle and silkie varieties. Rooster weigh a little over one pound, while hens weight just under a pound. Hens lay cream colored eggs.
Chabos have unusually short legs. This breed is ideal for homeowners with delicate lawns and gardens because their little legs can’t do much damage while digging!
Originating in the Netherlands, the Dutch Bantam is a true bantam breed. They are one of the smallest bantams, only weighing in at about 15 ounces. They can fly rather well because they are small but have large wings.
Dutch Bantams are especially hardy and good layers for their size. Hens lay about 160 cream colored eggs per year, although they are small. They have friendly temperaments and make great family pets!
The Nankin is one of the oldest bantam breeds. This breed was used in developing many other bantam breeds, such as the Sebright. They have rich, chestnut colored bodies, a black tail, and black flight feathers. Roosters weigh about 24 ounces and females about 22 ounces.
Nankins are calm and have a likeable personality. They are unusual in that they stick very close together in a group and rarely venture away from the flock. This may be due to their small size—safety in numbers! Hens are known to be particularly broody and love hatching eggs, often sitting on other hens' eggs in addition to their own.
Pekin Bantams are of Chinese origin and are alleged to have been looted by British soldiers from the private collection of the Emperor of China. They are round birds and have so many feathers that you practically can’t see their feet and legs!
Roosters weigh around 23 ounces and hens weigh around 20 ounces. There is some debate over whether Pekins are a true bantam breed or are just miniature Cochins. Pekins come in a variety of colors. They are docile birds, and with some handing, can make great pets! While hens don't produce many eggs, they are broody and make good mothers (egg adoption anyone?).
Scots Dumpies are an ancient Scottish breed of chicken. Evidence suggests they existed 700 years ago. The "Dumpy" in the name refers to a dwarfing gene that causes them to have very short legs and waddle as they walk.
Because of their shorter legs, the Scots Dumpy can't scratch up your landscaping! They are also excellent egg producers, broody, and good mothers. They are docile and the roosters make very timely alarm clocks! While all roosters will crow, the Scots Dumpy rooster is more inclined to crow at their first sign of dawn.
Named after creator Sir John Sebright in about 1800, the Sebright is one of England's oldest bantam breeds. They are a true bantam, meaning there is no standard version of the breed. They are small even for a bantam—males weigh about 22 ounces.
Sebrights are considered an ornamental breed. They do not lay many eggs but have beautifully laced plumage in silver of gold. Males are "hen feathered" and do not have the typical feathering of a rooster in the tail, saddle, and hackles. Sebrights make good pets because they are active and easily tamed.
The Serama is a bantam breed of chicken originating in Malaysia within the last 50 years. The breed is named for the word "Rama," the title of the Kings of Thailand. Small chickens have always been popular in the area as pets, and are sometimes called pygmy chickens.
Seramas are meant to be small, brave chickens with the persona of a fearless warrior or toy soldier. They have an upright posture and vertical tail feathers, giving their body a V-shape. They are extremely small in size. Roosters and hens alike will weigh about 1/2 pound to 1 pound.
Rare And Unusual: Ayam Cemani - Campine - Catalana - Cubalaya - Dominique - Dorking - Egyptian Fayoumi - Favorelles - Iowa Blue - La Fleche - Lakenvelder - Langshan - Marsh Daisy - Norwegian Jaehorn - Onagadori - Orloff - Penedesenca - Phoenix - Pita Pinta Asturiana - Sicilian Buttercup - Sumatra - Twentse - White Faced Black Spanish - Yokohama
The Ayam Cemani is a unique breed with a striking in appearance. Originating from the island of Java, they have black plumage, black skin, black muscles, black bones, even black organs! They have a gene that causes hyperpigmentation (Fibromelanosis). While their blood is still red, it is very dark. Due to their exotic appearance, in Asia their meat is considered to have mystic powers.
They are friendly birds, hardy, low maintenance, and easy to handle. Hens lay a moderate amount of cream colored eggs that are relatively large in proportion to their body size.
Consider yourself lucky if you can find a bird of this breed! They are extremely rare and can be expensive.
The Campine chicken is originally from northern Belgium, but once it was imported to England in 1899, it was developed in to a much different bird.
Something that makes Campines unique is that often times, especially in Europe, roosters will be "hen feathered." This means that they don't develop the long sickle feathers, pointed hackle feathers, or pointed saddle feathers. Rather, their plumage resembles that of a hen.
Campines come in two color varieties: Silver and Golden. They are fair layers of white eggs, but mostly for show. This bird is considered a delicate, active breed. A fun addition for your backyard collection!
Catalanas were developed near Barcelona in the district of Catalonia, Spain. It was introduced to the rest of the world at the 1902 World's Fair held in Madrid. They are a hardy, dual-purpose breed, with the style, alertness, and forage abilities typical of Mediterranean breeds. They lay large white eggs and rarely are broody. Catalanas are noted for being very heat tolerant.
The Cubalaya is the only breed developed in Cuba. It is descended from Sumatra and Malay birds brought to Cuba from the Philippines. They were selectively bred to be impressive in appearance, with a courageous expression. Roosters have flowing hackle feathers and a "lobster tail" – a downward angled tail with lavish feathering. Their look is truly unique to the breed.
These birds are very tame, with a friendly and curious disposition. They very heat tolerant, for those of you with long hot summers! The hens are reliable layers, lay small eggs and are good brooders.
The Dominique is considered America's oldest breed of chicken, developed during the colonial period. They enjoyed great popularity as a dual-purpose fowl until the 1870s, when they fell out of favor with poultry keepers. By 1970, they were listed as "Critical", with fewer than 500 birds in North America. Currently, they have made a small come back, and have moved from "critical" status to "watch list".
Dominiques are medium-sized, black and white barred birds. The Dominique’s tightly arranged plumage, combined with the low profile of the rose comb, make this breed more resistant to frostbite than many other breeds of fowl. Dominiques are also known to adapt well to hot and humid climates. They lay an average of 230-275 brown eggs each year.
How to tell the difference between a rare Dominique and a common Plymouth Rock? Look to the comb! A Dominque's rose comb will look substantially different than a Plymouth Rock's single comb.
The history of the Dorking is similar to that of the Sussex. An ancient breed with ties to the Roman Empire, the Dorking was developed to be a superior table bird. As a backyard poultry keeper, this breed would make an excellent dual-purpose bird! Hens make excellent winter layers, and are exceptional mothers. They welcome chicks from other hens and tend to look after chicks far longer than other hens.
Fayoumis are an ancient Egyptian breed. They about 3,000 years old, descended from Sri Lankan junglefowl that the Pharoah Tutankhamen had procured through the ancient cinnamon trade.
They look somewhat like a roadrunner, with upright tails and forward jutting necks. They are a very hardy breed, and not surprisingly well-suited for hot climates. They are such excellent foragers and can pretty much fend for themselves. They are fat to mature, and hens are good layers of off-white colored eggs.
The Favorelles is a French breed of chicken. They are considered a heavy breed, and have a beard, muffs, feathered feet, and 5 toes per foot. They are also known for their round shape. Favorelles are extremely docile and quiet, which makes them a popular choice in home flocks as egg layers and pets. At the same time, their gentleness can cause them to be picked on by other birds, so watch out for bullies! A well cared for hen will lay about 4 pinkish colored eggs per week.
The Iowa Blue was developed in the early 1900's near Decorah, Iowa. A folk legend tells the story of a white Plymouth Rock hen emerging from under a building with a clutch of chicks that were colored solid chestnut to striped. Old-timers tell the tale that the chicks were sired by a pheasant.
Iowa Blues are a practical, dual-purpose, homesteader chicken. They are fairly docile but excellent foragers. Hens have good mothering instincts and roosters are brave protectors of their flock. This breed almost went extinct in the 1980s and are still very rare. Fortunately, they are making a comeback thanks to some dedicated breeders and poultry keepers.
La Flèche is a rare, French dual-purpose breed. The words "la fleche" translates to "the arrow," which is linked to the part of France where these birds originated in the fifth century.
These birds are known for their very distinct V-shaped comb. They have tightly arranged black plumage and white earlobes. Hens lay large white eggs from March thru October.
Lakenvelders are sometimes known as "Shadows on a Sheet," because in Dutch the name translates to white spread over a black field. They are beautiful birds with blue legs, deep red eyes, and long flowing tails. They have single combs and you will see that even the females' combs stand tall.
Lakenvelders are known not just for their beauty, but also their egg laying abilities. They lay about 175 porcelain white eggs per year. They are great foragers and very active, but they are wary. These birds will not cuddle with your kids!
Langshans originated in China near the Yangtszekiang River and made its way to England in 1872. The breed is valued for being a large bird, with quality meat, that lays a high volume of dark brown, purplish eggs.
Langshans are hearty birds and good foragers. They have tight feathering and can fly better than most other chickens. Hens are not dependable sitters but make excellent mothers once the chicks have hatched.
The Marsh Daisy is a very rare breed originating in Lancashire, England, and has not made a name for itself in other countries. It's a bird with a fancy name and a practical nature. These birds are slow to mature, but once grown, are very hardy and excellent foragers. They flourish in free range environments. Hens lay about 200 cream colored eggs each year.
The Marsh Daisy chicken may be one of the rarest chicken breeds worldwide. It never achieved popularity abroad, was never recognized by the American Poultry Association and is little known or seen outside the UK.
The Jaehorn is the only breed of domestic chicken indigenous to Norway. They were developed in 1920 near the town of Stavenger. They have only recently made their way to North America and are still a rare find in the U.S.
They come in two colors: dark brown and light brown. Hens can lay an impressive 215 white eggs per year. Jaehorns are small, hardy, and active birds. They are great flyers due to their size. So be aware, your chickens may fly the coop!
Meaning "long-tailed chicken" in Japanese, Onagadoris are designated as a Special Natural Monument by the Japanese government. It has taken centuries breeding to create what the breed has become today. Breeders provide special hutches with perches well above the ground where the tails are kept clean and in good condition. Their tails do not molt, but grow continuously, allowing them to reach lengths of 12 to 27 feet long.
Orloffs were previously believed to have originated in Russia, however modern research indicates they first appeared in Persia and were brought to Europe and Asia in the 17th century. The breed became popular through promoter Count Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov in the 19th century.
Orloffs are tall and well adapted to the cold. They are tight feathered, head and neck are very densely feathered, and they have tiny combs, earlobes, and wattles. The hens lay a good amount of light brown eggs and are relatively calm.
The Penedesenca originated in the region of Catalonia, in Spain. They are named after the town Vilafranca del Penedes and were developed from native backyard birds.
This breed is known for the very dark brown eggs that the hens produce. They are said to be the darkest brown of any breed. They come is a few color varieties: Black, Crele, Partridge, and Wheaten. They have white earlobes, red wattles, and an unusual carnation comb.
This breed is extremely rare. In fact, they almost went extinct! In the 1980s, some breeders dedicated themselves to reviving the Penedesenca.
The Phoenix chicken is a German creation from the long-tailed fowls of Japan. The first president of the National German Poultry Association, Mr. Hugo du Roi, is credited with the creation of the breed. His intent was to reinvigorate the small population of long-tailed fowl in Europe. Some say the name “Phoenix” was given to the resultant chickens to acknowledge the seeming “rise from the ashes” of their soon lost parents.
The Phoenix chicken is an alert breed with a pheasant-like appearance. They are fair layers that can go broody. The chicks are hardy, but require extra protein when their tails are growing (try Ace Hi Quick Gro or Kelley’s Quick Gain). The breed thrives when it can roam at large with plenty of freedom.
Pita Pinta Asturiana
Pita what??? Asturias is a principality in north-western Spain. In the Asturian language, Pita Pinta translates to "painted hen." This breed is the only chicken indigenous to the area, and are considered extremely rare.
Pita Pintas are compact birds with yellow skin, yellow beaks, red earlobes, and orange eyes. Plummage varieties include Pinta Negra (black mottled), Pinta Roxa (mottled brown), Blanca (white), and Abedul (black). Hens are reliable layers of eggs the color of burnt cream. These birds are tough and responsive to their environment.
Sicilian Buttercups originated on the island of Sicily, and were imported to the U.S., Britain, and Australia in the early 20th century. They are named for their very unique comb. It is a cup-shaped crown with a complete circle of medium sized regular points. No other breed will have this type of comb!
These birds are active foragers, preferring to free range. They lay a modest number of small eggs—about 180 in a year. This breed is friendly, making them a great pet!
This breed was shaped by its wild origins on the isles of Sumatra, Java, and Borneo in Indonesia. Their rich green sheen and royal appearance belies their feral heritage.
Sumatra hens lay an abundant number of white or lightly tinted eggs and are excellent winter layers. They are also among the best and broodiest of mothers. Both adults and chicks are hardy and easy to raise. Sumatra chickens are active and alert and are especially good at launching vertically to escape danger.
Twentses (Dutch), also known as Kraienkoppes (German), are a large breed of chicken from an area spanning between Germany and the Netherlands. They are rumored to be the result of Leghorn and Malay crosses and are sporty, ornamental birds that also have good egg production. Hens lay about 200 off-white eggs per year.
They have small wattles, earlobes, and walnut comb—all bright red in color. This rare breed is an excellent forager in both free range and confined conditions.
White Faced Black Spanish
The Black Spanish is a regal bird that holds itself with the posture of aristocrats. This ancient breed is lustrous green-black, with a distinguishing white face and enormous white earlobes.
Black Spanish hens were hugely popular in the 1800s for their ability to lay an abundant amount of large white eggs. They ultimately lost favor with farmers because they are fairly delicate birds, and hardier breeds came along.
Like the Phoenix, the Yokohama chicken is a German creation from long-tailed fowls of Japanese descent. They have a beautiful and elegant appearance with white plumage and red across the breast and back. Some Yokohamas have tails of three and even four feet long!
They are an alert breed with a game-like appearance. Yokohamas are indifferent layers and can go broody after laying only 12-14 eggs. The chicks are hardy, but require extra protein when their tails are growing (try Ace Hi Quick Gro or Kelley’s Quick Gain).
Bbq Special: Cornish - New Hampshire
The Cornish was an epic fail in terms of serving its original purpose. Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert of England developed the breed, originally naming it the "Indian Game." He intended to combine the power of an Aseel gamebird with the speed of an English gamebird. What he got was a bird with neither of those qualities.
Cornishes were (misleadingly) marketing in the 1800s as an excellent all around bird, despite being "nearly the worst domestic fowls for ordinary use." In the early 1900s, breeders renamed it the "Cornish" and found two niche markets. Due to the muscular nature of the breed, young birds could be harvested early to produce a tender and flavorful one-pound bird: the now well-know “Cornish Game Hens.” They are also ideal to cross with American breeds to produce extremely fast growing market poultry.
New Hampshire chickens have only been around since the 1930s and are closely related to the classic Rhode Island Red (RIR). Starting with RIRs, breeders were very selective and intensified traits of early maturity, rapid full feathering, and production of large brown eggs. These birds are a rich chestnut color, slightly lighter in shade than RIRs.
New Hampshires are a dual-purpose breed, but are intended more for the table than for egg production. They prefer to free range and are known to be competitive with the rest of the flock.
Ornamental: Cochin - Frizzle - Malay - Old English Game
Cochins, along with Brahmas, are responsible for the "hen fever" that over took poultry keepers in American and England in 1850. No doubt they are helping fuel the newest obsession with backyard chicken keeping! Cochins were developed in China. They are very large in size (up to 10 pounds), have an abundance of feathers, and are calm in disposition. Like Brahmas, they are very hardy in cold climates.
Cochins are known for being very broody, so much so that roosters will occasionally brood chicks! So, if you're looking to hatch your own chicks, consider a Cochin hen to raise them! They are even considered the best choice for hatching and raising ducks and turkeys!
Cochins are bred in several color patterns: Buff, Partridge, White, Black, Silver Laced, Golden Laced, Blue, Brown, and Barred.
A Frizzle in the U.S. is not a breed of chicken, but rather a type of chicken, describing curly plumage. Frizzles are most commonly found in Polish, Cochin, Plymouth Rock, Japanese, and Silkies, but other breeds can possess the Frizzle gene. The feathers curl out and away from the body, giving the birds a unique appearance.
Because of the structure of their feathers, Frizzles cannot trap heat against their body, so they do not thrive in cold climates. They also cannot fly at all, and may have trouble reaching high roosts.
The Malay chicken is an ancient landrace breed. It is supposed to have descended from the great Malay fowls of India. These birds are extremely tall. They can reach heights of up to 30 inches! They are said to be able to eat grain off the dining table!
Malays are not suited for egg or meat production. But they have been useful in crossing with other breeds and revitalizing threatened breeds. Many developed breeds of chicken have Malay ancestry mixed in.
Malays have a unique appearance, aside from height. The expression of a Malay is snarky and cruel. The crow of the rooster is more like a roar! They are very hardy and impressive birds.
Old English Game
The Old English Game breed is one of the oldest breeds of fowl, having been introduced to England by Romans in the 1st century! Although their origins were in the fighting ring, today they are raised for their exotic appearance and only for show. They have compact, muscular bodies with feathers that are hard, glossy, and sit tight along the body. They are known to have fearless eyes and an indomitable spirit.
Old English Games come in a variety of colors. Both hens and roosters have large and distinctive tail feathers. Hens make excellent brooders, although they can be overly aggressive as mothers. They can tolerate extreme climates, are good foragers, and do well in free range situations. But watch out! Their excellent stamina and flying capabilities make them crafty escape artists. Many Old English Games live as long as 15 years or more.