Chicken Breeds A – S
Ac Chicken | Andalusian Chicken | Araucana Chicken | Asturian Painted Hen | Australorp Chicken | Bandara Chicken | Bantam Chicken | Barnevelder Chicken | Blue Hen | Brahmas Chicken | Buckeye Chicken | Buttercup Chicken | Campine Chicken | Dorking Chicken | Leghorn Chicken | Marans Chicken | New Hampshire Chicken | Orpington Chicken | Plymouth Rock Chicken | Rhode Island Red Chicken | Silkie Chicken
There are many, many different breeds of chicken. Chickens come in lots of various shapes, sizes and colours. Some breeds of chicken are bred for different purposes. Some chickens have been developed for superior egg laying and others are grown as meat birds. Others are developed for both. Commercial egg laying farms tend to use two particular breeds – the Rhode Island Red chicken and the Leghorns. These chickens lay white and brown eggs which are the ones usually found in shops and supermarkets. Below are some popular chicken breeds.
The Ac chicken is a local Vietnamese breed with white feathers and black skin. The Ac Chicken is used as a meat line to supply meat that is cooked with some medical herbs at restaurants. The Ac Chicken is sometimes called the ‘Black 5 toes chicken’. The Ac Chicken has a approximate population of 11,910 and has an increasing population trend.
The egg laying age starts at 5 – 7 months old with about 15 eggs laid per cycle. Each egg weighs 30 grams. The mature weight is 1.4 kilograms for male Ac chickens and 0.8 – 1.2 kilograms for female Ac chickens.
Andalusian Chickens are small, active, closely feathered birds that tend to be noisy and very rarely go broody. Andalusian chickens are a typical example of the unstable blue colour we see in the poultry industry. The Andalusian chicken is the result of a cross of black and white. When two blues are mated, they produce offspring in the ratio of one black, two blues and one white. These whites and blacks when mated together will produce mainly blues.
Andalusian chickens are beautiful when good, however, the percentage of really good ones runs low in many flocks because of this colour segregation. Hence, they are not widely bred and never in large numbers. Male Andalusians (Cocks) weigh around 7 pounds, the females (hens) weigh around 5 – 5.5 pounds, cockerel (young male) 6 pounds and babies (pullets) 4 – 4.5 pounds. Andalusian chickens skin colour is white beneath the feathers and they lay white eggs. Andalusian chickens tend to be an ornamental species of fowl, however, they are good egg producers.
The Araucana chicken was discovered by the Araucana Indians of Chile. The Araucana chicken is known for laying blue, green, and pinkish-brown eggs. The true Araucana chicken has ear tufts (feathers that stick out from the chickens face) and is rumpless (possessing no tail). To produce the Araucana chicken, cross-breeding between the Collonca (a natrually blue-egg laying, rumpless, clean-faced chicken) and the Queteros (a pinkish-brown egg layer that is tailed and has ear-tufts) takes place.
There are two other breeds that lay these coloured eggs, the Ameraucana and the Easter Egger. The Ameraucana lays the same coloured eggs as the Araucana. The Ameraucana has ear muffs (fuzz that sticks out from the sides of a chickens face), beard and a tail.
The Easter Egger is just a ‘mutt’ because they do not have an APA (American Poultry Association) Standard of Perfection because they are a large variety of colours. The Araucanas eggs are less nutritious, but they are reliable layers of medium eggs. Most people purchase and own this breed because of their popular egg colour, which attracts buyers, friends and young children. However, the Araucana chicken, if hand-raised specifically, is extremely well-tempered, calm and trusting. Araucana chickens sometimes do not tolerate other breeds of chickens, or vise versa, however, they usually are a fine breed to mix in with other chickens.
The Asturian Painted Hen is a large bird from the Asturian class of hens. It belongs to the Atlantic branch of animals, and it is eumetric, of medium weight, short and has a mottle look. The Asturian Painted Hen has a regular sized crest which is smaller on the female species. The ears on both female and male painted hens are always red. The adults feathers are black with a white edge, giving the charasteristic mottle look. Peak and legs are yellow with black spots and their eyes are orange.
Weight is 4 – 4.5 kg by average for males and 2.7 kg for females. The Asturian Painted Hen is a good, regular layer of eggs, tough and responsive to the environment. Eggs are cream-coloured with a soft feel. The Asturian Painted Hens origin is related to other breeds of hen in the north of Spain. With industrial avicultural development in the 50’s and the 60’s, and the creation of hybrids in order to produce eggs, the number of Asturian Painted Hens fell dramatically to the point of extinction. Fortunately, the breed was saved from extinction in the 80’s by a few of enthusiastic traditional hen breeders. At the moment, an Asturian Painted Hen Breeders Association is in the process of being set up.
The Australorp is an Australian chicken breed. It is a large, soft-feathered bird with glossy black feathers and a lustrous green sheen. The Australian chicken is hardy, docile and a good egg-layer as well as meat bird. The Australian chickens single comb is moderately large and upright, with five distinct points. Well looked after, Australorp chickens lay approximately 250 light-brown eggs per year.
Australorp chickens hold the worlds record for egg production with one hen having laid 364 eggs in 365 days under official Australian trapnest testing. The Australorp chicken was developed from the English Orpington. In 1929, the Australorp chicken was admitted to the Standard of Perfection. Australorp chickens are black in colour. Males weigh 8.5 pounds, cockerals 7.5 pounds, hens 6.5 pounds and poulets 5.5 pounds. The Australorp chickens skin is white beneath their feathers and the females lay brown coloured eggs.
It was the egg laying performance of Australorp chickens which attracted world attention when in 1922 – 1923 a team of six hens set a world record of 1857 eggs at an average of 309.5 eggs per hen for a 365 consecutive day trial. It must be remembered that these figures were achieved without the lighting regimes of the modern intensive shed. Such performances had importation orders flooding in from England, United States of America, South Africa, Canada and Mexico. Well looked after Australorp chickens lay approximately 250 light-brown eggs per year.
The Bandara chicken is named after ‘Bandara’, a village that is considered a sector of El-Gimmizah Agriculture Research Center. The White Cornish and the Gimmizah were utilized as base population when developing this breed. More than six years were devoted for developing this breed of chicken in Gimmizah and Montazah Poultry Research Stations.
The down colour of Bandara chicks is recessive white. Adult Bandara chickens are white in colour, the beak, shanks and skin are yellowish white. The Bandara chicken has a duplex comb and red ear lobes. Comprehensive studies showed that the Bandara chicken was superior to many other local breeds in certain productive and reproductive traits. Bandara chickens could be utilized as a foundation stock for meat production.
A Bantam Chicken is any small or miniature fowl. The term bantam refers most commonly to small breeds of chickens. Many standard chicken breeds have a bantam counterpart, sometimes referred to as a miniature. Miniatures are usually one-fifth to one-quarter the size of the standard breed, but they are expected to exhibit all of the standard breeds characteristics. Some examples of breeds with bantam counterparts are the Plymouth Rock, the Australorp and the Wyandotte.
A true bantam has no standard-breed counterpart. Examples of true bantams include the Dutch bantam, the Belgian bantam, the Rosecomb and the Sebright. Bantams have become increasingly popular as pets as well as for show purposes because they are smaller and have more varied and exotic colours and feather patterns than other chickens. They are great for smaller backyards as they do not need as much space as other breeds. It has been said that Bantam hens are calmer than standard hens. Bantam hens are also used as laying hens, although it takes two to three Bantam eggs to make one standard chicken egg.
In contrast, the Bantam rooster is famous in rural areas throughout the United Kingdom and the United States for its aggressive, ‘puffed-up’ disposition that can be comedic in light of its diminutive stature. It is often called a ‘Banty’ in the rural United States.
The Barnevelder chicken is a medium heavy breed of chicken named after the Dutch town of Barneveld. The Barnevelder chicken is a cross of local Dutch chickens with Asian breeds such as the Brahma, Cochin, Croad Langshan and Malay. The Barnevelder chicken gained worldwide recognition and was exported to many countries because of its ability to lay approximately 180 – 200 large brown eggs per year.
The Barnevelder chickens are bred both as a utility breed and a show breed. The Barnevelder chickens are medium heavy dual-purpose chickens laying a good number of eggs but also yielding a reasonable carcass.
The Barnevelder chickens are hardy birds and good foragers. While they became famous for their dark brown eggs in the first half of the 20th century most birds now appear to be in the hands of show breeders and not much attention has been given to maintaining the dark brown egg colour or to productivity with the focus being on external characteristics instead. Many flocks now lay eggs of a much lighter brown than before and are sometimes not quite as productive as befits their reputation. The Barnevelder chickens are good winter layers and have a quiet disposition.
The original and most well known Barnevelder chicken is the double laced variety with a single vertical comb and yellow legs, but white, black, brown, partridge, blue and double laced blue varieties also exist. Not all countries recognize all these varieties in their Poultry Standards. There are large fowl as well as bantam versions of most of the different colours.
The Blue Hen Chicken was adopted on April 14, 1939 as the state bird of Delaware. The University of Delaware mascot, known as YoUDee, is also modeled after the bird. The reason behind the notoriety of this bird can be traced back to the Revolutionary War. On December 9, 1775, the Continental Congress resolved that a military battalion was to be raised from Delaware, then known as the Lower Counties on the Delaware.
Therefore, the Delaware regiment was born, a group composed of eight companies representing New Castle, Kent and Sussex Counties. The second company was composed of men from Kent County and was under the command of Capt. John Caldwell, who was an avid fan and owner of gamecocks. The troops often amused themselves by staging cock fights with a breed known as the Kent County Blue Hen, recognizable for its blue plumage.
The renown of these chickens spread rapidly during the time when cockeral fighting was a popular form of amusement, and the ‘Blue Hen Chickens’ developed quite a reputation for ferocity and fighting success. Capt. Caldwells company likewise acquired a considerable reputation for its own fighting prowess, in engagements with the British at Long Island, White Plains, Trenton and Princeton, and soon it was nicknamed ‘Caldwells Gamecocks’. Capt. Caldwells company was part of Col. John Haslets first Delaware regiment that reported for duty near the outset of the American Revolution in January 1776. In August 1781, remnants of the regiment were still battling at Eutaw Springs, South Carolina.
Although often referred to as ‘The Fighting Delawares’, Haslet’s regiment also won the nickname, ‘The Blue Hen Chickens’, and that name was formally adopted by the Delaware General Assembly in 1939 when the Blue Hen Chicken was named the official state bird. The University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources maintains a breeding group of the Blue Hen Chicken on the campus farm.
Good Brahmas chickens are beautiful, stately birds. Their large size and gentle nature combined with intricate color patterns makes them favourites for the country estate. The Brahmas appearance in the showroom never fails to command the admiration of one and all. These qualities have made them a favourite with showmen and fanciers.
Brahmas chickens have a tendency to go broody and are fairly good mothers. Their small comb and wattles, together with profuse feathering and well feathered shanks and toes enable them to stand cold temperatures very well. The relatively slow rate of growth and long time required to reach maturity have caused Brahmas to be passed by as a commercial fowl. The ancestry of the Brahmas chicken traces back to China although much of their development took place in the U.S. between 1850 and 1890. Standard Weights (Light): Males – 12 pounds; hens – 9.5 pounds; cockerels – 10 pounds; pullest – 8 pounds. Standard Weights (Dark and Buff): Males – 11 pounds; hens – 8.5 pounds; cockeresl – 9 pounds; pullets – 7 pounds. Skin Colour: Yellow. Egg Shell Colour: Brown. Use: A very heavy fowl for the production of heavy roasters or capons. Fair egg layers.
Buckeye chickens are very adaptable, calm and friendly. This is a dark red, muscular chicken with pea comb, closely held feathers and broad shoulders. There are no other varieties of this chicken as it is very rare. Buckeye chickens are a duel purpose bird, slow at maturing but very hardy. These chickens can get very broody. Their colouring is nut brown and they weigh around 6 pounds.
Females lay medium sized, brown eggs. The Buckeye chicken breed was admitted to the American Standard of Perfection in 1904. It was developed in the ‘Buckeye State’ of Ohio as a dual purpose breed with the distinctive colour of the buckeye nut. Breeds used in its development include Cornish, Game, Rock, Cochin and Pea Combed Rhode Island Red..
Buckeye chickens were developed by Mrs. Nettie Metcalf of Warren, Ohio, and appropriately named after the ‘Buckeye State’. Buckeye chickens are unique in the American Class of chickens in that it is the only breed created entirely by a woman. Mrs. Metcalf started by breeding a Buff Cochin male to Barred Plymouth Rock females. This produced what she considered a large, lazy fowl. The next year she purchased a Black-Breasted Red Game male and crossed this male over the half cochin pullets. This cross produced several red offspring and from there she developed the breed. It is interesting to note that her creation predated the introduction of Rhode Island Reds into the mid-west.
Buttercup chickens are non-broody, lay a fair number of small eggs and are kept strictly as ornamental fowl. A small, spritely breed from Sicily, their chief distinguishing feature is their cup-shaped comb. Buttercup chickens do not do well in close confinement; they are very fidgety, active, flighty, wild even for a Mediterrean breed. Buttercup chickens tend to avoid human contact.
Buttercup chickens are very rare chickens that are golden in colour and weigh around 5 pounds. Buttercup chickens have a large buttercup comb on top of their heads.
The male and female Buttercup chicken do not look alike in colouring. The males are a rich, brilliant orange red with some black spangles in the feather of the body fluff and cape feathers at the base of the hackle; with lustrous, greenish black tail. The base colour of the female is buff with all feathers on the body marked by parallel rows of black elongated spangles, giving the hen an appearance of being beautifully spotted and suggesting a ringneck pheasant hen. Skin colour is yellow and shanks and toes are a willow green. Because of its unusual appearance the Buttercup is an excellent breed for exhibition projects. Their combs are subject to frostbite in cold weather. Buttercup chickens were developed in Sicily in the late 19th century.
The Campine chickens are a fairly small, closely feathered breed with solid coloured hackles and barred bodies. Campine chickens are chiefly an ornamental breed but will lay a fair number of white shelled eggs and are non-broody. Campine chickens are thought to have originated in Belgium. These are another rare breed of chicken that never really caught on in the U.S.
Campine chickens are economical eaters and adaptable to confinement, but prefers free range. Campine chickens like to attempt flight and are very alert birds. Campine chickens are lively, inquisitive and some are rather wild, others can be friendly. From being chicks, they are quick to develop feathers, but late in maturing. Campine chickens have white skin beneath their feathers and blue shanks. Campine chickens are not really hardy birds and are susceptible to frostbite in cold weather.
Campine chickens are beautiful chickens with golden and silver colouring and unique penciling and a single comb. Female Campine chickens lay medium, white eggs. Campine chickens may have ancient ancestry, however, they have been refined and further developed in Belgium in the 19th C. Braekel is a closely related European breed.
The Dorking chicken is a breed that is believed to have originated in Italy during the period of the Roman Empire. One of the earliest known mentions of this breed was by the Roman writer Columella during the reign of Julius Caesar. From there it was introduced to Great Britain by the Romans at an early date where much of its development continued to take place.
Dorking chickens appeared in the first British poultry show in 1845. They were later used to produce the Sussex and Faverolles breeds. The Dorking chicken has a rectangular body with very short, five-toed legs. Due to its relatively large comb it generally requires protection in cold weather.
Dorking Chickens are also well known for their versatility as a breed for both egg and meat production. The Dorking chicken is one of the few breeds with red earlobes that produces a white-shelled egg. The skin colour beneath the feathers is white. The standard weight is 9 pounds for a cock, 8 pounds for a cockerel, 7 pounds for a hen and 6 pounds for a pullet. The Dorking chickens are very docile. The Dorking chicken has three recognized varieties: White, Silver-grey and Coloured.
The Leghorn chicken is named after the Italian city of Leghorn/Livorno. Leghorns and leghorn crossbreeds are one of the most popular commercial breeds of chicken worldwide and while the majority are white, a number of varieties also exist.Leghorn chickens are recognized in colours of white, red, black tailed red, light brown, dark brown, black,blue, buff, columbian,buff columbian,barred, exchequer and silver.
Most Leghorn chickens have single combs but there are several colour varieties that have rose combs. Leghorns are excellent layers of white eggs (around 300 per year), but they can be noisy, flighty and easily excited. Leghorns mature quickly, but are generally not considered to be large birds. Leghorn chickens’ weight averages from 3lbs to 4lbs. Due to their prolific egg-laying, they are preferred by laboratories for embryonic and avian biological research as well as being the number one breed used for large-scale commercial egg production in the United States.
The Marans chicken is a small breed compared to other chickens. They are popular at poultry shows and preferred for its eggs rather than for its meat.There are 9 recognised colours: Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Black, Birchen, Black Copper, Wheaton, Black-tailed Buff, White and Columbian. Black Copper is the most common of these.All have red or orange eyes and white feet. The average weight of a Cockerel is around three and a half kilograms.
Marans chickens are quiet, docile, gentle birds, but they are quite active, taking well to free ranging in rough terrain and are also tough and disease-resistant. Marans lay around 150 dark brown eggs each year. Marans are an historically dual-purpose bird, prized not only for their dark eggs but for their table qualities as well. The Marans originate from France, and were imported into the United Kingdom in the 1930s.
The New Hampshire chicken originated in the state of New Hampshire in the United States. Mature birds are a rich chestnut red, of a somewhat lighter and more even shade than the Rhode Island Reds. The baby chicks are also a lighter red. New Hampshire cocks weigh around 8.5 pounds, cockerels 7.5 ponuds, hens 6.5 pounds and pullets 5.5 pounds.
New Hampshire chickens skin beneath their feathers is a yellow colouring. New Hampshire chickens lay brown coloured eggs. New Hampshire chickens are a dual purpose chicken, selected more for their meat production than egg production. Medium heavy in weight, it dresses a nice, plump carcass as either a broiler or a roaster.
New Hampshires are a relatively new breed, having been admitted to the Standard in 1935. They represent a specialized selection out of the Rhode Island Red breed. By intensive selection for rapid growth, fast feathering, early maturity and vigor, a different breed gradually emerged. This took place in the New England states, chiefly in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, from which it takes its name.
New Hampshire chickens have a deep, broad body and grow feathers very rapidly. They are prone to go broody and make good mothers. Most pin feathers are a reddish buff in colour and therefore do not detract from the carcass appearance very much. Their colour is a medium to light red and often fades in the sunshine. Their comb is single and medium to large in size, in the females it often lops over a bit. These good, medium-sized meat chickens have fair egg-laying ability. Some strains lay eggs of a dark brown shell colour. New Hampshires are competitive and aggressive. New Hampshire chickens were initially used in the Chicken of Tomorrow contests, which led the way for the modern broiler industry.
The Orpington Chicken is a large bird from the English class of chickens. It is a bold, upright breed with a wide chest, broad back and smallish head and tail. The Orpington chicken was bred as a dual-purpose breed (meat production and eggs), but its popularity grew as a show bird rather than a utility breed.Their large size and soft appearance together with their rich colour and gentle contours make them very attractive.
The original Orpington (the Black Orpington) was developed in 1886 by William Cook. He crossed Minorcas, Langshans and Plymouth Rocks to create the new hybrid bird. Cook named the breed after his home town in Kent. The first Orpingtons looked very much like the Langshan and were black. Between 1889 and 1905, Cook also created white, buff and blue colored Orpingtons. The breed was famous for its great egg-capacity.
Orpington chickens weigh around 7 – 10 pounds. They have soft, profuse feathering, which almost hides the legs of the bird. They have a curvy shape with a short back and U-shaped underline. Their head is small with a small comb despite being a large chicken and their temperament is usually tame. Besides the original colours (black, white, buff, blue), lots of other varieties exist today, e.g. porcelain, red, mottled and birchen. The original colours are still the most widely bred varieties. Orpingtons lay between 110 and 160 eggs a year. Orpington chickens do not stop laying in the winter. Their eggs are tinted and range from small to large depending on the heredity of the breed. Hens tend to go broody more than other heavy egg breeds, which is to say occasionally.
The Plymouth Rock is a chicken breed that originated in the United States in the 19th century and is still popular to this day. The Plymouth Rock chicken was bred as a dual-purpose fowl, meaning that it was valued both for its meat and the hens egg-laying ability. The Plymouth Rock chicken is a cold-hardy bird and therefore makes a great breed for the small farm or backyard flock owner.
There are seven varieties of Plymouth Rock chickens: barred, blue, buff, Columbian, partridge, silver-penciled and white. Plymouth Rock chickens lay brown eggs and continue laying all through the winter although the production decreases through this season. Their eggs are brown in colour. Plymouth Rock cockerels weigh around 8 – 9.5 pounds and the hens weigh around 7.5 pounds. Young Plymouth Rocks (known as pullets) weigh 6 pounds. Plymouth Rock chickens are mainly used for meat and eggs.
Plymouth Rocks are a good general farm chicken. The Plymouth Rock chickens are docile which makes them ideal for Capons. Normally they will show broodiness. The Plymouth Rock chickens possess a long, broad back, a moderately deep, full breast and a single comb of moderate size. Some strains are good layers while others are bred principally for meat. They usually make good mothers. Their feathers are fairly loosely held but not so long as to easily tangle. Generally, Plymouth Rocks are not extremely aggressive and can be tamed quite easily. Breeders should be aware of the standard weights and not select small or narrow birds for capons or the breeding pen. Common faults include shallow breast, high tails, narrow bodies and small size.
The Rhode Island Red Chicken (Gallus gallus) is a very popular breed of chicken. Rhode Island Red chickens are a utility bird, raised for meat and eggs, and also as show birds. Their feathers are Mahogany dark red/brown lustre, bordering on black. Some have purple spots or green stripes. Rhode Island Red chickens have red/orange eyes and yellow feet. Chicks are a light red to tan colour with two dark brown bars running down their backs.
Rhode Island Red chickens are tough birds, resistant to illness, good at foraging and free ranging, and are typically docile, quiet and friendly. Rhode Island Red chickens are excellent egg layers, producing up to 250 to 300 large, light brown eggs per year. Rhode Island Red chickens are also bred for meat, with Cockerels weighing in at around four kilograms, and hens slightly less. Rhode Island Red chickens were originally bred from chickens in Little Compton, Rhode Island around 1900, and is now the state bird of Rhode Island in the US. Rhode Island Red chickens and Sussex chickens are also used for many modern hybrid breeds.
The Silkie is a variety of chicken believed to have originated in eastern Asia. It is one of the ornamental chicken breeds. Silkie chickens are known to have an incredibly sweet temperament. Silkies generally have a fluffy appearance due to their feathers lacking functioning barbicels (a part of the tree formed by feathers). All their feathers are similar ‘down’ (a layer of fine feathers).
Silkie chickens unique appearance and their quiet temperament mean they are often kept as pets. The hens easily become broody, laying only a dozen or so eggs before attempting to hatch out their clutch. Silkie chickens are considered excellent mothers. Their broodiness makes them a poor breed for egg production and their dark skin makes them difficult to market as meat birds in Europe and America.
Silkie chickens have a walnut, crested comb, feathered feet and five toes as opposed to the usual four. The American Bantam Association accepts six standard colours for silkies: black, blue, buff, white, partridge and grey. There are bearded and non-bearded varieties.
Silkies were originally bred in China, where they are still kept (and eaten) today. Marco Polo is reported to have encountered Silkies in China at the end of the 13th century, where they are raised for the gourmet meat market to this day. Silkies are only bantam size in the USA. American silkies are actually intermediate in size, not proper bantam but not large fowl either. Elsewhere there are standards for both the bantam Silkie and the standard Silkie. Silkies are used in traditional Chinese medicine, due to their dark skin colouration.