What are Some Breeds of Chicken?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Most consumers are not aware that chickens come in a wide variety of breeds, from the exotic looking Frizzled Cochin to the more mundane Rhode Island Red. Chicken breeds come in an amazing variety of sizes, colors, and shapes, with some species producing high amounts of eggs, while others are bred for ornamental or meat producing reasons. Most chicken breeds are readily available through special suppliers, and are a fun way to liven up the farmyard and the house, with some breeds making very good pets.

Brown and white chicken eggs.
Brown and white chicken eggs.

Among the more exotic chicken breeds is the Araucana, a chicken that produces eggs that range in color from pale green to blue. Araucanas have tufts of feathers over their ears and long, slim bodies, and are a medium sized breed of bird. Another exotic breed is the Phoenix. Phoenix roosters have long, flowing tails which can reach up to three feet (one meter) in length, while hens have a soft golden coat. The Phoenix is a Chinese breed, and they were highly prized in pleasure gardens for centuries.

A chicken and egg.
A chicken and egg.

One of the smallest chicken breeds is the Bantam, with most birds able to fit nestled in the palm of your hands. Bantam roosters typically have very upright, flowing tails and a cocky strut that belies their size. Hens are small and sleek, laying delicate pale white eggs on a frequent basis. Bantams are also very tame, and made ideal house pets as well as companions.

Among the more peculiar looking chicken breeds are the Cochins, which include the Frizzled Cochin, which looks as though it has been through a wind tunnel. Other unusual chicken breeds include the feather-footed breeds, which have tufts of feathers resembling booties on their feet. Most of the feather footed-breeds are also very fluffy, with multiple layers of soft feathers on their bodies.

Many chicken breeds also have exotic and decorative crests, including the Polish, Houdans, Sultans, and Crevecouers. These chicken breeds should be monitored carefully to ensure that other birds are not harassing them, as some chickens cannot resist the target of a large fluffy crest. If not separated in time, other chickens will peck the crested breeds bald.

For meat, flavorful chicken breeds such as the Cornish are ideal, with a large, firm breast. For eggs, chicken breeds such as the Rhode Island Red, Orpington, Minorcas, Hamburgs, and Leghorns are all excellent choices.

A flock of chickens can bring light, color, character, and fun to a farmyard, while some chicken breeds may become beloved members of the family. Many people are unaware of the wide variety of chicken breeds, which all produce eggs and meat while being entertaining to have around.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@ Anon80012- My neighbor has Black Astrolorps and some Jersey Giants. His Jerseys range from black to splash and white in color. They are some of the biggest chickens I have ever seen. I think that his Jerseys are larger than his Astrolorps.

He often gives me fresh eggs from his hens, and I have to say that fresh eggs from free range, bug and grain fed chickens are some of the best eggs I have ever tasted. His birds lay pretty good sized eggs, and the yolks are a dark yellow; almost orange. I almost want to get a half dozen birds myself just for the eggs!


When I was younger we raised chickens at our home in Vermont in Vermont. We had four varieties that we kept for egg laying and eating bugs in our organic garden. My favorites were the Egyptian Fayoumis, and the Japanese Silver Phoenixes. We also had Golden Wyandottes, and Silkies.

I had a couple Silver Phoenix roosters that were the most docile birds you could imagine. Their tails can actually grow up to 15 feet long, but they must be kept in cages where their feathers will not get snagged. Mine never reached past a few feet since they were outdoor birds. The hens are also calm and tolerate being held. This is a great breed if you have curious kids.

The Fayoumis are also very pretty birds, and they are very fast. They are skittish though, rarely letting you too close to them. They do tolerate other birds pretty well though.

In cold weather climates you have to be sure to have a warm henhouse for the Phoenixes and Fayoumis with plenty of straw. These breeds have short feathers, and they don't pack on much weight.


To me, the best chickens on earth are Black Australorps. They are hardy, calm and good egg producers. My Utah environment is much like Australia where the breed was developed.

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