Twelve Utterly Bizarre Chicken Breeds

Updated on July 22, 2017
Theophanes profile image

Theophanes is a New England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of life.

A chicken is a chicken is a chicken, right? I mean they all taste like chicken. Aside from their propensity for crossing roads, no one really thinks much about them, or do they? Below I have listed some of the most fantastical chicken breeds created by enthusiasts.

A Black-Breasted Gold Onagadoricock.
A Black-Breasted Gold Onagadoricock. | Source

Onagadori

So if you were given the job of decorating the Imperial garden of Japan with live animals, which would you chose? Perhaps some pretty little doves or a garish and loud peacock?

The Imperial family wanted something more along the lines of the Onagadori. Roosters of this breed sport a crazy tail that can grow more than twenty feet long! In order to keep them pristine, beautiful, and with unbroken tail feathers these chickens were treated like royalty in their own right. Now they can be seen outside the Imperial Garden in the flocks of enthusiasts who don't mind pandering to the supreme vanity of a chicken king.

Polish

Polish chickens aren't actually from Poland. They're a very old Dutch breed, mostly bred these days tas show birds or to add a little flare to a flock. They come in an assortment of colors and always are having a 1980s sort of hair day. They have an extra piece of bone that creates a dome on the top of their skull that pushes their head feathers outward. This gives the hens a lovely bouffant and the roosters a crazy swoosh of rock and roll hair.

A La Fleche rooster.
A La Fleche rooster. | Source

La Fleche

There's nothing quite like a Satanic-looking chicken with a crazy name to match. La Fleche were originally bred in France for the dual purpose of providing meat and eggs, but that doesn't explain why they're most often jet black birds with what appear to be fleshy little devil horns. La Fleche do poorly in confinement and the French pride themselves in their free ranging chickens. This means these birds are aloof around people. Far from following their owners to hang around, these interesting little fowl like to secret themselves away on obscure corners of the property. I think they're plotting, but that's just my theory.

Silkie Bantams

Silkie Bantams are a very weird breed indeed. They hail from China and although they might look like dust bunnies, they're actually chickens that maintain their chick-like down feathers their entire life. Even their little legs are hairy. At the end of each they have not four but five toes. In the U.S. they're mainly kept as pets because they're tiny and adorable but they're also great "broodies" (hatching the eggs of other chickens who want nothing to do with motherhood) and lay a fair amount of tiny eggs on their own. In Asia they're considered a delicacy because they have black skin, meat, and bones. Their blue-black meat has shown to have different nutritional properties than regular chickens, in particular it has higher carnosine content.

Rumpless

Ever look at a manx cat and think, "Gee, I wonder what a chicken would look like with that gene?" Here is your chance to find out! Rumpless chickens exist almost wholly within the Araucana breed. When they hatch, they are short of a few vertebrae, in particular the ones that would normally hold up tail feathers, so they end up looking more like a dodo bird than a chicken. And since they are hailed from Araucanas, they lay blue eggs.

Scots Dumpy

Never has there been a more tragically titled chicken than the Scots Dumpy. Are they the drunken hobos of the chicken world? Or is there some other reason their name is so unflattering? Well Scots Dumpies have been around for hundreds of years. They're achondroplasic chickens, which means that they're dwarfed. Although their bodies are the same as most large fowl, sometimes exceeding seven pounds in weight, they only stand two inches off the ground. Of course being such an ancient breed they have lots of names: creepers, crawlies, and stumpies. They're meat is considered more succulent because with short legs they can't get as much exercise, which makes them more tender for the table and easier to catch! They are a breed going extinct because 25% of the pure Dumpy eggs (those that receive two copies of the dwarfing gene) will die before hatching.

Modern Game Bantams

Legs, legs, legs, that's what Modern Games have the most of. In fact when paired with a Scots Dumpy you can almost hear the faint sound of laughter. About 100 years ago these birds were bred for cockfighting, but when that became illegal in England (and much of the U.S.) breeders decided they didn't want to give up these weird birds. Instead they introduced every color known to chickendom, bred for increasingly long legs, decreased their size through the generations, and ended up with intensely personable super model birds. They continue to be a very popular breed for the show table.

Juvenile frizzle (curly feathered) hen
Juvenile frizzle (curly feathered) hen

Seramas

Seramas are the teacup puppies of the chicken world. They're sweet, lovable, and come in a wild assortment of colors, feather patterns, and feather types. They're one of the few breeds that allows frizzles (curly feathers) and silkied (down feathers) onto the show table. Not allowed on the show table, but still in existence, are also booted varieties with feathery feet. They come in over 2,500 different colors and are so loved in their native Malaysia that Serama-only beauty pageants are a huge deal there. Because they are only the size of a pigeon, these tiny wonders make for great house pets both in Malaysia and abroad. They are the world's smallest breed of chicken and have been flaunting their stuff in the United States since they were first imported in 2001.

Indoor Serama Rooster

Cream Legbar

For many years breeders of egg-laying breeds have struggled with the issue of having too many roosters. In the old days roosters would be raised and eaten. Today there's not many people that like to eat adult roosters, which have the chewy consistency of shoe leather. Besides, raising roosters comes at a cost. Until they are old enough to mate, you have to feed them and that takes money. That's where cream legbars came onto the scene. They were created as a blue egg-laying breed that had one very special trait: the ability to mate at hatching. As you can see by the photo, the females have "chipmunk stripes" and the males are a lighter, more solid color. Now extra rooster chicks could be immediately slaughtered or made into pet food and the only ones left would be the future egg layers. This has made them very popular in many homesteads.

A young Easter Egger hen.
A young Easter Egger hen. | Source

Easter Eggers, Olive Eggers, and Marans

For some people it's all about beautiful chickens. For others, it's all about beautiful eggs. Normally eggs come in white, brown, and sometimes brown with speckles, but this isn't enough for the owners of Easter Eggers. These Araucana mixes lay blue and sometimes green eggs if they are crossed with a brown egg layer. And if you'd rather have chocolate-colored eggs, the Marans are probably where it's at. They produce dark brown eggs and when you cross them to a blue egg layer, you get dark green eggs.

Buttercup

So we've seen chickens with devil horns and vaulted skulls, but what about a giant red rubber glove jutting from their head? Buttercups have to be some of the more extreme-looking chickens with their giant, fleshy, double combs. Their combs fuse together and form a cup on the top of their head. Now if only you could teach them to collect rainwater and pour it into a bowl, you might have something really useful there.

I do believe dinner is running away...
I do believe dinner is running away...

Naked Chickens

The ability to breed naked chickens has been around a long time, but no ones really bothered to do it because, who wants a naked chicken?! That is until in 2002 when some mad scientists decided that bald is beautiful. Actually, they theorized that naked chickens would be easier to process and that they would thrive in hot and humid climates where feathered chickens suffered from heat exhaustion. So in Tel Aviv these chickens came into existence, but they didn't last long. Apparently without feathers the chickens cooked themselves alive, getting terrible sun burns. They also overheated quickly, having no feathers to shield them from the sun's rays. And if that wasn't enough, roosters lost all sense of balance when doing the hoochie coochie with their hens. Obviously this meant very few naturally bred bald babies. The project was abandoned, but featherless chickens still exist in the pet population. Some are created on purpose but most are the result of unfortunate crossings. The lucky ones get sweaters knitted for them.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Chook 

        9 months ago

        Even like the ones in the 11 photo down?

      • Theophanes profile imageAUTHOR

        Theophanes Avery 

        9 months ago from New England

        Plymouth Rocks come in all sorts of colors Chook... I had Silver Penciled Plymouth Rocks at one point. What color are you looking for?

      • profile image

        Chook 

        9 months ago

        What is the chicken that looked like a colourful Plymouth-rock.

      • profile image

        dkokie2 

        17 months ago

        Since I live in a city can't have chickens because of zoning laws. Love farm fresh eggs. When I lived in Florida a friend from work had an office party at his place in the country. He had the cutest little batom rooster with feathers on its legs just above the feet (his name thus was Feather Legs). This batom was super friendly, would sit on a lap to be petted, had the run of the acreage AND THE HOUSE and once he became familiar with someone's car he would run up to greet you. My friend had no idea where this little darling came from. The little rooster just showed up on the property one afternoon and just took over the chicken coop which is saying a lot since there where fighting cocks and hens (not used for fighting just eggs), a colony of guinea fowl and two wild peacocks (male and female). This little rooster was best of buddies with my friend's Labrador Retriever and would often sleep or even ride on the dogs back. Sorry no pictures this was in the early 1980s so no YouTube or Facebook.

      • lrdl3535 profile image

        Richard Lindsay 

        2 years ago from California

        Very interesting post, I didn't know there was such a thing as a naked chicken. I am also interested in the Maran chickens and am going to look into them more. Thanks for posting such an interesting post.

      • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

        William Leverne Smith 

        2 years ago from Hollister, MO

        Thank you for sharing this useful information. ;-)

      • grand old lady profile image

        Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

        2 years ago from Philippines

        This is a very interesting article, and I loved that they have pictures and videos, too. I used to always eat chicken, but my doctor has put my husband on a fish diet which I ended up following too. It's a very good thing as I have been realizing that chickens have personalities, and from your article, all kinds of personalities, too. I hope some day to have a pet chicken.

      • Theophanes profile imageAUTHOR

        Theophanes Avery 

        3 years ago from New England

        Welcome to the world of chickens therenegadehippie! Be warned they are addictive!

        I have to giggle at your story because I wouldn't have known either before I got into chickens. It's just one of those weird things. Silkies aren't the only ones with black meat and bones, there are a few other Asiatic breeds that have this trait - the one in the spotlight in the US right now would be the Ayam Cemani. They were only imported a few years ago and the goal is to have a bird that's pitch black in all features - bones, meat, skin, feathers, beak, tongue, you name it. One day old chicks are fetching $100 or more per bird! I suspect in a few years when we realize we're too grossed out by their meat to eat them they will decline drastically in popularity and their prices will be driven down. A pure black bird is cool... but that's really where it ends....

      • therenegadehippie profile image

        The Renegade Hippie 

        3 years ago from Southern California

        I have been interested in keeping chickens, so I have been reading different hubs about different types of chickens, how to care for them, etc., but I found your hub very interesting, let me explain...

        I live in a town in California where the majority of the population is Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese. Sometimes I like to shop at a Korean/Chinese Market that sells these black birds. I thought they looked like chicken, but couldn't be because it was black (the label except the price is in Mandarin Chinese). My husband and I have sat staring at these birds, like what type of bird could this possibly be?

        Well, apparently it is chicken, and I would have never know if I hadn't seen your hub and the photos. Silkie Bantams were one of the breeds I was interested in getting too (although for pets not food). How funny! Thanks for sharing.

      • DaphneDL profile image

        Daphne D. Lewis 

        3 years ago from Saint Albans, West Virginia

        Collecting the blue eggs would make it seem like an Easter egg hunt. My friends' two daughters have begun selling the eggs at the barn where their mother boards horses and provides riding/training. I think the blue eggs would be great marketing venture for their new little business.

      • Theophanes profile imageAUTHOR

        Theophanes Avery 

        3 years ago from New England

        Sounds great. We're just getting back into chickens after moving to a farm. Exciting times. :) Considering Cream Legbars for those pretty blue eggs... because why not?

        Thanks for stopping by! Happy Chickening! And Hubbing!

      • DaphneDL profile image

        Daphne D. Lewis 

        3 years ago from Saint Albans, West Virginia

        A great collection of wild and crazy chickens! I love the Polish chickens and the Easter Eggers. The Onagadori are so gracefully beautiful they don't even look real. My friends have chickens, and Easter Eggers will be my recommendation to them for future purchases.

      • poetryman6969 profile image

        poetryman6969 

        3 years ago

        would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own Googly eyes.

      • Theophanes profile imageAUTHOR

        Theophanes Avery 

        4 years ago from New England

        Silkies are considered a delicacy in many Asian cultures because of their black skin and blue/black meat and a recent study shows that they might be more nutritious to eat because of it. (You can read about the study here: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-09/acs...

        Of course this makes them repugnant to us Westerners as food but this has been the inspiration of quite a few funny stories. I remember one about an Australian family during WWII who had some silkies and decided to eat the roosters only to be horrified at its darkened carcass. Wish I had the link to that - but alas I lost it....

        I was aware of the Ayam Cemani chickens (was awe-struck by those black combs!) but I had no idea they were that expensive. Makes sense I suppose, I believe they're fairly new imports to the states. Prices always come down in time. :)

      • profile image

        Jennifer 

        4 years ago

        As far as the silkies go, I'm not sure they actually have black meat and bones, though mine do have black skin.

        There is a Malaysian chicken called the Ayam Cemani that is entirely black throughout, except for its blood. They're a gorgeous bird and I encourage you to look them up. They also come with a hefty price tag: $2500 for a single adult chicken.

      • profile image

        Rainbow Ranch Farms 

        4 years ago

        Pix #14 The bamboo paper plate holder filled with a variety of colorful eggs. Thank you for displaying our eggs-photo for the Easter Eggers and Olive Eggers description. We are thankful.

      • debbyp1964 profile image

        Debby Pobst 

        5 years ago from Mountain Home, ID

        Weeeeeeird! but very interesting I had no idea there were so many kinds of chicken!

      • Krista Schnee profile image

        Krista Schnee 

        5 years ago from Wichita, Kansas

        One of my Facebook friends is a big bird lover. :) She has Seramas, along with several other different types of birds.

      • Theophanes profile imageAUTHOR

        Theophanes Avery 

        5 years ago from New England

        Krista Schnee: How strange! You must know someone with Seramas? :)

        peachpurple: Well, I suppose they are big enough to eat but I am guessing they are probably mostly bred for show and ornamental reasons these days, as so many other lovely little "pretty" breeds are. :)

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 

        5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        i love the japanese breed chicken. So majestic and elegant looking rooster. I would love to have it as a pet. Does Japanese people have them as pets or cook them? Awesome pictures. Just couldn't imagine people to eat these odd looking chicks. Voted up

      • Krista Schnee profile image

        Krista Schnee 

        5 years ago from Wichita, Kansas

        Very interesting! I'd heard of Seramas, but none of the others.

      • Theophanes profile imageAUTHOR

        Theophanes Avery 

        5 years ago from New England

        Mellissa: Indeed - if I had an Oonagadori it'd become quite the mudball every time it rained. No thank you!

        idigwebsites: Indeed, the featherless gene can be created through natural breeding - there are of course naked neck breeds but the most naked fowl probably are a result of someone breeding frizzle (curly feathered) chickens to each other for too many generations which causes bald patches and probably complete nudity if you keep going. Frizzle is a dominant gene (meaning one parent can pass it on to their offspring despite the other parent being normal) so there's no real need to keep breeding frizzle to frizzle.... unless you want a bald chicken...

      • idigwebsites profile image

        idigwebsites 

        5 years ago from United States

        I remember seeing an e-mail years ago (forwarded to me) about the type of chicken used in KFC... and at first I was quite skeptical because I thought they were just plucked chickens... and seeing this hub I realize that there is indeed a such type of breed.... crazy and mad scientists indeed!

      • Melissa A Smith profile image

        Melissa A Smith 

        5 years ago from New York

        The oonagadori looks like it would become dirty pretty fast. Interesting hub!

      • Theophanes profile imageAUTHOR

        Theophanes Avery 

        5 years ago from New England

        Well Polish don't have much meat to give (reaching a mere six pounds in life) but they still remain popular show birds. :) I have no idea if anyone bothers to eat the onagadoris. Thank you for the comment.

      • iguidenetwork profile image

        iguidenetwork 

        5 years ago from Austin, TX

        Onagadori and Polish -- they look too beautiful to become food in tables. They're pretty! But I pity the featherless fowls... no protection from the hot (maybe as well as cold too) climates, I'm afraid they die easily without their feathers on. Very very interesting hub... :)

      • Farmer Rachel profile image

        Rachel Koski 

        5 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

        I feel bad for the featherless chickens. I have some Americaunas and a couple Polish (which someone gives me for free every year). It's true that the Polish chickens tend to get themselves caught by raccoons and foxes before the other birds do. Those headdresses limit their vision! They don't lay very well or get very meaty, either, so I guess they're useful as fodder ;). Nice hub, fun to read, voted up etc.

      • Craig Hartranft profile image

        Craig Hartranft 

        5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

        This is some pretty freaky stuff. La Fleche looks like the Devil's chicken. I might have to think twice when I'm making grilled chicken breast or chicken cordon bleu. We have several neighbors who are into urban farming and have chickens either in a coop or roaming their backyards.

      • pstraubie48 profile image

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        Wow, who knew? I have never seen most of these so I am glad that I spotted the title and saw the Onagadori. It was deserved to be chosen for adornment of the Imperial Gardens.

        The Polish definitely could rekindle some former hair dos of years gone by...how poofy that headress is.

        This was fun and informative. I am glad I stopped by this morning.

      • nmdonders profile image

        Nira Perkins 

        5 years ago

        Those are so strange. The one in the first pic is actually really nice looking. I almost feel sorry for it though, it just seems like a tail or feathers like that would be tought to walk around with. Same with the naked one, I feel so sorry for it :( Neat and interesting Hub.

      • hecate-horus profile image

        hecate-horus 

        5 years ago from Rowland Woods

        Wow! I have chickens, a couple of "Easter Egg" ones, and all these chickens look really cool. But I can't help but feel really sorry for that featherless one. Poor thing! Voted up.

      • Georgie Lowery profile image

        GH Price 

        5 years ago from North Florida

        Definitely bizarre yet they look strangely... tasty.

        The nekkid one reminds me of the song Tennessee Bird Walk.

        Thank you for this interesting and amusing Hub!

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