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Five Weird and Uncommon Chicken Breeds

Updated on October 6, 2012
Farmer Rachel profile image

Rachel worked as a farm manager for three years in Pennsylvania. She now owns a small farm in Minnesota.

Don't forget!

Even weird-looking chickens need to be cared for properly - here's how to raise and care for chickens.

Not your average chicken...

Chickens are a bit more varied than you may think. Their differences certainly extend beyond, "This one's red," and "This one's white." Through selective breeding over thousands of years, we've developed chickens that are awesome egg-layers, chickens that grow large and are great for meat birds, and chickens that are pretty darn good at doing both of those things.

But what about weird-looking chickens - ones that might actually make better pets than farm animals? Well, as you probably already guessed, we've got those, too!

These guys and gals may not be so great at laying eggs, and they might not get big enough to eat in less than five months, but they are interesting to look at!

Here's an informative list of just five of these "special" breeds of chicken. Enjoy!


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
Source

Egg-Laying Frequency: 3-5 days
Egg Size: Small
Hen Size: 2-3 lbs liveweight
Concerns: Can't fly, like, at all

The Silkie

Sometimes spelled "Silky," these chickens almost look like they have hair instead of feathers. Don't be deceived though, those really are feathers - they're just particularly fluffy!

These weirdos really do make excellent pets, as they are very docile chickens. I might say that they're stupid, but that's probably just my calousness talking! Fluffy and cute as they are, they're no match for foxes or raccoons. These small chickens won't offer you much in the way of dinner, either, and the hens lay infrequently compared to other breeds.

In addition to their exceptionally puffy plumage, Silkie chickens are weird because their flesh is blue and they have five toes on each foot (like the Dorking chicken). Most chickens only have four toes (but that's kind of weird all by itself, right?).

What's it good for? Again, I guess I can make fun of these silly birds all I want, but they are so darn cute! The hens also have a propensity to go broody, so maybe there's room in a practical flock of chickens for a Silkie to be a mother hen to the eggs of maternally-challenged chickens like Leghorns. In fact, the Silkie is often used to hatch the eggs of waterfowl such as geese and ducks.

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The tail feathers of the Phoenix rooster can be over 2 feet long!
The tail feathers of the Phoenix rooster can be over 2 feet long!
The tail feathers of the Phoenix rooster can be over 2 feet long! | Source
Source

Egg-Laying Frequency: Once per week, maybe
Egg Size: Medium
Hen Size: 4 lbs liveweight (standard-sized hen)
Concerns: Not suitable for cold climates

The Phoenix

I don't think these birds will be rising out of the ashes - it's more likely that they'll freeze to death! Those long tails might be beautiful, but unfortunately they render these chickens unsuitable for cold weather because the tail feathers can freeze and kill the bird.

The Phoenix is a rather old breed of chicken, believed to have originated in Japan where they were valued for ornamental purposes. Further selective breeding by Europeans resulted in the chicken called the Phoenix that we see today.

These pretty chickens come in a couple different color varieties, including gold, black, and silver; you can purchase them standard-sized or as "mini chickens," called bantams. Aside from having a nice-looking chicken running around, I can't say these birds have much of a purpose - they're not known to be very sociable, either.

That being said, they are so interesting-looking, I have to admit that even I am tempted to get one.

What's it good for? Well, they're pretty to look at! Beyond that, I can't say. If you have some experience with a practical purpose for the Phoenix, feel free to share what you know in the comments section of this article!


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That's a Polish hen, front and center there.Polish rooster
That's a Polish hen, front and center there.
That's a Polish hen, front and center there. | Source
Polish rooster
Polish rooster | Source

Egg-Laying Frequency: 3-7 days
Egg Size: Small
Hen Size: 3-4 lbs liveweight
Concerns: Limited vision; not cold weather hardy

The Polish

This weird breed can be distinguished by the fine crest of feathers that the chickens sport on their heads. Roosters and hens both have the crests; the roosters typically have longer, fancy tail feathers.

Despite the name, it's not generally believed that these chickens originated in Poland, but rather in the Netherlands. Whatever their origins, they've been bred for hundreds of years (at least) to maintain those somewhat silly-looking feathered crests.

Unfortunately for the Polish, that pretty head-dress tends to impair his vision. Predators like foxes and hawks have an easier time picking off the Polish chickens simply because they can't see as well as other birds.

The feathered crest of the Polish is also susceptible to freezing during cold weather, which can result in the death of the chicken.

Through no fault of my own, I happen to have a few of these "weirdos" running around the farm. The hens lay very infrequently, and the eggs are pretty small. The roosters are also relatively small, and I'm sorry to report that from what I can tell, most of the attempts that they make to breed with the larger hens only result in a frustrated Polish rooster.

What's it good for? Here's two good things about the Polish: They're kind of cool to look at (obviously) and the roosters are the most aggressive roosters that I have; they even attack my dog. This means that when Mr. Fox comes prowling, these Polish roosters tend to make bait of themselves, which suits me just fine because I might not lose a more "valuable" chicken.

Bad news for Mr. Polish, though.

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A Frizzle Leghorn. Cute!Frizzle Polish - or is it Polish Frizzle? Hmm...
A Frizzle Leghorn. Cute!
A Frizzle Leghorn. Cute! | Source
Frizzle Polish - or is it Polish Frizzle? Hmm...
Frizzle Polish - or is it Polish Frizzle? Hmm... | Source

Egg-Laying Frequency: Determined by breed
Egg Size: " "
Hen Size: " "
Concerns: Curly feathers can break or be damaged easily

The Frizzle

The Frizzle actually isn't so much a breed of chicken as it is a type of chicken. "Frizzled" feathers, that is, feathers that curl out instead of laying flat against the body, are a genetic trait.

This means that virtually any breed of chicken can produce the Frizzle variety. In fact, the genetic trait that allows for curly feathers is actually dominant, so if you breed a Frizzle to a Non-Frizzle, you're likely to get Frizzle offspring!

The Frizzle was mentioned in history as far back as 1600, though the birds may have existed before that. Here in the 21st century, it's certainly not difficult to find these chickens and purchase some. The most popular Frizzle is probably the Cochin; they also come in Barred Rock, Leghorn, Polish, and other breeds.

What's it good for? Because the Frizzle is a variety and not a breed, the traits of a "frizzled" chicken will be determined by the breed and not by her curly feathers. I'm not aware of anything that suggests that being a Frizzle has any effect on a chicken's ability to produce eggs or to grow meaty and tasty. However, the curly feathers of the Frizzle variety can break or be damaged more easily than normal chicken feathers, so a little extra care may be needed for these birds.



Crevecoeur chicken
Crevecoeur chicken | Source

Egg-Laying Frequency: 3-5 days
Egg Size:
Small-Medium
Hen Size: 3-4 lbs liveweight
Concerns: Critically endangered, therefore limited gene pool

The Crevecoeur

These chickens originated in France, but that's not really what makes them weird. Their fluffy beards somewhat resemble those of the Araucana chicken, and their feathered crests bring to mind the Polish.

Don't mistake these guys and gals for a cross-breed, though; they're a rather old breed of bird, dating way back in France to before the 18th century - in fact, they're France's oldest chicken breed. They were first formally described around 1850, when livestock breed distinction became popular in the first place.

Originally a dual-purpose breed with some skill for producing both eggs and meat, the modern version of the Crevecoeur doesn't get very large and doesn't lay as frequently as some other breeds.

What's it good for? These French chickens are considered a rare breed, and are usually kept by breeders for show purposes. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) lists the conservation status of the Crevecoeur as "critical." The chicken's status as an endangered animal might be enough to convince some backyard farmers to keep a few around. Personally, I agree with any practice that helps to preserve genetic diversity in livestock animals, no matter how "weird" those diverse genes may be.


Comments

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  • Discordzrocks profile image

    Gavin Heinz 18 months ago from Austin TX

    congrats on hub of the day

  • Kristen Howe profile image

    Kristen Howe 18 months ago from Northeast Ohio

    Rachel, congrats on HOTD! Thanks for sharing this hub about these chicken breeds I never heard of. Beautiful pics!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 18 months ago from USA

    Congratulations on HOTD! I loved this!

  • Kiss andTales profile image

    Kiss andTales 18 months ago

    Wonder and hub , the pictures are valuble to your hub, because this is the first time I ever seen silkie

    Chickens , on a fun note I would call this chicken ritzy, high class with a strut ,

    The chicken call the polish, reminds me of this thought , that granny chicken, she has authority around there,

    I could go on but so adore your hub, it also tells us how our creator is of variety, and most humorous

    Certainly we can see that. Thanks for sharing.

  • Chantelle Porter profile image

    Chantelle Porter 18 months ago from Chicago

    Congrats on HOTD. I had no idea there were so many types of chickens. Really interesting article.

  • sriv profile image

    Parul Srivastava 2 years ago from Lucknow,India

    Lovely Birds.Good info.Thanks for sharing.

  • Farmer Rachel profile image
    Author

    Rachel Koski 3 years ago from Minnesota

    Kofantom - enjoyed your comment! Silky chickens shouldn't have a problem living with other chickens. Crossing them with better egg-layers or meatier birds might actually produce some interesting offspring. I don't know if the trait for their feathers is dominant or recessive, though. It would be a good experiment! If nothing else, they would probably hatch eggs for you if you have a rooster to fertilize.

    I'll check out the naked chicken. I've heard of it, but don't know much about it.

  • Kofantom profile image

    Kofantom 3 years ago

    Very interesting hub. I didn't know any of these fascinating breeds. I only own "normal" chickens but now I want some silkie ones :D Know if they do well with other normal breeds and is interbreeding a problem?

    Speaking of chickens, you may want to add the naked chicken too. Here's a hub I made about them a couple of years ago: http://goo.gl/UW8cE9

  • Farmer Rachel profile image
    Author

    Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

    Melissa, thanks for the comment. Yes, there are hundreds of breeds of agricultural-type animals that are endanger of going "extinct" - from horses to cattle and even chickens. Pretty crazy! But as we selectively breed for more and more specific traits, we're leaving out entire groups of livestock animals, like cattle that are especially good at foraging for their sustenance, or chickens that can fly up into trees to roost.

  • Melissa A Smith profile image

    Melissa A Smith 4 years ago from New York

    I hope to be able to get chickens one day, and it must be the most exquisite, expensive breed in existence. I read a distressing article about the chickens only laying for 3 years, so what to do with them once they stop? I don't fancy the idea of eating or sending away the animals I've raised, so they would have to be eye candy as well. Good hub Farmer Rachel. Strange that a breed of domesticated animal can be 'endangered' and in need of conservation.

  • LongTimeMother profile image

    LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

    lol. More than a couple of goose eggs at one time would be a big ask for a little silkie. I think you'd do okay though if you wait until she's broody and sitting on her own eggs. Slip hers out and insert the goose eggs one night. I'll be interested to hear how it goes. :)

  • Farmer Rachel profile image
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    Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

    LongTimeMother: Thanks for your comment! I'm glad to hear that the fabled broodiness of the Silkie isn't just a myth. I was thinking of getting a couple to help hatch my goose eggs. Interesting what you report about them being respectful in the garden. I'll keep that in mind! Glad you are enjoying my hubs :)

  • LongTimeMother profile image

    LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

    I try to keep a couple of silkies around because they always seem to go clucky and I can slip a few other egg beneath them. Plus they are my favourite hens to let into the vegetable garden. They wander around carefully and eat any caterpillars they spot on the cabbages but never scratch the dirt up because they like to keep the feathers on their feet clean.

    I think I saw a frizzle once but I was laughing too hard to focus on it properly. The others are all new to me. Great hub, thanks.

  • Farmer Rachel profile image
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    Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

    Casimiro - No problem :)

    ignugent - The silkies are so cute :) Thanks for the comment.

  • profile image

    ignugent17 4 years ago

    I like silkie and I am amazed with it. Thanks for sharing this information. It is great to know different kinds of chickens.

    Voted up and interesting! :-)

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    Casimiro 4 years ago

    Thanks Farmer Rachel, yes, Cochin, those are the ones! Thanks for reminding me of the name.

  • Farmer Rachel profile image
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    Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

    Dirt Farmer - Hi Jill! Glad you liked the hub :) The Polish is a funny bird for sure.

    RTalloni - Funny image!! I doubt you could leash train them, though ;)

    Trish - Yes, lots of chickens can be really good pets, especially Silkies. Thanks for commenting.

    Casimiro - Thanks for commenting! Predators are a real problem for me, too. Sounds like you're describing the Cochin? Not quite sure, though, but i think they have furry legs.

  • Farmer Rachel profile image
    Author

    Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

    Dirt Farmer - Hi Jill! Glad you liked the hub :) The Polish is a funny bird for sure.

    RTalloni - Funny image!! I doubt you could leash train them, though ;)

    Trish - Yes, lots of chickens can be really good pets, especially Silkies. Thanks for commenting.

    Casimiro - Thanks for commenting! Predators are a real problem for me, too. Sounds like you're describing the Cochin? Not quite sure, though, but i think they have furry legs.

  • profile image

    Casimiro 4 years ago

    We had a rooster/hen pair of "jardineros" (normal looking but small) chickens here for a while. They were quite delightful, really just pets, but we did get a few eggs. Unfortunately, there are a lot of predators in this area, coyotes, dogs, tolomuco, big, wild cats, so they didn't last too long.

    I love the chickens that look like they are wearing long-johns, but don't remember the name of the breed. Thanks for a very informative hub!

  • Trish303 profile image

    Brenda 4 years ago from Springfield, MO

    I love Silky's there like small dogs. One of my favorite chickens.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

    The Frizzle gets my vote. How cute, cute, cute! :) SInce you are talking pets, can you imagine a Frizzle and a Silkie walking on leashes along a sidewalk?! :) If people asked about them I would reply with a wink, "Can't you see that they are twins?" (Some days it's just best to keep people guessing.)

    Fun hub--thanks!

  • The Dirt Farmer profile image

    Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

    Hi Rachel! I've seen the Polish at a local historical farm. "Striking" is definitely the word! And the Frizzles are adorable! Fun information to know. Enjoyed it! --Jill

  • Farmer Rachel profile image
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    Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

    DrMark - I like the plain old white Leghorns myself, so many eggs! And those Barred Rock boys are good eating :) Guess I'll have to start working on something about mutt chickens, haha

  • DrMark1961 profile image

    Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

    A lot of these look a lot better than my "white ones" and "red ones"! Oh well. I am waiting now for an article on the benefit of raising mutt chickens.

  • Farmer Rachel profile image
    Author

    Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

    Hi Deborah! Yes, her vision is limited. I'm going to try trimming the crest feathers on one of my Polish birds, just a little experiment to see if it helps - I'll let you know the results. If you keep her dry this winter she should be fine :) It's the ridiculous roosters that I worry about!

  • DeborahNeyens profile image

    Deborah Neyens 4 years ago from Iowa

    I have a Polish that my sister-in-law gave to me. I feel a bit sorry for her because I know she doesn't see well. Fortunately for her she's got a cushy life here in suburbia and is well-protected from predators, although it sounds like I'll have to keep an eye out for her in winter.

  • Farmer Rachel profile image
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    Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

    Hi Bill! Yeah, I really can't recommend these breeds to anyone who wants chickens for a practical purpose. However, I have been considering getting a Silkie hen or two to help hatch eggs. The Phoenix looks like something I would keep in a bird cage in my home, not in the chicken yard!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I'm kind of partial to the Silkie myself; not worth a damn but they sure are pretty! What a great hub! Your sense of humor is on display here and it is a joy to read. Great job Rachel! Suffice it to say we won't be getting any of these next spring, but they were fun to read about.