Chickens come in all shapes and sizes. But if you’re looking for some splendid birds to brighten up your backyard, you’ve come to the right place!
We’re going to look at some of the most beautiful chickens to grace farmyards and gardens around the world. And we’ll find out about their origins, characteristics and temperaments.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
Most Beautiful Chicken Breeds
The strikingly beautiful Onagadori has been awarded the status of national treasure in its native Japan. And it’s not difficult to see why.
The most amazing thing about these stunning chickens is their tails. These don’t molt, so they just keep growing. A typical Onagadori tail is more than five feet long, but in some birds it can be even longer. The record is an astonishing 39 feet.
These chickens also have single, bright red combs, red-brown eyes and white earlobes. Three different colors are recognized in Japan. The first Onagadoris were black-breasted reds, but today there are also black-breasted white and pure white varieties.
The beautiful yet impractical tail means these birds are kept exclusively for ornamental purposes. And they need special accommodation, including perches high enough to keep their tails above the ground to prevent them getting dirty or ragged.
The sheer amount of work involved in keeping Onagadoris means they’re best left to the care of specialist poultry keepers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy looking at them from afar!
If you’re looking for a beautiful chicken that’s also a practical choice for a homestead, the Silkie is well worth considering. This lovely chook is immensely popular, as well as being very distinctive.
The breed originated in Asia, probably China or Indonesia. And its history dates back at least as far as the thirteenth century.
Its name reflects its lovely, soft feathers, often likened to silk or fur. The unusual texture results from their structure. Unlike the outer feathers of other breeds, Silkie feathers don’t have barbicels. That makes them similar to the down of other birds. It also means that Silkies can’t fly.
They have other unusual features too: blue earlobes, black bones and skin, and five toes on each foot – one more than most other breeds.
They’re friendly and good-natured chooks, who make excellent pets. And the hens are decent layers, producing up to 100 eggs in a good year.
They go broody often, which will interrupt production. But it means they’re great for breeding, and they’ll happily incubate the eggs of other breeds too.
If you’re looking for a fine specimen of a traditional chicken, the Orpington should definitely make your shortlist.
This beautiful breed hails from the town of the same name in Kent, England. The first Orpingtons were bred in 1865 and had black feathers. But today, the breed can be found in a variety of different colors.
Buff Orpingtons are perhaps the best known, but other varieties include black, white, blue and splash. Our personal favorite is the gorgeous lavender Orpington, although that colorway isn’t yet recognized by the American Poultry Association.
There are both bantam and standard varieties. The larger roosters typically weigh between 8 and 10 pounds, while the hens are between 6 and 8 pounds. Bantam Orpingtons will weigh around 3 to 3.5 pounds.
They have broad bodies and fluffy feathers, an attractive curvy shape, short backs, and a U-shaped underline.
These days, Orpingtons are generally kept as show birds, and breeders have focused on their esthetic appeal as a result. But the hens are still good layers, producing anything from 175 to 200 medium to large eggs per year.
4. Barbu d’Uccle
But while it’s small, it’s perfectly formed. It has a low posture, a single comb, heavily feathered legs, and a full beard and muff.
In the USA, the American Poultry Association recognizes seven different color varieties: millefleur, golden neck, black, mottled, porcelain and self-blue. But in its native Belgium, there are 28 different colors. They include the beautiful black mottled, blue, silver quail, and lavender quail.
As a bantam variety, the eggs of Barbu d’Uccles are rather small. But the hens will lay between 150 and 200 of them per year.
They’re usually very friendly chooks, who tend not to roam far. They seem to enjoy human company, and they’re good with children. All this makes them a great choice as a pet.
The handsome Barnevelder is a Dutch breed. It’s thought to be the result of breeding between native Dutch chickens and birds imported from Asia.
There are standard and bantam varieties. Standard roosters weigh between 6.6 and 7.7 pounds, while hens are between 5.5 and 6 pounds. Male bantams range between 2.2 and 2.6 pounds, and females between 2 and 2.2 pounds.
The Dutch national association for Barnevelders, the Barnevelderclub, recognizes four different color varieties: black and white, double-laced, silver double-laced, and double-laced blue. The European breed association also recognizes partridge and blue for the larger birds.
They’re docile and friendly birds, and make great pets. And the hens will produce between 175 and 200 large brown eggs per year.
The Cochin’s dramatic appearance means this is a chicken that’s primarily seen on the show ground. There, their heavy, fluffy feathering stands out from the crowd. It gives them a sweet, rounded appearance. And the feathers also extend down their legs and to their feet.
This means Cochins need special care in wet, muddy or cold conditions. It’s important that their leg and feet feathers stay clean and dry to avoid infection and frostbite.
Cochin hens aren’t just a pretty face either – they’re good layers and sitters too. And they’ll incubate the eggs of other birds, even ducks and turkeys.
Standard roosters can vary significantly in size, with mature birds weighing anything from 8 to 13 pounds. Hens may be between 7 and 11 pounds.
There’s a bantam variety too. Male bantams weigh around 2 pounds, while females are around a quarter of a pound lighter.
The lovely Faverolles takes its name from a French village of the same name. (That’s why a single chicken is still a Faverolles and not a Faverolle.)
The breed was first used for both meat and eggs, but these days it’s mostly an exhibition bird. It has a beard – a ruff of feathers beneath the beak – a muff, and feathered legs. So this is another chook that will need care to ensure those leg feathers stay clean and dry.
It’s also one of the minority of breeds that have five toes, rather than four, on each foot.
The most common color is known as “salmon”, an attractive mixture of brown and creamy white. Other varieties include ermine, mahogany, cuckoo, splash, blue, black, and white.
They make excellent pets, and the hens are productive too. They’ll lay between 150 and 200 eggs per year.
8. Ayam Cemani
The distinctive Ayam Cemani has glossy black feathers. And because of a condition called hyperpigmentation, it also has a black comb, wattles and beak. Even its skin, bones and internal organs are black!
It originated on the Indonesian island of Java, and its unusual appearance was believed to have mystical significance. As a result, it was often used in religious ceremonies and rituals.
Adult males usually weigh between 4.4 and 5.5 pounds, while females are lighter, at between 3.3 and 4.4 pounds.
Ayam Cemani eggs have cream shells and are on the small size, weighing about 1.6 ounces. And if you want to breed from your chooks, you’ll probably need a cabinet incubator. The hens aren’t particularly good sitters. It’s worth the effort though – those little black chicks are adorable!
Despite its eastern sounding name, the Brahma chicken originates in the USA. Its name reflects its Asian ancestors, who were imported from Shanghai in the nineteenth century.
It has a distinctive head shape and pea comb, and heavily feathered legs. The American Poultry Association recognizes only three color varieties: light, dark, and buff. The light variety is particularly striking, with mainly white feathers and black hackles edged in white.
In Australia, breeders also recognizes blue, barred, partridge, crele and black varieties.
The hens will keep laying right through the winter months. Their brown eggs are a good size too, weighing around 2 ounces each.
The Sultan hails from Turkey, and its imposing crest gives it a very regal look. It was originally developed as an ornamental breed to grace the gardens of Ottoman palaces. And while they’re relatively rare in the West today, Sultans do appear as show birds.
Their puffy crests are just one part of their decorative plumage. They also sport long tails, beards, and fluffy feathering that extends all the way to their feet. They have small, V-shaped combs too, although you’ll barely see them beneath all the feathers.
All that plumage needs to be kept in good condition. A dry run, good shelter, and cleaning their feet when necessary, are all important to avoid infection and frostbite.
The most well-known color for Sultans is white, but you can also find black and blue varieties.
Standard Sultans weigh between 4 pounds for a typical hen, and 6 pounds for a cock. There’s also a bantam variety, weighing between 22 and 26 ounces.
Both males and females have a reputation as calm and friendly birds, and they make great pets. They’re not very assertive with other chickens though, so do best on their own or with other gentle breeds.
Polish chickens are immediately recognizable by their large crests. But while they’re beautiful, their size can cause some practical issues. So Polishes are best kept by those with time to give them the care and attention they need.
The crest is a result of breeding with a focus on the esthetic qualities desirable for show birds. But because it interferes with the chicken’s field of vision, Polishes can be easily startled. And if they fly away suddenly, they’re vulnerable to hitting their heads on overhead obstacles.
It’s essential that their crests are kept clean and dry. If they aren’t, they can introduce parasites and cause eye infections. Some breeders recommend cropping the crest between shows. But a safer approach is to tape it up carefully, taking care not to pull the feathers.
Other features of the Polish chicken include small wattles, earlobes and a V-shaped comb. All of these are frequently obscured by the crest. Some Polishes have beards, while others don’t. And there are also frizzle varieties, where the feathers curl outwards from the bird’s body.
Despite the focus on breeding for esthetics, today’s Polish hens remain decent egg layers and rarely go broody. They can lay around 200 white eggs a year.
Who’s a pretty birdy?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our look at some of the world’s most beautiful chickens. Large or small, these chooks are real showstoppers.
Many of them have other great features too. Some are gentle and friendly, and make great pets. Others are good egg layers.
But it’s also worth remembering that some breeds developed for their looks can require particular care. Feathered feet, long tails, or large crests all need extra attention to stay in good condition. So make sure you understand any special requirements before you introduce a new breed to your flock.