If there is a chicken breed out there that deserves a double-take because of its uniquely elegant appearance, it would be the Yokohama chicken. Known for its beauty, grace, and tantalizing long tails, this chicken is a prized breed in the world of poultry shows.
The Yokohama chicken is an interesting chicken to add to your flock, specifically if you’re looking to diversify and add more aesthetically pleasing chickens to your coop. Although this breed is not so talented in producing commercial poultry, it’s a stunning bird that can win you some show medals.
Want to learn more about this bird rising in popularity? Keep scrolling to learn about the history, appearance, personality, and special care requirements of the ever-magnificent Yokohama chicken.
The History of Yokohama Chickens
Despite its Japanese name, the Yokohama chicken actually originated in Germany. It was first bred by a man named Hugo du Roi, the president of the German poultry association back in the 1880s. However, it does descend from a line of long-tailed Japanese birds.
Long-tailed chickens first arrived in Europe in the 1860s, right after the port city of Yokohama started participating in trade. So, when these ornamental chickens were derived into the Yokohama chicken as we know it today, it was named after the city their ancestors came from.
This type of chicken with long saddle feathers is called different names depending on where you are in the world. In Japan, they refer to its original breed name “Minohiki.” In places like the United Kingdom, people might call this beautiful bird a “Phoenix.”
What do Yokohama Chickens Look Like?
Their most distinct physical trait is their long, flowy tail feathers. All Yokohama chickens will likely have long saddle feathers. But males specifically will have very long sickle feathers, which can go up to four feet long. It’s a stunning sight to see them walk around with their glorious tails.
There are two kinds of Yokohama chickens—the White Yokohama and the Red Shouldered Yokohama. The white variety has no accent feathers in different colors because of the white-dominant gene. In 1981, both varieties were recognized in the American Standard of Perfection.
Other features of the Yokohama chicken include a walnut comb with lots of grooves on it. It also has a yellow beak. Their feet and legs also take on a yellow hue.
Still curious about the sophisticated appearance of the Yokohama chicken? Watch this quick clip of a glorious Yokohama rooster and three hens walking around to see how beautiful their feathers look:
What are Yokohama Chickens Used For?
Yokohama chickens are ornamental birds that are meant for show. Show chickens are bred not for their egg-laying or meat-producing capabilities like other breeds. Instead, they are trained, cared for, and groomed to compete in shows.
The Yokohama chicken’s long tail feathers and aura of grace can wow crowds at exhibitions, making them a perfect show bird. They can also be beautiful pets you keep in your garden to add beauty to your farm or home.
These chickens are a terrific option for hobbyists who want to showcase their magnificent birds to judges in the competition. They shouldn’t be the top pick for chicken raisers who are looking for chickens to lay eggs or turn them into chicken meat.
Want to enter your Yokohama chicken or any other bird into poultry showmanship? Watch this video to learn how to train them so they can be worthy of competing:
Can Yokohama Chickens Lay Eggs?
Yes—technically, females can still lay eggs. However, they’re not nearly as productive in their egg-laying as other breeds. Yokohama hens lay maybe just 80-100 eggs every year. These eggs are small and have a cream color.
Although Yokohama hens aren’t amazing egg layers, they’re still protective mothers. They tend to go broody, which means they stop laying new eggs and will want to sit on their existing eggs and warm them up until they hatch. They will do this after they’ve laid about 12-15 eggs.
Personality and Temperament of Yokohama Chickens
Even without training, Yokohama chickens are typically docile in nature. They’re friendly and love being fed by hand. Some of them might even fly and sit on your shoulder if they like you. This affectionate personality also makes them a pleasure to train for shows.
While female Yokohama chickens get along with other birds in the coop, the same can’t be said for roosters. Male Yokohama chickens shouldn’t be kept in the same coop as roosters of aggressive breeds. Because they’re smaller than most roosters, they tend to get bullied by the bigger birds.
They also enjoy being in small flocks. Since they are a show bird, try not to keep them in large coops that are meant for commercial operations.
How to Care for Your Yokohama Chicken
How you care for your stunning Yokohama show birds should not be the same as you would your broiler or egg-laying chickens. Here are some tips for taking good care of this unique breed:
1. Feed them lots of protein
The prized feature of a Yokohama chicken is its long, graceful tail feathers. So, it’s pertinent to keep these feathers strong and long.
Feathers are made up of 90% keratin. In order to keep your chicken’s keratin levels high, you must feed them a lot of protein. That way, you can ensure that their feathers will stay as beautiful as possible.
Make sure your Yokohama chickens are eating from a protein-rich feed. You can also allow them to free-range and forage for yummy, protein-rich insects and worms.
2. Protect them from predators
Make sure your chicken’s home is enclosed and safe so that these predators don’t get the chance to pounce on your prized bird. Consider raising your Yokohama chicken indoors if you want them to be safe from harm.
3. Groom their feathers before shows
Before you bring them to compete in a chicken show, take the extra time to groom your Yokohama chicken’s feathers.
This includes giving your chicken a gentle bath before a show and trimming damaged feathers that might look unkempt. You can also use a soft-bristle brush to gently comb through their feathers to smoothen them out.
4. Protect them from sickness
Like most chickens, the Yokohama chicken can be vulnerable to illnesses like fowl cholera, mycoplasma, and avian influenza. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to lower the chances of your bird contracting these diseases.
First, take them to a trusted vet to get them vaccinated. This can boost their immunity against common avian diseases and give you more peace of mind about their health.
Second, make sure you give them clean, hygienic coops to prevent the spread of diseases. Give their home a heater as well, since they don’t do so well in cold climates and can end up sick in chilly weather.
Sadly, The Breed is Critically Endangered
The bad news is that it can be extremely hard to find Yokohama chicks to raise. According to the Livestock Conservancy Priority List, this chicken breed is in “critical” condition. That means there are less than a thousand of these chickens in existence today.
Aside from the fact that not a lot of hatcheries sell Yokohama chicks, it is also difficult to care for them until maturity. Chicken raisers have said that many of them die early in life. Some even arrive dead in their shipping boxes upon arrival at their new home.
Thankfully, current Yokohama chicken owners are working to breed these ornamental birds to save them. If you want to help the cause, it’s worth doing extra research to look for specialty hatcheries and breeders that can deliver Yokohama chicks safely to you for raising.
Sure, Yokohama chickens aren’t the best egg layers, nor are they the top choice for meat. But these small, beautiful, fancy chickens can win big in the exhibition world. Make sure to groom their feathers, train them to behave, and feed them enough protein in their diet to keep them looking glamorous.
And these chickens aren’t all looks. They have an overall docile nature, making them great pets for homes and farms. They’re also good mothers when they do lay eggs. They’re generally excellent companions to have on the farm. The fact that they’re so satisfying to look at is the cherry on top.
If you’re looking for a fancy chicken to train and compete in chicken shows, consider getting a Yokohama chicken. People will stop and admire its beautiful tail feathers and white and red plumage. And you, their loving owner, might take home plenty of show prizes with its help!