Today, exotic chicken make up the majority of all breeds found in the United States. The term “exotic” means anything that was imported and not indigenous.
These chickens were chosen either for their egg laying abilities, meat, fancy appearance, hardiness and other unique characteristics they may poses.
Exotic chickens have led to the modernization of the poultry industry to refine most of the qualities and achieve some desirable traits.
So, do you want to know more about exotic chickens? This article indulges more about these breeds and some of the unique features about them.
12 Best Exotic Chickens
This is one of the largest Mediterranean dual purpose breed of chicken. These chickens trace their ancestry in the Island of Minorca, Spain which they are named after.
They have a large red single comb with five well-marked points. Their wattles are red too and of a round shape while the earlobes are white.
Minorca chickens have a dark beak which has a hooked tip. Eye color is reddish bay while the legs are grey in color.
The legs are clean and free from feathers. On each foot, there are four well-spaced toes with short claws on them.
Minorca hens are known to be layers of the largest eggs of all chickens. Their eggs are big and even cases of double yorked eggs are very common.
In a year, they will lay 120 eggs which have slate colored shells. The hens seldom get broody and in rare cases they hatch but make awful mothers who don’t want to care for their young.
Minorca roosters weigh about 8lbs while the hens weigh6lbs. They will do well in warm climates because their combs and wattles are prone to frost bites in winter.
These chickens are calm, quiet and very friendly. They will often follow you around as you go on with your chores offering love and affection.
Minorca chickens are adept foragers and will roam far and wide looking for tasty bugs, insects and other types of protein on your backyard.
However, these chickens are not very predator savvy and can become an easy target for chicken predators like skunks and raccoons.
Cubalaya is an exotic chicken breed that comes from the Caribbean country of Cuba. It was developed after crossing Cuban fowls with those from the East mainly Philippines.
These birds are raised in Cuba for meat, eggs and ornamental purposes. However, in the United States, they are rare and only kept for exhibition and ornamental purposes.
Cubalaya hens are calm, docile and very friendly making them easy to handle. On the other hand, the roosters can be very rowdy and aggressive towards roosters of other chicken breeds.
Perhaps, the roosters are aggressive because they were sometimes back bred for cock fighting and other chicken sports.
They have pea combs which are red. The face wattles and earlobes are red too. Legs and skin are yellow; eye color is bay while the beak is of a horn color.
The legs and feet are clean and free from any feathers. On each foot, there are four well-spaced toes but in most cases long rooster spurs will grow which can cause serious injuries.
Both the hens and roosters have long tail feathers which are held slanted at an angle. The APA recognizes three Cubalaya chicken color varieties which are the Blue wheaten, Blue duckwing and the Silver duckwing.
The hens will lay medium sized cream colored eggs. They easily get broody and make some of the best chicken mothers.
Cubalaya chickens are adept foragers and will roam all over the backyard looking for tasty insects, grubs and weeds.
These fancy chickens are characterized by a crest of feathers on their heads. These head feathers can grow big to a point of obstructing their vision making them prone to predation.
Although the history of these chickens is not very clear, they are believed to have been brought from Poland to Europe by Asian Mongols.
Additionally, some sources associate them with the Netherlands because it is where they were standardized in the 16th century.
Polish chickens were introduced in the United States between the years 1830-1840. In 1874, three color varieties were admitted in the APA but other varieties were recognized later.
These exotic chickens have a dome-shaped spot on the skull which pushes their head feathers up. They have a single V-shaped comb, small wattles and earlobes all being red in color.
Polish chickens are calm, sweet and gentle birds. They are easily scared and very skittish flying anyhow when startled.
It is recommended that you approach them talking or singing not to scare them away. They make good pets and are not aggressive towards children or other chicken breeds.
Female polish chickens are faithful layers of 4-5 white eggs per week which are medium in size. Hens seldom get broody and make bad mothers.
Norwegian Jaehorn chicken
The Jaehorn is an exotic chicken that traces its ancestry in the Southern part of Norway. These chickens are very hardy and cold tolerant than other breeds.
Norwegian Jaehorn chickens are small in size but lay large eggs. In a year, the hens will lay 200 eggs which are white in color and weigh 2 ounces on an egg scale.
They will seldom get broody and do not sit well or make reliable chicken mothers. Norwegian Jaehorn roosters weigh 5 pounds while the hens weigh 3.5 pounds.
These chickens are adept flyers and skilled fence jumpers. They require a run covered with hawk netting to prevent them from flying out. Additionally, clip their wing feathers to keep them from flying.
Norwegian Jaehorn chicks are autosex. This means that you can tell the gender difference right after they have hatched.
They are rare and only a few birds are found in the United States where they are raised for ornamental purposes.
These birds are calm, cool and have a friendly demeanor. They are extremely skittish and will fly when scared or alarmed roosting on fences and tree tops.
The Russian orloff chicken is an endangered exotic breed that originated from Persia at around the 17th century.
These exotic chickens were widely spread in Europe but quickly fell out of favor due to the introduction of other chicken breeds which had better qualities.
Orloff chickens were admitted in the APA around the 1900s but suffered a blow after they were removed years later.
These chickens were refined in Germany where they created a bantam version. Orloff chicken is a hardy and cold tolerant bird doing well even in winter.
They stand tall and are well feathered particularly around the neck. Some people say that these chickens are “bull feathered” because of the thick neck feathers.
These chickens take long to mature and you will have to wait for long before they start to lay or reach the desired market weight.
Their combs are red and of a walnut shape. Earlobes and wattles are small and red too. The legs and feet are either greyish or yellow.
Legs are clean and have no any feathers on them. On each foot, there are four well-spaced toes which have short claws.
Orloff chicken roosters weigh 8lbs while the hens weigh 6 lbs. These birds are calm and docile but just like the Silver laced Wyandotte they do not like to be held on the lap.
However, these birds will do well when allowed to free range and forage looking for their own treats like bugs and slugs.
In a year, orloff hens will lay about 104 eggs. These eggs are medium in size and are light brown in color. They are not very broody but can sit once in a while and make good mothers.
This exotic chicken breed traces its ancestry in Germany where it was created in the 1880s. It was developed after crossing long-tailed birds from Japan with local birds.
Yokohama chickens are characterized by unusual long tail and saddle feathers. The combs are either pea or walnut in shape.
Combs, earlobes and face are red in color. The beak is short, stout, cone-shaped and yellow just like the legs and body skin.
Eye color may vary but most birds are reddish bay. The legs are clean and free from any feathers. Additionally, there are four toes on each foot with short claws.
Yokohama chickens are available in different color varieties like the white, red-saddled, black-red, golden duckwing and the silver duckwing.
Only the red-saddled and the white color varieties are recognized by the American Poultry Association of Standard Perfection.
The good thing with Yokohama chicken is that it is a calm, docile and placid bird. It makes a good pet and will not turn against your children.
However, Yokohama roosters are not like the hens and can be very aggressive to other breeds especially during the mating season.
These chickens will handle and do well when raised in confinement. Their long tail feathers require a well-kept chicken run to keep them clean and tidy.
Yokohama hens are not the type that will shower you with lots of eggs. However, they will lay a clutch of 80 eggs per year which are tinted in color.
Female Yokohama chickens will easily get broody and make sweet mothers to their chicks. They are used to hatch and raise young of other hen breeds on the farm.
Cochins were developed as meat birds and also for their large eggs. These fluffy chickens are cold hardy and will do well in cold climates laying even in winter when other hens have taken a break.
They are slow maturing birds and you will have to wait longer before they are ready for slaughter. These birds are heavy, lazy, poor flyers and do not do well when allowed to free range. In fact, they prefer to hang in the coop near the chicken feeders because they eat a lot.
Cochin pullets will start to lay late than your ISA Browns because the first eggs will come when they are 8 months old.
Their eggs are large and have light brown shells. These feathered friends are superb broody where even the roosters will sit on the eggs and help in raising the chicks.
Because of their extreme broodiness, these chickens are used to hatch the eggs of other chickens and game birds.
Cochin chickens are recognized by the APA. They are available in different color varieties like the Blue, wheaten, white, red, buff, brown and barred.
The Houdan chicken breed comes from the commune of Houdan West of Paris in France. Its true origin remains unknown but the Polish, Dorking and the Crevecoeur chickens are believed to have played a key role by contributing genes in their development.
These chickens were admitted in the APA in 1874 but still enjoy recognition by various poultry associations in Europe.
Houdan chickens have crests, muffs and beards. The combs are leaf shaped and small hidden by their head feathers.
Combs, wattles and earlobes are red in color. The legs are clean and have no feathers on them. Additionally, there are five toes on each foot a similar characteristic with Dorking and Silkie chickens.
These exotic chickens are light in weight with the Houdan roosters weighing 3kgs while the hens weigh 2.5 kgs. In a year Houdan hens will lay 140-160 eggs.
Houdan chicken eggs are medium in size with white colored shells. The hens are very broody and will not disappoint you when it comes rearing the chicks.
These birds are calm, friendly and will make good pets. They do well when raised in confinement and make good show birds.
However, these chickens are extremely skittish and can be scared very easily. When alarmed, the Houdan chicken will try to fly and can injure herself if she hits the ceiling or land hard on the chicken coop floor.
The Marans chickens trace their steps in a swampy area called Marans in France. These chickens were developed in mid 1880s for their chocolate colored eggs.
They were developed after crossing some native game chickens used in cock fighting mated with Croad Langshans.
Marans are available in different color varieties like the blue, black, black copper, cuckoo, buff, Columbian, Birchen, Golden cuckoo and wheaten.
The marans have a single comb with well-marked points on it. Combs, wattles and earlobes are red in color while the beak is dark.
Their legs are grey or slate while the soles are white. It is not common to see them with feathered legs although there are a few common cases.
These chickens are adept foragers and will do the good job of getting rid of bugs, insects and slugs from your compound.
In a year, Marans hens will lay a clutch of 150-200 eggs. These eggs are large in size and have a rich brown egg shells.
This exotic chicken breed is characterized by fur-like feathers, walnut combs, dark, skin, meat and five toes on each foot.
Silkie chickens are believed to have come from China where they travelled through the silk route to other parts of the world.
These chickens are small and are mostly reared as pets. However, they will lay a few eggs and get broody easily interrupting their laying pattern.
An average Silkie rooster weighs 1.8 kgs while a hen weighs 1.4 kgs. They are classified as bantams and are recognized by the APA.
They appear in two different varieties: The bearded and the non-bearded. Silkie chickens have soft body feathers because they lack barbicels.
Additionally, their skin, and meat is dark and have five toes on each foot. These chickens` are very friendly and will not mind sitting on your lap or eating from your hand.
Silkie hens will lay 100 eggs per year. These eggs are small and have cream colored shells. They are very broody and make sweet mothers.
Most Silkie keepers use them foster the young of other chickens and game birds like quails, guinea hens and silver pheasants.
Onagadori is a Japanese breed of chicken. It is recognized as a National treasure where there is a ban on export of their eggs, chicks or live birds.
These chickens are very rare and are only found with a few dedicated breeders who were able to get them before they were banned for export.
They are characterized by long tail feathers which can reach 12-27 feet long. Onagadori chicken will not molt when raised in right conditions hence, the tail feathers keep growing long.
Their combs are single with well-marked peaks on them. Combs and wattles are red while the earlobes are white.
Onagadori chicken has clean slate legs with no feathers on them. On each leg, there are four well-spaced toes with short claws.
These ornamental chickens need to be kept when confined on raised pens because of their tail feathers that need to be kept clean and tidy.
Serama chickens originated from the province of Kelantan, Malaysia. These chickens were developed by crossing local bantams with Japanese bantams.
They were imported in the US in 2001 and later in UK in 2004. Seramas have large combs which have several marked peaks on them.
Combs, Wattles and earlobes are red. Eye color is reddish bay while the beaks are yellow. They have small heads, full breasts which extend past the head and high held shoulders.
The legs are clean and free from any feathers. On each foot, there are four well-spaced toes with short claws.
In a year, Serama hens will lay a clutch of 180-200 white to dark brown eggs. They will get broody easily and the eggs take 19-20 days to hatch which is earlier than those of other chicken breeds which hatch after 21 days.
This exotic chicken is calm and friendly making a good pet. However the rooster can be aggressive especially towards other rooster breeds.
Exotic chicken breeds are good to have on your backyard. Like most heritage chickens, they will add color and provide you with those tasty eggs or meat for your family.
Some of these chickens can make good pets for you and your kids. They will also roam on your compound collecting those insects and worms which damage your vegetables.
Do you want some birds for showing? Some of these exotic chickens can be kept for ornamental purposes and are good for exhibition.
Keeping these chickens is a good way to earn income. Those extra cocks can be sold for meat while the eggs can be taken to the local market to make some cash.
Do you have exotic chicken? Talk to us.
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