Are you looking for a fancy chicken to add some excitement to your flock?
For hundreds of years, many chicken breeds have been bred to create eye-catching appearances.
Some breeds have curly or fur-like feathers. Other breeds have novel appearances due to lengthened tail feathers or feathers in unusual places.
There are a wide variety of breeds out there. Whether you are looking for an elegant chicken, an adorably fluffy chicken, or even an eccentric-looking chicken, there is sure to be a breed that will catch your eye.
Keep reading below to find out the 15 best fancy chicken breeds…
Contents and Quick Navigation
- What are Fancy Chickens?
- Best 15 Fancy Chicken Breeds
- What To Know Before Getting Fancy Chickens
What are Fancy Chickens?
There is no exact definition for what makes a chicken fancy.
This creates a lot of debate about whether a chicken breed is actually a fancy chicken or not.
However, most chicken fanciers would agree that fancy chickens tend to possess the following qualities:
- Unique: They have rare traits not found in your average chicken. These can be uniquely textured feathers, an eye-catching crest, an unusual color variety, or even the size of the chicken. Fancy chickens stand out in a flock.
- Ornamental: They are ornamental breeds. Lots of fancy chickens are not good egg layers; however, they will provide you with much pleasure when you appreciate their appearance. As a result, many are breeds that are commonly bred for the show ring and are a great choice if you want to get into poultry exhibition.
- Rare: Lots of fancy chicken breeds are rare. The test of time has favored practical chicken breeds that are dual purpose birds with prolific egg-laying ability. Many ornamental breeds have suffered because of this and have become endangered heritage breeds.
|Appenzeller Spitzhauben||8||Very Rare|
|White Faced Black Spanish||13||Rare|
Best 15 Fancy Chicken Breeds
1. Appenzeller Spitzhauben
The Appenzeller Spitzhauben is a European breed that is very rare in America.
They are the national bird of Switzerland and have a beautiful appearance.
The Dalmatian variety is by far the most fancy. They have white feathers with black spots that make them look like a Dalmatian.
Hens are independent and low-maintenance as long as they are allowed to free range.
Generally, they are very peaceful and will not pick fights with other breeds.
The one thing to know about these hens is that they absolutely cannot handle confinement. Do not let their refined looks fool you; these hens were made for the rugged outdoor lifestyle. Many individuals become aggressive and rebellious when contained.
In exchange for lots of space, these hen will remain happy and provide you with plenty of eggs.
The Silkie is a popular fancy breed of chicken that is well-known for their silky feathers.
They have a genetic mutation which means their feathers do not have barbicels. This gives their feathers a cotton ball-like appearance.
Another unusual trait that Silkies have is black pigmentation in their skin and internal organs. This is hinted at by their blue earlobes.
Their elegant feathers do have a couple of drawbacks. First, Silkies are completely flightless. This makes them more vulnerable to predators. Secondly, their feathers are not as water-resistant as normal feathers. You need to make sure your Silkies have plenty of shelter to prevent them getting soaked.
Aside from their unique appearance, these hens are also known for their broodiness and affectionate personality.
They are superb mothers when raising chicks. They are even great when interacting with your own kids. It is not uncommon for Silkies to become beloved family pets.
The Onagadori chicken is a rare Japanese breed that is known for their extraordinary tail feathers.
Only the roosters have this remarkable trait because their tail feathers never molt.
They grow longer and longer throughout their life, with many roosters achieving tails of over 20 feet in length. Onagadori chickens are usually raised for show where they are judged on the quality and length of their tail feathers.
Their marvelous tails make them high maintenance though.
Onagadoris need much more space than the average chicken due to their long, trailing tail. They also need higher perches than most chickens in order to roost comfortably.
Hens do molt their tail feathers unlike the roosters. They lay a small number of eggs and do not go broody often. They have a calm yet aloof personality which gives them an air of regality.
Houdans are best known for their fancy crests.
You can find them in several color varieties but the most common is the mottled black and white variety.
While Houdans make excellent show birds due to their looks, they are also a practical breed to keep. Hens lay a medium amount of white eggs. They are also amazing mothers that are capable of raising multiple chicks.
They are easy to handle and have a calm demeanor which makes them beginner-friendly.
Frizzle Chickens have feathers that curl inwards which gives them a fluffed out, diva-like appearance.
The Frizzle is actually not a breed but a variety within other breeds. Many different breeds can have the gene that causes the frizzled appearance. Some of the most popular Frizzles are Polish, Cochins and Barred Rocks.
Their personality will depend upon what breed they are, however most Frizzle breeds have a calm and docile temperament.
Frizzles will lay 2-4 eggs each week and many make excellent mothers when they go broody.
If you want to breed your Frizzle then you need to know that it is unethical to breed two Frizzle chickens together. Doing so can produce Frazzle chickens which have extremely fragile feathers. These fragile feathers are prone to breaking and can leave them with many bald spots.
Sebrights are true bantams that are best known for their fancy appearance.
They have a distinguished laced coloration that gives their feathers bold black outlines.
Sebrights can be flighty and anxious at first.
However, if they are handled consistently in a positive manner then over time they can develop into brave, self-confident chickens.
They are very affectionate once you earn their trust. This makes them a great choice if you have children who would love nothing more than to sit out in the backyard and cuddle with their chickens.
7. Ayam Cemani
Ayam Cemanis are entirely black and dark gray.
The only exception to this is the iridescent green sheen of their feathers when they stand in the sunlight.
Their appearance is so other worldly that they have historically been considered magical beings.
They are quite active and confident.
Ayam Cemanis thrive when they are allowed to free range. You will often see them foraging for seeds and insects in your yard.
They are also cyclic egg layers. This means hens will lay somewhere between 20-30 eggs on average and then take a break from laying for many months.
These chickens are also extremely expensive.
High quality chicks can cost over $200!
Serama Chickens happen to be the smallest breed in the world.
Some only grow to six inches tall!
These chickens are classified as fancy because of their dramatic straight-up posture. They come in a wide variety of colors and love attention from humans.
Their eggs are equally tiny. Expect them to lay around 4-5 eggs per week.
Seramas are active chickens and have tons of personality. Their small size and affectionate personality means that some people even keep them as house pets.
No list of fancy chicken breeds would be complete without the Polish chicken on it!
Polish chickens are best known for the crest of feathers on top of their head.
You can find them in over ten different color varieties with blue and golden laced being the most popular.
This breed is very quiet and gentle.
Although they have a great temperament, it can also mean they get bullied by more dominant breeds. If you are going to keep them in a mixed flock then it is best to keep them with other calm and docile breeds.
Polish chickens thrive in warmer climates as they do not handle cold and wet conditions well.
10. Russian Orloff
The Russian Orloff is a rare chicken breed with an uncommon appearance. These chickens are tall but appear round and stocky because of their thick layer of feathers.
They most common feather color is a deep mahogany with white and black at the tips. This gives them a fancy dark mille fleur appearance.
Russian Orloffs also have a rich history.
These chickens actually come from Persia, but were made popular by a Russian count. Many different color varieties used to be popular, but these are now rare and hard to find.
They are well known for being self-sufficient.
This can make them appear aloof as they will not interact with humans much.
Overall, this is a rare and unique breed that is perfect for colder climates.
11. White Faced Black Spanish
The White Faced Black Spanish is an ancient Mediterranean breed that is best known for their distinct appearance.
These chickens have large white earlobes that contrast beautifully with their inky black feathers. The only color on them is their vibrant red wattles and large five-pointed comb.
Compared to other breeds they are fairly wild.
They are extremely active, often to the point of flightiness. This can make them hard to handle, but it does make them great at avoiding predators. Both roosters and hens are very loud, which is not ideal if you live in the suburbs.
Hens will lay around 3 white eggs each week.
If you can accommodate all of the challenges that come with this breed, then you will be rewarded with a lively chicken whose antics will energize you and your family.
12. Belgian D’Uccle
The Belgian D’Uccle is best known for their finely feathered appearance.
They even have feathered legs and feet which only adds to their elegance.
You can find these chickens in a wide range of colors – Mille Fleur is the most popular.
Hens will lay around 3 small cream eggs per week. However, many people do not keep them for egg production. It is really their personality that makes their people fall in love with them.
This breed is known for being curious and affectionate.
Once you have established a trusting relationship with your Belgian D’Uccle they will love to sit on your shoulder.
Overall, Belgian D’Uccles are quiet and sweet chickens with a huge personality. Their adorable appearance makes them both great show chickens and cuddly pets.
13. Sicilian Buttercup
The Sicilian Buttercup is a rare breed that has a fancy comb.
Both the roosters and the hens have a flower-shaped comb with many points along the rim of it. Some chicken fanciers have even described it as crown-like in appearance!
Do not let their dazzling comb get all of the attention though.
Take a close look at their featherless legs and you will notice that they are naturally green.
Sicilian Buttercups are very active and can be a little feisty at times. They won’t bully other members of the flock, but they can hold their own. They are also great escape artists who are hard to contain due to their high activity levels.
Yokohamas are known for their white hackle and tail feathers.
Their tails can grow up to three feet long every year!
The most popular color variety is red-saddled. This color variety is known for the prominent red patch of feathers located on the chicken’s shoulder. White is the only other color variety recognized in the U.S. and is distinguished by pure white feathers.
Yokohamas are very affectionate.
Many of them love to be held and cuddled by their keepers.
This breed is not a very good egg-layer but can still provide you with one or two eggs each week.
The Araucana is a very unique chicken breed.
They have special ear tufts known as peduncles, which gives them their appearance. In the U.S. Araucanas also do not have a tail.
Hens will lay beautiful blue eggs.
While blue eggs are nutritionally identical to white or brown eggs, they are more desirable due to their rarity.
Araucanas are very active. They would love nothing more than to spend the day foraging in your yard. Araucanas also love to fly short distances. Whether this is a blessing or a curse will depend on your set-up and their individual personality!
What To Know Before Getting Fancy Chickens
Lots of fancy chickens need extra care.
For example, Silkies and Frizzles have feathers that cannot repel water. This means that they cannot tolerate damp conditions. If you want to keep Silkies and Frizzles you will need to give them a covered run.
Fancy chickens known for their large, magnificent combs also share a common problem: lots are prone to getting frostbite on their combs in colder climates.
Many fancy breeds come from countries with extreme climates and will not be suited for other climates.
For example, Russian Orloff chickens have many adaptations that allow them to thrive during the cold winters in Russia, but they have little heat tolerance. On the other end, Sicilian Buttercups have a high heat tolerance that allows them to survive the Mediterranean summer, but they cannot tolerate cold temperatures.
You should always research the specific needs of the breed.
Pay special attention to the climate they are best suited to, their flight and predator avoidance capabilities, the assertiveness of the breed, and if they need extra care or accommodations for special features such as a long tail.
Fancy chickens can be a wonderful way to mix up your flock with their stunning appearance. They can even help you enter the exhibition side of chicken keeping if you are interested in that.
The diversity does not end there.
You can find fancy chickens that are best suited for cold environments or hot environments. There are stoic and aloof varieties and then there are expressive and affectionate ones.
Regardless of which breed you decide to get, make sure that you do enough research to provide them with the best home possible.
Which variety was your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below…