We’re all familiar with the traditional red-combed, white, and brown chicken that you would find on a farm or homestead. But not all poultry look like regular farm birds. In fact, some chickens have a beard, feathered feet, or black skin and bones. There are affectionate chicken breeds, which make them great pets, while other types of poultry are bred for ornamental purposes and lay very few eggs. If you’re curious about the most unique poultry breeds, this guide looks at the 8 most unusual chickens in the world.
1. Ayam Cemani
An all-black chicken with black skin, feathers and feet may sound like a mythical creature, but the Ayam Cemani is a fascinating poultry breed. Not only do they have black wattles, nails, and eyes, but their bones and organs are black too. Their strange coloring is due to a pigment condition called fibromelanosis. In Indonesia, its native country, these chickens are believed to have supernatural abilities and are praised as pets. The Ayam Cemani is an expensive breed that is calm, and they get along well with other birds of a similar nature.
The chicken with the best hairdo is the Polish! Polish chickens have a fluffy set of feathers on top of their heads consisting of cascading plumage. Their grand headdress creates an exotic appearance, but it tends to grow very long, covering the eyes of these chickens. An inability to see clearly can make Polish chickens nervous and flighty at the slightest movement or sound. This breed is an exquisite addition to the coop, but their skittish nature makes them challenging to handle. Most breeders trim the head feathers on the Polish to improve their range of vision, which eases their stressful behavior.
The serama is one of the world’s smallest bantam chicken breeds, with roosters reaching the size of an adult ring-neck or city pigeon. They have an odd appearance, with short legs and a large chest that they constantly push out. You’d think that their compact size would make them flighty and timid, but this little chicken is bold and full of personality. They are popular indoor pets because they are easy to maintain and have very loving temperaments. Seramas aren’t well known for their eggs and are show birds that are bred for their size.
The sultan is a striking crested bird that is described as “chicken royalty.” They are heavily feathered around the head and neck and are only bred in pure white. Their name in Turkish, “Serai Täook,” refers to the royal fowl that the sultan of Turkey favored. They were bred for ornamental purposes and are not very good at laying eggs, producing only fifty tiny eggs per year. The sultan chicken breed dates back to the 1300s when they were considered birds of stature and prominence. Today, sultans are rare birds that are sought after for their beauty.
Silkies are covered in fluffy feathers from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes. They are bantam chickens because of their tiny size, but they make up for this with their brave personalities. A silkie chicken is friendly and easy to care for, and they are quite entertaining as pets. Silkies have white, black, or brown feathers, but their black skin and blue earlobes create their distinct appearance. A fun fact about these little chickens is that they have five toes instead of four. Other types of poultry that have five toes are the sultan and faverolles.
6. Dong Tao Chicken
Among the 8 most unusual chickens in the world is the Dong Tao chicken. These birds have broad legs and feet that are covered in scales, which is why they are called dragon fowl. Astonishingly, the heaviest legs on a Dong Tao chicken have been recorded at over 2 lbs each! The Dong Tao chicken comes from Vietnam, where they were bred as luxury poultry for prominent people in local villages, including royal families. Their meat is praised for its unique texture and has become an international delicacy. These heavy-footed birds are very expensive and a rare chicken breed because they are slow to mature and are favored for their strange appearance.
Araucanas are cute and cuddly chickens that have large, fluffy tufts on the sides of their faces, and they are tailless. Their facial plumage is linked to a dominant gene that affects the hatch rate of eggs. The Araucana is the only chicken that carries this genetic anomaly. An interesting fact about the chicken without a rump is that they produce turquoise and blue-colored eggshells. These interesting chickens come from South America and have an easy-going personality, which makes them good with kids. If you want a unique-looking chicken that lays powder-blue eggs, then the Araucana is for you.
A fluffy chicken with a full beard and a heart of gold best describes Ameraucana chickens. This American chicken breed shares its origins with the Araucana but has muffs, a tail, and a beard. Ameraucanas are known for their bright blue eggs, and they have a peaceful temperament, making them friendly and loving pet chickens. This bearded bird lays 4 eggs every week and will continue to lay in the winter when most chickens take a break from producing eggs. Ameraucanas have a flat red comb that is known as a "pea comb" to protect these fleshy bits from frostbite in cold temperatures. The Ameraucana is beautiful, has a sweet personality, and is a truly unique chicken breed.