I want to tell you a story about a bantam chicken with feathered feet. It’s getting colder and the days are getting shorter, but if you look around you’ll find a few birds busy making nests: from blue tits to great tits, robins to dunnocks. And they’re not alone. One broody fowl is strutting around a Woking garden with a comb so tall that it nudges the flowers as she paces. She’s a bantam chicken with feathered feet, a delicacy in many parts of Asia, also known as the Woking “duck”.
THE KINDS OF BANTAMS
Bantam refers to a poultry breed of diminutive size. Usually, they are small versions of larger, standard breeds. For example, a breed of poultry called the standard Cochin can reach a weight of 12 pounds, while a bantam Cochin may weigh only about 2 pounds. These small birds tend to be easier to house and feed, but they make up for their small size with their spirited personalities. According to the American Poultry Association, five classes of bantam poultry exist.
One class of bantam poultry, the game bantams, includes modern game and Old English game birds. Many different colors of both breeds have been developed through the years. Modern game poultry have small sleek bodies with long legs, and they stand quite upright. Old English game birds are the descendants of fighting birds, which have tight ornamental feathering and personalities that prove to be active and noisy.
A second classification of bantam poultry is single-comb clean-legged bantams. These birds have single combs along the topa of their heads and no feathering on their feet or legs. Many breeds within the single-comb clean-legged group are smaller versions of popular laying hens, such as Plymouth Rocks, Orpingtons, leghorns, Australorps and Rhode Island Reds. A few breeds like the Japanese and the phoenix are true bantam breeds with no standard versions.
Rose-comb clean-legged bantams have small, broad, fleshy combs on their heads that taper to single points at the posterior section. The tops of the combs are studded with small bumps. These birds have no feathers on the legs or feet. They include breeds such as the Dominiques, Dorkings, Hamburgs, redcaps, rosecombs and Sebrights. The Sebright and rosecomb breeds are both true bantams.
All Other Clean-Legged
Araucanas, buckeyes, Polish, Sicilian Buttercups, Cornish and Yokohamas are examples of the other clean-legged breeds of bantams. The varieties in this group of poultry do not fit into any other classifications. Sicilian Buttercups have double combs that attach at the ends to form cup shapes, aptly named after the buttercup flower. Polish have elongated head feathers that appear to be hats. Araucanas lay green eggs.
The last class of bantam poultry is the feather-legged class. It includes the Belgian Bearded d’Uccles, Faverolles, Frizzles, Langshans, Brahmas, Silkies, Cochins and Sultans. All of these birds have feathering down their legs and onto their feet. Cochins are sturdy round birds that include the Frizzle variety. Frizzle bantams have curled feathers that do not lay smooth. Silkies do not have feather barbs, thus their feathers appear soft and downy.
Chicken Breeds with Feathered Feet (with Pictures)
Most chickens have feathers. Some have more feathers than others, and some have excess feathers all over their legs and feet. Did you know that the domestic chicken that we have today goes as far back as 2,000 B.C.? It is descended from the Red Junglefowl found in Southeast Asia and some parts of South Asia.
However, we’re interested in the chickens that sport the rather cute and jaunty feathered feet. They come from all over the world and in a wide variety of colors and sizes.
So, here we present 10 breeds of chicken that have copious feathers, even on their feet, in alphabetical order:
1. Belgian D’Uccles
These chickens are also known as the Barbu D’Uccles and are from Belgium. They come in as many as 20 different color varieties in their native country but are commonly Mille Fleur (which translates to “million flowers” as they are speckled and orange in color). They have feathered legs and four toes, with only the outer toe that is feathered.
They are considered an ornamental chicken as they are small in size, gorgeous, and their eggs are quite small. The Belgian D’Uccles is a very talkative and affectionate bird with a calm nature and will love to perch on your lap or shoulder.
2. Booted Bantam
The Booted Bantam is also called the Sablepoot, or the Dutch Booted Bantam, as they are indeed Dutch. The Booted Bantam is actually very similar to the Belgian D’Uccles in appearance but are generally a little bigger and don’t have a “beard” of feathers like the D’Uccle. The Booted Bantam also comes in about 20 color varieties (including the Mille Fleur) and have heavily feathered legs and feet.
These birds are sometimes referred to as the supermodel breed and are only used for exhibiting due to their small eggs and size. The Booted Bantam is a friendly, calm, and easygoing chicken that can make an excellent pet.
The Brahma chicken breed is believed to have been developed in the United States from fowls that originated in China and India. These are larger birds that lay medium to large-sized eggs and come in three color varieties – light, dark, and buff. Their feathers also cover their legs and toes.
These are one of the largest breeds of chicken and are used for both meat as well as their eggs. Brahmas are very docile and calm chickens that actually do best in northern climates as they are able to handle the cold much better than other breeds.
The Cochin hails from China and is a large chicken with a ton of feathers that comes in about nine color varieties. They lay eggs that are large in size and are feathered from head to toe.
These birds may be large but are very gentle and friendly – the males are rarely aggressive and can be tamed quite easily. They also do quite well in colder climates and would just as easily make themselves at home in the yard or in your home.
5. Croad Langshan
A unique name for a unique bird. The Croad Langshan originated in the Langshan district of China but was imported into the U.K. in 1872 by Major Croad for a poultry show. They can be white but are mostly seen in black with a gorgeous iridescent sheen of green. These are also large birds that tend to be tall, but they have less feathering on their legs and feet than many of the chickens on this list.
They lay large eggs that are usually various shades of brown but have occasionally been known to lay eggs that are plum in color. The Croad Langshan is a calm and gentle bird that can make a great pet.
This breed of chicken hails from the small village of Faverolles in France in the 1860s. Today, these chickens are rare and large in size and lay medium-sized eggs. They come in white, mahogany, and salmon colors and sport beards and muffs (shorter feathers on the cheeks and chin) as well as five feathered toes.
Faverolles are also quite calm and docile birds that can be rather shy and do well in colder weather. They are also curious birds that enjoy a nice cuddle, but they have been listed as ‘threatened’ by the Livestock Conservancy.
7. French Marans
The Marans (pronounced ‘muh-ran’) chickens originated in Marans, France, in the late 1800s. They come in a large variety of colors but are commonly seen in black copper and cuckoo (which is similar to barred coloration). The French Marans are the only breed that has feathered feet and legs (English Marans do not have feathers on their legs and feet).
The Marans are famous for laying very dark brown eggs, and they have a variety of temperaments. Some might be very friendly and docile, while others could be skittish and nervous. In general, they are friendly and might follow you around, but they tend to not want to be touched or handled.
Feathered Feet- 11 Unique Chicken Breeds with Leg and Foot Feathers.
I don’t know about you, but when I buy chickens they are mostly for egg production, but I always have to pick a few that are a little unusual. I love the chickens with feathers on their heads, and even more I love chickens with feathers on their feet! They are the absolute cutest and the more I have them, the more I fall in love.
While more feathers seems to indicate that feathered chickens would be better able to stay warm in the winter, feathered legs can cause problems in cold wet conditions. The feathers get wet and can potentially freeze, causing worse problems such as frostbite. So before buying feather footed chickens, be sure you can provide lots of clean space for them during wet conditions. In addition, be sure you are keeping them safe- read about how to snake proof your coop and reduce the number of snakes on your property!
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Without further adieu, here are some fluffy feather footed chickens for you to consider for your own coop!
Cochins are considered one of the gentle giants of chicken breeds. They are extremely popular among chicken owners and have been since the 1800’s. Traditionally they are bred as meat chickens, but they make great pets or backyard layers as well. The roosters are often raised for capon, which is a male chicken (rooster) which has been castrated and raised for meat.
For diet, the Cochins are easy to feed because they are indiscriminate in their diet. This is mostly an advantage because it allows them to survive when other chicken breeds would not, but it can also cause health issues. They are predisposed to becoming overweight, which can impede egg production.
Size & Colors
THe Cochin is a large breed of chicken, with a lot of feathers. The additional feathers make them appear even fluffier than they are, and come in the following color patterns Buff, Partridge, White, Black, Silver Laced, Golden Laced, Blue, Brown, and Barred.
Market weight for a Cochin is 7-9lbs, but when fully grown at around 16 months, it will weigh about 12lbs. The Cochin looks very attractive with its larger size and abundant plumage.
Cochins are considered very docile with a calm disposition, which contributed to their extreme popularity among backyard chicken owners when they were first introduced into the United States from China.
The Cochin hens are great broody hens and can often hatch more than one batch of chicks each year.
Egg Production & Color
Cochin chickens lay large brown eggs. They were never prolific enough to become commercial layers. However, their cold hardiness makes them a great choice for cold climates, as they can provide both eggs and meat throughout the majority of winter.
As they are not picky eaters, they are good layers unless they become too fat, which can cause liver damage in the Cochin. Be mindful of that as they age.
2- Booted Bantams
The Booted Bantam is an ornamental chicken, which means this breed is not raised for meat or egg production, rather it is a breed which is valued purely for a specific unique characteristic. In the case of the booted bantam, the unique characteristic is its lovely plumage.
The Booted Bantam can trace its lineage as far back as the 1600’s (possibly) or the 1800’s. Either way, the Bantam is a cross between a Javain chicken ( from the Indonesian county of Java), and a breed common in the Netherlands. Another source states the Booted Bantam was developed between Germany, Netherlands and Great Britain. Regardless, this combination led to the striking yet small breed of Booted Bantam we know and love today.
Size & Color
The Booted Bantam has a compact body with long wings, and are often described as show-offs, seeming to know they look good. They have a single comb and more than twenty plumages. The most common color variations are as follows : Barred, Black, Blue, Buff, Cuckoo, Columbia, Gray, Golden Neck, Mille Fleur, Lemon Mille Fleur, Silver Mille Fleur Mottled, Partridge, Lavender, Porcelain, Blue, and White.
The Booted Bantam has a prominent breast with a full and upright tail. The large and long wings should be carried high. Average weights for the rooster is 1lb 0oz, while the average weight for the hens is 1lb 6oz.
Booted Bantams are described as friendly and easy to handle. The hens make good mothers and are broody a couple times out of the year. Booted Bantams are great pets as they seem to have lots of personality and are entertaining to watch. In addition, they do well in confinement, but will forage for bugs and seeds in the garden if they are permitted to do so. Due to their small size, they are generally good garden clean up assistants because they do not seem to damage the plants and soil as much as larger breeds.
Egg Production & Color
The Booted Bantam are average layers with small tinted eggs. They lay around 150-180 eggs per year, which would average out to an egg every other day.
3- Belgian d’Uccle (Mille Fleur)
The Mille Fleur chickens are a true bantam, meaning they have no larger counterpart. They are a variation on the Belgian d’Uccle bantams, and are both bearded and feather footed down to the feathers on their outside toes. They are an affectionate breed and very striking to look at. They are most often kept as pets rather than meat chicken or egg layers as they are very small in size.
Size & Color
The Mille Fleur chicken has a patterned plumage, each marked with a black crescent-moon. The roosters will weigh around 26oz, while the hens will weigh 22oz. The Mille Fleur is a variation on the Belgian d’Uccle, which has several color variations.
The Mille Fleur is often called the Thousand Flower Chicken, from its intricate coloration patterns.
The Mille Fleur are beautiful birds with great personalities. They are very friendly and even talkative. They can be used as broody hens as well, but not all of the hens will go broody.
Egg Production & Color
The Mille Fleur is a fair layer, putting out between 150-200 eggs which are either white or tinted. In spring, they are late to the party, starting to lay late but will continue to lay throughout winter.
The Brahma is a very large chicken, but they are gentle giants. They will make a great addition to any flock. They like to roam, but will tolerate confinement. A simple fence will keep them in as they are really too large to fly.
Size & Color
The roosters will get around 10lbs and the hens around 8lbs. They are quite a large bird, which also means they cannot really fly well due to their weight.
The Brahmas come in 3 different colors, which are dark, light, and buff. There are other colors of Brahma, but they have not been officially recognized.
The Brahma is one of the most relaxed breeds of chicken you can own. They do well around most other breeds and as they are large bodied, they tend to naturally rank higher in the pecking order without having to fight for their spot.
In addition to their relaxed temperament, they seem to be rather fond of small children, so they are the best chicken for families with young children.
Egg Production & Color
The Brahma hen will make you wait for her eggs, taking up to 7 months to come into production, but will gift you with 4 or so medium sized brown eggs each and every week. They will not lay well in the heat of summer, but are reliable layers for the long winter months. This makes yet another reason to add one of these gentle giants to your flock.
5- Croad Langshan
The Croad Langshan is another large bird that gained recognition in the states around the same time as the Cochin. However, they are now an endangered and rare breed, and are usually referred to as just langshans in the United States. They are a dual purpose bird, as they are great meat birds and great layers.
Size & Color
These are medium to large size birds, where roosters weigh 9 or more pounds, with hens weighing 7 pounds or more. The Croad Langshan has 3 recognized colors: blue, black, or white plumage. They can hatch in other colors, but the only 3 officially recognized colors are blue, black and white.
The Croad Langshan has a very docile nature, and in fact you may need to keep an eye on them, as they can often become the target of more aggressive chickens.
They are very curious birds, and make great foragers, but can adapt to confinement as well. Turn them loose, safely, and watch just how fun they can be.
Egg Production & Color
The eggs are brown to purplish-brown in color. The purplish brown eggs are often described as plum colored. The eggs are large and you can expect the Croad Langshan to provide you with eggs throughout the year, averaging 150-200 eggs per year.