22 Heritage Chicken Breeds with Photos

The heritage chicken breed is genetically stable in fulfilling the meat and egg requirements. The members of this large family are non-hybrid, hardy, and natural-mating. 

According to the American Poultry Association, the breed that can be mated naturally has a productive outdoor lifespan, and a slow growth rate falls into this category.

The heritage chicken breed has been living with us for a long time but still knowing all of them seems impossible as they are large in number. There are so many reasons heritage chickens are famous for. Let’s have a look at these three common ones:

1. They have fancy feathers and some of them even have unique patterns.

2. Most of them are dual-purpose and this breed has broody hens.

3. They are versatile and good at foraging.

Top 22 Heritage Chicken Breeds

1. Rhode Island Red

Rhode-Island red

Rhode Island Red, undoubtedly, the most popular chicken breed on the block. Backyard Chook Keepers are often seen raving about their pleasing experience with the dual-purpose Rhode Island. Be it rain or heat, snow, or summer, this hardy bird will adapt to the environment.

This American breed is a state bird of Rhode Island. The breed developed after selective espoused breeding of Oriental Origin birds like Oriental origin such as the Cochin, Java, Malay, and Shanghai with brown Leghorn birds from Italy.

Characteristics

Some common traits are single comb, red-orange eyes, red wattles and earlobes, reddish-brown beaks, clean yellow legs, and hard feathers.

Plumage color varies from lustrous deep red to almost black.

Uses

It’s not just the brown egg production that they excel at, also yields rich flavored meat.

Comb Type: Single Rose Comb

Weight:

Male:  Standard 3.9 Kg

Female: Standard 3 Kg

Egg Color & Size: Brown/Light Brown, Large

2. Plymouth Rock

Plymouth rock

The only breed that can compete with the Rhode Island Red in meat quality and egg production is Plymouth Rock. This American domestic chicken breed that you might have seen your Grandma raise is a docile, kid-friendly, and dual-purpose chicken.

This Plymouth Rock breed was developed using crosses of Dominique, Java, Cochin, and Brahma.

Characteristics

  • Single comb, red wattles and earlobes, yellow beaks, broad backs, full breasts, and yellow unfeathered legs.
  • The breed has seven color varieties; Barred, Blue, Buff, Columbian, Partridge, Silver-penciled, and White.

Uses

This dual-purpose bird is raised and kept for its excellent meat and egg production.

Comb Type: 5-pointed single comb

Weight:

Male: Standard 3.4 Kg

Female: Standard 2.95 Kg

Egg Color & Size: Brown, Large

3. Wyandotte Chicken

Wyandotte Chicken

Wyandotte has earned its place among the best chicken breeds because of multiple reasons. This unusual and attractive breed do well in confinement as well as free-range farming.

Named after the Wyandot people of North America, this breed was developed using the crosses of Hamburg, Brahmas, and Cochin.

Characteristics

  • Deep well-rounded breast, wide back, close-feathered legs, yellow skin and shanks,  broad skull, single comb, red wattles, and earlobes.
  • Nine colors approved by the American Poultry Association are black, buff, silver-laced, Columbian, golden laced, partridge, and silver penciled.

Uses

The dual-purpose Wyandotte breed is meaty and lays a good supply of brown eggs.

Comb Type: Rose shaped

Weight:

Male: 3.5–4 Kg

Female: 2.7-3.2 Kg

Egg Color & Size: Brown/Tan, Large

4. Orpington Chicken

Orpington-Chicken

This quintessential backyard chicken breed is plump, friendly, gentle that goes about their business without creating a scene. The goal behind producing this dual-purpose breed was to create a better productive breed than the others.

William Cook of Orpington developed this breed in the county of Kent, England. Minorca, Langshan, and Plymouth Rocks were the three bloodlines used to evolve the Orpington breed.

Characteristics

  • Larger, broad body, bright gold plumage, curvy short back, reddish eyes, red wattles earlobes, and comb are some common characteristics.

Uses

They are efficient winter egg layers and your taste buds would not forget the taste of their delicious meat.

Comb Type: 5-pointed single comb

Weight:

Male: 3.60–4.55 Kg

Female: 2.7 to 3.6 Kg

Egg Color & Size: Brown, Medium to Large

5. Lakenvelders

Lakenvelders

Lakenvelders were awarded many terms to describe their beauty like a shadow on the street or white spread over the black field. Lakenvelders are quick, alert, active, and great foragers.

The history of Lakenvelders is not set in stone but they are believed to be developed in Southern Holland near the German border. The breed got approved for the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1939.

Characteristics 

  • Their striking appearance makes them an active chicken breed with blue legs, white earlobes, bright red eyes, wattles, and comb.
  • Lakenvelders are creamy-white with a sprinkling of black on head and tail.

Uses

This non-broody chicken breed is meaty and lays a sufficient supply of white eggs (160 per year).

Comb Type: Single 5-pointed comb

Weight:

Male: up to 2.5 Kg

Female: up to 2.0 Kg

Egg Color & Size: White, Medium

6. Ancona

Ancona

Ancona chicken breed is adored for it’s hardy, fertile, and prolific nature.  This widely distributed Italian chicken breed made it’s way to England 1851. As they started gaining popularity their second importation started, making them readily available in almost all parts of the world. 

Characteristics

  • Yellow legs, black and white-tipped feathers, white earlobes, and medium-sized eggs are the few remarkable characteristics they come with.

Uses

Ancona chickens are mainly raised for eggs. They, on average, lay 220 eggs per year, and each egg is known to have 50g weight. 

Comb Type

Single or Rose

Weight

Male: 2.5kg to 2.8kg.

Female: 1.8kg to 2.1kg.

Egg color and size: White, Medium to Large.

7. Araucana

Araucana-chicken

Araucana chicken breed is among the few rarest heritage Chicken breeds of all time. Their lively and friendly nature makes them a great pet. This chicken breed can be easily recognized for their unique physical appearance as their back slope toward their bottom half catches the viewer’s attention immediately. 

Araucana is a domestic chicken breed of Chile but the blue-colored eggs moved other countries’ hearts too. They are hard to find but those who loved their unique colored egg have found their way to add them in their flock. This breed has several colors but black, black-red, duck wing, white, and Golden duck wing are the common ones.

Characteristics

They usually share the same characteristics as other heritage chicken breeds but these two characteristics set them apart.

  • No tailbone, no tail.
  • Tufts(A comical feathers extending Araucana’s cheeks)

Uses

Since this breed is not as active in producing eggs as some other breeds. They can only lay 3 eggs a week but in an unusual blue or green color. This became the reason for their popularity but the blue colored eggs are not the only reason they are raised for meat as well.

Comb Type: Pea comb

Weight:

Male: 2.7kg to 3.2kg

Female: 2.2kg to 2.7kg

Egg Color and Size: Blue or Green, Medium

8. Hamburg Chicken

Hamburg Chicken

The Hamburg breed got some stories to tell of the time it participated in its first show in a pub in England. Hamburg chickens are happy, active, and hardy with many variants of color.

However, history is a bit clouded, hamburgers were first found in Holland but the Dutch are credited for developing the breed. In the Netherlands, the Hamburg breed is known as Hollands Hoen.

Characteristics

  • Hamburg is a small or medium-sized breed with sickle feathers, slender blue legs, white earlobes, and bright red comb.
  • Color varieties include black, white,  silver-spangled, gold-spangled, gold-penciled, citron-spangled, citron-penciled, silver-penciled.

Uses

Hamburg chicken is a reliable chalk-white egg producer and a show fowl.

Comb Type: Rose shaped comb

Weight:

Male: 2.0–2.5 Kg

Female: 1.6-1.8 Kg

Egg Color & Size: White, Medium 

9. Blue Andalusian

image by Rachael Brugger source hobbyfarms

This spectacular breed, originating from Andalusian, is known for its long deep bodies, blue laced feathers, and the darker and light color tones blend. 

Their unique eye-catching appearance brought them to exhibitions conducted in the United States and England and ever since then these two countries are this breed’s second home. 

Characteristics

White almond-shaped earlobes, blue-black legs, deep well-defined body, and a unique color blend makes them popular as a distinguished heritage chicken breed.

Uses

They are either raised and kept as an ornament or for eggs as they produce fairly large eggs. 

Comb Type: Single

Weight:

Male: 3.2kg to 3.6kg.

Female: 2.25kg to 2.70kg.

Egg color and size: White, Large

10. Black Minorca

Black-Minorca

Black Minorca is the largest and finest example of a Mediterranean chicken breed. Black Minorca was prized for its unique characteristics in an exhibition conducted back in 1971. They gained popularity from that and are still going strong in pleasing the livestock keepers around the globe.

Characteristics

  • Their long muscular body, slate-colored legs, white earlobes, compact feathering put the other heritage chicken breeds in shade.

Uses

Like most of the heritage chicken breeds, they are also raised for eggs.

Comb Type Single, Rose

Weight:

Male: up to 2.834 kg.

Female: up to 2.210 kg

Egg Color and Size: White, Large

11. Australorp

Australorp

Australorp is poultrymen’s favorite heavy breed for a number of reasons. One particular reason that the chicken keepers went gaga over this breed was that they mature early and start laying eggs when 16 weeks old.

The breed Originated and developed in Australia. With the introduction of Black Orpington, Rhode Island Red, Minorca, White Leghorn, and Langshan bloodlines, came a large-sized hen with efficient egg production.

Characteristics

Glossy black feathering with a greenish-purple sheen, pinkish-white skin, plump bodies, and red combs are some of the breed’s traits.

Common colors are black, white, and blue as per the Australian Poultry Standards.

Uses

One can safely say that their claim to fame is their egg-laying abilities but neglecting them for their delicious meat would not be fair.

Comb Type: Single

Weight:

Male: 3.20–4.10Kg

Female: 2.25-3.10 Kg

Egg Color & Size: Brown, Large

12. Houdan Chicken

Houdan-Chicken

Their unusual appearance and quirky personality make them a member of the “Oddity” Clan. Houdan brings so much joy to the backyard coop.

The origin of the Houdan breed is largely based on old wives’ tales. The Houdan Chicken is often called “French Hen” as the breed is native to the communes of Houdan, France.

Characteristics

Mottled Houdan Chicken exhibit unique traits like fluffy dos, beard, full crust, cavernous nostrils, five toes, and a variety of spotting patterns.

Uses

Houdan chickens are a fine-boned, juicy dual-purpose breed well-known for delicious meat and egg supply. Houdan chickens are not just efficient egg layers, also make for tasty eating.

Comb Type: V-shaped, Butterfly Shaped 

Weight:

Male: 2.5 – 3 Kg

Female: 2- 2.5 Kg

Egg Color & Size: White, Medium-sized

13. New Hampshire

New-Hampshire

As its name suggests, this breed belongs to New Hampshire, United States. This breed was created just two or three years later than the Rhode Island Red and they more or less share the same characteristics. Unfortunately, these similarities couldn’t even get this breed the fame they deserve. 

The documentary “The chicken of tomorrow” was produced to introduce them to the world as the next best alternative to Rhode Island Red but they are still struggling to make their mark as Rhode Island Red did.

Characteristics

  • Deep broad bodies, rapidly growing feathers, and their competitive aggressive nature are what they are praised for. 

Uses

Calling them”a dual-purpose hen” will offer the Justice they deserve. So, they are raised for both meat and eggs. Win-win.

Comb Type: Single

Weight:

Male: up to 3.9kg.

Female: up to 2.9kg.

Egg Color and Size: Brown, Medium to Large

14. Dark Brahma

Dark Brahma chicken

The United States recognized chicken breed is equally popular among the hobbyist and breeders for their elegant appearance. This breed suffered recognition issues but as the world moved toward the 19th century they got the mark they deserve.

Characteristics

  •  It is accepted that not all Brahma chicken share the same characteristics so the common ones are
  • A noticeable difference between hen and cock, saddle feathers, and a lighter back and dark-colored tail.

Uses

They were generally accepted as a meat-producing breed but when it comes to laying eggs they produce a significant amount of brown eggs.

Comb Type: Pea

Weight:

Male: up to 5.5kg.

Female: up to 4.5kg.

Egg Color and Size: Brown, Medium to Large

15. White Crested Black Polish

White Crested Black Polish

The fancy appearance of White Crested Black Polish gets recognized right away. The admiration for the breed is not just confined to their good looks, crest, and feathers rather their usefulness.

The records about the origin and ancestors of the Polish breed is lost to the mists of time. The Polish breed got declaration as a thoroughbred in the Netherlands in the 16th century. Three Polish varieties were accepted by the American Poultry Association in 1874 and several others in 1883, 1938, and 1963.

Characteristics

  • The Polish breed is famed for its black bodies with a lustrous sheen and white top hat. The huge bouffant crest that impairs their vision makes them a bit skittish. White earlobes and bright red wattles are hidden by the crest and beard.

Uses

They are considered a productive egg layer and a show bird.

Comb Type: Duplex

Weight:

Male: 2.75 Kg

Female: 2.5 Kg

Egg Color & Size: White, Medium

16. Leghorn Chicken

Leghorn Chicken

Leghorn or otherwise known as Brown Leghorn or Italian Leghorn is a perfect fowl for free-range farming. They are considered the most colorful of the Leghorn family.

Leghorn chicken is native to the Tuscany of Italy and was used to be called Italian Chicken. The breed developed after the crossing of some local fowl, the breed got further evolved when brought to America.

Characteristics

  • Single comb, white earlobes, large wattles, and bright yellow legs. Many consider Leghorn to be just white but that’s far from the truth. The color range of Leghorn is the shades of dark brown and light brown with darker wing coloration.
  • Leghorn chickens are splendid forage eaters, lively, highly fertile, and hardy.

Uses

Leghorn breed is well-known for its reliable white egg production. They are productive egg layers with an average of 280 eggs per year.

Comb Type: Single Rose Comb

Weight:

Male: 2.4–2.7 Kg

Female: 2.0- 2.3 Kg

Egg Color & Size: White, Large

17. White Langshan

White Langshan

This breed started in China in 1872 and no time it became the widely seen chicken breed in the world. Their use in the 20th century has remarkably gone up because of their undemanding nature. 

Mature White Langshan has pure white color but the chicks are a little grey-ish white or sometimes smokey white.

Characteristics

  • White color, fleshy breasts, and flavorful meat are the few unavoidable characteristics this breed has. Dark Brown eyes and slatey blue shanks are a great embellishment to their looks.

Uses

Mainly for meat as the fully grown white langshan are super fleshy. The world’s most boneless chicken comes from this breed. But this does not mean they are any less in producing quality eggs. They lay five or six eggs a week. So, aren’t they good for both purposes?

Comb Type: Single Pointed Comb

Weight

Male: up to 4.5kg.

Female: up to 3kg.

Egg color and size: White, Medium to Large

18. Silver Campine

Silver Campine

This domestic breed belongs to the northern areas of Belgium. The only problem the world is facing with this breed is that both hen and cock have the same pattern and body frame so it sometimes becomes difficult to differentiate. 

Characteristics

  • Slatey shanks, pure white head, contrasting fully patterned body, light but soft features make them an alien for some common chicken breeds. They are hardy, cunning, active, and inquisitive in nature.

Uses

This breed is raised to meet the egg requirements. They do not let a day go by without pleasing their master and for this very reason, they got the title of “Everyday layer” in Belgium.

Comb Type: Single

Weight:

Male: up to 2.7kg.

Female: up to 2.3kg.

Egg Color and Size: White, Medium

19. White-Laced Red Cornish

image source backyardchickens

Red Cornish or Indian Game Chicken is the most used chicken breed in the meat industry. Cornish is not a well-behaved pet chicken rather they make for good show birds. They are slower growing chicken which makes their meat juicy and flavorsome.

Native to the county of Cornwall of England, the breed was developed by Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert around 1820. He crossed Red Aseel over Black Breasted Red Game for power and speed.

Characteristics

  • Stocky breed, widely spaced hips, and large breasts are some of the traits that make them a preferred choice of the meat industry.
  • The common color is light wheat with light brown patterning.

Uses

They are poor egg producers but their delicious meat is liked worldwide. 

Comb Type: Pea comb

Weight:

Male: up to 10 lbs

Female: up to 8 lbs

Egg Color & Size: Brown, Small

20. Dominique

Dominique

Dominique, Dominicker, or Pilgrim Fowl is the oldest popular heritage chicken breed. This breed is raised in abundance in many parts of the country. 

In the 19th century,  poor human behavior and lack of interest indicated the fear of extinction but constant efforts to bring them back finally showed a green signal in the 20th century and since then the world couldn’t thank enough for this revival. Hens from this breed are gentle, non-aggressive, and good mothers.

Characteristics

  • The characteristics that differentiate this breed from other heritage chicken breeds are:
  • Dark and light grey stripping
  • Heavy plumage
  • Yellow shanks

Besides these, they are calm, hardy, and personable.

Uses

Raised for both meat and eggs. They roughly lay 230 to 270 eggs a year.

Comb Type: Rose

Weight:

Male: up to 3.2kg.

Female: up to 2.3kg.

Egg Color and Size: Brown, Medium

21. White Jersey Giant

White Jersey Giant

White Jersey Giants are a large farmed dual-purpose product. This American breed is known for its joyful behavior in the backyard. This breed was established to replace the need for turkey in meat poultry. 

Characteristics

  • These yellow-skinned birds have broad wide backs followed by a shorter tail. Dark brown eyes, clean yellow legs make them appear attractive.

Uses

This breed is among the few largest purebred heritage chickens as they were brought to the world to overcome the meat requirements of poultry. But this didn’t restrict their use to meat only as they lay an acceptable quantity of eggs in a week.

Comb Type: Single

Weight:

Male: up to 5.8kg.

Female: up to 4.5kg.

Egg Color and Size: Brown, Medium

22. Sussex Chicken

Sussex Chicken

Speckled Sussex is Britain’s favorite oldest chicken breed. They become farm favorites with a dedicated following owing to the deadly combination of beauty and utility. This curious, chatty, friendly breed becomes a member of the family in no time.

This pretty and practical chicken breed is influenced by the Oriental breeds such as Brahma and Cochin and silver-grey Dorking.

Characteristics

  • Wattles, comb, and earlobes are red, the beak is horn colored, wide shoulders, broad flat back, and rectangular build are the common characteristics.
  • The approved color varieties are brown, buff, coronation, light, red, silver, speckled, and white.

Uses

Sussex breed is lauded for being a delicious table bird as well as efficient brown egg layers.

Comb Type: Single

Weight:

Male: Standard 4.1 Kg

Female: Standard 3.2 KgEgg Color & Size:  Brown, Cream, Tan, Large

These heritage chicken breeds are now part of our farm or home. hey fulfill our eggs and meat requirements

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