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 2000 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:
The 10 Chicken Breeds with Feathered Feet:
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.
Another chicken that hails from China, but specifically Peking (known as Beijing today), during the Qing Dynasty, these are small birds that are feathered from head to toe. They come in about 12 varieties of color, and they lay small eggs.
The Pekin is a very gentle and docile bird and can make wonderful pets for the family, but Pekin Bantam cocks might become more aggressive as they mature due to their protective natures. However, if you’re looking for a hen to hug, then the Pekin is an adorable, pint-sized chicken just right for you.
Another breed of chicken that originated in China sometime before the 13th century, these birds were named after their silky feathers. These beautiful little birds may have been written about by Marco Polo, who wrote in 1298, they “have hair like cats, are black, and lay the best of eggs.” They come in lots of colors but are commonly seen in white and have five feathered toes and black or dark blue skin.
Silkies aren’t good egg layers but are great at hatching eggs from other birds. They are very sweet, friendly, and docile chickens that are primarily ornamental birds that make lovely and eye-catching pets.
Lastly, we have the Sultan chicken, which comes from Turkey (where it’s called Serai Taook, which loosely translates to ‘Sultan’s Fowl’) and was essentially a living ornament in the gardens of Sultans. They come in several colors but are usually white and have muffs and beards and large crests of feathers on their heads. Their five toes and legs are also feathered.
Sultans are small and docile chickens that do not fend for themselves very well (they are prone to bullying, being pecked by other breeds, and easily fall victim to predators). They are loving and sweet birds but will need some TLC as they don’t do well in cold or wet weather.
Problems With Feathered Feet
There are some problems with feathered feet if they aren’t well taken care of. These concerns can include:
- Issues with mud: Obviously, when you are sporting all of those gorgeous feathers on your feet, you’re going to have trouble with mud. If the coop is muddy, your poor chicken will pick up the mud (and poop with it) and drag it into the nest and on the eggs if she’s broody.
- Mites: The feathered legs of chickens are more susceptible to scaly leg mites than chickens without feathery legs. The feathers not only make it easier for the mites to find a way in, but they also make it more of a challenge to treat.
- Picking: Picking occurs when other “regular” chickens that don’t have the fancy feathered legs start to pick out the feathers of the chickens that do. Obviously, this isn’t a problem if you don’t have other chickens around, but if you do, you will need to keep an eye on this behavior.
- Frostbite: While the feathers can provide extra warmth in the colder seasons, they can also cause problems if it gets slushy. Mud and slush can potentially become embedded and frozen into the feathers, which could lead to frostbite.
While these are all issues that need to be watched for, a little extra time and care on your side should prevent these problems from occurring. Of course, if you suspect that your chicken is suffering from any of these circumstances, you should always consult your vet.
These 10 breeds of chickens all have one thing in common: feathered feet. Most of these chickens are sweet and docile birds that are used primarily as ornamental pets. And it makes sense given how beautiful they all are! If you’re considering bringing one of these breeds home with you, be sure to do your homework, but they will make unique additions to your family.
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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay