There are plenty of reasons to choose one chicken breed over another, and while egg-laying yield may be the most important to some, design and color are more important to others. Many factors determine the exact color point of a chicken, but there are only two color pigments that exist in chicken genetics—black and red. All colors and variants are made up of a combination of these pigments, whether they are diluted, enhanced, or otherwise masked.
Typically, desired colors are chosen by breeders, who may introduce other colors and markings to create the exact look of chicken that they desire. Below are colors and common colorpoints of chicken that you will find.
The 25 Chicken Colors
The following 13 colors may be used to describe the color of a chicken’s feather, body, beak, or other parts of their anatomy, without describing the pattern of the breed. Chickens are referred to as being self-colored when their markings are a single color and they lack any pattern.
Bay is a medium to light golden brown color.
A solid black color. In chickens, it is common for the black color to have a beetle-green luster.
This is a slate-gray color and is, in fact, a muted variant of the black pigmentation.
Buff is a gold, orange color. This is a fairly common color in chickens, with the Buff Orpington being an especially popular variant in this color.
Chestnut is similar to but darker than a bay color. It is dark brown with a hint of red.
Cinnamon is a dark-reddish brown that has the color of cinnamon sticks.
Fawn is a light brown, beige color.
Lavender is usually used to refer to the light-purple color of the lavender plant. However, in chickens, this color is normally lighter and may appear as little more than off-white.
One of only two natural pigments that appear in chicken feathers, red refers to a dark red or mahogany red, in these cases.
A pink or red color that matches the color of cooked salmon. This is most commonly used to refer to breast or body color.
Silver is similar to white, but it is an almost metallic sheen to it. This can refer to the feathers of any breed of chicken.
Wheaten means to have the appearance or characteristics of wheat. In this case, it means that the feathers of a chicken breed match the natural color of wheat, which is a light yellow.
White feathers represent a total lack of pigmentation, which means that they lack any color whatsoever.
Common Color Points
As well as self-colored chickens, certain colors are commonly found among popular chicken breeds. Below is a list of some of the more common markings and patterns. Thanks to hundreds of hybrids that exist, it is impossible to account for every possible pattern.
The Birchen markings mean that the bird’s body and tail are black, regardless of gender. The male has silvery-white feathers on the head, hackles, and back. The female has silvery feathers on the head and hackles.
15. Black-Breasted Red
The black-breasted red coloring can change between breeds, genders, and even individual birds. As the name suggests, the bird has black feathers on the breast and red feathers elsewhere. This may mean red feathers on the hackles, back, shoulders, and wings, but the bird must have black breast feathers and only have black and red feathers to be considered black-breasted red.
The Columbian colorpoint is white with a black pattern. Usually, this means that the chicken has a white head, back, and thighs, with black over the rest of its body.
The Crele is a combination of patterns. It has a black-breasted red coloring with cuckoo barring and features red, orange, or yellow accents. Hens have accents on the hackles while roosters may also have accents on the shoulders and saddle.
The male of the species will have a bar of a contrasting color across its wing.
19. Golden Laced
This color pattern is made up of a red back, head, and saddle, with black fluff and tail. The wing and breast are a red or gold color. There are some slight differences in the marking and coloring of the hen.
20. Mille Fleur
This is a pattern of an individual feather. The feather is a mahogany brown color and they have a black bar with white spangle.
Mulberry refers to a dark color of skin that looks purple. Wattles, combs, and faces may appear mulberry.
Similar to the black-breasted red color, this pattern sees hens with a bay body and black hackles. However, the feathers usually have a black penciling pattern. The tail is black except for the two top feathers, which are patterned like the body. This is a delicate and striking pattern.
23. Red Pyle
This is an old pattern. Hens have golden heads and white bodies. Roosters have white bodies but they feature red hackles, saddle, and wing bow feathers.
24. Silver Laced
Comprised of silver and black, the silver laced pattern sees roosters with a silver head, back, and saddle, combined with a black strip down the center. The tail is a green-black. The hen has a silver head.
25. Silver Penciled
Another pattern that is made up of silver and black, the silver penciled design means that the bird has a silver head, back, and saddle, and there is a black center strip. The silver body feathers of the hen have three black penciled lines.
There are hundreds of breeds of chickens and hybrid chickens. They all have different characteristics: some make friendly pets, others provide a plentiful supply of eggs, and plumper breeds are popular for their meat production. Some are chosen purely for their looks. Above, we have listed the different colors and markings that you can find on hens and roosters to help you decide which is the best breed and the best look for your coop.
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