The Cubalaya chicken is a gorgeous breed with exotic and lustrous tail feathers that set it apart from any other chicken breed. It’s a fantastic exhibition chicken but produces high-quality meat and eggs, too.
You might instantly be drawn to this breed because of its unique appearance, but is it the right breed to keep on your backyard farm? We’re going to give you a thorough rundown of the Cubalaya chicken so you can decide if keeping them for your small-scale farming venture is realistic or not.
Quick Facts about Cubalaya Chicken
|Breed Name:||Cubalaya Chicken|
|Place of Origin:||Cuba|
|Uses:||Meat & eggs|
|Rooster Size:||5 lbs|
|Hen Size:||3.5 lbs|
|Color:||Black, black-breasted red, and white|
|Climate Tolerance:||Heat tolerant|
Cubalaya Chicken Origins
In the mid-19th century, the Spaniards brought several different varieties of Asiatic game fowl to Havana, Cuba. The Cubans then crossbred these breeds and then re-crossed them with fowl of European origin. This is where the Cubalaya chicken had its start.
This breed was first recognized as a distinct breed in 1935 by the Cuban National Poultry Association. Cubalayas were first shown in the United States in 1939, where they became recognized as a standard and bantam (miniature) breed at the International Poultry Exhibition.
Cubalaya Chicken Characteristics
Cubalayas are active, hardy, and striking. They are fantastic foragers and very heat tolerant which isn’t that surprising considering they are originally from Cuba. They’re happiest when they’re left to explore in the grass on their own, flexing their foraging muscles.
Cubalayas are very friendly and loyal to their handlers. They rarely show aggression towards humans, though they can show assertiveness and domination when in the company of other chicken breeds.
This breed matures slowly in comparison to other chickens, taking up to three years before they reach adulthood. That said, they can reproduce when they’re as young as six months.
Cubalayas produce high-quality white meat that’s known for its tenderness.
They are also sometimes used for their eggs. The breed lays eggs consistently throughout the winter and summer months and will begin laying eggs when they’re around 24 weeks old.
This breed is typically used only for ornamental purposes in the United States. Their beautiful plumage is what makes them excellent show birds. Their easy-going nature helps them excel on stage.
Appearance & Varieties
Cubalaya chickens are a beautiful breed with many distinctive features.
They were bred for their wide and extended tails. Their tails are often called “lobster tails” as they angle downward and have lavish feathering, which sets them apart from every other chicken breed. Both the roosters and hens have this curved tail and decorative features. Their plumage is shiny and, as with many bird breeds, the roosters are more radiant and colorful.
Cubalayas have a pea comb that begins at the base of their beak and extends toward the top of their head.
Their backs are slightly slanted, and their legs are short. The roosters don’t have spurs, the claw-like growth on the back of their legs. The spurs have been bred out of them to keep the young males from injuring one another.
Cubalayas can come in several varieties of colors, but the most common is the black-breasted variety. Roosters usually have red-colored necks and backs, while the hens are most often cinnamon in color.
Bantamweight Cubalaya chickens are about one-third of the size of the standard weight. The US-recognized bantam Cubalaya hen is one of the smallest chicken breeds.
Cubalayas are still very common today in Cuba where they’re kept not only for their eggs and meat but for cockfighting as well.
The Cubalayas you’ll find in most of the rest of North America are kept strictly for ornamental reasons. The Livestock Conservancy lists this breed as “threatened” on their Conservation Priority List. Any breed that has less than 1,000 annual registrations in the US and a population of less than 5,000 globally is considered threatened.
Are Cubalaya Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?
Cubalaya chickens are very friendly, easy to handle, and calm, making them a great pick for small-scale farming. They do not like confinement, so they’ll need grassy areas to satisfy their infinite curiosity and to forage for insects. Since this breed can handle winter and summer temperatures, they will fare well in a wide variety of climates. If you have an area for your chickens to roam and are capable of keeping males apart from each other, you have what this breed needs to be happy.
That said, Cubalayas are exceedingly rare, and most found in the United States are used for exhibition and ornamental reasons.
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Featured Image Credit: The Jungle Explorer, Shutterstock