How to identify chickens? How to identify different chickens breeds? These are the most common questions beginner chicken keepers ask. If you are also looking for more information about identifying a specific chicken breed, then you are in the right place. Here we are describing more information about how to identify chickens.
There are numerous chicken breeds available around the world with a wide variety of color, size, feathers, comb and body shape. So, it’s very important to learn about how to identify chickens from those different breeds.
All chicken breeds have some special characteristics and nature which can help you identifying them. But for positive identification you will need some knowledge about chicken breeds, images, charts or other ways of distinguishing them from various breeds of similar colors, size and types.
Gender , color, raising purpose and some other characteristics can also be helpful for identifying specific breed from a wide variety of available breeds.
How to Identify Chickens
Identifying chickens is relatively easy and simple if you raise chickens for awhile. But it can be tough if you are a beginner.
Here we are describing some common ways of identifying chicken breeds.
Body shape of chickens vary according to their production purpose. Generally chickens are raised for two purposes. Egg production and for meat producing purpose.
There are some chicken breeds available which are suitable for both eggs and meat production. This type of breeds are called dual purpose or general purpose chickens. Body shape varies by the production type of chickens.
Generally meat producing breeds (broilers) have heavy bodies. And large bones so that it can support their weight. On the other hand egg producing breeds (layer) have typically smaller bodies.
Small sized body help them to put all of their resources into egg production. General or dual purpose chicken breeds are lighter than meat producing breeds and slightly larger than layer breeds. So, you can identify chickens by their body shape.
Comb & Wattles
Different chicken breeds have different combs and wattles. Combs and wattles have a great importance for identifying chickens breed. With some breeds of chicken combs and wattles are almost entirely associated. Silkie chicken breed has round, bumpy and perched combs on the front of their head.
Cornish, Sumatras, Brahmas and some other breeds have pea combs which is characterized by three low ridges set lengthwise on the chicken’s head. Some fancy chicken breeds like Houdans, Polish and Sultans have V-shaped combs.
It’s very difficult to identify the breeds with single combs. Because single combs are very common and various breeds have this type of comb. You can try to learn more about various types of combs.
Different sized chicken breeds can be seen around the globe. They can be both large sized and bantam size. Jersey Giant is a large chicken breed and they can reach about 10 pounds or even more.
Bantam and the Sebright are small sized chicken breed which can weight 1 pound or less.
Every chicken breed has special types of feathers. Feathers of chickens provide a lot of information about their breed and origin. Chickens can have both loose-fitting and close-lying feathers.
But it depends on their purpose and the environment form where their ancestors came from. Silkies and some other related fancy varieties are known as decorative chickens.
They get fluffy and shapeless appearances from their distinctive hairlike feathers. Most of the chicken breeds also have gender based feathers variety. And both roosters and hens have special types of feathers.
Usually roosters possess fine, pointed feathers covering their bases of tails and necks. They have sickle-shaped feathers in their tails. Although roosters of some breeds don’t have these specialties. On the other hand hens have less colorful and variety of feathers.
We can get valuable information about a chicken breed by their leg shanks color. Although most of the chicken breeds have yellow shanks.
Buff Orpington chickens have white legs, Ameraucana breed has slate colored shanks and Auracan chicken breed has willow colored shanks.
Some chicken breed also have hair on their shanks that provide a clue for identifying them.
Cochin is such a chicken breed which has feathers on their legs. Leghorns are clean-legged chickens and their legs are totally free of feathers. Usually roosters have thicker legs compared to hens and have heavy, hornlike spurs protruding from the backs of their legs.
They use their spurs for fighting with predators and for protecting their flock, especially their hens.
There are numerous chicken breeds available. Each of them vary from others by their feathers color, size, characteristics and even color and size of eggs. The best way to identify a chicken breed is to look first at it’s weight and height, feather color and it’s behavior.
If you are raising chickens for a long time, it will be very easy for you. But if you are a beginner, you should learn more about the size, feather color, leg color, behavior, comb and body shape of each breeds of chickens. Thank you!
Tips for Identifying Different Chicken Breeds
Chickens come in a wide variety of breeds, each with their unique characteristics, appearances, and traits. Whether you are a seasoned farmer or a backyard enthusiast, knowing how to identify different chicken breeds is crucial to successful farming and rearing. Here we will share the best tips for identifying different chicken breeds.
1. Feather Color
One of the most apparent and common ways to identify different chicken breeds is through their feather color. Some breeds have distinctive colors, such as the Rhode Island Red, which has a rusty-red color, or the Plymouth Rock, which has black and white stripes.
2. Comb Shape
The comb is the fleshy protuberance on top of a chicken’s head. The shape of the comb can help identify different breeds. For instance, the single comb is the most common and can be found on breeds such as the Leghorn and Rhode Island Red, while the rose comb is found on the Wyandotte and other breeds.
3. Leg Color
The color of a chicken’s legs can also help identify the breed. For example, the yellow-legged Cornish chicken is distinct from the white-legged Leghorn.
4. Skin Color
In some cases, the skin color of a chicken can help identify the breed. For example, the Silkie has black skin, while the White Leghorn has white skin.
5. Earlobe Color
Believe it or not, the color of a chicken’s earlobes can also help identify the breed. The Ameraucana, for example, has blue earlobes, while the Leghorn has white.
6. Head Shape
The shape of a chicken’s head can also help identify the breed. The Polish breed, for instance, has a distinctive crest on top of its head.
7. Body Shape
Different chicken breeds have varying body shapes. The Plymouth Rock, for example, has a broad and muscular body, while the Leghorn has a long and lean body.
8. Feather Pattern
Just like color, the pattern of a chicken’s feathers can help identify the breed. The Speckled Sussex, for example, has a speckled feather pattern, while the Barred Plymouth Rock has a distinct barred pattern.
9. Tail Shape
The shape of a chicken’s tail can also be used to identify the breed. The Rhode Island Red has a long, flowing tail, while the Araucana has a short and rounded tail.
10. Beak Shape
Different chicken breeds have varying beak shapes. The Brahma, for example, has a broad and stout beak, while the Leghorn has a long and narrow beak.
11. Eye Color
In some breeds, the color of a chicken’s eyes can help identify the breed. The Ameraucana, for example, has blue eyes, while the Leghorn has brown eyes.
12. Wattles and Earlobes
The size and shape of a chicken’s wattles and earlobes can help identify the breed. The Leghorn, for example, has small wattles and earlobes, while the Australorp has large wattles and earlobes.
13. Body Size
The size of a chicken’s body can also be used to identify the breed. The Cornish Cross, for example, is a large breed of chicken, while the Bantam is a small breed.
14. Feather Quality
The quality of a chicken’s feathers can help identify the breed. The Silkie, for example, has soft and fluffy feathers, while the Leghorn has sleek and shiny feathers.
15. Egg Color
The color of a chicken’s eggs can help identify the breed. The Ameraucana, for example, lays blue eggs, while the Rhode Island Red lays brown eggs.
Another way to identify chicken breeds is through their temperament. Some breeds are known for being docile and friendly, while others are more aggressive and flighty. For example, the Rhode Island Red is known for being friendly and easy to handle, while the Leghorn is known for being flighty and hard to catch.
The purpose for which a chicken breed was originally bred can also help identify the breed. Some breeds were bred for egg production, while others were bred for meat production or as ornamental birds. For example, the Leghorn was bred for egg production, while the Cornish Cross was bred for meat production.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many people ask questions about ‘how to identify chickens’ (especially the beginners). Here we are trying to list the most common questions about identifying chickens, and trying to answer them. Hope you will find your answer. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have more questions.
How do I know what kind of chickens I have?
The most common way for determining the breed of chicken is looking for their body shape, comb, wattles, feathers, shanks and size of the chickens.
What is a male chicken called?
A male chicken is called a rooster.
What is a female chicken called?
A female chicken is called a hen.
What are the baby chickens called?
The baby chickens are called chicks.
How can you tell the difference between chickens?
It’s actually very easy to tell the differences between chickens. Depending on the breed, the mature roosters and hens have different feathers. The roosters have pointed feathers around the neck, back and tail. But these feathers have round ends in the hens. The coloring patters of rooster and hens will also differ in most chicken breeds. And in case of size, the roosters are much larger in size than the hens.
How to identify chicken gender?
Identifying chicken gender is pretty easy if you raise chickens for awhile. The roosters are much larger in size and more colorful than the hens. The roosters have pointed feathers around the neck, back and tail. But these feathers have round ends in the hens.
Is there a difference between a hen and a chicken?
Just as humans are divided into male and female and children and adults, chickens are likewise. The male chickens are called ‘rooster‘, a female chicken is called ‘hen‘, baby chickens are called ‘chicks‘, and the chickens which are immature but not baby are called ‘pullets‘. All of these are generally chickens, but specific name indicate their gender.
How to identify specific chicken breed?
You can identify a specific chicken breed by their size, feathering, color, comb type, skin color, number of toes, color of eggs and place of origin.
What are the most common chicken breeds?
The most common chicken breeds are Australorps, Rhode Island Red, Cochin, Jersey Giant, Leghorn, Hylines, Bovans Browns, Orpington, Silkie, Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte etc.
How can you tell if a 4 week old chick is male or female?
The differences can be identified by looking at their combs, wattles and size. The combs and wattles of males are often developed earlier and are usually larger. While the females have smaller comb and wattles and take time to develop. And in case of size, the males are pretty larger than the females.
Can you mix different chicken breeds?
Yes, different chicken breeds can be mixed together and they can live successfully together in a mixed flock.
Which breed of chicken is best for beginners?
Some best chicken breeds for the beginners are Australorp, Rhode Island Red, Delaware, Plymouth Rock, Orpington, New Hampshire etc.
These are the common questions and answer about how to identify chickens. Hope this guide has helped you! Good luck & may god bless you!
4 thoughts on “How To Identify Chickens: Best Guide & 17 Tips”
trying to find the breed of chicks given to me …. as babies they had a brown/black markings that reminded me of chipmunks but now older the faces look like a chicken hawk….maybe you could help me identify them….thank you….they are a bit skittish of me
It’s really hard to tell the breed name until the chicks reach 2-3 months of age. You can contact with an expert in your area. Good luck!
I have white chicken a puffy head a little bigger than normal chicken
we hatched (incubator) 18 chicks, all from a Rhode Island White rooster. Hens are a mix if Amaracauna (sp?), Rhode Island Red, Cinnamon Queen, Black Sex Link and Australorp. All of the chicks are yellow. How do we figure out what types they are? We tried, but were unsuccessful, to track which chick came from which egg. They got mixed up quickly because they were healthy and moving immediately after hatching.