Top 5 Rare Chicken Breeds

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

15 May 2014

Rare chicken breeds are a must-have for hardcore hobby breeders.  They look exotic, they’re few in number and can often mean a big pay day if you manage to successfully breed these sought-after species!  Many dedicated exhibitionists hatch and nurture these rare chicken breeds to keep their kind alive, as numbers are dwindling.  Here are our top 5 most spectacular rare chicken breeds from across the globe.

Ayam Cemani

Ayam cemani chicken

  • one of the most exotic chickens in the world
  • only sold in pairs
  • in Asia, consuming their meat is thought to ‘put their consciousness at ease’

The Ayam Cemani is one of the most exotic rare chicken breeds you can imagine.  Their entire body is black - their feathers, their skin, even their organs!  There’s also nothing normal about to their hefty price tag (about $2500 a pop!).

This bird is definitely comes under the rare chicken breeds enthusiasts of designer animals covet - but they do produce eggs (around 60 a year) and their black meat is a delicacy to those who can afford it!  Check out our breed profile for more information on this incredible Indonesian bird - it really is the creme de la creme of rare chicken breeds!

Appenzeller Spitzhauben

  • Spitzhauben translates to ‘pointed bonnet’
  • can survive on little food
  • very good fliers - therefore need big fences!

The Spitzhauben originates from Switzerland, and with its mohawk and splotched feathers looks like the rock star of the chicken world!

This member of the rare chicken breeds is named after the traditional ceremonial hats worn by Swiss women in the 1500s - the hats resemble the unique crest of hair upon the chickens head, hence they called it the Spitzhauben!

Cross-breeding has made finding a Spitzhauben that meets breed standards rare, but there are dedicated breeders who keep the chickens authentic.  The rules are clear - they must have a “forward-raking mohawk”, “blue leg colour” and the roosters must have a “comb that is not separated and split.”  Sounds over the top, but maintaining rare chicken breeds is serious business!

White-Faced Black Spanish Chicken

Illustration of white faced black Spanish chicken

  • Originates from the mediterranean
  • A known to have a wide range of personalities - from charming to mean!
  • One of the oldest breeds recorded in the United States

The White-Faced Black Spanish chicken is a challenge for hobby breeders, as the key to the perfect breed is maintaining the chickens round white face, which is often likened to a mask.  A mediterranean breed by origin, It is believed that they were the first of the rare chicken breeds to arrive in America.

Partridge Barthuhner

  • bred to withstand cold climates
  • developed beards to beat the elements!

Another rare chicken breed is the Barthuhner (which literally translates to ‘bearded chicken’) that originates from Switzlerland.  It is indeed a striking bird, with the Partridge breed sporting brightly hued feathers and no crest - but one of their most unique features is the ‘beard’ underneath their chin, a result of being bred in a very cold climate.

This breed has become quite rare, with only a few dedicated breeders making an effort to replenish the numbers of the Partridge Barthuhner.

Transylvanian Naked Neck

Transylvanian naked neck chicken in backyard

  • naked necks are a the result of a random genetic mutation
  • their bare neck makes them more resistant to heat

The Transylvanian Naked Neck is not one of the most attractive rare chicken breeds, but they are popular for exhibiting.  Their breed emerged from Romania and are still popular in Eastern Europe.

Their neck has been bred to be completely bare as this is what competition standards require.

Rare chicken breeds are often fascinating to look at, and having them in your flock is considered a great asset to any hobby breeders and exhibitioners!  If you want to know what the rare chicken breeds in your area are, head to an exhibition or find a hobby farm.

Sources and further reading

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