Sometimes, people I know will come to me with questions about chicken stuff. Ya, I know. Sometimes, those questions have to do with chicken breeds.
Unlike common perception, all chickens do not look alike. It is astonishing how varied they are.
To start the identification of chickens, I like to start at the top and work my way down. One good place to start is with the comb.
There are eight different main chicken comb types, and several other sub types.
One of the first things to look for when determining breed is comb type. Then there’s the color of the beak; color of the shanks; how many toes (some breeds, like silkies or sultans, have more than 4 toes on purpose); are the feet and legs feathered or not; and the color of the skin. What color are their ears? Do they have muffs? Beards? Vulture hocks? For those who really know chickens, there’s the body type and feathers to look at, particularly tail feathers, even on the girls.
It can be confusing and overwhelming. If I have the time, I’m usually willing to take a gander and make a guess.
Today was one of those days.
My friend shared a picture with me and asked me if I could identify it.
Below, you’ll find my portion of the conversation.
That’s a golden speckled silver long- tailed widget. They are very rare and hard to breed to standards (because of their rarity). I’ve heard reports of them being found in the wild in heavily industrialized areas, but these are skittish and hard to tame.
Their eggs are a lovely silver color, and while they don’t lay frequently, it’s typical for them to lay two at once.
I am not sure they are much good for cooking because they are so small.
I should add- that’s a true bantam. We know they’re a project breed stemming from this fellow, the curvy tailed scrap anvil. These are most often found near nuclear sites and are somewhat of an anomaly themselves. There are a few breeds resulting from these mixes, but this breed is the daddy of them all. I’ll try to tack down the mother breed.
Upon further research, it appears that the mother of the golden speckled silver long- tailed widget crossed with the curvy- tailed scrap anvil is the ornamental Asian bronze-coated clunker. This breed is a bantam, as you can see. They had to do some work to breed out the extra long beak and to work on the conical breast, which was a recessive trait, but once they got it consistently, the were allowed as a new breed.
The ornamental Asian bronze-coated clunker lays delightful small bronze eggs, and while is not as elusive as either the curvy-tailed scrap anvil or the golden speckled silver long- tailed widget, it is only found in the Asiatic countries that are tropical. While one might think the humidity is a detriment to the coat, it actually contributes to a gorgeous patina in the long run.
Because of the small size, ornamental Asian bronze-coated clunkers roost in the tops of trees, which made catching them for the breeding project quite the task. Once caught, there was some issue with her sharp edges cutting hands, too, but eventually that got sorted out with the aid of a magnet.
Apparently satisfied with my expert identification of rare breeds skills, she came back with another breed that had her stumped. Here was her next mystery chicken:
My reply as follows:
You can tell that while stunted, of course, its father also was the curvy tailed scrap anvil. You may have also guessed by now that its distant cousin is none other than the golden speckled silver long- tailed widget, There were several different things about this breeding project, which I’ll detail in other comments.
For now, you can enjoy their fascinating eggs. Because of the cold climate, they are seasonal layers. Although they only lay in spring and summer, due to the climate, the eggs are a lovely amber shade. They also lay in pairs; mostly to avoid losing the nest in the snow. The darker egg color also helps them to find the nest after scratching around.
She agreed that the eggs were, “beautifully distinctive.”
His lovely, pointy helmet came via his daddy’s genes, and isn’t he a lucky fellow? If his beak gets impaled in a sheet of thick ice, he can bang his head down to help chop it up. I honestly don’t know why they didn’t refine and pursue this to standards, because it’s lovely. My guess is that there are a lot more people interested in long-tailed chickens as opposed to long-beaked chickens. Plus, people in the US in particular are still fighting over who really discovered the continent, so the poor Vikings get swept under the rug as usual. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d say this definitely fits the pattern.
Here’s a looky loo at his lovely, chunky mum. Her body shape might give her a muffin-top, but it’s incredibly well-suited to the very cold climate of which she is a native.