Difference in breeds. Need some education.

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by kyle7630, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. kyle7630

    kyle7630 Songster

    Aug 14, 2008
    Semora NC
    I have had chickens for a couple of years, just as a hobby and source of eggs. I know what I like and associate it by the color of the bird only. Other than that, I'm clueless. I raise dogs for breed and conformation and it can get pretty complicated. I imagine chickens can be the same. My question is; what distinguishes one chicken breed from another? What is an Orpington, or a Rhode Island, or a Dominique? What, other than color makes one chicken different than another. Are the differences subtle, or huge? I need some basic bird education here, anyone care to help me out?

  2. Pyncheon guy

    Pyncheon guy Songster

    Oct 17, 2010
    NW Michigan
    Color doesn't make a breed....some breeds do come in only a certain color or pattern....but most breeds can be bred in just about every known and unknown color or pattern. Comb shape...leg color....egg color....size.....plumage texture....plumage length....eye color....beards....no beards...crests....no crests...and even how long their crow determines certain breeds.... I would suggest acquiring some hatchery brochures that show photos or better yet purchase a "American Standard of Perfection" and/or the "American Bantam Standard"...both books have discriptions and some color plates that can help you.... Welcome to the wonderful world of poultry!!!!!
  3. TimG

    TimG Songster

    Jul 23, 2008
    Color is a huge part. But, shape/size is also important and probably not nearly as easy for an inexperienced person (such as myself) to recognize. Comb type, wattles, muffs, tufts, and that sort of thing is also important, but more obvious, like color.

    One thing that you should be aware of is the difference between "breed" in the dog world and "breed" in the chicken world. In the dog world, it is important to be pure breed -- the blood is important. In the chicken world all that really matters is how a chicken conforms to the breed standard. If you get to the XYZ standard by combining any number of breeds, it doesn't matter so long as the end result looks like an XYZ. That's an over-simplification, I'm sure, but gives you an idea of the difference.
  4. ChickenWisperer

    ChickenWisperer Songster

    Jun 30, 2008
    There are huge differences. And I have to diverge - color is not the biggest part. Many breeds share the same colors.

    Here is how to distinguish breeds -

    Body type/shape (you can tell the difference in a doberman and a saint bernard, right? Wing carriage, tail carriage, tightness of feather, fullness of feather, conformation of bird)
    Comb (single, rose, v, buttercup, pea, walnut, etc)
    Earlobe color (red, white)
    Skin color (black, yellow, white)
    Shank/Leg color (blue, slate, black, green, yellow, willow, pink/white)
    Color (normal colors, breed specific colors, project colors that aren't accepted yet)
    Eye color (orange, red, yellow, hazel, black/brown, etc)
    Temperament (flighty, docile, friendly, lap chicken, noisy, quiet)
    Rate of laying (hardly ever lays, sometimes lays, lays okay, prolific layer)
    Color of eggs (Green/etc, blue, chalk white, white, cream, tinted, brown, chocolate/terra cotta)

    Then, there are specific, distinguishing characteristics. Ameraucanas have muffs/beard, Araucanas have tufts, Polish/Houdans/Silkies/Spitzhaubens have crests, silkies/dorkings/faverolles have extra toes, brahmas/langshan/faverolles/cochins, sultans have feathered feet, cubalayas/sumatras/phoenix have long tails, etc

    Each breed will have a unique background/purpose/acceptance date.

    Really, the only way to become familiar with all the breeds is to study them, get exposed to them. Go to a the breeds section here on BYC and look around, or on feathersite.
  5. TrystInn

    TrystInn Songster

    Sep 16, 2009
    Southern Arizona
    If at all possible, find some folks who have the breeds you're curious about and go spend time with those chickens. You'll find their temperaments are very different and can even vary widely within the same breed depending on show or pet quality lines.

    A friend of mine insisted she wanted Andalusians and Hamburgs, so I had her come over and spend time with a few of ours. After about an hour, she was completely annoyed with them. So I put a Rhodie in her lap. After rubbing and singing to Scarlett for awhile, she was in love. Now she raises RIRs. This week, she's coming over to do the Lap Test with our Wyandotte, Ameraucana and Cochins. We'll see how that goes [​IMG]

  6. ChickenWisperer

    ChickenWisperer Songster

    Jun 30, 2008
    Quote:True. Every chicken is an individual.
  7. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    Love the responses here. Very true. [​IMG]

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