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Fancy Chicken Breeds

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Campine Silver male, a Belgian bird

Fancy Chicken Breeds

It is not always easy to categorise a pure chicken breed. The chicken breed may be divided into a variety and again subdivided into a strain. Illustrations of a breed may be taken as an example. For many birds, there will be variation in several characteristics, e.g., feather colour, comb type and leg length. Males are invariably bigger and more colourful than hens. Breeds are maintained by the rigorous standards of judging that are applied to fanciers at the many poultry shows held across Australia each year, as well as articles in magazines such as Australasian Poultry.

Pure breeds are usually categorised into:

  • Hard feather – heavy
  • Soft feather – heavy
  • Soft feather – light
  • True bantam

Almost all breeds have miniatures. In some classifications, miniature breeds are also referred to as light breeds or bantams. They are normally exact replicas of their heavier counterpart. There are also those breeds which have reduced numbers of females (around 500 or less), which are classified as rare. Reference is sometimes made to pullets and hens, and cock and cockerels. In both cases the former refers to the bird before the first adult moult, which always weigh less than the mature or adult bird. Some breeds are reluctant to go broody and these are usually referred to as non sitters. The breeds described here are but a sample of what is available worldwide, but are those breeds which are likely to be of interest to Australian poultry keepers.


Australorp Australorp is an abbreviation of Australian black Orpington, and as the name would suggest, the Australorp is a breed that originated in Australia (in approximately 1890), from the English Orpington. The Australorp... read more


Ancona The Ancona originates from Italy and although this particular bird displays a tendency to be flighty, it is easy to train and makes a great breed for family and... read more


Andalusian The Andalusian originates from the Mediterranean. This breed is characterised by bright white earlobes, reddish-brown eyes, a non-sitter and is also a flighty bird. They particularly don’t like to be confined.... read more


Aracuana Originating in Chile the Aracuana breed is characterised by tufts of feathers growing out on either side of the head like ‘mutton chops’. The Aracuana has a Small pea... read more

Australian Game

Australian Game Originally developed from fighting strains, with a strong influence from Malay Game, ‘Aussie Games’ are large, solid and muscular. Their plumage is very hard and brittle.


Barnevelder Originating from Holland, the Barnevelder is a placid bird. Their initial attraction was their high numbers of large brown eggs. The Barnevelder has orange eyes with yellow legs and feet.... read more


Brahama The Brahama originates from Asia and is a large and versatile bird. They are easily broody , are placid and tolerate the cold very well. Brahamas are calm, friendly... read more


Campine A Belgian bird, the Campine do not often go broody, they are good layers but are a bit flighty. Their shanks and toes are leaden blue. Classification Soft feather... read more


Dorking The Dorking originates from Great Britain and may date back to the Roman invasion of England. It was very popular for meat and eggs. They have an extra toe (5... read more


Faverolles Faverolles are good layers and are gentle and affectionate. In Australia there are keepers of two distinct varieties: The ermine (white with black) and the salmon coloured. Faverolles are classified... read more


Frizzle The Frizzle is of Asian descent and is a purely exhibition breed. It is docile, poorly mobile and not a good layer. The plumage of the Frizzle gives the breed its... read more


Hamburg/Hamburgh The Hamburg chicken variety originates from the Netherlands. Though small, these active birds are well renowned for their ability to lay up to 220 eggs a year. There are... read more


Houdan The Houdan, originally a French bird, has five toes which suggests that it may be related to the Dorking which also has a fifth toe. It has a full crest, beard and... read more

Indian Game

Indian Game Indian Game, also known as Cornish Game, originate (as their alternative name suggests) from Cornwell, England. The rather large and stocky bird is not well know for their... read more


Japanese Historical evidence suggests that the Japanese Bantam originated in Vietnam, not Japan, however this breed is very common in the gardens of Japan’s upper class for the last few hundred... read more


Langshan The Langshan originates from China and is probably to most popular breed in Australia. It is a very tall bird that has feathered legs and can boast very long wing... read more


Belgian There are three distinct breeds of the Belgian poultry variety. These include, Belgian d’Anvers Belgian d’Uccle Belgian de Watermael Belgian Bearded d’Anvers The Belgian Bearded d’Anvers originates from Antwerp... read more


Leghorn Leghorn chickens remain perhaps one of the most popular chicken breeds due to their ability to produce approximately 300 eggs per year. Until recently, this breed was the most important... read more

Malay Game

Malay Game Malay Game are a fierce, proud bird that stands very tall. Subsequently, they require a lot of space and enjoy being outdoors. They are sensitive to cold temperatures due... read more


Minorca The Minorca is one of the heaviest of the light breeds and originates from the Mediterranean. The breed was developed in England from imported Castilian fowl of Spain. They are utility fowl... read more

Modern Game

Modern Game Modern Game birds are not good egg producers and their meat is not exceptional. Therefore, Modern Game are predominantly used for ornamental purposes only and because of this, it... read more

New Hampshire

New Hampshire As the name suggests the New Hampshire originates from New Hampshire in the US and formed the basis of the early broiler industry, although it is a dual purpose... read more

Old English Game

Old English Game Old English Game are a descendant of English fighting cocks, and a close relation to the original Jungle Fowl and were traditionally bred as a fighting bird. Since... read more


Orpington The Orpington is one of the main ancestors of the world commercial egg laying record holder, the Australorp. The Orpington originated from the United Kingdom and averages 200- 220 eggs per year.... read more

Pekin bantam

Pekin bantam The Pekin Bantam has short legs and are fully feathered from head to toe. Arguably the most popular breed in Australia where there are breeders of 15 different... read more

Pit Game

Pit Game As its name suggests, the Pit Game is a descendant of the English fighting bird that was often used in cock-fighting which is now illegal in many countries, including Australia.... read more

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock The Plymouth rock is a very popular breed in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. It is a friendly, hardy, dual purpose breed, which was originally used... read more


Polish The Polish is a European breed of chicken, which is believed to have originated in the Netherlands. The English language name of these birds is a misnomer, as they do... read more

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Rhode Island chickens are a very popular dual purpose poultry breed. The Red variety is capable of producing 200- 250 large eggs annually, however the cock is very aggressive. This must... read more


Rosecomb The Rosecomb is an attractive small bantam which is lively by nature and is thus highly flighty. As a result, it is a breed more suitable for experienced poultry keepers instead... read more


Sebright The Sebright is a true bantam and for this reason it is best suited for ornamental purposes only. This breed originated in England and, like other smaller bantams, it is a poor egg... read more


Silkie The Silkie is an Asian bird that makes a great pet due to its stunning appearance and great gentle nature. Their feathers are distinctively fluffy, and as a consequence they must... read more


Sussex As its name might suggest, the Sussex originates from the United Kingdom. It is a great breed for either meat or eggs, depending on how it has been bred. Though not as... read more


Welsummer The Welsummer lays large brown eggs however, it is a non sitter. Its head is small and its comb is upright and has evenly serrated points. It is a... read more


Wyandotte Apart from its appearance, a major factor in favour of the Wyandotte is the ease of which these birds can be kept. This breed originated in the US and with the cooperation of... read more

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