When selecting chickens for your homestead, you may have certain characteristics you’re looking for. For some feathery fun, here’s a list of seven chicken breeds with feathered feet.
Originally bred in colder climates, the feathers were thought to keep their feet warmer
However, one of the downsides of having chicken breeds with feathered feet is that the snow can actually get caught up around the feathers and form little clingy snow-balls.
Another issue is that the feathered feet often get muddy and can leave your eggs muddy too.
My absolute favorite chicken breeds with feathered feet are brahmas, cochins, and faverolles. I will always have these three in my flock.
My current rooster is a very handsome buff brahma, and all of his babies are born with feathered feet too, so now my flock of barnyard mixes all have beautiful feathered feet!
Chicken Breeds with Feathered Feet
We got our cochins as rescues, but they’re one of my favorites. They’re large, hardy, smart, and go broody every Spring and Summer.
This makes hatching out new babies every year a breeze! We simply throw a few eggs under a broody hen and let her do her job.
We have three cochins, and they’re all such great mamas, they share parenting duty.
I’ve even heard rumors that some cochin roosters will go broody!
Once endangered, cochins are considered a “recovering breed” by the livestock conservancy.
Originally from China, this small tailed, large, fully feathered breed took America and England by storm in the 1850’s.
The Chinese bred these birds for their large size for meat, as well as eggs. A capon (a male castrated chicken, fattened for eating) at 15-16 months old reached 12 lbs!
While popular for backyard chicken owners, they never caught on for commercial operations. In 1895, Stephen Beale even called them the “least profitable of all of our breeds of poultry.”
While their size makes for a good chicken dinner, the produce eggs well into the Winter, and their broodiness makes hatching babies a breeze, they also are not very fast, will not wander far, and cannot fly as well as other breeds, meaning they’ll stay out of your garden if you have a fence.
Brahma’s also appeared on the scene out of China shortly after the Cochins around the 1850s. Larger than cochins, they were once reported to be the largest chickens on Earth.
While not coming out of China as an official breed, cochins and other large fowl such as Chittigong from India and others were used to develop the breed in America.
Their large size and gentle natures lend them to also be called “gentle giants”.
I’m sure you’ve seen this video floating around Facebook of a shockingly huge Brahma rooster.
Also like the cochins, brahmas have an impressive carcass weight, are good egg-layers and produce eggs well into Winter.
In fact, they produce the bulk of their eggs from October to May. Possibly because their extra feathering may make them hotter in the Summer.
From the mid-1850’s through about 1930, they were the leading breed of meat birds. They were often harvested at 8-10 weeks of age (much sooner than other breeds – increasing their profitability). And their roosters still made a tasty broiler as late as 12-13 months.
Like the cochins, they will not fly over a low fence, have calm and docile personalities and thrive in cold, Northern climates.
We chose a brahma as homestead chicken sire due to his size – the roosters he fathers are destined for the stock pot, and his hens all have docile personalities and lay large eggs.
3. Belgain d’Uccle
Originating in the town of Uccle in Belgium, these lovely chicken breed with feathered feet come in many different shapes, sizes and colors.
Michel Van Gelder developed this breed in the late 1800s for exhibition.
They have a sweet and docile personality, better suited to pets instead of livestock.
One of the varieties of Belgian d’Uccles is the Millie Fleur (meaning 1000 flowers), which has an almost polka-dotted feather pattern. The Mille Fleur was accepted into the APA Standard of Perfection in 1914.
While they don’t produce as many eggs as the more popular chicken breeds, their looks far make up for it. They are simply stunning.
They also make excellent mothers and easily go broody.
Another breed that doesn’t lay as well, and often goes broody are silkies. Silkies are named so because their feathers tend to be smaller, and silkier, but fluffier – if that makes any sense.
While their official origin is unknown, the best guess is that they come from ancient China.
The earliest documentation of a “furry chicken” comes from Marco Polo’s travels through Asia in the 13th century.
In 1598, Ulisse Aldrovandi, a naturalist in Italy, wrote about “wool-bearing chicken” and “clothed with hair like that of a black cat.”
While the breed was officially recognized in 1874, sideshows and breeders would spread the myths that they were actually the offspring of chickens and rabbits, or that they had mammalian fur.
They also have black skin and bones, blue earlobes and five toes on each foot.
Due to their size, the fact that they waddle more than run, and their fluffy plumage blocking their eyesight, you should not allow silkies to free-range – they’re too easy a target.
While they are not great layers, and don’t make an attractive table bird, they are beautiful and people pay a pretty penny for silkies.
5. Booted Bantams
As their name suggested, booted bantams are bantam (small breed) of feather-footed chickens.
While not bred for eggs or meat, these booted bantams are bred almost exclusively for show.
And they are show-stoppers.
They have large, upright tails, a single comb with five points, downward-pointing wings, and come in more than 20 color varieties.
The booted bantam is closely related the Belgian d’Uccle. The Booted bantam is slightly taller, while the Belgain sports a fetching beard.
Faverolles are beautiful feather-footed chickens that were developed in France in the late 1800s.
Developed from cochins, hudans and dorkings, faverolles have the size we look for in meat birds, while also being respectable layers.
In addition to being productive on the homestead, they have docile, lovely personalities.
They have beautiful beards and muffs, and long feathered legs.
Originating in Turkey (the country) the Sultan is a rare breed and has been endangered since 1854 when it first arrived in England.
Shortly after, in 1867, made their way to America. An author and poultry expert, Mr. George O. Brown noted that they were the tamest and most contented birds he ever owned.
They were more fond of grains and insects than grass and vegetables and “almost constantly” sang that contented chicken song.
They are almost solidly white, with a crest, beard, muffs, feathered feet and give toes on each foot.
It is said they were used as “living ornaments” in the gardens of the Sultans.
They lay large white eggs and lay well from March through September.
So if you’re looking to add some feather-footed chickens to your backyard breeds, these 7 will give you a good place to start! But really – chicken math.