There are many different breeds of chickens, each with a different purpose. Some breeds are raised for egg production, others for meat production and still others for show purposes. Interbreeding chickens to obtain the perfect blend of size and temperament has created additional breeds. Bantam chickens are small, less than half the size of a normal full-grown chicken, and feisty. Many breeds have Bantam counterparts resulting from a hen of that breed mating with a Bantam rooster.
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Inspect the top of the chicken's head. If a crest of feathers rises about the head of the bird, you have a crested chicken which is more of a show bird than an egg layer or meat producer. The crested chickens tend to be smaller, though there are a few exceptions. Polish chickens are just one example of the crested breeds. If the crested chicken has feathers that resemble fur covering the chicken's facial features, you probably have a silkie. Some silkies have feathers growing on their feet.
Inspect the facial features of your chicken. If it looks like it has a beard or extended feathers in the face, you have a type of Ameraucana. These are known as the Easter egg breed, named for their blue and green eggs. If your chicken doesn't have the beard, but does appear to have ear mittens and no tail, you have an Araucana, which are often mistaken for Ameraucanas. Aracaunas come in a variety of colours.
Examine the ears of the chicken. If you have a chicken with brown ear covers, it will lay brown eggs. If your chicken has any other colour ears, it will lay white eggs. This method, however, does not work with the muffed Ameraucana or Araucanas. Knowing whether you have brown egg layers or white egg layers will help narrow down the breed.
Look at the colour of your chicken. Colours vary for each breed but it can help narrow down your options. If your chicken appears blue, it could be a Blue Andalusian. However, Andalusians also come in black, white and mottled, or a combination of blue, white and black. If your chicken is a solid, glossy black in appearance, it could be an Australorp. These are chickens bred from Orpingtons in Australia in the early 1900s. The name combines the "austral" from Australia with "orp" from Orpingtons.
Look for a black, mottled appearance where black streaks or dots accentuate a white or otherwise different coloured chicken. The black mottled pattern is a result of a barred gene common in Plymouth Rock and New Hampshire chickens. The Delaware chicken is generally all white with a few black streaks betraying its barred gene.
Look for a combination of the Ameraucana's muff, the feathered feet of a Silkie and five instead of four toes on each foot. If your chicken has these features, it is probably a Faverolle, a French breed of chicken.
Look for feathers that curl outwards instead of lying flat against the body of the chicken. These fuzzy chickens are called Frizzles. Frizzles are mostly used as show birds and for mating with different breeds to make a frizzle version, much like breeders use Bantams to make smaller versions of other breeds.
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