Not all chickens were made equal. Some, like the Polish chicken, wear their crests with all the style of the most eye-catching fascinator at Ascot while others strut around in their tufts and buffs like something out of a Jane Austen novel.
Chickens with fluffy, feathered feet don’t look quite as stylish, but are very cute, often looking like they’re wearing over-sized slippers.
Our 8 best chickens with feathered feet:
- Booted Bantam
- Belgian d’Uccle
What Kind of Chickens Have Fluffy Feet?
Most of us are familiar with the fluffy-footed bantam but what other chicken breeds have feathers on their feet?
Do Orpingtons have feathered feet, for example? Apparently not, but there are eight different breeds of chickens that do and are recognized by the American Poultry Association as part of the so-called Feather Leg Class.
Just because they look cool, however, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll slip into life in your backyard as easily as chickens that lack those feathered feet. Before rushing out to secure yourself a selection of fluffy-footed fowls, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of owning such chickens.
1. Booted Bantam
This diminutive breed has been around since the 1600s and is one of the “true bantams” which means “it is a naturally small bird with no related large fowl from which it was reduced in size.”
Often regarded as the Supermodel of the chicken world, Booted Bantams are primarily kept as exhibition or show chickens, or as pets. They’re not bad layers either, producing around 150 to 180 – admittedly quite tiny – eggs per year.
With their short, compact bodies, long wings, and feathered feet and hocks, Booted Bantams come in a wide range of colors, from pure white to the more eye-catching Silver & Lemon Millefleur.
To keep them in perfect condition, “many owners prefer raising Booted Bantam chicken indoors or in protected coops with soft bedding.”
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2. Belgian d’Uccle
Not as well known as the bantam, the Belgian d’Uccle is “as sweet as Belgian chocolate.” Calm and lovable, they make great pets and eye-catching companions with their wide variety of colors and patterns.
While the Belgian d’Uccle won’t provide you with breakfast every morning, laying an average of 100 eggs per year, they will add a touch of style to your coop.
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Easy to keep as well as easy-going, the d’Uccle is a great chicken for beginners and make great mothers with their naturally broody tendencies.
Being lighter than your average chicken, Belgian d’Uccles are excellent flyers so, if you’re considering getting a flock, you might want to cover your chicken run before they end up all over the neighborhood.
This American breed “was the principal meat breed in the US from the 1850s until about 1930.”
Brahma chickens are easy to keep and easy on the eye with their pea combs and vulture hocks, the latter referring to the “cluster of stiff feathers growing on the thighs of a domestic fowl and projecting backward.”
Weighing as much as 17lb (8kg) while laying around 300 eggs per year, the Brahma is one of the best dual-purpose chickens around, especially for backyard chicken keepers.
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But, wait a minute…
Do all Brahma have feathered feet?
Yes, both the dark and light variations sport the famous foot feathering which, along with their elegant coloring, makes them look as though they’re “wearing an elaborate ball gown.”
Most of our feathered-feet chickens are available from Tractor Supply!
Originating in China, the Cochin was introduced to North America in Europe in the 1840s to 1850s where it gained instant popularity as an exhibition bird.
It shares some characteristics with the Brahma, which also descended from the so-called Shanghai birds of China.
Fun and friendly with comically fluffy feet, the Cochin is another dual-purpose bird, weighing up to 13 lb (6 kg) and producing between 150 to 160 eggs a year.
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With feathers everywhere, including their toes, Cochins can be difficult to care for, especially in muddy conditions. On the plus side, they do better in cold weather than almost any other feather-footed breed and will even continue laying through a snow-capped winter.
The Cochin is not a naturally inquisitive bird and its heavy body prevents it from flying as easily as the Belgian d’Uccle, making it ideal as a backyard breed.
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The lesser-known Faverolle reveals its French origins in its fluffy muffs, bushy beard, and feathered feet, none of which would look out of place at the Paris Fashion Show.
Most commonly white or salmon-pink, Faverolle come in a wide range of color varieties and patterns, bringing your backyard to life with their vibrancy.
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Gentle and sociable chickens, the Faverolle love humans as much as they relish an unexpected worm or a decent dust bath on a hot day. As such, they make great pets, especially for children.
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Although there are now several different types of Langshan, they’re all descended from the original Croad Langshan. While not quite as fluffy-footed as the Brahma, the long-legged Langshan has a smattering of feathers on its shanks and outer toes.
A hardy bird, the Langshan is a good meat bird, capable of providing plenty of white meat and they make decent layers, producing up to 220 eggs per year and laying throughout the winter.
They’re good foragers and great flyers so need a secure coop to keep them contained.
Another great chicken for beginners, the Langshan comes in a variety of colors, with the original Croad Langshan sporting a black plumage that reveals its green iridescence in the sunlight.
When viewed in profile, the Langshan has a distinct “wine-glass shape” which, in my opinion, is another reason to love them!
One of the world’s favorite chicken breeds, the well-known Silkie is distinguishable by looking, fundamentally, like a fluffy chicken ball.
Although small in stature, Silkies make a big impact with their stylish hats and big slippers. As one of the oldest breeds of chicken in the world, the Silkie has been around since the 13th century and, rather appropriately, traveled to the West via the Silk Route.
Named for its plumage, “which is said to feel like silk and satin,” the diminutive Silkie weighs less than two pounds (1kg), making it unfeasible as a meat bird, and lays just 100 eggs a year.
In other words, it’s not much good for anything except looking at and cuddling.
Nevertheless, Silkies make great pets and fashion accessories, according to some celebrities! They also have a surprisingly long life-span, living up to eight or nine years old.
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This striking breed of chicken originated in Turkey, which doesn’t seem right at all. It didn’t take long for it to travel the world, however, arriving in England in 1854 and the US in 1867.
The name is directly derived from the Turkish title, Serai-Tavuk, meaning “fowls of the Sultan.”
One of the smallest of the large-breed chickens, the Sultan is primarily ornamental, laying just 50 eggs per year and growing to a maximum weight of around 6lb (2.75kg). They are entertaining birds, however, with calm, friendly dispositions.
These robust birds are easy to keep and do well in confined areas, although their fluffy feathers provide perfect hiding places for fleas, lice, and other external parasites.
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Other Chickens With Feathered Feet
While not a breed in itself, if you want a giggle, you should get a frizzle!
Frizzle chickens are a variety of hen that have an abundance of frizzled feathers and fluffed up feet. You can get frizzled Cochins, frizzled Pekins, and even frizzled Polish chickens.
Frizzling occurs when the feathers curl outward and upward rather than lying flat against the body and is the result of “an incomplete dominant gene.”
Get yourself a frizzled Japanese bantam and breed it with a Silkie and, the next thing you know, you’ll have yourself a Sizzle!
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Why Do Chickens Have Feathers On Their Feet?
There is no scientific explanation for why some chickens have feathers on their feet when others don’t. In fact, “other than looks, feathered feet don’t offer any extra benefits. Even though it would be really cool if it gave the ability to walk on water like the basilisk lizard.” (source)
In 2002, researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that, by activating one of the two genes responsible for the formation of scales and feathers, they could make an embryonic chicken grow feathers instead of scales on its feet.
They also found that the Chinese Silkie has “feathers similar in shape to unearthed feathered dinosaurs,” at which point their imaginations probably ran away with them, conjuring up images of a Tyrannosaurus Rex covered with soft, white fluff!
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Foot Feather Problems and How to Deal With Them
Fluffy-footed chickens are eye-catching and fun, but they do come with their own set of problems. As we mentioned earlier, chickens with feathers on their feet don’t do so well in muddy conditions as they transfer that mud to their nests, and their eggs, making them “vulnerable to bacterial infection”.
To avoid this, give your chickens a dry run and plenty of bedding.
Chickens with feathered feet are also more prone to scaly leg mites. As the feathers emerge from beneath the leg scales, so they give mites an ideal entry point and easy environment in which to thrive.
Treating scaly leg mites isn’t complicated on a normal chicken but, on one with feathers all over it, it is considerably more challenging.
Although many of the feather-leg breeds cope well in cold weather, they are more susceptible to frostbite than the naked-legged varieties. Counterintuitive though that may seem, “if your chickens have a wet or snowy run and get slush or mud embedded in their legs feathers, that can freeze hard and cause frostbite issues”. (source)
None of these issues is particularly serious and many feather-legged chickens are still considered easy keepers, even with these problems.
A little extra vigilance and dedication will go a long way towards keeping your chickens comfortable. Anyway, what’s a few niggles when you’ve got frizzles and giggles to make up for them?
Fluffy-Footed Feathered Friends
Fluffy-footed chickens don’t just look cool, most of them have pretty cool behavior to boot. Whether you opt for a child-friendly Faverolle or a dual-purpose Brahma, those feathered feet will turn a few heads and add a comic element to your backyard flock.