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Chicken Breeds

10 Rare & Exotic Chicken Breeds

by Alexa Lehr | 11.16.2022
Two Svart Hona chickens in a field


All chickens are unique and special in their own ways, but some breeds are just downright exotic! From being completely black “goth” breeds to featuring every fancy feather-do imaginable, these exotic chicken breeds are as special as their appearances suggest. These rare chickens are hard to find and acquire, but that makes it all the more important for these breeds to be preserved by both breeders and backyard poultry enthusiasts alike.

If you’re looking to expand your feather family, you may want to consider one of these extraordinary chicken breeds.. if you can find one!

What Are Rare Chicken Breeds? 

A chicken breed is considered rare when it reaches the ‘critical’ status as determined by The Livestock Conservancy. The Livestock Conservancy considers a breed to be deemed ‘critical’ when there are fewer than 500 breeding individuals in the United States and the worldwide population for the breed is fewer than 1,000 birds. 

Chicken breeds that are considered ‘critical’ are often hard to find, and it can be very difficult to acquire purebred individuals. 

10 Exotic Rare Chicken Breeds  

The 10 rare chicken breeds listed below are all deemed ‘critical’ status by The Livestock Conservancy as of 2021. 

Our list does not include all the rare chicken breeds. However, it does feature some of the more exotic rare chicken breeds. These birds are not only rare, but they also have some unique and exotic features that make them stand out from other chicken breeds!  

#1. Svart Hona 

A Svart Hona rooster

Purpose: exhibition, eggs 

Origin: Sweden 

Personality: active, can be flighty, good foragers, friendly but not docile  

Appearance: black plumage and facial features, single comb, clean-legged 

Special Features: The Svart Hona is a medium-sized breed that is most recognized because of its unique fibromelanistic appearance. The Svart Hona is one of two chicken breeds who are completely fibromelanistic, the other being the Ayam Cemani. Being fibromelanistic means that the bird is completely black including its feathers, skin, bones, and meat.

Svart Honas are known to be very cold hardy and excellent foragers. The hens make good broody mothers and the cocks are protective but friendly. Svart Hona hens are excellent layers of medium-sized, creamy white eggs.  

#2. Holland 

A Holland chickens in a field

Purpose: dual-purpose, eggs  

Origin: New Jersey, United States of America 

Personality: calm, friendly, not noisy  

Appearance: come in two varieties: barred and white (white variety may be extinct), single comb, clean-legged  

Special Features: The Holland is the rarest American-bred chicken breed. It is a white-skinned, dual-purpose breed that is cold hardy and has the unique feature of being one of the only American-classed breeds that lays white eggs.

The hens are good layers and will also make good broody mothers. The Holland breed is slow to mature but fills out to a large size bird when fully grown.  

#3. Onagadori  

An Onagadori rooster perched on a branch

Purpose: exhibition 

Origin: Japan 

Personality: docile  

Appearance: silver and black plumage color, single comb, clean-legged  

Special Features: The Onagadori is considered a long-tailed chicken breed. The roosters can grow tail feathers that reach up to 27 feet in length! They can do so because their tail feathers grow very fast and they rarely molt.

Onagadori chickens were developed in Japan where they are now considered a Japanese National Natural Treasure. Since they are now considered a Japanese National Natural Treasure, the Onagadori can no longer be exported out of the country. There is estimated to be only about 250 Onagadori chickens worldwide, most of which can be found in Japan.

This breed is mostly used for exhibition as they are a lightweight chicken breed and the hens are not good layers.  

#4. Sultan 

An all-white Sultan rooster

Purpose: ornamental  

Origin: Turkey  

Personality: calm, docile, prone to bullying from assertive breeds 

Appearance: white plumage with slate blue shanks and toes  

Special Features: The Sultan is a unique chicken breed indeed considering it sports nearly every unique feature a chicken can have! It has a medium size, V-shaped comb that is often hidden by a full crest of feathers on top of its head.

The Sultan also has muff and beard feathers on its face. The breed was developed to have low-carried wings and vulture hocks, which means the feathers on the hock region of the leg point backward instead of down. They also have feathered shanks and toes as well as 5 toes on each foot (most chickens only have 4 toes on each foot). The Sultan is a heat tolerant breed and the hens are only decent layers.  

#5. Erminette  

An Erminette hen with her chickens in a yard

Purpose: dual-purpose, eggs 

Origin: West Indies 

Personality: gentle, docile 

Appearance: white plumage with black feathers mottled throughout, can also be white with red mottling, clean legged, single comb 

Special Features: The Erminette looks like the Dalmatian of the chicken world. They are a medium size chicken breed who are cold hardy, good foragers, and the hens are good layers. The hens also make good broody mothers if given the chance.

Despite their unique coloring, the Erminette does not breed true to color. When two Erminette are bred together, their offspring can be all black, all white, or have the distinctive white and black mottling characteristic of the breed.  

#6. Hedemora 

A Hedemora chicken standing in grass

Purpose: dual-purpose, eggs 

Origin:  Hedemora, Sweden 

Personalityfriendly & docile, easy to handle  

Appearance: small body but heavily feathered, small single comb, feathered shanks or clean legged  

Special Features: The Hedemora chicken was developed in Sweden to be an extremely cold hardy breed that still laid well despite cold temperatures.

Hedemoras have a compact body to conserve body heat, and they also have a dense layer of down feathers close to their body.

The Hedemora is a landrace breed and can come in three different feather varieties: silkie (also called wooly), smooth feather-legged, and smooth clean-legged. Being a landrace breed, the Hedemora has no distinct color variety. All three feather types and a variety of plumage colors are needed in a Hedemora breeding flock for good genetic strength.  

#7. Derbyshire Redcap  

Two Derbyshire Redcaps on a stone wall

Purpose: dual-purpose, eggs 

Origin: England 

Personality: active 

Appearance: large rose comb, color variety includes red & brown body feathers with black colored tail feathers, clean legged 

Special Features: The most distinctive feature of the Derbyshire Redcap is its large rose comb. The Derbyshire Redcap is bred to have an extremely large rose comb that should be no less than 3 inches, have multiple points, and a medium spike on the back of the comb, which is called a ‘leader.’

Another unique fact about the Derbyshire Redcap is that its genetic history is fairly pure, with little crossbreeding. This means that the breed is very hardy and not prone to disease or illness. The hens are good layers of white eggs.  

#8. La Fleche  

A La Fleche rooster

Purpose: dual-purpose 

Origin: France 

Personality: flighty, avoid human interaction, can be friendly and the roosters are not aggressive  

Appearance: black plumage, red facial features with large white earlobes, clean legged 

Special Features: The La Fleche is a large chicken breed that has a distinctive V-shaped comb, giving the bird its nickname of ‘devil bird’. The actual meaning of the breed’s name is ‘the arrow’ because of its V-shaped comb. La Fleche are good foragers and the hens rarely go broody, which makes them consistent layers as well. The La Fleche is a heat tolerant breed that does better in warm climates versus cold climates.  

#9. Campine 

A Campine standing among other chickens

Purpose: dual-purpose, eggs 

Origin: Belgium 

Personality: flighty, very inquisitive, friendly 

Appearance: large single comb, clean legged, two color varieties: Silver and Golden 

Special Features: The Campine is a small chicken breed that is still considered a dual-purpose breed. The hens are good layers of small white eggs. They are not a very hardy breed, which contributes to them being a rare breed.

When Silver Campines and Golden Campines are bred together, they can produce auto-sexing chicks who can be sexed at hatch. The female chicks will have a reddish hue to their down feathers and the males will have gray on top of their heads. C

ampine hens are not likely to go broody. The Campine is a good forager and is heat tolerant but not cold hardy.  

#10. Burmese  

Purpose: ornamental  

Origin: Myanmar (Burma) 

Personality: unknown 

Appearance: short legs, feathered feet, crest & beard 

Special Features: The Burmese chicken is so rare that little is known about this exotic chicken breed. It is considered a bantam breed and is known to have unique features such as short legs, both a crest and beard feathers, as well as feathered feet. The total population of Burmese chickens is unknown, although the estimated number is less than 102 birds with only a handful of dedicated breeders worldwide.

Selecting a Hatchery for a Rare Chicken Breeder

If you're considering adding one to your flock, always try to acquire rare chicken breeds from experienced breeders who have both knowledge of the breed and who pay special attention to selective breeding of the breed to preserve its genetics. You should also still consider if the breed will be a good fit for your backyard and region’s weather conditions

Extraordinary Chickens That Make a Statement

A Svart Hona gen

From all black to tail feathers that will truly impress, these unique, striking, and fun breeds are a great way to add excitement to your backyard flock! While these 10 rare and exotic chicken breeds may be hard to find, they are totally worth adding to your backyard flock! Not only are you helping to preserve an endangered chicken breed, but you are sure to get a unique experience from having a rare and exotic chicken breed in your flock.

Adding a rare and exotic chicken breed to your flock will add spunk and variety to your backyard!   anda Brahlek

Alexa Lehr

Alexa Lehr

Alexa grew up raising, showing, and caring for poultry. Her passion for poultry grew into her current small farm business, the Black Feather Farm, where she breeds rare and heritage chicken breeds. She uses her vast experience to improve the lives of chickens and educate Grubbly readers as well as readers on her own blog, The Pioneer Chicks.

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