How to distinguish different chicken breeds

Identify Chicken Breeds (Beginner’s Guide)

There are numerous chicken breeds available around the world with a wide variety of color, size, feathers, comb and body shape. So, it’s very important to learn about how to identify chickens from those different breeds.

All chicken breeds have some special characteristics and nature which can help you identifying them. But for positive identification you will need some knowledge about chicken breeds, images, charts or other ways of distinguishing them from various breeds of similar colors, size and types.

Gender , color, raising purpose and some other characteristics can also be helpful for identifying specific breed from a wide variety of available breeds.

How to differentiate different chicken breeds
How to differentiate different chicken breeds

How to Identify Chickens

Here we are describing some common ways of identifying chicken breeds.

Body Shape

Body shape of chickens vary according to their production purpose. Generally chickens are raised for two purposes. Egg production and for meat producing purpose.

There are some chicken breeds available which are suitable for both eggs and meat production. This type of breeds are called dual purpose or general purpose chickens. Body shape varies by the production type of chickens.

Generally meat producing breeds (broilers) have heavy bodies. And large bones so that it can support their weight. On the other hand egg producing breeds (layer) have typically smaller bodies.

Small sized body help them to put all of their resources into egg production. General or dual purpose chicken breeds are lighter than meat producing breeds and slightly larger than layer breeds. So, you can identify chickens by their body shape.

Comb & Wattles

Different chicken breeds have different combs and wattles. Combs and wattles have a great importance for identifying chickens breed. With some breeds of chicken combs and wattles are almost entirely associated. Silkie chicken breed has round, bumpy and perched combs on the front of their head.

Cornish, Sumatras, Brahmas and some other breeds have pea combs which is characterized by three low ridges set lengthwise on the chicken’s head. Some fancy chicken breeds like Houdans, Polish and Sultans have V-shaped combs.

It’s very difficult to identify the breeds with single combs. Because single combs are very common and various breeds have this type of comb. You can try to learn more about various types of combs.


Different sized chicken breeds can be seen around the globe. They can be both large sized and bantam size. Jersey Giant is a large chicken breed and they can reach about 10 pounds or even more.

Bantam and the Sebright are small sized chicken breed which can weight 1 pound or less.


Every chicken breed has special types of feathers. Feathers of chickens provide a lot of information about their breed and origin. Chickens can have both loose-fitting and close-lying feathers.

But it depends on their purpose and the environment form where their ancestors came from. Silkies and some other related fancy varieties are known as decorative chickens.

They get fluffy and shapeless appearances from their distinctive hairlike feathers. Most of the chicken breeds also have gender based feathers variety. And both roosters and hens have special types of feathers.

Usually roosters possess fine, pointed feathers covering their bases of tails and necks. They have sickle-shaped feathers in their tails. Although roosters of some breeds don’t have these specialties. On the other hand hens have less colorful and variety of feathers.


We can get valuable information about a chicken breed by their leg shanks color. Although most of the chicken breeds have yellow shanks.

Buff Orpington chickens have white legs, Ameraucana breed has slate colored shanks and Auracan chicken breed has willow colored shanks.

Some chicken breed also have hair on their shanks that provide a clue for identifying them.

Cochin is such a chicken breed which has feathers on their legs. Leghorns are clean-legged chickens and their legs are totally free of feathers. Usually roosters have thicker legs compared to hens and have heavy, hornlike spurs protruding from the backs of their legs.

They use their spurs for fighting with predators and for protecting their flock, especially their hens.

There are numerous chicken breeds available. Each of them vary from others by their feathers color, size, characteristics and even color and size of eggs. The best way to identify a chicken breed is to look first at it’s weight and height, feather color and it’s behavior.

If you are raising chickens for a long time, it will be very easy for you. But if you are a beginner, you should learn more about the size, feather color, leg color, behavior, comb and body shape of each breeds of chickens.

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