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What Are Those Spotted Chickens?

November 26, 2012

We have a variety of rare breeds and uncommon breeds here at SlowMoneyFarm, and they’re not chosen randomly, although it may look like a feathered rainbow at times! Today we’ll look at some of our spotted birds and share them with you, as they look similar but are very different.

This illustrates two different breeds that both appear to be black and white, but are indeed different. The bird on the left is an Ancona. This bird in particular is a coming 2 year old hen (yes we have individuals, not just birds!). She is black with white spots, yellow legs and if you look carefully just below and behind her eye she has white “earlobes” as compared to the other bird’s which are red. The first bird is an Ancona, a rare breed that lays white eggs. They’re more “nervous” or “active” depending on perspective. The other bird has more barred than spots, a breed characteristic. Her comb and yellow legs are typical of the Dominique and the Barred Rock – very similar birds but with different comb structure.

Did you know that on an adult hen you can, generally, tell the color of egg the hen lays by the color of these “ear lobes”? Generally (there are some exceptions!) if white they’ll lay white eggs, if red they’ll lay brown eggs. There are some (like silkies) that have colored ‘lobes’ but in general if you’re looking at a bird that’s one way to guess. Each breed of chicken is ‘qualified’ by leg color, feathers, comb and other characteristics just like other livestock and even pets.

The other bird here in comparison is the Speckled Sussex. Although at first glance she might appear like the Ancona, a closer look reveals many differences. She has red ‘ear lobes’ (and thus lays brown eggs). Also her base color is a rich brown with black and white dots, and she has white legs. She’s also a larger bird, which is not easy to see in pictures. The Sussex is an old English heirloom, with several varieties available, and the speckled is the most common in the USA. We are also working on expanding our light Sussex – the white with black ‘trim’ in the third photo.

There are many feather color patters in chickens, and some quite unusual ones when one gets into crossing. We have one hatched earlier this year that is dark Cornish crossed on Barred Rock – a very pretty barred with dark brown mingled in the black.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a look at some of our birds!

The crossbred bird in the photo on the right is Dark Cornish X Barred Rock. Note the brown shading down the neck and across back. The other chickens in here are Delawares…they appear initially like the bird on the left but if you look closely they have yellow, not white, legs. The white duck is an Ancona duck, a rare breed of spotted ducks.



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