Have you ever wondered about the fascinating array of colors that chickens can come in? These feathered friends are not just limited to the traditional white or brown you might picture in your mind. From vibrant reds to stunning blues, the world of chicken colors is a delightful palette waiting to be explored. Let’s take a look at 10 popular chicken colors, including some that are common and others that are rare.
An Overview of the Top 10 Chicken Colors
|Feather Color||Breeds||Color Rarity|
|Black||Australorp, Ayam Cemani, Orpington, Silkie||Common|
|Blue||Wyandotte, Iowa Blue, Andalusian, Silkie||Rare|
|Red, Cinnamon, or Chestnut||Rhode Island Red, Sussex, Cinnamon Queen||Common|
|Lavender||Pekin, Cochin||Very Rare|
|Gray or Silver||Australorp, Ameraucana, Silkie, Polish, Sebright, Wyandotte||Rare|
|White||White Leghorn, Yokohama, Sussex||Common|
|Gold or Buff||Brahma, Polish, Orpington, Easter Egger, Cochin, Silkie, Golden Sex-Link (Golden Comet)||Common|
|Fawn||Wyandotte and Silkie||Rare|
10 Chicken Colors: An In-Depth Look
There are many color variations out there, and there are also many breeds of chickens that blend colors through patterns. While some colors are more common than others, each of them are gorgeous in their own way. Here is a look at 10 chicken colors that will add some dazzle to your backyard or farm:
Black chickens have a strikingly dark plumage, often with a glossy sheen. Their feathers are uniformly black, and some breeds may exhibit iridescent hints of green or purple in certain lighting. Variations within the black color include the Blue-black, where the feathers have a bluish undertone, and the Cuckoo pattern, which showcases a barred black and white coloration.
Breeds that come in black include the Australorp, known for its excellent egg-laying abilities and sleek black feathers, and the Orpington, which has a larger size and fluffy appearance, making it a popular dual-purpose breed. Of course, even among all black chickens, there are some variations. Take, for instance, the Black Orpington and Ayam Cemani. While both are black in color, the Ayam Cemani is a much deeper black, thanks to its black eyes, skin, legs, and even bones and organs.
Although blue chickens are called blue, they are not the color of the sky or the ocean. Their feathers range from a more silvery hue to something like purplish-slate. The blue coloration is a result of genetic dilution of black pigments, giving the feathers a unique cool-toned appearance. Variations within the blue color include Blue Splash, which features a speckled or mottled pattern of blue and white feathers. You may also notice that many chicken breeds come with blue lacing.
The Wyandotte breed, with its beautiful laced feathers in blue, is highly sought after for its stunning appearance and excellent egg production. The Silkie breed, known for its fluffy plumage, can also come in a captivating blue color, adding a touch of enchantment to any flock.
Red chickens exhibit a range of warm and vibrant hues, reminiscent of autumn leaves. The feathers can vary from deep mahogany or cinnamon to fiery scarlet or golden-red chestnut shades. Some breeds may showcase patterns, such as black tail feathers or contrasting lighter markings on the neck or wings.
The Rhode Island Red is an iconic breed known for its rich chestnut-red feathers, exceptional egg-laying capabilities, and hardy nature. Sussex chickens, available in various color varieties, including red, exhibit a delightful chestnut plumage.
Lavender and blue chickens have a lot in common in terms of coloring, though lavender chickens tend to have a more smoky quality. Their feathers have a gentle, pastel-like appearance, often with a slight iridescence. Like blue, the lavender color results from a dilution of black pigments. Breeds such as the Lavender Pekin and Lavender Cochin showcase this ethereal hue. The Lavender Pekin, with its fluffy feathers and docile temperament, adds a touch of charm to any flock.
If you want a colorful flock, then lavender is highly popular — just like blue or silver.
5. Gray or Silver
Gray or silver chickens possess a shimmering plumage, ranging from light gray to darker silver tones. The feathers often have a metallic or iridescent quality, reflecting shades of blue, green, or purple in certain lighting.
One example of a breed that comes in either gray or silver plumage is the Silkie. They often have a striking appearance with silvery feathers. Another chicken is the Australorp, which can have silver lacing on its dark-colored feathers. The combination of black and silver is exquisite.
Salmon-colored chickens showcase a captivating blend of orange and pink tones, reminiscent of the fish they are named after. Their feathers can range from pale peach to a deeper coral color.
The Faverolle breed, with its gentle nature and feathered feet, exhibits this unique salmon coloration. The feathers may have subtle variations within the salmon spectrum, adding depth and interest to their appearance. The salmon color is very rare, because only the Faverolle breed has this trait. In other words, this is a highly sought after color.
White chickens exhibit a pristine and timeless beauty. Their feathers are entirely white, often with a soft and fluffy texture. Variations within the white color include shades of off-white, cream, or porcelain. Breeds like the Sussex, White Leghorn, and Yokohama come in white color variations. The White Leghorn, a prolific egg layer, is a popular breed that showcases a pure white plumage.
8. Gold or Buff
You may often see chicken with this color called “yellow,” but that’s not exactly correct. Gold or buff-colored chickens radiate a warm and inviting glow, resembling the color of ripe wheat. The feathers can range from a pale, creamy gold to a deeper, rich golden hue. They often have a soft and lustrous appearance.
An example of Gold or Buff is the — you guessed it — the Buff Orpington. The Buff color on this breed exemplifies a true gold color that is soft yet rich. Others include the stunning Buff Brahma, Buff Cochin, and Buff Easter Egger.
Not to be confused with a buff-colored chicken, Wheaten is a diluted gold that will remind you of ripened wheat. The feathers can range from a pale, straw-like hue to a deeper golden shade. They often have a warm and earthy appearance.
The Wheaten Marans breed represents this captivating color. Their feathers may have darker or lighter variations within the wheaten spectrum, contributing to their unique and charming aesthetic.
Fawn-colored chickens possess a delicate and pale sandy-tan hue. Their feathers often have a soft and subtle appearance, providing a touch of elegance and rarity to any flock.
Breeds such as the Silkie and Wyandotte showcase this rare and unique fawn color. The feathers may exhibit variations in intensity, from lighter shades of beige to slightly darker sandy tones, adding depth and character to their overall appearance.
Where Do Chicken Colors Come From?
Chicken colors are determined by genetics, with two main types of colored feathers in chickens: pigmented colors and structural colors. Pigmented colors are produced by colorful substances called pigments, including carotenoids, melanin, and porphyrins. Melanins, the most common pigments found in chickens, generate red, brown, yellow, and black hues.
On the other hand, structural colors arise from the arrangement of proteins called keratin in the feathers. When sunlight interacts with these structural arrangements, it produces various colors. Examples include iridescent feathers and blue hues observed in certain breeds.
Plumage colors are also the result of genetic manipulation. Through selective breeding, for example, pigments can be diluted, mixed, or even suppressed to create unique color combinations. Patterns seen on chicken feathers, such as spots, bars, or stripes, also arise from the genetic expression of pigments. The incredible variety and patterns we witness today are primarily the outcome of selective breeding conducted by humans.
Here is an example: Many chicken breeds that were created for captivity were white. However, as these breeds were later bred for companionship and free-ranging purposes, they were selectively bred for darker colors like buff to enable better blending with their surroundings.
You can learn more about the genetics of chicken colors from this video:
Final Thoughts on Chicken Colors
There are many chicken colors out there that go beyond the typical whites and reds that you see out there. Whether you prefer the radiant reds, ethereal lavenders, or regal golds, each chicken color has its unique charm and appeal. There are many that are popular, including the rare silvers, blues, and lavender. So which colors are your favorite for your flock?
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.