Sometimes you do not want your flock to be only for meat but for beauty. There are many striking breeds of chicken out there. Yet out of all the chickens, only a few breeds have long tail feathers. Most long-tail chickens are ornamental companions who are docile and friendly. Not only that, but they add a touch of elegance to your backyard. Now the question is which of the 7 beautiful long tail chickens below are you going to be bringing home?
List of Beautiful Long Tail Chickens:
By looking at the name, you can probably guess where this breed is from. The Cubalaya is from the island of Cuba, where it was raised as dual purpose (for meat and eggs). Due to its lineage, the Cubalaya is available in a rainbow of gorgeous colors. Unlike other long-tail chickens on this list, the Cubalaya is known to take confinement well. It is an adaptable breed that is highly tolerant to a busy environment. The hens are known for going broody and lay around 150-200 eggs yearly.
The Cubalaya is medium-sized, with the roosters reaching 6-8 pounds. However, they are slow-growing, sometimes taking a couple of years to mature.
One thing to keep in mind is that Cubalaya roosters tend to be aggressive towards other males. For this reason, some lines are bred without spurs to prevent injuries. Right now, this breed is listed by the Livestock Conservancy as Threatened on the Conservation Priority list. Therefore, if you choose the Cubalaya for your yard, you would be aiding in the preservation of this beautiful breed.
Some breeds of chicken are more unique than others, but the Onagadori is definitely one that takes the prize. Onagadori are the epitome of splendor. Silky, flowing tail feathers, an elegant stance, and intelligence make this chicken one worth seeking out and bringing home. Furthermore, the Onagadori has a fascinating history. Believed to have been bred in Nagoya during the time of the samurai, these gorgeous chickens were kept as a symbol of wealth. Though they nearly went extinct during the Meiji era, a small population survived.
The Onagadori has received a special status in Japan, much like the Shiba and Akita Inu dog breeds.
The first thing you will notice when spotting an Onagadori is their tails which grow between 4-6 feet in length. However, their tails can get longer. Aside from their tail feathers, the Onagadori comes in black, white, red, and also in shades of green or blue on their black feathers. Furthermore, the Onagadori has very distinct behaviors that separates them from other birds.
They are fierce protectors of their young. Female Onagadori have been said to sacrifice themselves to predators in order to save their chicks from harm. Onagadori chickens are also known for intelligence and memory retention. They can figure out patterns easily, often making them participants in research on animal neuroscience.
While you will only get around 100 eggs per year from these majestic birds, they can offer you so much more. The Onagadori is truly special.
One of the most popular breeds of long-tailed chickens is known as the Phoenix. Bred in Germany but with Japanese ancestry, the Phoenix is a stunning beauty. The Phoenix was developed by Hugo du Roi, the National German Poultry Association’s first president. He crossed the Onagadori breed with the Leghorn, Old English Game, Modern Game, and Yokohama breeds.
The result was the Phoenix chicken with saddle feathers that can grow up to 18 inches in length. Furthermore, the Phoenix inherited some traits from the Onagadori, including the fact that it molts every 1-2 years.
Currently, the American Poultry Association has accepted three standard colors: Black-breasted red, Golden, and Silver. The temperament of the Phoenix is active and alert. These birds are large and do not handle confinement well. They prefer a free-ranging life.
Though smaller than the Onagadori, the Phoenix is an excellent chicken to keep as a “watch dog,” as it will make noise whenever a predator or stranger comes around.
Often used as a show bird, the Sumatra is flawless in its beauty. Although this breed is not known for having a lot of personality, as they can be timid and standoffish, the Sumatra is worth having. You can find this rare breed in jet black, dun, or blue. The feathers have an iridescence on them that looks green or purple. Long tail feathers arc low, sometimes spiraling away from the body. Due to how the roosters stand, they are sometimes mistaken for pheasants.
When startled, these chickens are adept at jumping vertically into the air as a way to escape. As such, if you want these birds for your yard, you are going to need high fences to prevent them from getting free.
These are smaller chickens raised purely for enjoyment. They do not lay many eggs, and their average size of 3.5-4 pounds yields very little meat. However, if you are looking to give your Sumatran hens a job, they have incredibly broody and protective natures. If you need a Mother Hen to hatch the eggs of other chickens, give them over to your Sumatra lady.
Want a breed with long tail feathers that are easier to maintain? Check out the Japanese Ohiki (or Obiki). This little bantam breed has tail feathers that are far longer than its petite frame, but those tail feathers do not get as long as those of the Phoenix, Yokohama, or Onagadori. These little chickens are stocky, reminiscent of the Pekin chicken breed. To the touch, they are very soft.
The Ohiki chicken breed is considered rare in the US, but a small population does exist outside of Japan. Most are found in the UK.
Most Ohiki are very friendly and joyous. Though they are not very active, they do like roaming the yard. Hens lay about 60 lightly tinted eggs per year.
Being that the Yokohama and Phoenix share some of the same heritage, they look and act very much alike. In fact, Hugo du Roi is also credited with this breed’s development.
However, there are some defining characteristics of the Yokohama chicken that make it a contender for a place in your backyard or farm. The Yokohama chicken comes only in pure white or with red shoulders. A new color variation known as silver duckwing has also been added. They also have walnut-shaped combs, red earlobes, and grow to about 4-5 pounds. The tail feathers can grow up to 4 feet in length and need to be tied, should you wish to let your Yokohama chickens roam.
Yokohama chickens require loads of space to move around. That said, they are very hardy, docile, and the hens even-tempered. They like companionship, too. Males can be a bit assertive and may not do well in a mixed flock, but the females are much friendlier and tolerant to other breeds.
Being that these chickens were bred for their appearance, they are not very good at laying eggs. You can expect around 60-80 eggs from a Yokohama hen.
The Indian Asil or Aseel is one breed of chicken that is often overlooked by owners of backyard flocks, because these birds love to fight. Aseel chickens were born to brawl, and they love doing it. But for some chicken keepers, that simply means there is more love.
The Aseel chicken is believed to be thousands of years old, with some of the earliest recordings of the breed coming from records dating back between 900-1280 BC. Sadly, the breed’s popularity has wavered, and it is “Threatened” according to the Livestock Conservancy. Hopefully, we do not lose this breed.
There are reasons to keep this aggressive breed alive. First, for their features. If you ever needed a reminder that your chickens are related to dinosaurs, get an Aseel. They are muscular, stand proud, and tend to grow very long tail feathers. They have nonexistent wattles and combs, and their stare is fierce, if not judgmental.
The second reason to preserve this breed is their personality. Yes, they are plucky and quick to attack other chickens (both hens and roosters like to fight), but they are also intelligent. Socialize Aseel chicks with others, and they will get along with them just fine. Play with them, give them something to do, and they will love you too. Enough socialization, and Aseel chickens can be protective and loving towards children.
Aseel hens make for great mothers, though they only lay around 40 eggs a year.
Tips For Raising Long-Tailed Chickens
Now that you have seen seven long-tailed chicken breeds, let’s discuss some ways to make caring for these gorgeous fowls even easier. As you might expect, keeping chickens with lustrous tail feathers healthy and clean is going to take a little extra work.
Did you know that in Japan the Onagadori were often confined to high perches to keep their tail feathers in the best condition? Although restricting your birds to just a perch is a little cruel, it is recommended that you give your long-tailed chickens enough vertical space to move around. Perches prevent the tail feathers from dragging around in the muck.
Most chickens with long tails can fly well enough to reach higher perches, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Watch this video if you want to make perches by hand:
Make the Coop Spacious
Aside from high perches, give your long-tailed chickens larger housing. Often, Onagadori, Phoenix, and Yokohama chickens need individual spaces that are 6 ft by 6 ft by 8 ft to prevent wear on their feathers.
Let Them Roam
During the day, encourage your chickens to move around the yard. If you keep your long-tailed chickens in a pen, they should have at least 10 square feet per fowl to roam.
High Protein Diet
Longer feathers and thicker plumage means that your birds are burning through protein. You will need to supplement their diets with enough protein to ensure that their tail feathers keep growing. For long-tailed chickens, they need a diet of 18-20% protein. Boost their intake with treats of high quality meat and legumes.
Just keep in mind that too much protein can also damage their kidneys. Be sure to find the right balance.
Keep Them From Molting
Did you know that Onagadori chickens do not molt? Unfortunately, some of the North American brethren, including the Phoenix, do. As such, you want to eliminate some of the reasons a Yokohama or Phoenix molt prematurely and ruin their tail growth. Keep their water bowl filled with clean water, as dehydration can start molting. Be sure to provide plenty of daylight and warmth too. In the winter, it is recommended that you supplement daylight with lamps to give your chickens about 15 hours of light.
Most health issues that long tail chickens deal with are the direct result of an unclean environment. As such, you want to make sure that they are not walking around in filth. Keep the pen and coop as free of dust, dirt, and excrement as possible. Clean up treat scraps. Provide plenty of dry space for your chickens to walk around after it rains, so they are not getting coated in mud. For your long-tailed chickens, tying up their tail feathers with strips of silk is a good idea. Most birds do not have an issue with your tying up their tails.
Final Thoughts on Long-Tailed Chickens
There you have it — 7 of the most beautiful long-tailed chicken breeds out there. Many chicken breeds have short tails, but some of these breeds end up with tails that are several feet long. If you want beautiful, intelligent chickens and do not care much for a lack of eggs, consider one of these elegant breeds for your flock. Just remember that not all of them — like the Aseel — were made for groups!
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.