Quiz time: Which British breed of chicken has nearly a century of history but is still largely unknown in the United States? That would be the Cream Legbar chicken breed. These beautiful birds are starting to pop up more and more in the US, because they have some incredible traits and characteristics. If you want to expand your flock with stunning chickens, then the Cream Legbar chicken has a lot to offer.
Here is everything you need to know about the Cream Legbar chicken breed.
Origin of the Cream Legbar Chicken
Cream Legbar chickens might not be as gorgeous as the Wyandotte, Belgian d’Uccle, or Golden Polish chicken breeds, but they do turn heads. Cream Legbars didn’t exist prior to 1931. They were the result of hard work between two men: Professor R.C. Punnett, the leader of the Reproduction Program at the Hereditary Institute at Cambridge, and Michael Pease of Cambridge.
Punnett had received some South American Araucana chickens from a friend who had traveled the world. When he found out that the Araucana chickens laid blue eggs, Punnett started crossbreeding them right away. He started with Barred Plymouth Rocks and Brown Leghorn chickens then continued refining the crossbreed from there. Until, eventually, he developed a cream-colored chicken that could lay a rare blue egg.
Punnett further developed the breed to give them some unique features, including an autosexing ability that made genders distinct from the time of hatching.
During the 1970s, the popularity of the breed dropped slightly, as no one cared for the novelty of blue eggs. However, the Cream Legbar has again gained the attention it deserves.
Is the Cream Legbar a Recognized Breed?
In the US, the Cream Legbar is not recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA). The breed only arrived in America in 2010, when Greenfire Farms began importing the breed from the UK. To this day, Greenfire Farms is one of the few, if only, legal suppliers of purebred Cream Legbars in the US. They continue producing chicks with stock from the award-winning breeder in England, Jill Rees.
That said, the British Poultry Club only officially recognized the Cream Legbar in 1958. The breed struggled to survive in the seventies. Thankfully, the breed was rediscovered and has gained a following in the US, where a breeding program was launched to increase the population.
Characteristics of the Cream Legbar
The Cream Legbar is a sturdy looking chicken, even though they are on the smaller side. Roosters average around 7.5 lbs, and females weigh around 6 lbs. They have triangular bodies with a high tail and long back. The neck is equally as long as the tail feathers. The breast is well-developed.
Cream Legbar chickens have yellow beaks, red eyes, red combs and wattle, and cream or white earlobes. Their plumage is a mix of gray, cream, and white. There is visible barring on the tail of females, as well as on the male breast. Sometimes, females have a salmon color on the chest and neck.
Cream Legbars do not have feathers on their legs. The yellow scales on their legs and four toes match their yellow or white skin.
One of the main reasons people love the Cream Legbar is for their autosexing abilities. This means that, when these chicks hatch, you automatically know which ones are male and which are female. This can save you a whole lot of frustration. And if you’re new to raising chickens, having ones that autosex is highly convenient. You don’t realize that most hatcheries have to use techniques for sexing chickens that are only 90% accurate, so you could end up with a rooster or several!
Sure, those extra roosters might not be a problem for some. If you live in an urban zone, however, those roosters could be illegal. Plus, roosters can get aggressive with one another, which could lead to violence within the flock.
That’s why autosexing breeds like the Cream Legbar are gaining popularity.
So what do Cream Legbar chicks look like? Female chicks have what looks like chipmunk striping down their back, as well as eye barring. Males are much lighter. Their blond striping blends into their down, as does the white spotting on their heads. You can see the differences for yourself in the video below:
You also get a good idea of what the eggs look like, too.
Egg-Laying Capabilities of the Cream Legbar
Speaking of eggs, it would be a disservice to this fantastic breed if we didn’t mention their unique trait. Cream Legbar hens lay a light blue or green colored, medium-sized egg. While they aren’t prolific layers, these eggs are extremely popular. While they don’t taste any different from other eggs, the color has generated a lot of interest.
However, there are a few things to know about this blue egg laying ability. Some hens are going to lay blue eggs while others have a green egg laying trait. Then there are some Cream Legbar hens who lay white. These hens cannot lay a variety of egg colors — only one. This means that if you have a green egg laying hen, she will never produce blue eggs.
Cream Legbars produce about 3-4 eggs per week, resulting in about 200 eggs per year. In the wintertime, egg production may stop entirely. This is because many strains of the breed do not like the cold (they are prone to frostbite). If you are looking for chickens who lay eggs throughout the year, this might not be the best breed for you.
There are some Cream Legbar hens who want to be mothers. They even get mouthy if you try to take their eggs from them. Others could care less about laying eggs. In other words, while some of the birds can be extremely broody, others don’t have a speck of motherliness in them. Should either trait be important to you, be sure to speak with multiple breeders. You can then find a strain of Cream Legbars that have the level of broodiness you want.
Personality and Temperament
While these birds are beautiful to look at, don’t expect to pick them up like an old friend. They won’t appreciate that very much. Cream Legbars aren’t companionable chickens. They can be quick to run away when they’re wary. Additionally, these chickens love to free range. Alert, active, and hesitant, they will forage for hours while taking cover when a potential predator passes nearby.
There is one downside to the Cream Legbar. You don’t know if you’re going to get loud, nervous chickens from the hatchery or very polite and quiet ones. It truly depends on their genes and upbringing. Some breeders and keepers claim that Cream Legbars are some of the more gregarious chickens around.
This video is proof of one particular case:
Cream Legbar roosters may become aggressive during mating season. Don’t let young children approach them during that time. Most of the time, though, this breed is great with mixed breed flocks and people. You won’t end up with a lot of bullying from this breed.
As long as you observe your chickens and learn their behaviors, you should have no issues raising a calm, easy to handle flock of Cream Legbars.
Health Issues and Care
The average lifespan of a Cream Legbar chicken is between 5-9 years. Living conditions, environment, hereditary issues, and nutrition all play a role in how long a chicken lives. The Cream Legbar breed is no different.
Overall, the Cream Legbar is a very healthy breed. They rarely have troubles when they are free to roam, but they can develop lice. Another rare condition this breed may develop is called torticollis or “wryneck,” also known as “seahorse disorder.” This is often due to a recessive gene in crested birds.
Is The Cream Legbar Right For Your Flock?
There are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating this breed. Cream Legbars are great chickens for those who have enough space to forage. Though they won’t freak out in confinement, they do need to exercise throughout the day to stay healthy. Mostly independent and hesitant, you can leave these birds to do their own thing. Since they have good survival instincts, they should be able to live a long, healthy life without much effort on your end.
Plus, you can’t turn down blue eggs.
If that sounds like the kind of chicken you’re looking for, it might be time to look for a Cream Legbar breeder.
The Cream Legbar chicken breed is a highly preferable breed in both the US and UK. Not only can you easily sex the chicks, you can expect decent egg-laying abilities and a chance to see blue eggs! While these chickens aren’t overly friendly towards humans, they are fairly quiet and docile. With their curiosity and need to forage, they are sure to bring much joy to your farm or backyard.
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.