There are chickens on almost every continent and each country seems to have at least one breed of chicken to be proud of, some have many more.
There are small chickens, big chickens, chickens which are excellent egg layers and other chickens which lay only a few eggs, but have many other qualities that make them well worth keeping.
So, let’s go around the world in eight chickens!
#1 UK – Sussex
We’ll start in our home country with a chicken that has many fans across the country – the Sussex.
This large, heavy breed of chicken is a dual purpose bird (meaning it’s good to eat and lays plenty of eggs) and also makes a lovely pet. The breed was developed around the time of the Romans and is now available in eight colours and as a bantam variety.
They’re known for their excellent temperaments and lay around 4-6 large brown eggs per week.
#2 USA – Jersey Giant
Now we’re off across the pond to the United States of America and looking at the Jersey Giant – the largest breed of chicken in the world (so you’ll need a big chicken house) and named after the state of New Jersey where the breed was developed.
They are calm, docile, and make good back garden pets. They’re also good egg layers – roughly 3-5 very large brown eggs per week – and are known to continue throughout the winter.
They’re not a particularly common breed but their fans will tell you how fantastic they are to keep.
#3 Switzerland – Appenzeller Spitzhauben
It’s over to Europe and snowy Switzerland to look at the Appenzeller Spitzhauben – a striking breed with a feathered crest in both hens and cockerels.
They’re largely an ornamental breed, although they were originally bred as a farm bird, so they lay a decent number of eggs (3-5 per week).
The Appenzeller is a recognised breed in the UK and there is now a movement to get the breed recognised by the American Poultry Association and improve the breed’s popularity in the USA.
#4 Poland – Poland/Polish
This is another breed with a distinctive look, and one of our personal favourites. The dome shaped crest of the Polish chicken makes them instantly recognisable and increasingly popular both as a pet and as an exhibition bird.
They’re a bright, friendly breed that suits being kept both in enclosures and free range. Their small size also makes them a brilliant family pet, although their feathered crest can require some additional care.
They lay small, cream coloured eggs – around 2-4 per week and rarely go broody.
#5 Belgium – Antwerp Belgian Bantam
Another breed that is named after its country of origin – the small, very pretty Belgian bantam is an incredibly popular show bird and is also known as the Quail bantam.
It is a true bantam, meaning that there is no large counterpart, and one of the oldest bantam breeds in the world.
In Belgium there are an amazing 29 colour variations recognised and a beard of feathers that covers the earlobes. They’re not brilliant egg layers, producing 2-4 per week, but are friendly and don’t mind not being able to free range as long as they have a big enough enclosure.
#6 China – Cochin
It’s time to go over to Asia and look at another large breed of chicken – the Cochin.
The chicken was exported to the UK and the USA in the mid-19th Century and created a craze amongst chicken keepers because of the Cochins’ size and beautiful plumage.
They’re calm, friendly, and quiet making them ideal for the back garden, especially if you have children.
#7 Japan – Japanese bantam
From large to small it’s time for the pint sized, but perfect, Japanese bantam. This breed is available in many colours, as well as frizzle and silkie varieties.
These birds have extremely short legs and have been known to live for up to 13 years with proper care and attention.
Their good looks make them the ideal ornamental breed and they only lay around 1-3 eggs per week, so if you just want an attractive chicken, this might be the breed for you.
#8 Turkey – Sultan
Finally, to Turkey to look at the Sultan, another small, ornamental breed known in the original Turkish language as “Serai-Tavuk” – or “fowls of the Sultan”.
They are an incredibly decorative breed with long tails, large crests, beards, and foot feathering. There are three colour varieties – Blue, Black, and White – although White is the most well-known colour.
The Sultan lay around 1-3 eggs per week and can be better suited to being kept in covered enclosures to protect their plumage from the elements.