Photo Credit: Photo courtesy Muire Thomas/ Lost Heritage Farm
Use: The Sultan chicken breed is used for exhibition. They were once considered fine table chickens, but due to their scarcity, they’re rarely eaten nowadays. Photo courtesy Muire Thomas/ Lost Heritage Farm
History: Sultan chickens originated in Turkey, where they’re called Serai Taook, meaning sultan’s fowl. They arrived in England from Istanbul in 1854 and came to the United States in 1867. Sultans were recognized in the first volume of the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection, published in 1874.
Conformation: The Sultan has more distinguishing features than any other chicken. It is crested, bearded and muffed, with feathered shanks and toes. It has a V-shaped comb and five toes on each foot. The chicken breed comes in a single recognized color, White with slate blue shanks and toes, though Blue and Black varieties occur, as well. It comes in standard and bantam sizes. Standard Sultan cocks weigh 6 pounds and hens weigh 4 pounds. Bantam cocks weigh 26 ounces and hens weigh 22 ounces.
Special Considerations/Notes: George O. Brown, poultry expert and co-editor of the early 20th-century classic, The Poultry Book, wrote that his Sultans were the tamest and most contented chickens he ever owned. Modern Sultan owners agree. Sultans are friendly, ultra-calm chickens that bear confinement well. They make gorgeous, ornamental pets as well as eye-catching exhibition chickens. They are non-broody and lay 50 to 70 large, white eggs per year. The Sultan chicken breed is listed as Critical on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List. If you’re looking for a rare and exotic but friendly chicken, this is your bird.