Chickens are found all over the world, with some of the most unique breeds originating from Asia. So now, let’s focus our attention on chickens that come from the Orient. It’s time to get to know these 6 Asian breeds today!
Chickens From The East
The domestic chicken breeds that we know now have a very interesting origin. The domestic chickens we know today are believed to have originated from four species of wild jungle fowl native to the Southeast Asian region. There’s one particular species, the Red jungle fowl, and it’s said to be the predecessor of domestic chickens.
By tracing the origins of chickens back to Asia, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that some of the most striking chicken breeds come from this region. If you wish to learn more about them, here are some Asian chicken breeds that you should be aware of.
1. Cochin from China
The Cochin chickens come from the Chinese province of Shanghai. The development of this breed happened around the 1840s. Due to its attractiveness and beauty, there was a lot of fanfare from the West over this breed. It was one of those breeds that prompted the whole “hen fever.”
When the Cochin was brought to the United States, breeders worked on perfecting this breed. It was initiated into the American Poultry Association (APA) around 1874. They were also brought to the United Kingdom around the same time.
If you see Cochin chickens, you would probably be mesmerized by their looks. It is one of its most distinctive features that catches people’s attention. It’s a large bird covered by beautiful and fluffy feathers. Their abundant feathers, which even cover their legs, protect them from the elements, including the winter cold.
Apart from their feathers, the Cochin chickens only have a single red comb. They also have smaller heads than other chickens. As mentioned, these chickens are quite big. The male variety has an average weight of about 11 lbs. Its female counterpart, on the other hand, weighs around 8.5 lbs. There are also Bantam varieties of Cochin chickens.
The Cochin chickens come in several colors including the following:
- Golden Laced
- Silver Laced
Regardless of their color, there is just something charming and delightful about these Cochin chickens. If you take into consideration just how good the meat they produce and how large the brown eggs they lay are, you will find them even more pleasing!
If you are considering adding them to your coop or flock, they are great backyard buddies. They are low flyers. It means there’s no need for you to put up a high fence or anything like that. They are easy to handle. Most of the time, they are tame and don’t exhibit aggressive behaviors.
2. Silkie from China
Another known chicken breed that hails from China is the Silkie. The Silkie chicken has been around since Ancient China. Its earliest appearance can be traced back to the Han dynasty. It made its way to the West via the Silk Road.
To say that the Silkie chickens have been around for a long, long time would be an understatement. Over the centuries, this breed has thrived and grown. It continues to cement itself as a surviving ancient breed.
The Silkie chicken has some very distinctive features that would probably catch your attention. There is also a difference between the two Silkie chicken varieties – the non-bearded and bearded. With that said, it’s easy to spot the difference between these two. There are about 7 colors that are recognized by the American Poultry Association. These are:
When it comes to size, the Silkies are a little smaller than other chicken breeds. In the United Kingdom and the United States, they are more or less categorized as “bantams” due to their size. The male Silkies are around 2 to 3 lbs while the female ones weigh between 1.5 to 2 lbs.
Silkies have plump and broad bodies with their cleft covered by what we call “pom-pom”. It sits on top of their heads and has become one of their unique features. Their comb, which is usually deep red in color, is usually hidden by these pom-poms.
Beneath the feathers covering them, the skin underneath the Silkies is black. In Chinese culture, they believe that the black meat of this chicken breed serves medicinal purposes.
On average, Silkies have a lifespan of about 7 to 8 years. While they aren’t exactly the most abundant egg layers, they can lay about 2 to 3 eggs a week or about 100-120 eggs per year.
3. Asil or Aseel from India
If you are keen to exploring another ancient Asian breed, you can always check out the Asil or Aseel chicken from India. You might have seen these chickens around, specifically the roosters in cockfights. It’s known to be one of the strongest chicken breeds out there, and they make good gamecocks. They are basically kings of that arena!
The Asil chickens have been around for a long time as well. You can track down their history, and it would point you to ancient India. While research can’t specifically point out if Asils came from Pakistan or India, its origin is somewhere in South Asia. They made their way to the United Kingdom and the United States around the late 1840s and 1880s respectively.
If there’s one thing that separates the Asils from the other chickens, it’s the lack of fluffiness. While other chickens look fluffy due to their feathers, the Asils do not have that physical attribute. But do not let the lack of feathers fool you.
What they lack in feathers, they make up for in muscles. The roosters weigh between 6.6 to 8.8 lbs. The hens are about 5.5 lbs to 6.6 lbs. They come in either red, black, or a mix of these two colors.
The female Asil doesn’t lay as many eggs as other breeds. On average, they can lay about 40 eggs annually. What they lack in egg production, they make up for great motherhood and brooding. The roosters are known for their aggressive nature. However, when it comes to their interactions with breeders or handlers, they seem to take on a friendlier demeanor.
4. Serama from Malaysia
The Serama chickens have been around since the 1600s. They come from the Malaysian province of Kelantan. The modern Seramas that we know now were developed by a breeder named Wee Yean Een.
While this chicken breed has been popular in Malaysia and the neighboring Southeast Asian countries, it didn’t reach the shores of the US until the year 2000.
When the Asian Avian Influenza or H1N1 outbreak occurred, it affected the Serama chickens to the point that people thought they would be gone. But the good thing is that breeders were able to save them.
As mentioned, Serama chickens are tiny. The average height falls between 6 to 10 inches. Due to their size, there is not much space between their tail feathers and necks.
They have very upright standing, making their head and chest stand out. Despite their size, they have long wings. They have a single red comb on top of their small heads. They come in several colors like black, orange, and white.
Serama chickens are classified according to their weight. These include the following:
- A Class: Roosters weigh under 0.81 lbs. and the hens under 0.75 lbs.
- B Class: Roosters weigh under 1 lb. and the hens weigh 0.93 lbs.
- C Class: Roosters and hens weigh under 1.18 lbs.
- Micro: Roosters weigh up to 1.18 lbs and the hens up to 0.5 lbs.
The Serama hens can lay about four tiny eggs per week or about 180 to 200 eggs per year. With their great personality and cuteness, they make great pets. They are friendly and easy to manage. You can leave them out in an open space. They would find a way to enjoy themselves.
5. Brahma from China
If you are looking into a large and beautiful Asian breed, the Brahma should be on top of your list. It’s one of the most popular among breeders and pet lovers. It isn’t surprising why they are well-liked. They have so many amazing characteristics that you cannot resist.
This chicken breed also has an interesting history. Its origin remains unclear. The current Brahma chickens that we know were developed in the United States. Its ancestors are said to be the Cochin chickens from Shanghai, China. While they may have similarities, they are definitely two completely different breeds.
Back in the day, around the 1930s, the Brahma chickens were very popular for their meat. However, their popularity waned. Despite this, the Brahma remains to be a favorite among those who are raising chickens.
One of the features that make the Brahma chickens stand out is their coloring. There are three variations, and these include:
In terms of weight and size, the Brahmas definitely fall in the large bird category. The presence of their fluffy feathers makes them appear even bigger. The male Brahmas weigh about 12 lbs while the female Brahmas are around 10 lbs. This breed also comes in Bantam varieties.
As a popular table fare in both the past and present, it can give you an ample amount of meat. It also produces a good amount of eggs. The Brahma hens can lay about 3 to 4 eggs a week. The eggs are usually brown, and the sizes fall between medium to large.
The Brahma chickens have a great temperament. They are calm and manageable, making them great pets. Most of them aren’t afraid of people and are ready to mingle whenever the opportunity arises.
6. Croad Langshan from China
The Croad Langshan is an old breed that came from China. This chicken breed is known for its egg, meat, and physical appearance. They were a hit not only in their home country. But also in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The breed was transported to England in the 1870s by Major A.C. Croad. Within the same decade, the Croad Langshan was able to reach US shores. Despite their popularity back in the day, their numbers have decreased. The Croad Langshan is currently classified as a breed to watch due to its conservation status. Breeders are working hard to breed and increase their numbers.
The Croad Langshan is also a large bird. Just like its other Asian cousins, they are a little bigger than other breeds. The male Croad Langshans can weigh up to 10 lbs. The female counterparts can go up to 7.5 lbs. Due to their size and weight, you can get a lot of white meat from these chickens.
The Croad Langshan can produce about 150-200 eggs per year. Considering that this is a dual-purpose bird, those are not bad numbers. What you would find fascinating about the Croad Langshan eggs are their colors.
During the egg formation process, the uterus of the hen secretes pigments. These pigments then leave pink tints on the eggs. If you are interested in trying colored eggs, then you can get them from Croad Langshan chickens. They are an interesting alternative to the typical white eggs.
Embrace The Asian Chickens
Asia is home to so many amazing animals, including various chicken breeds. Asian chicken breeds are no exception. It’s high time that they are highlighted because they are magnificent fowls with rich histories. Apart from their looks, they can do so much more for your flock.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.