The Temperament of Different Breeds of Chicken

The characteristics of different pure breeds of chickens can be quite different. Whilst it is true that originally, all breeds originated from the wild Jungle Fowl of South East Asia, hundreds, even thousands of years of selection by poultry keepers all over the World, have shaped the characteristics of the breeds we have today.

Yamato Gunkei ChickenIn the past, many breeds would have been bred to be aggressive for cock fighting and sometimes, it is difficult to breed this trait out of a breed without losing some other characteristic. In fact, some breeds like this Yamato Gunkei Chicken show to the left, according to the British Poultry Standards can lose points in the show pen if they have a ‘lack of attitude’. After hundreds of years of breeding from the Jungle Fowl, we now have pure breeds that have many, many different colours and looks but also many different temperaments to go with them and some are more fiesty than others.

Malay ChickenIt is especially important if you have young children to choose a breed that has a suitable temperament of course. You can read more about assessing a cockerel’s temperament with children in this article if you are looking for a docile cock bird or are worried about the cockerel you have with your children.

I cannot emphasise how important this is, aggressive cockerels can jump a few feet off the ground, kicking out with their feet and spurs as well as peck, knocking a young child over and causing terrible damage. It’s just not worth taking any risks, even if children are supervised with the chickens, it can happen in a split second whilst your back is turned.

The temperament of different breeds varies within different strains of the same breed so don’t assume that a breed listed below as ‘aggressive’ will definitely be aggressive, or a bird listed as ‘docile’ will definitely be docile, temperament varies from strain to strain and also according to the breeders’ management style and sometimes from bird to bird. This is however a good starting point and is a pretty good generalisation of the extremes.

  • Orpington
    Plymouth Rock
  • Poland
  • Cornish Cocks
    Rhode Island Red Cocks

The Chicken Breeds Section contains descriptions and photos of all of the Standardised British Breeds of Poultry

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Tim Daniels

Tim is the founder of the poultrykeeper website and lives in Bedfordshire, UK. He keeps Light Sussex large fowl, Silkie bantams and hybrid layers for eggs, Abacot Ranger ducks, Brecon Buff geese and some quail.

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