Frizzle chickens are not truly a breed, but more a type of chicken that carries a particular gene that causes their feathers to curl. In some countries, they are recognized as a breed, but this is not currently so in the United States. Let’s take a closer look at these frizzy feathered birds and learn more about them.
Table of Contents
- Curly feathers
- Not a true breed
- Curly feathers caused by a frizzle gene
- Docile temperaments
Background and History of the Frizzle Breed
The Frizzle chicken has been around for centuries. British naturalist Charles Darwin talked about “Caffie Fowl” in documents he wrote in the 1600s, stating they were mainly found in India. It is unclear how he knew this, as he never actually visited India, so it would seem this information originated from another source.
It is generally believed that the frizzle gene originated in the Far East somewhere in the East Indies and that the unusual look of these birds made them a curiosity, causing specimens to be brought to Western countries and used as breeding stock.
The amount of curl any particular bird exhibits can vary, with some appearing almost normal, while others will have very curly feathers.
Some chicken breeds such as Polish, Cochin, Plymouth Rock, and Japanese Bantam are more prone to carrying the frizzle gene, which is dominant, but incomplete and called the KRT 75 gene for most curly feathered breeds.
An indigenous Chinese chicken breed called the Kirin from the Guangdong province is well known for its frizzle feathers. It however does not have the same KRT 75 gene as other chickens with frizzle feathers.
A frizzle bird should only be bred to a non-frizzle, as breeding frizzle to frizzle will result in the production of some “frazzles”, honestly, I’m not making this up!
The problem with frazzles is their feathers are so delicate they may break off even with a touch. They are therefore often partially or almost completely bald. Other health issues with frazzles include physical deformations and heart defects. Sadly they don’t tend to live for very long.
Frizzle chickens are not registered on the endangered species list.
Although frizzles were once recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874, they are not so any longer and don’t have a standard of perfection today.
The characteristics of a frizzle are dependent on which breed of bird they are, such as a bantam Cochin or Plymouth Rock.
Temperament and Behavior of Frizzle Chickens
Because frizzle chickens usually come from a mixture of breeds, they exhibit different temperaments. However, the majority are calm and friendly with a quiet and docile disposition.
If handled regularly from chicks they can become lap chickens if you’re lucky enough to find one with the right demeanor.
Many frizzle owners say their birds have a peaceful, quirky, and happy personality and are entertaining to watch.
Their unusual looks make the frizzle popular as show chickens and the fact that most are tolerant of being handled makes them very suitable for this purpose.
As with other, less dominant chicken breeds, it’s advisable to keep frizzles with other gentle chicken types such as Cochins or Orpingtons, as they may be picked on by the more actively assertive ones such as Rhode Island Reds, or breeds used for cock fighting in the past.
While a frizzles docile temperament and unusual looks may seem appealing to kids or new chicken keepers, they are not necessarily good starter chickens. This is because they require specific care.
Unlike chickens with flat feathers that sit close to the body and provide both insulation and some level of water protection, frizzle feathers do not do this. In very cold weather, snow, heavy rain, or conversely in strong heat, these birds don’t get the same level of insulation as their flat feathered counterparts.
It’s necessary to ensure that frizzles can be kept warm and dry in cold, wet weather, or cool and hydrated when it’s hot. Some level of grooming is also advisable.
The broodiness of frizzles depends largely on the chicken breed. Most do go broody and make good mothers.
Frizzle Chicken Breed Specifics and Traits
Frizzle chickens are generally good layers and some can also be used as meat birds, this once again depends on the breeds used as parents.
The weight of these chickens is also variable for the same reason and they can be found in both standard sizes and bantams. In general standard hens weigh 4 lbs to 6 lbs, while roosters are between 5 lbs and 8 lbs.
Bantam hens usually weigh between 24 oz to 32 oz and roosters 20 oz to 36 oz.
The feathers of a frizzle can be almost any color and they curl upwards and twist outwards away from the bird’s body, rather than lying flat against it as they would in a regular chicken.
Interestingly most frizzle chicks look just like any other chick, with no sign of the frizzle in their baby down. The frizzle feathers don’t appear until their adult feathers grow.
As frizzles don’t breed true, only 50 percent of the offspring will exhibit frizzle feathering. A frizzle has one copy of the frizzle gene and one copy of the ordinary feather gene. The frizzle gene is dominant. So where one copy of frizzle exists the feathers will always be curly.
If the chics receive a copy of the frizzle gene from both parents, they will be frazzles.
Silky chickens have a soft, fluffy feathering but they too can be crossed with a frizzle and the resulting chicks are called Sizzles.
Some birds that carry the frizzle gene can look almost normal if they also have a frizzle modifier (mf gene), which causes the majority of the curl to be lost.
Frizzle chickens are popular as exhibition show birds in the US, despite not being recognized as their own breed. Instead, they are seen as having a specific plumage type for the breed they are, Polish, Cochin, etc.
Frizzles are however recognized as a specific breed in many parts of Europe, Australia, and the UK.
A frizzle chicken will have the same appearance as its standard breed, the only difference being the feathers are curly rather than flat.
The most common colors found are black, buff, blue, red, white, spangled, black-red, brown-red, cuckoo, duckwing, or Columbian.
Health and Disease in the Frizzle Chicken
Frizzles are unable to fly, which means they cannot access perches as easily as other chickens. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure perches are provided at a lower level for them to roost at night.
Their lack of flying ability also makes them an easy target for predators as they cannot fly away.
A good shelter must be provided to protect frizzles during hot or cold weather, as they do not receive the same level of insulation from their feathers as birds with a standard type of feathering.
The feathers can sometimes interfere with vision, making the birds skittish if you approach them too quietly. It’s best to talk to them as you approach. The feathers can be cut to help with this, although it will not be permitted for any frizzles you want to show.
Frizzle Chicken Eggs
As frizzle chickens come from a cross with another non-frizzle bird, the eggs they lay will be dependent on that cross.
An Easter Egger chicken can be a frizzle, so the eggs it lays will be medium to large in size and blue, green, brown, or pink.
If the frizzle is a bantam Cochin, then eggs will be small and pale brown, and so on.
The number of eggs laid will also be affected in the same way and you could get 4 to 6 a week (220 to 300 a year) from an Easter Egger or 2 to 3 (120 to 150 a year) from a Cochin.
It is sometimes noticed that chicks carrying the fizzle gene feather out more slowly than their regular brothers and sisters.
Where to Buy Your Frizzle Chickens
If you’d like to add some Frizzle chickens to your flock, you may be able to find them in local media adverts, at animal feed retailers, or online. One of the easiest ways is to order them from a hatchery.
Stromberg’s hatchery has an assortment of different color bantam Cochins or a lucky dip, where you could get any color.
Meyers Easter Egger Chick Prices
Female = $15.37 each
Unsexed = $12.74 each
Male = $10.24 each
Mayers Black Bantam Cochin Chick Prices
Female = $22.10 each
Unsexed = $7.09 each
Male = $5.10 each
Strombergs Mixed Bantam Cochin Chick Prices
$4.49 per chick, with a minimum order level of 15 chicks
Note that at many hatcheries a minimum and maximum order quantity may apply. The prices shown here do not include vaccination, transportation, or delivery costs.
Frizzle chickens make a wonderful addition to a gentle flock. Their unusual feathers are sure to get them noticed and they make a real conversation piece.
Easy to handle and good for showing, frizzles can be either ornamental or productive depending on the type you select.
The most popular type of frizzle chicken is the bantam Cochin. Available in a wide variety of colors and feather patterns, these little gems are well-behaved and quite adorable.
To learn more about a wide variety of other chicken breeds, you can discover a large number of breed-specific articles available on our website.