Looking back at the first time I ever learned about frizzle chickens, I remember I was REALLY excited to add these crazy looking creatures to my flock!
I finally added some this year, but learning about this particular breed has been a lesson in math.
You might ask: “what do math and chickens have in common?” On the surface, nothing really. (Unless we’re talking about chicken math, but I digress…..)
If we follow the simplest equation of 2 or 3 hens in the same back yard, then you’ll likely get eggs.
Put a rooster into the same coop, and then there will probably be chicks.
Math and chickens really shouldn’t extend beyond that, but where Frizzle chickens are concerned, math becomes a far more important part of the equation than we might think!
Today, we’re going to delve into just what makes a Frizzle so frizzley.
We’re also going to be sure that we don’t let them Frazzle (because it is a thing!), and in the process, we’ll look at some other important details about this special chicken breed.
What Is A Frizzle Chicken?
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when discussing Frizzle chickens is the fact that the Frizzle isn’t one particular chicken breed.
Instead, it is the result of careful or selective breeding and a whole lot of patience. Its defining feature is the curly feathers which makes these chickens reminiscent of a feather duster with a beak!
They are very striking in appearance, but Frizzles take their genetic and shape cues from their originating breed (such as cochins or silkies).
If, for example, you breed a Jersey Giant chicken with Frizzle genetics, it would big a big floofy critter with all the size and mass of the Jersey Giant (not that it is a very common occurrence.)
Indeed, it appears to be a purely speculative breed. But this would hold true in theory!
Just as with their baseline variety, Frizzle chickens can come in a wide variety of colors ranging from black, blue, buff, white Columbian like the Wyandotte, duckwing, black-red, brown-red, cuckoo, pyle, spangle as in the Old English Game and red as in Rhode Island Red.
Temperament is another area that Frizzle chickens are generally pretty consistent with. They are a friendly and lovable bird that are delightful to have in any backyard flock.
So if you’re willing to add a Frizzle to your collection, here is everything you need to know about this curly chicken breed.
What Is Frizzling?
Frizzling is what happens when a chicken feather curls upwards and outwards from the body, and it’s a mutation resulting in imbalances in the genetic pool.
Most chicken feathers lay flat against the body, but frizzling is special – it creates a very distinct-looking bird that some say resembles a Muppet.
It is the result of an “mf” gene which, if present, will result in your chick taking on either a normal-feathered chick or one that sports that “Frizzle look”.
Keeping track of which chicks have the gene is a very important task, as it is only through the mating of a Frizzle with normal-feathered fowl that results in the Frizzles that you are looking for.
And herein lies the math that could potentially be so irritating (keeping really good records is a must!)
The outcome of the matings can result in three distinct varieties of chicken:
- Two of which are wonderful and a delight, but the last of which… well, that’s something that is best avoided.
- If you mate one Frizzle with another Frizzle, there is a 25% chance that the result will be something called a Frazzle.
Frazzles are almost too delicate for their own good, and indeed, their feathers are almost brittle to the touch; Frazzles often suffer bald spots where the feathers have broken away.
Not good because feathers play an important part in maintaining body temperature!
For these and other reasons, including heart and other physical issues that often prevent Frazzles from living to maturity, Frazzles are best avoided.
When I first started researching Frizzle chickens, I spoke with various breeders who have experience breeding these creatures.
My friend Katie at Itty Bitty Chicken Farm in South Carolina told me it’s very critical to only mate a normal feathered chicken with a Frizzle (and to avoid a Frizzle/Frizzle mating at all costs.)
If you decide you want to hatch Frizzle chicks, here’s what you need to know:
Normal x frizzle = 50% frizzle, 50% normal
Frizzle x frizzle = 50% frizzle, 25% normal, 25% frazzle
While the science isn’t overly complex, good note-taking and controlled breeding is important to ensure all your chicks get the chance to live healthy lives.
Luckily, the genetic chance of getting a Frazzle isn’t too hard to remember.
What is most important is exercising care and caution with your birds, so that the Frizzles you’re looking for are the best quality bird that you can develop.
What chicken breeds have Frizzles?
Common Frizzle bantam breeds:
- Orpingtons (Buff, Lavender, etc)
- Plymouth Rocks
- Japanese Bantams
- Polish Bantams
Cochin chickens are one of the most popular breeds among beginners because they’re hardy, lay brown eggs consistently, and enjoy human company.
Both the full-sized cochin and the bantam variety have been known to produce Frizzle variations. The standard sized cochins have big and beautiful bodies that can weigh in at about 5 pounds and have an abundance of fancy soft feathers.
They are gentle giants that are easy to handle, and this temperament makes them great pets for families while also making them great foster moms for hatching and brooding. The bantam variety weighs about 2 pounds, and is exceptionally friendly.
They are common in black, white, and red varieties. You can read more about cochins here.
A dual-purpose bird that is one of America’s oldest chicken breeds, the Plymouth Rock is an excellent egg layer.
This breed also has a distinct black and white bar plumage, which is a beautiful addition to any Frizzle flock. Both roosters and hens are generally calm, and these birds get along well with everyone.
The roosters are good protectors for their flocks, and aren’t aggressive towards people. They’re curious and generally will prefer to free range and find morsels in the yard, although they do tolerate confinement well.
They come in the standard colors: Barred, Blue, Buff, Colombian, Partridge, Silver Penciled, and White. You can read more about Plymouth Rock chickens here.
Silkies are a special, fully-bantam variety of chicken that are almost perfect for a Frizzle. Their legs are completely covered in feathers, so if you get one of these Frizzled up, you’ll have a feathery friend whose unique curvy feathers stretch from toe to top!
A Frizzle silkie chicken is an adorable sight to behold!
With their super-soft plumage and easy-going temperaments, these beauties make for wonderful pets. Other details that make these birds such oddities (as far as other chickens are concerned) are their black skin and bones, blue earlobes, and feet covered in five toes each.
If you don’t want to have your Silkies lounge about as pets, they can average at about 150 eggs a year, which makes for a sizeable contribution to the pantry.
They come in black, blue, buff, white, partridge, splash and gray varieties. You can read more about silkie chickens here.
Japanese bantams are known in some parts of the world by another name: Chabo. Whatever their name, they got their start in the Land of the Rising Sun, and are a true bantam breed.
These birds are distinctive for their upright tails that often stick up higher than the peaks of their combs! These beautiful birds are mostly decorative, as their small stature isn’t ideal for meals, and they only produce about 75 eggs per year.
These fuzzy babies are born to strut the catwalk!
Japanese Bantam Frizzles come in all the standard colors: black-tailed white, black, mottled, black-tailed buff, and gray. You can read more about bantams here.
Another show bird is the Polish Bantam. These sweet birds were originally developed as egg-raisers who can produce a solid 200 eggs each year! However, their primary function soon went to the wayside because of their telltale crest of curly feathers that engulf their heads.
These crests have made them distinctive enough for chicken lovers around the world to covet them for their visual appeal. They are sweet – and oftentimes quirky or flighty owing to poor vision resulting from their crests – chickens whose unique qualities make them ideally-suited for a Frizzley offspring.
The colors for the Polish Bantam Frizzle run the whole list, and as it is a show bird, the list is vast: white crested black, golden, silver, white, buff laced, white-crested blue. And then there are also the bearded and non-bearded varieties as well as the unrecognized varieties, too!
You can read more about Polish bantams here.
Originating in the UK, the Orpington is the quintessential chicken breed whose round body and distinctive buff coloring is often envisioned when one thinks of chickens.
These chickens are hardy and rugged, and are ideal for confinement or small yards (like are most common on the small islands of Great Britain). These birds are consistent egg-layers, grow rapidly, and make for a tasty 2- to 3- pound bird.
Although there have been sightings of all varieties of Orpington Frizzles (including black, blue, white, and the unrecognized splash and lavender), the buff variety is by far the most common.
You can read more about Orpington chickens here.
Is it a Frizzle rooster or hen?
So, how do you tell the males and females apart? Just like other chickens, there’s some easy and not so easy ways to tell frizzle hens from roosters:
- Roosters will have redder combs/wattles earlier (about 4 – 8 weeks old)
- Roosters will have longer tail feathers
- Roosters will crow! (starting anywhere from 3 days old to 16 weeks)
You can read more about how to sex a baby chick here.
Additional Frizzle Facts
Do Frizzles lay eggs?
Yes, frizzle chicken breeds do lay eggs, however, some breeds produce more than others. The amount of eggs laid will depend on the breed – for example, Cochin frizzles will produce about 200 eggs a year, while Japanense bantam frizzles will only lay about 75.
What color eggs do Frizzles lay?
The color is dependent upon the root breed of the Frizzle. Cochins and Buff Orpingtons lay brown eggs, while Silkies lay white eggs. If you have a frizzle Easter Egger, than who knows what color eggs she’ll lay!
Are Frizzle Chickens good egg layers?
Across the board, the Frizzle chicken breeds are gentle and good layers, though some breeds produce a sizable quantity more than others.
Can you breed Frizzle to Frizzle? Can you breed two Frizzle chickens?
Technically, you can, but with a one in four chance that it will produce a Frazzle, the practice is discouraged. Frazzles have feathers that are so brittle that they often break off the birds’ bodies and leave unsightly bald spots, making them more susceptible to cold in winter. These Frazzles also suffer a number of other health risks like organ problems. If you’re looking for your Frizzles to enjoy a long healthy life, it is best to breed them to non-Frizzles.
Are Frizzle Chickens cold hardy?
While some breeds of the Frizzles are more cold-hardy than others, all Frizzles suffer one drawback. Because their feathers turn upwards, they cannot seal the heat the way their feathers are supposed to. As a result of this, they have a hard time creating an air buffer between their bodies and the outside air. In colder months and wet weather, pay special attention to their comfort, just in case they can’t keep as warm as the other non-Frizzles in your coops.
Do fancy chickens lay eggs?
Yes. All of the Frizzle Chicken breeds lay eggs, and if you’ve decided to add these birds to your flock for eggs, you’re in luck! Keep in mind, however, that some breeds, like the Cochin and the Orpington, are better at producing a strong supply than, say, the Japanese bantam. The Japanese bantam do not particularly excel at laying eggs, and a yearly yield maxes out at about 75.
Where do frizzle chickens come from?
Records of the birds go back as far as the 1600s! Charles Darwin, the famed British evolutionary, made mention of them as being predominantly from India. He called them “Caffie Fowl.” Officially, there is no record (in English, at least) of where these birds came from, however, all details point to Asia, maybe China or the East Indies.
Are all Frizzles Bantams?
No. At least one breed, Cochins, have varieties that are standard-sized. Generally speaking, though, most Frizzles are bantams.
Is the frizzle gene dominant?
Yes, the frizzle gene is dominant and 50% of the offspring will at least have one frizzle gene and one normal gene, though the mixture of the flock does not always produce 50% Frizzle feathered chickens and 50% non-Frizzles.
Are Frizzle roosters and hens friendly to raise?
Yes! While your experience will depend on the individual chicken, most Frizzles are extremely friendly, especially if you give them lots of treats!
Coops for Frizzles
What size coops do Frizzle Chickens Need?
Because most Frizzle Chickens are bantams, most advice relating to their homes overlap with rules for bantams. Providing them with perches for them to hang out will help keep them happy and content. As far as their coop space is concerned, about 1 to 2 square feet per bird is ideal. This is a little more than half as much as a full-sized chicken requires.
Common Health Issues
As with any other chicken, Frizzles are not immune to their environments, and are susceptible to lice, mites, worms, and other parasites. To help boost their immune systems and beat the bugs, feed apple cider vinegar and crushed garlic daily. You can learn more about my favorite herbs for deterring mites here.
Where can you buy Frizzle Chickens?
One of the biggest problems with ordering your Frizzles is getting them to actually be Frizzles. If you buy day-old chicks in advance, there is no guarantee that they will be, and a dozen purchased might result in only six being Frizzles, or you could luck out and find the whole dozen frilled and foofy! Keep such in mind as you plan to acquire your chickens: buying mature, or at least semi-mature birds are more likely to actually be Frizzles.
As far as where to order your chickens:
- My Pet Chicken has a variety of Frizzles including day-olds.
- Meyer Hatchery, based in Ohio, might not immediately have stock, but they have a handy breeding schedule that you can use to help arrange to get the latest additions to your family.
- Strombergs’ Chicks and Game Birds, based in Pine River, MN, offers some Red Frizzle Cochin bantams.
- Purely Poultry, based in Fremont, WI, offers Frizzle Cochin Bantams.
The most important thing is to choose a high-quality hatchery that’s also close to you, so your new pets don’t spend forever in the mail.
You might have difficulty finding the colors of Frizzles that match your vision, so it might be best to contact a qualified breeder and discuss color possibilities with them.
Most Frizzle chickens should cost just a little over $5.00, which is a small amount more than some other breeds. The increase price is a result of the need for handlers to plan them carefully.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.