The Cochin is a large bird, with fluffy feathers that make it look even chunkier. Bred to produce meat, the Cochin is sometimes used for capons.

Cochin hens are one of the broodiest of full sized chickens, and they are often used to brood the chicks of more reluctant hens. Due to their size though, make sure your chickens get free choice calcium (eggshell or oyster shell) so the eggshells will be strong enough to resist breakage by the weight of the hen.

These birds were bred to put on weight in cold conditions, and to be able to produce heat so they can withstand difficult climates. This means that if they are also prone to putting on too much weight if kept in confinement and fed a one-size-fits-all commercial feed. Cochins do best on pasture, with lots of forage or fodder feed, so that they can better balance their appetite and health, and so they get plenty of movement to keep them fit. They don't tend to range over long distances due to their size, and generally they won't fly over fences.

Males are less aggressive than many breeds, and Cochins are content in almost any conditions except high heat (they do not do so well in hot climates). They are also friendly birds and easily tamed.

  • Type - meat
  • Size - large standard
  • Production Capacity - good producer of meat, and consistent winter layers
  • Special Features - very fluffy feathers prove a cuteness overload for some people
  • Best for Farms - great for cooler climate farms needing a meat producer or broody hen
  • Eggs, Milk, Meat Features - lays large brown eggs, and produces good broilers and roasters.
  • Other Products - not applicable
  • Historic or Contemporary Significance - a farm favorite in the US, and a practical utility bird
  • Housing and Space Requirement - typical for a large bird, needs the ability to range out of doors, and they prefer low roosts.
  • Regional Adaptations - handles cold better than heat
  • Feed Requirement - do much better with forage or fodder.
  • Other Considerations - Cochins sometimes get classified only as an ornamental bird, which does them a disservice. They were bred to produce meat in difficult conditions, and they do this very well.



Many breeds are not included here due to poor availability, or due to genetic or health issues which make them impractical for small farm or homestead use.

All chicken breeds can be used for dual purpose, but there is a trade-off between meat production and egg laying - a bird cannot be very high in both. There is also a trade-off between egg laying and broodiness - simply because broodiness interferes with high volume egg laying to a certain extent.

So... egg layers that produce a lot of eggs will generally be smaller in size than meat producers. Meat producers will lay fewer eggs than lightweight layers - generally the heavier the bird, the fewer the eggs. Highest egg production seems to be in birds weighing 4-5 lbs. Higher weights slow egg production, and very small breeds also lay less.

Solid dual purpose breeds will meet somewhere in the middle, with a moderately large carcass, and  good egg production through most of the year, about 150 to 200 eggs per year on the high end. Weights for dual purpose birds tend to range around 6-9 lb.

Sizes listed will have Standard after the size if they refer only to the Standard size breed.

Most Chickens also have a Standard size bird, and a Bantam size that goes by the same name, BUT, they are NOT necessarily the same breed! The APA gets a little confused where Bantams are concerned, because as long as the general appearance is the same, they don't care how they got that way, and whether any other traits match or not, and often the appearance diverges as well. So Breed descriptions generally ONLY apply to Standard size birds, unless the breed described here is specified as a Bantam Breed.

Bantams may come about in one of four ways:

1. Some breeds are naturally small, and they are Bantam only. This includes Sebrights, d'Uccles, d'Anvers, and many others. These breeds have the most easily digestible eggs in the chicken world, and they are NOT available in Standard sizes.

2. Some breeds are bred down, selecting for smaller and smaller size to achieve a Bantam breed. This is the most time consuming way to get a Bantam chicken. Characteristics other than size may change in the selection process if the breeder is careless - you generally lose something in egg laying capacity, and health or hardiness simply because of the genetic restriction involved. This is the ONLY case in which the Bantam is actually truly the "same breed" as the full sized variety.

3. Some breeds are created with a combination of breeding down for size, and careful cross breeding with existing Bantam birds, to create a cross breed that is smaller but retains more of the characteristics of the goal breed. Done well, this can produce a Bantam with a fairly close match to the original, though egg laying capacity will still generally be compromised. This results in a separate breed, NOT a "variety", though the APA lists them erroneously as two varieties of the same breed.

4. Often, existing Bantam breeds are simply crossed to come up with a bird that has the appearance of the goal breed. In doing this, breeders tend to concentrate on appearance, and forget entirely about other traits. Utility traits are the most commonly ignored. Frequently, behavior, production traits, even some physical traits, are broadly divergent from the original full sized bird. This results in a separate breed, NOT a "variety", though the APA lists them erroneously as two varieties of the same breed.

Bantam breeds generally lay less than full sized breeds of the same name - typically about half the laying capacity, sometimes less, rarely more. Bantams are, in general, more broody than full sized hens, in part because they have not been bred for high production, and this trait makes them fairly prolific when allowed to brood eggs. It also makes them very useful in brooding standard size hen eggs, or eggs from quail, partridge, or other small birds. In spite of their small size, they can successfully hatch full sized chicken eggs, though they do not cover a large number of them.

Bantams can be used for meat, though they produce a carcass more like a dove than a chicken.

They WILL fly, whereas only lighter weight standard breeds will fly much. A Bantam can take flight and travel by air over buildings, around trees, and out of sight within a few seconds.

Many breeds of chicken which were originally good utility birds are not listed here simply because they have been bred for show for so long that utility traits are now gone.

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