Poultry Breed Facts Rosecomb Chicken

The Rosecomb Bantam is a ‘true’ bantam. Many breeds have a miniaturised or ‘bantam’ version but, in the case of the Rosecomb, all birds are bantams and there is no standard size version.

They are a ‘fancy’ breed, very popular for showing but, unfortunately, not much use for anything else. They have a poor record as egg layers and are not suited for meat production. Despite being purely an ornamental breed, they are a very popular and one of the oldest breeds in existence.

Records in Britain dating from the 14th century mention the Rosecomb although it may not have its origins in Britain. Their popularity soared when King Richard III took a fancy to them and began raising them. They have remained popular through the ages until the present time. In 1849, Rosecombs were exhibited at the first North American poultry exhibition. They appeared in the first edition of the American Standard of Perfection in 1874.

The Rosecomb is a bright eyed, aristocratic bird. The cocks weigh 20 to 22 ounces and hens 16 to 18 ounces (the American Bantam Association gives the cock weight as 26 ounces and hens 22 ounces). They have a proud stance and appear full of self-importance. The rose comb is large compared to the breed’s overall body size. The comb is square at the front, tapering to where the spike begins. It should sit firm and evenly on the head and be covered with fine points. The spike should tilt upward a little and taper to a fine point without being blade-like.

The head is carried well back. The beak is strong and short. The eyes are large and conspicuous. The wattles are firm, broad and wrinkle-free. The large earlobes fit close to the head and are smooth and flat. The abundant hackle feathers fall well down over the moderately short, broad back. The resplendent tail feathers are long and nicely curved. The wings are long and carried well back. The full breast should extend forward of a vertical line drawn down from the beak. The legs are set well apart with small spurs and four straight toes. The legs and feet are free of feathers. The eggs are small and are cream or tinted.

Over twenty colour variations have been developed including Barred, Mottled, Splash, Lemon Blue, Buff, Columbian and others. All varieties have white earlobes. Some of these are not recognised in the show hall. Black, Blue and White are the most common. Selective breeding purely for specific traits means the birds are usually poor layers with carcasses not suited to eating. The rose comb gene is linked to poor fertility in the roosters. Hens do not often go broody and eggs are best hatched by another breed or by artificial incubation. The baby chicks have a high mortality rate but, once grown, the adults are usually hardy and active. Although generally friendly, the cocks may be aggressive. The birds are good fliers and will have no trouble escaping over a 6ft high fence. They adapt well to being confined. They are an attractive, proud little chicken and look great in one’s backyard.