Among the number and variety of chicken pictures that we post on our Facebook page, the type that brings the most comments and “likes” is the Frizzle. Some look fluffy and cuddly and could be the chickenyard equivalent of a stuffed animal. There are those that look strange in a cute sort of way. And, there is the odd few that look like Grandpa of “The Munsters” or Professor Irwin Corey.
Soooo. . . the Frizzle is not a breed of chicken. It is a type of chicken – like the bantam. What looks like a blow-dried coiffure is actually a bit of an abnormality. Although breeders have attempted to mate frizzled chickens of almost every breed, the chances of a newborn chick being a Frizzle is just 50-50. Frizzled chicks hatch and are feathered like any other baby. In a few days, (and in some cases a week to 10 days), their feathers begin “frizzle-ing”; that is, growing in an outward curl.
Just about any breed can be frizzled. But, probably the most common is the Cochin. This may be due to the fact that frizzled Cochins are more successfully bred for this trait than other chickens. On average, 3/4 of the chicks hatched from a mated pair of frizzled Cochins will present the same frizzled characteristics of their parents. The remaining 1/4 will have the long, flat feathering typical in a non-frizzled version of the breed. Add the frizzled version to the Cochin’s already sweet, gentle personality, and the breed is even more adorable and lovable. Frizzled feathers are common also in the Plymouth Rock, Japanese and Polish breeds.
Looking like something leftover from the big hair of the 1980s, the frizzle effect is caused by medium long feathers curling forward in the direction of the chicken’s head. Considering the usual and more natural straight and flat growth pattern of a chicken’s feathers, this is actually backwards. Rather than growing straight and flat, feathers curl forward.
The origin of the frizzle variety is not really known. Some say it originated in Italy. Others credit breeding in India; while still others look to England over 400 years ago. Whatever the starting point, currently Frizzles are quite popular in the United States.
These birds are fun and funny. It’s no wonder so many of our fans seem to like them. They would make a visually interesting addition to any backyard flock. If you’re curious, start by selecting the breed best suited for your environment. Then, check with local breeders and hatcheries to see if there is a frizzle variety. A great adventure to be sure, though the most fun, might just be picking out your Frizzle’s name.
This article was written by our contributing editor, Terri Grover-Miller.
Feature Photo: www.Backyardchickens.com
White frizzle rooster: http://www.upc-online.org/sponsor/previous.html
Light gray Pekin frizzle: http://greatbrampton.wordpress.com/tag/fowl/