Frizzle Chicken. The very first time I heard this bit of chicken terminology, I thought what the heck is that??
Frizzled chickens are a variety of different chicken breeds which have feathers that curve backward away from their body instead of laying flat like the standard chicken feather does. The frizzled feather gene in chickens a dominant trait which means that just one parent has to have the trait in order to pass it to their offspring.
With that, let’s jump into all things frizzled chickens including their care, why you might want one and a few of the breeds.
What is a Frizzle Chicken?
To explain what a frizzled chicken is in a simple way, they are a curly feathered chicken. A frizzle itself is not a specific chicken breed though. Essentially, the term frizzled is a description of a feather type, and can be found across multiple different breeds.
There are several breeds that can be a frizzled. Frizzle cochin, polish frizzle and frizzle silkie (also known as a sizzle) are just a few examples. Most of these breeds can also have standard smooth feathering as well.
The history of this curly feathered trait is not well laid out, but it is thought to have possibly originated somewhere in Asia. The trait was then bred for as people found the feathering unique and used them as pets and for exhibition.
Why Do You Want Frizzled Chickens?
So, what are frizzled chickens good for? They can be good for all the same reasons that any backyard chickens are. But two of the main reasons you may get them are:
Since they are a really unique feather type, they are most often gotten just to look at. They are an ornamental breed. And, certainly, they are a cool and fun addition to any flock.
Most frizzled breeds are friendly and make great pets. They tend to be calm and happy to interact with their owners.
Frizzle Chicken Care
Taking care of these curly feathered chickens is pretty similar to taking care of a “regular” chicken. They will need a secure coop, run and high quality chicken feed and clean water daily. However, due to their different feather type there are some important points to consider.
The main difference or defining characteristic of a frizzle chicken is, of course, its curly or frizzled feathers. These feathers a less insulated than regular feathers so you will want them to have a nice warm coop.
We have frizzled chickens in our flocks here in Virginia and they seem to do just fine in the cold and snow of winter. However, we do make sure that they have a very cozy, draft free chicken coop with lots of buddies to pile up with and stay warm. Our frizzles (like our silkies) will tend to all pile up together for warmth, especially when it is cold out.
This also goes for rain and other inclement weather, not just the cold and snow. As they may need a little extra protection from any weather that could chill them.
Due to the different feather type, they cannot really fly. Their feathers are not made the same and therefore, do not have the same characteristics allowing them flight. Therefore, they may not be as well equipped to get away from predators – so they may do better in a predator proof run than being free ranged.
As mentioned above, the difference in feathers makes these chickens unable to fly. So, much like bantam chickens need shorter roosts and ramps, your frizzled chickens may also need them too.
Dirt and Vision
The frizzled feathers look cool because they are curled and sticking out every which way. This can also potentially cause some issues if their head feathers are hanging into their eyes and face or if their leg and feet feathers gather mud and other dirt (like most feather legged breeds will have happen).
So, you will just want to keep a close eye on them and ensure that their feet and leg feathers don’t need debris cleaned out and that their head feathers are not interfering with their vision.
Frizzle Chicken Genetics
So, if a frizzle is not a specific breed, what exactly causes a chicken to be a frizzle? A frizzle is a chicken which does not have “standard” or “normal” feathers. Instead of it’s feathers laying flat, they curl up and out from their body.
This frizzling, so to speak, is caused by an incomplete dominate gene (F). This means that a chicken only needs to carry one copy of the frizzle gene in order to show frizzling.
Some birds will show more frizzling than others. This is due to the fact that the frizzle gene also has a modifying factor to the gene which can control the extent to which their feathers will appear frizzled (source).
Feathers are made up of three parts – the backbone (rachis), branches (ramus) and parts off the ramus (barbules). The frizzling gene causes changes such as thickening to all three parts of the feather thus causing them to no longer lay flat on the birds. (source).
Frizzle Chicken Breeding Basics
Breeding frizzled chickens is really quite fun. They are such a unique looking chicken with their curly feathers.
When you breed frizzled chickens, you never want to breed two frizzle chickens together. The result of breeding frizzle to frizzle can result in a double frizzle chicken – meaning they have two copies of the frizzling gene. We call these frazzles.
Frazzles do not often live very long or healthy lives. Having two copies of the frizzle gene makes their curled feathers very brittle. They tend to break off. They are often times bald in places. And their overall health tends to suffer.
Due to this, we recommend setting up breeding pens where you either have a frizzle rooster over normal/standard feather hens. Or, you can set up your breeding pens to have a normal/standard feather rooster over frizzled hens.
Frizzle chicken breeding results:
If you breed Frizzle to Normal/standard it will result in 50% frizzled and 50% normal/standard feathered chicks.
Whereas, if you breed Frizzle to Frizzle will result in 50% frizzle, 25% normal/standard, 25% frazzled feathered chicks. Due to issues with frazzled feather types, you do not want to breed to frizzled together.
If you breed two frazzled together, you will get 100% frazzled chicks – this is not a breeding that you want to do.
When frizzle chicks hatch, you cannot really tell that they have a different feather type. It is not until they are a few weeks old and have started blowing their chick fluff that you will start to see if they have feathers that have a curl.
Frizzle Chicken Breeds
A frizzle chicken will tend to have most of the same characteristics of the actual breed that it is. For example a frizzle silkie will tend to have the same black skin, 5 toes and friendly personality of a typical silkie chicken. They will also come in the same colors as the standard breed. And, they tend to have the same temperament, personality and egg laying abilities.
Many chicken breeds already have a frizzle version of their breed. Some of the most common breeds where frizzled feathering is already established are:
- Frizzle Cochin – standard and bantam sized
- Polish Frizzle – standard and bantam sized
- Frizzle Silkie (or Sizzle)
- Frizzle Plymouth Rock
- Frizzle Orpington
However, there are ways to make any breed a frizzled breed. It takes, time, patience and a lot of selective breeding. You can use an already frizzled breed that is close in characteristics to the breed you want to make frizzled.
So, for example, if you have a Frizzled Polish rooster, you may use him over a standard Houdan hen. Then of those chicks, you find the frizzled ones that most resemble a Houdan and then breed them back to a high quality breed standard Houdan. And continue this until you have chicks that meet the breeds standards, but also have the frizzling.
Are Frizzled chickens good egg layers?
They are fair egg layers. They tend to lay eggs as good as the breeds standard feathered counterpart does. However, most frizzled breeds are not super heavy layers. For example, Silkies lay around 120 eggs a year and Polish lay around 200 eggs a year.
Similarly to the number of eggs they will lay, they also lay the same color egg as the breed they are.
How much do frizzled chickens cost?
Cost can really vary based on the specific breed, sex and where you get them from. If you purchase from a hatchery it can range anywhere from $5 – $25 depending on the sex you choose. Some of the more rare breeds and colors from a smaller breeder can go up to $50.
What is the difference between a frizzle and a sizzle?
A frizzle is any chicken with the gene, a sizzle is a frizzled silkie specifically.
What is a satin chicken?
Satin chickens are a project breed where Silkies are bred to have standard smooth feathers.
Overall, if you are looking for a fun, unique addition to your flock, these can be a great choice. Most frizzled chickens make great pets as most of the frizzled breeds are also friendly.