The complete list of chicken feather colours with pictures, video and breed examples.

A blue Pekin chicken at a poultry show

Table of Contents

How many chicken colours are there?

There are 10 self or solid colours of chicken and 65 combination colours in chickens.

It is important to remember that most colours of chicken are merely combinations of coloured feathers and there are also dozens of patterns of those colours.

Sometimes these colours have different names, for example, when describing chickens white is the same colour as silver.

Below: A pure white Silkie hen.

Where the colour pattern is on the bird itself, like the Sussex with black neck, tail and wing tips, this is called a primary colour pattern. If the colour pattern is on the feather, like in the case of a laced chicken, this is called a secondary colour pattern.

The self or solid colours of chickens are:

  • White (Silver when with another colour)
  • Black
  • Red or gold
  • Blue
  • Lavender or self blue
  • Buff 
  • Chocolate
  • Brown
  • Dun
  • Smoky

These colours often exist in various shades. Chestnut is a deep red found in the Barnevelder.

The plumage colour of chickens is made of only two pigments: black and red. Every feather colour in chickens has neither, one or both of these two ground colours whether they are genetically defective, enhanced, diluted, or masked. White is the lack of all pigment in the feathers.

The background colour in chickens is controlled by the E-locus gene. Other genes either dilute, inhibit, mask or enhance the expression of the gene. Occasional the gene itself can be defective or malformed.

Over the thousands of years that chickens have been domesticated these colour changes have been manipulated by human keepers through selective breeding.

Colours of the sexes: Roosters versus Hens.

Colours express themselves differently in the sexes when it comes to chickens.

Excluding the hen feathered types the males always have larger, brighter and more colourful plumage intended for display and to attract a mate.

Below: In some breeds of chicken like the Rosecomb bantam, the feathering and colour of the males and females is  incredibly similar.

The colour of hens is more muted than the cockerels, presumably an evolutionary hangover form needing to be camouflaged on the nest.

Chicken colour table with genetics and pictures:

Colours are not necessarily found in all types and breed standards and vary from country to country.

Some colours are though to be functionally extinct but have been included here. The term "Black laced" is never used in chicken colours.

This table is huge and looks better on desktop - You may need to rotate your mobile to landscape.

Colour with image:Breed examples, Genetics and Description:

1. White.

  • Description: White is the complete absence of any colour pigments (Melanin)  from the feathers and is one of the two most common chicken colours alongside brown.
  • Genetics: White can be dominant (I) or recessive (c)
  • Breed example: White Silkie, white Wyandotte, White Barnevelder, White leghorn, Plymouth Rock, Orpington, Jersey Giant, Bresse Gauloise, Polish.
  • White can be dominant but most white chickens are recessive.
  • Most common fault in white feathers is brassiness or red leakage giving a yellow tint.
  • Things to know about white: Although Albino chickens are white, it is caused by and autosomal recessive mutation meaning the original colour of the chicken can not be expressed at all, even in the eyes and skin.

2. Black.

  • Description: The ideal is a consistent and solid black across all feathers.
  • Genetics: E - extended black - is the most dominant allele which controls the black plumage. other genes that effect black are mo (mottling) and ml (melanotic).
  • Breed example: Australorp, Black Leghorn, Black Wyandotte, Langshan.
  • Things to know: An old hand once told me to catch a crow and compare the colour, this is the black you should be aiming for.
  • The green or purple sheen seen on black feathers is the result of the structure of the feather and has nothing to do with colour.

3. Red

  • Description: Even and deep red colour like in the Rhode island. 
  • Genetics: s or silver inhibits red pigment and s+ is the recessive wild type. Considered to  be incompletely dominant and effected by other genes.
  • Breed example: Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red.
  • Things to know: Many other things effect the expression of this gene, including hormones.

4. Blue.

  • Description: The blue gene dilutes black. Having one copy of the gene dilutes black to blue and two copies of the gene dilutes black to splash.
  • Genetics: Bl is incompletely dominant, one copy gives blue and two give splash. bl+ is the wild type and will be black.
  • Breed example: Blue Wyandotte.
  • Things to know: The shade of blue is unpredictable and varies considerably. Blue is a wasteful colour in chickens, breeding two blue will only give 50% blue offspring. Breeding black to Splash will give 100% offspring.
  • Blue does not breed true.

5. Buff.

  • Description: Buff is diluted red. The ideal is an even light red / orange colour from head to foot with no variation. 
  • Genetics: Di - Dominant. Dilutes red, changes red to buff. di+ - Wild-type gene. Lack of red diluter. Recessive.
  • Breed example: Buff Orpington, Buff Sussex.
  • Things to know: Buff is one of the last understood of chicken colours.

6. Lavender or self-blue.

  • Description: Lavender is a pale blueish grey that comes in different shades.
  • Genetics: Lavender behaves like black and can be used to replace black in any chicken that has black in the colour. The Lavender gene is Lav+ (Wild type - lack of Lavender -  dominant) and lav - (Recessive).
  • Breed example: Lavender Pekin, Coronation Sussex, Lavender Orpingtons.
  • Things to know about lavender: A chicken with only one lavender gene cannot be identified unless it is mated to another bird that carries that gene. Lavender is associated with poor feather quality.
  • Lavender turns red pigments in the feathers to a straw colour.

7. Chocolate.

  • Description: An even and rich chocolate colour over the whole bird. The reality is the colour is rarely even and hackles and tails tend to be much darker.
  • Genetics: The chocolate gene ( choc) is recessive and sex linked. 
  • Breed example: Chocolate Orpingtons, chocolate pekins.
  • Things to know: The chocolate colour in chickens is caused by a mutation in the TYRP1 gene. 

8. Columbian. (formerly Ermine)

  • Description: The ideal is an all white bird with an even ruff of black feathers and black tail and wing tips.
  • Genetics: Co - Incompletely dominant. Confines black to hackle and tail in both sexes (called Columbian restriction). Thought to cause a gradient in colour from head to tail. Modifies Wheaten to Buff Columbian. Has no effect on extended black, E. co+ - Wild-type gene. Lack of Columbian restriction. Recessive.
  • Breed example: Light Sussex, Columbian Wyandottes.
  • Things to know: Columbian chickens have the black confined to the extremities, they are not Silver based.

9. Buff Columbian.

  • Description: An even buff coloured feather with black hackle feathers, black tail and wing tips. 
  • Genetics: Di - Dominant. Dilutes red, changes red to buff. di+ - Wild-type gene. Lack of red diluter. Recessive.
  • Breed example: Buff Sussex, buff columbian Brahma.
  • Things to know: Buff is a difficult colour to get an even shade of, the feathers are often slightly odd colours across the bird.

10. Coronation.

  • Description: The chickens are Coloumbian based and have lavender replacing the black in the extremities. An even and well defined feather pattern is the ideal.
  • Genetics: The coronation colour pattern is essentially the same as the Columbian with the lavender black diluter present.
  • Breed example: Coronation Sussex, Coronation Pekin.
  • Things to know: Coronation breeds true.

11. Barred.

  • Description: Barred chickens have alternating black and white bars on the feathers. The bars should be clean and well spaced. The barring gene stops and starts pigment production as the feather grows. The clear lines on barred breeds happens because the feathers are slow growing (K) whereas with cuckoo (Below) the slow feathering gene is missing resulting in blurry markings.
  • Genetics: Barring is sex linked and the genes responsible are found on the Z chromosome.
  • Breed example: Barred rock, 
  • Things to know: The barred gene can be used to sex day old chicks. The males of barred breeds have wider bars that tend to be more clearly marked.

12. Cuckoo (Silver)

  • Description: The barring in cuckoo feathers is not clear and the colour bleeds a lot. The males have wider and clearer marking s than the hens do.
  • Genetics: Barring gene - B, found on the E-locus. Barring is incompletely dominant and will almost always show. One copy produces white bars in the bird's feathers and two copies produces wider white stripes. Barring is sex-linked and can be used to produce auto-sexing chicks. A barred or Cuckoo hen can only pass her Cuckoo gene to her male chicks, but a barred rooster can pass it to both male and female chicks.
  • Breed example: Cuckoo Pekin, Cuckoo Silkie, Cuckoo Marans.
  • Things to know: A Cuckoo rooster is of much greater importance in breeding. It is only from a cuckoo rooster bred with a cuckoo hen that you will hatch all cuckoo chicks.

13. Golden Cuckoo.

  • Description: Golden cuckoo is the same as Silver cuckoo but the black is replaced with buff. Clear even markings and well spaced bands is the ideal. The colour is often incomplete and confined to the hackles and saddle and is mixed with black.
  • Genetics: Barring gene - B, found on the E-locus. Barring is incompletely dominant and will almost always show. One copy produces white bars in the bird's feathers and two copies produces wider white stripes. Barring is sex-linked and can be used to produce auto-sexing chicks. A barred or Cuckoo hen can only pass her Cuckoo gene to her male chicks, but a barred rooster can pass it to both male and female chicks.
  • Breed example: Golden Cuckoo Marans, Golden cuckoo Pekin.
  • Things to know: Cuckoo is sex linked. A Cuckoo rooster is of much greater importance in breeding. It is only from a cuckoo rooster bred with a cuckoo hen that you will hatch all cuckoo chicks.

14. Crele.

  • Description: Crele chickens carry the barring gene. To produce a Crele feathered chicken you start with either a black breasted red or a partridge feathered bird and introduce the B gene.
  • Genetics: Barring is a dominant sex linked gene affected by a linked feather growth gene. A rooster carrying both genes is denoted as (B,B) and one gene as (B,b) whereas a hen carry a barred gene is given the notation (b,-).
  • Breed example: Crele polish, Crele Pekin, Crele Orpington.
  • Things to know: You should use a barred rooster for any mating program to produce Crele. It is time consuming and wasteful to produce Crele feathering.

15. Blue laced.

  • Description: The main feather colour is a deep slate blue and the feathers are laced with black edges. The ideal is an even feather colour and lacing.
  • Genetics: E/E Bl/bl- Ml-Lg/Ml-Lg. The slate-blue plumage of the Andalusian is caused by a gene that dilutes blue to black. Chickens with one copy of the gene are blue, two copies of the gene are splash and no copies of the gene are black.
  • Breed example: Andalusian.
  • Things to know: Blue is a wasteful colour to breed.

16. Blue laced red.

  • Description: Blue laced red feathers have a red feather with blue lacing. The ideal is a an even colour red across all the feathers and a nice even slate blue lacing.  
  • Genetics: The blue is a dilution of the black. Wild type bl+/bl+. Having one copy (Bl/bl+) of the gene will lighten black lacing to blue and two copies of the gene (Bl/Bl) will appear splash laced.
  • Breed example: Blue laced red Wyandotte
  • Things to know: Breeding blue laced red birds is wasteful.

17. Silver laced.

  • Description: The silver laced is one of the most common colours of chicken feathers. The ideal is an pure white feather fringed with an even black lace.
  • Genetics: eb/eb Pg/Pg Ml/Ml Co/Co. Columbian allows for single lacing.
  • Breed example: Silver Laced Wyandotte, Silver laced Orpington.
  • Things to know: Melanotic ML is dominant and enhances the black pigment an pushed it to the edges of the feathers, this effect is often more noticeable in the hens.

18. Gold laced.

  • Description: Gold feathers with black laced edges. The ideal is an even ground colour and a smooth, sharply defined black lacing around the edge.
  • Genetics: eb/eb, Pg/Pg s+/s+ Ml/Ml Co/Co.
  • Breed example: Gold laced Sebright, gold laced Wyandotte,Gold laced Orpington.
  • Things to know: A silver laced Sebright caries a recessive gold gen and can produce 50% of each when bred with a gold laced bird.

19. Buff laced (Chamois).

  • Description: Buff laced or chamois feathering is mostly found in Polish chickens. The ideal is an even shade of buff with the feathers laced with white. 
  • Genetics: Buff laces are gold laced with dominant white added which changed the black lacing to white.
  • Breed example: Chamois Polish, Buff laced Wyandotte.
  • Things to know: Good examples are rare. difficult to breed.

20. Tolbunt (only Polish chickens).

 

  • Description: The Tolbunt colour pattern a three colour feather pattern
  • Genetics: 
  • Breed example: Tolbunt Polish chicken.
  • Things to know: Melanotic ML is dominant and enhances the black pigment an pushed it to the edges of the feathers, this effect is often more noticeable in the hens.

21. Citron Laced.

  • Description: The feather colour has been diluted to a buff or lemon colour and feathers are surrounded with black lacing.
  • Genetics: s+/s+ and ig/ig Citron (lemon in some breeds) is a dilution of gold. It is a recessive gene, requiring two copies to dilute gold ground colour to citron.
  • Breed example: Citron Sebright.
  • Things to know: Difficult to breed well, colour often varies in the feathers.

22. Gold pencilled.

  • Description: A concentric pencilling of gold and black on the feathers.  Colour and black lines should be as even and well spaced as possible. 
  • Genetics:  The Pattern gene Pg arranges black pigment in concentric lines, Pg on it's own leaves the feather rim ground coloured.
  • Breed example: Gold pencilled Wyandotte
  • Things to know: 

23. Silver pencilled.

  • Description: A concentric pencilling of Silver and black on the feathers.  Colour and black lines should be as even and well spaced as possible. 
  • Genetics:  The Pattern gene Pg arranges black pigment in concentric lines, Pg on it's own leaves the feather rim ground coloured.
  • Breed example: Silver pencilled Wyandotte,
  • Things to know: 

24. Birchen.

  • Description: Birchen is like a reverse Columbian pattern. 
  • Genetics: The birchen allele (ER) is at the E locus. This allele is modified by the melanotic gene (Ml). ER/- ml+/ml+ Co/Co
  • Breed example: Birchen Japanese Bantams, Birchen Pekin.
  • Things to know: 

25. Silver duckwing.

 

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26. Blue Silver duckwing.

 

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27. Fawn silver duckwing.

 

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28. Golden duckwing.

 

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29. Blue golden duckwing.

 

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30. Black tailed red.

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32. Black tailed white.

  • Description: The body is white and the tail is black. the ideal is pure white feathers with no brassiness or other colours and a well defined black tail.
  • Genetics: Cp - Short legged allele. This copy of the gene is completely dominant and lethal in homozygous state. cp+ - Normal legged or wild-type allele. Chickens with this copy of the recessive gene will have normal legs or lack of creeper trait.
  • Breed example: Japanese bantam.
  • Things to know: Has a lethal creeper gene, 25% of chicks never hatch.

33. Black tailed buff.

  • Description: An even and bright orange coloured feather with a black tail. Colours should be even and lines well defined.
  • Genetics: Same as the white but with a buff ground colour.
  • Breed example: Japanese bantam, Serama bantam.
  • Things to know: Difficult to get an even buff.

34. Silver spangled.

  • Description: A pure white feather with a tip of black. The tips should be even and as triangular as possible.
  • Genetics: Db+Pg+Ml.
  • Breed example: Spangled hamburg
  • Things to know: The effect is more noticeable and better in the hens.

35. Gold spangled.

 

  • Description: A gold ground coloured feather with a tip of black. The tips should be even and as triangular as possible.
  • Genetics: Db+Pg+Ml with the gold ground colour.
  • Breed example: Gold Spangled Appenzeller.
  • Things to know: Very rare, almost no poultry associations.

36. Citron or lemon spangled.

 

  • Description: A lemon or citroen ground coloured feather with a tip of black. The tips should be even and as triangular as possible.
  • Genetics: Db+Pg+Ml with the lemon ground colour.
  • Breed example: Lemon-spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben
  • Things to know: Not found outside Switzerland.

37. Mottled.

  • Description: Black feathers with a white tip. The ideal is an even triangular pattern.
  • Genetics: Mottled (mo) is a local inhibition of pigments at the feather tip.
  • Breed example: Mottled Ancona.
  • Things to know: The mottling changes with the moult.

38. Blue mottled.

  • Description: Blue feathers with a white tip. The ideal is an even triangular pattern.
  • Genetics: Mottled (mo) is a local inhibition of pigments at the feather tip.
  • Breed example: Blue Mottled Japanese Bantam.
  • Things to know: Mottling tends to cluster in the middle of the bird.

39. Mille Fleur.

  • Description: The Mille Fleur pattern consists of a ground colour of mahogany. Each feather is marked with a crescent shaped bar of black and tipped with a V-shaped white spangle.
  • Genetics: 
  • Breed example: Mille fleur Pekin. Jubilee Orpington.
  • Things to know: The true colouring does not usually appear until the first adult moult.

40. Lemon Mille Fleur. 

 

  • Description: The Mille Fleur pattern consists of a lemon ground colour. Each feather is marked with a crescent shaped bar of black and tipped with a V-shaped white spangle.
  • Genetics: 
  • Breed example: Mille fleur
  • Things to know: The true colouring does not usually appear until the first adult moult.

41. Porcelain.

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42. White laced red.

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43. Splash.

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44. Salmon.

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45. Quail.

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46. Pyle.

 

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47. Red pyle.

 

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48. Exchequer.

 

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49. Black Breasted Red.

 

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50. Blue Breasted Red.

 

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51. Wheaten.

 

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52. Blue Wheaten.

 

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53. Partridge. (Colour not to be confused with Partridge feather pattern).

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54. Chestnut.

 

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55. Brown.

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56. Dark brown.

 

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57. Brassy Back.

 

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58. Blue Brassy Back.

 

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59. Blue Light Brown.

 

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60. Cream Light Brown.

 

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61. Blue-red.

 

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62. Light Brown.

 

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63. Lemon Blue.

 

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64. Golden Neck.

 

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65. Golden-necked mille fleur.

 

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66. Ginger Red.

 

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67. Silver Blue.

 

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68. Silver Gray.

 

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69. Gray.

 

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70. Double laced.

  • Description: A chestnut ground colour with double lacing and a beetle sheen on the feathers.
  • Genetics: The multiple lacing Pg combined with Ml the concentric lines become broader and shift towards the edge of the feather, lacing the outer rim black.
  • Breed example: Double laced Barnevelder.
  • Things to know: The darker the under colour the better the lacing.

71. Silver double laced.

  • Description: Feathers should be well marked with alternate black and white lacing. the ideal is even and well defined lacing with no red leakage.
  • Genetics: Ml Melanotic is dominant and enhances and shifts black pigment to the edges of the feather. The Pattern gene Pg arranges black pigment in concentric lines, Pg on it's own leaves the feather rim ground coloured. The multiple lacing Pg combined with Ml the concentric lines become broader and shift towards the edge of the feather, lacing the outer rim black.
  • Breed example: Silver Laced Barnevelder.
  • Things to know: The red ground colour is difficult to remove

72. Silver blue double laced.

  • Description: A double silver double blue. The ideal is even silver and blue lacing with no red ground colour leaking into the plumage.
  • Genetics: Same as the Silver Laced Barnevelder with the black diluted to blue.
  • Breed example: Double Silver  blue Barnevelder.
  • Things to know: The red ground leakage is common and difficult to breed out.

73. Erminette. (not to be confused with ermine.)

 

  • Description: The Erminette was based on the Plymouth rock but differs by having splash feathering.
  • Genetics: Does not breed true, also produces black and white 
  • Breed example: American Erminette.
  • Things to know: Functionally extinct.

74. Paint.

 

  • Description: Paint chickens are a black chicken that carries one dominant white gene. Paint feathering looks a little like a dalmatian dog with black patches in white feathers. A few spots of black will “leak through” the white as the dominant white gene does not always cover up all of the black. The amount of black spots can vary both in number and size.
  • Genetics: 
  • Breed example: Paint Silkie.
  • Things to know: Paint can produce black, white and paint chicks

75. Smoky.

  • Description: An off white cream colour that can look like light blue. - very rare.
  • Genetics: Will breed true. Dominant.
  • Breed example:
  • Things to know: Smoky is dominant to dominant white in both chick down and adult plumage in that extended black with I/IS (E/E I/IS) results in grey chick down and adult plumage. Research to date indicates that i+/IS heterozygotes express more the wild-type phenotype with respect to this gene indicating a recessive character with respect to the wild-type.

76. Dun.

  • Description: A  cream to khaki colour. One copy of the dun gene gives a very light, almost white colour and two copies gives a khaki colour. No spots like splash.
  • Genetics: id Incompletely dominant, off-white. Recessive to dominant white. i+ - lack of dominant white.
  • Breed example: Dun Pekin.
  • Things to know: Very rare.

Some colours are ostensibly the same, they just run by different names in different breeds of chicken.