Top 11 Gray Chicken Breeds: Discover the World of Gray Chickens

Have you ever wondered about gray chickens? Not all chickens that appear gray actually fall under the recognized gray breeds. In fact, there are only five chicken breeds classified as true gray by standards such as the American Poultry Association (APA) and the American Bantam Association (ABA). The genetic markers for gray chickens are not as strongly expressed as other colors, resulting in a rare and unique appearance.

gray chickens

The Recognized Gray Chicken Breeds

The five breeds officially classified as gray chickens are the Silkie Bantam, Booted Bantam, Dorking Chicken, Japanese Bantam, and Barbu D’uccle Bantam. However, with new breeds being added to the standards each year, the number of gray chickens may increase. To discover more gray-colored chickens, you can refer to your local poultry standards.

The Grayest of Them All

While true gray chickens are rare, there are several other breeds that exhibit a gray appearance. Here are some of the grayest chicken breeds recognized by the APA and ABA:

Breeds Color – Recognized Variety Average Weight (lbs.) Egg Size Egg Production (Annually)
Barbu D’uccle Bantam Gray 1.7 – 2.5 Small Low
Booted Bantam Gray 1.9 – 2.2 Small Low
Dorking (Bantam and Large Fowl) Single Comb Gray, Single Comb Silver Large Fowl: 5.3 – 7.6 Bantam: 1.6 – 2.3 Large Fowl: Medium Bantam: Small Medium
Japanese Bantam Gray, Silver Duckwing, Silver Laced 0.88 – 1.3 Small Fair
Silkie Bantam (bearded and non-bearded) Gray 0.8 – 1.2 Small Fair
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Silkie Bantam
Source: @backyardchiggins

Silkie Bantam

Silkie Bantams are popular ornamental breeds known for their unique appearance. With their fluffy plumage, blue earlobes, and five toes, they are a sight to behold. Silkie Bantams come in various colors, including gray. They have a friendly and docile temperament, making them great companions for children and excellent mothers. While they may not lay eggs as frequently as other breeds, their natural pest control abilities make them valuable additions to any backyard.

Booted Bantam/Dutch Booted Bantam

Booted Bantams, also known as Dutch Booted Bantams, are beloved for their small size and friendly personalities. They are true bantams, meaning they do not have a larger fowl counterpart. The gray-laced Booted Bantam exhibits a uniform gray coloration throughout its body. With their blue, gray, and lavender varieties, they offer a wide range of gray-looking chickens.

Dorking Chicken

The Dorking Chicken, originating from Britain, is known for its red and white varieties. While the Single Comb Gray and Single Comb Silver are not as common, they contribute to the breed’s beauty with their combination of silver and black plumage, which can appear gray depending on the shade and distribution.

Japanese Bantam

Japanese Bantams are small ornamental chickens originating from Japan. They come in various colors, including gray. With their unique appearance and small size, these bantams are often kept for exhibition purposes. Their silver and black coloring gives them a gray-like appearance.

Barbu D’uccle Bantam

Barbu D’uccle Bantams are Belgian bearded bantams that come in several color varieties, including gray. These bantams have gray-laced bodies, boots, muffs, and a beard. They are known for their feathered legs and single comb. With approximately 28 different color varieties recognized by the Belgium poultry standards, the Barbu D’uccle Bantams offer a diverse range of gray options.

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Other Gray-Looking Chickens

In addition to the recognized gray breeds, there are other chicken breeds that can appear gray due to various shades of blue resulting from crossbreeding. Some examples include the Gray Australorp, Gray Orpington (also known as Blue Orpington), and the non-APA-recognized Sapphire Gem Chicken. These breeds exhibit varying degrees of grayish plumage and offer unique characteristics.

The Genetics of Gray Plumage Colors

Gray chickens acquire their gray coloration through specific genetic factors. The primary genetic trait responsible for gray plumage is the “blue dilution” gene. This gene dilutes the black pigment in the feathers, resulting in a gray or silver appearance. The extent of dilution can vary, leading to different shades of gray among gray chicken breeds.

Gray plumage can also be influenced by other genetic factors and patterns. Barring and lacing patterns, for example, can interact with the silver gene, creating unique feather patterns within the gray coloration. Breeders use selective breeding techniques to enhance the expression of desired traits and refine specific gray chicken varieties.

Conclusion

Gray chickens bring a unique and captivating element to any flock. While they may be less common than other colors, their intriguing genetic markers make them worth considering for breeding projects. The recognized gray breeds, as well as the other gray-looking varieties, offer a range of options for chicken enthusiasts. If you’re interested in exploring more gray chicken variants, consult your local poultry association for additional options. Discover the charm of gray chickens and add a touch of elegance to your flock!

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