Sumatras are an ancient breed. They are also possibly the best fliers in chicken town, as it was once reported that one of these birds actually made a 5 mile, wind aided journey from the island of Sumatra to the island of Java in Indonesia.This is an exceedingly rare breed of chicken with a personality closer to that of a wild game bird than a domestic chicken: they are thought to be closely related to the jungle fowl of the Far East. They have been known variously as "Sumatran Pheasants" or "Java Pheasant Game Birds," even though they are most definitely chickens! Their unique carriage, with their sweeping tails held low, gives them the air of a pheasant or peacock, however. Sumatras make great show birds, and they're usually kept for their beauty alone. This is no surprise, because they're usually poor layers and they aren't hefty enough to be a good meat bird. You can see from the photos that their shiny, lustrous feathers are striking, but in addition they're the only breed of chicken whose roosters have multiple spurs! Like the Silkie, they also have black skin and black bones.

This is a fowl of graceful form and distinct carriage, with the richest of lustrous, greenish black plumage throughout. Its particular characteristic is the long flowing tail of the male, which has an abundance of long sweeping sickles and coverts. Multiple spurs are often found on males. Other characteristics are length and breadth of feather, extremely lustrous, greenish black plumage color and practically no wattle development. The breed is a very stylish bird and quite beautiful as they have one of the most lustrous plumage's of any bird. They are known for their strut and swagger and their faces are referred to as gypsy, which is a dark plum to almost black shade of purple. They have glossy black legs. The roosters are known to fight other roosters of the same breed, but rarely go after other breeds. The hens are really broody and good mothers, but they begin laying later in the season than other breeds. The breed is very active and are not only one of the best fliers, but also great jumpers. It is recommended that you keepthem in covered cages if you want to keep them in. Many breeders have found this to be a challenge.

Origins / History:
Class: All Other Breeds
Place of Origin: Sumatra (Indonesia)
Type: Large Fowl & Bantam
Size: Medium (6-7 lbs)
Rarity: Rare
Purpose: Ornamental
Recognized Varieties: Officially recognized: Black only.
Other unofficial colors: Blue, White

Egg Facts:
Egg Laying: Poor (2/wk)
Egg Color: White
Egg Size: Medium

Fancy Features:
Comb Type: Pea Comb
Crested: No
Feathered Legs: No
Number of Toes: 4

Suitability to Backyard Life:
Hardy In Winter: Yes
Especially Docile: No
Setter/Broody: No
Personality: Intelligent and active; usually calm but still irascible


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  8. A sumatra look-alike arose third generation of a white silkie rooster crossed to a frizzle cochin in my flock. I suspect silkies were developed from sumatras, or vice versa.