Chickens With Hair on Their Heads

Certain chicken breeds have distinctive feather formations on their heads and necks that resemble hair. However, since chickens are birds, they don’t actually have hair — these formations are feathers. The most notable among these are crests and beards.

Crests are upright feather arrangements on top of a chicken’s head, often covering the red-colored comb typical of most breeds. When these feathers are arranged around the head, they can resemble beards or hair tufts. Though hair ‘on a chicken’s head’ should indicate only their crests, the article also includes bearded and tufted chickens because those also resemble hair in their facial region.

Crested Chickens

The “Crest” (Cr) mutation is behind the development of the feather crest. The skulls of crested chickens tend to be slightly deformed to accommodate these head feathers. The most recognized crested chickens include:

Crested Chickens with Hair on Head
  • Silkie
  • Polish
  • Sultan
  • Appenzeller Spitzhauben
  • Houdan
  • Padovana
  • Brabanter
  • Burmese
  • Crèvecœur
  • Pavlovskaya
  • Altsteirer
  • Kosovo Long-crowing
  • Polverara
  • Nederlandse Uilebaard
  • Beijing You
  • Annaberger Haubenstrupphuhn
  • Posavska Kukmasta Kokoš
  • Ukrainian Crested

Bearded Chickens

Multiple copies of HOXB8, a gene primarily involved in embryonic development, have been linked to these chickens growing a ‘beard.’ Some of these breeds are:

Bearded Chickens
  • Araucana
  • Ameraucana
  • Easter Egger
  • Faverolles
  • Orloff
  • Barbu d’Uccle
  • Barbu d’Anvers
  • Thuringian

Note that some of the crested chickens mentioned above may also have a ‘beard.’

Frizzle is another breed with curly or ‘frizzled’ plumage due to an incompletely dominant keratin gene, KRT75. The same genes may also cause frizzled feathers on their heads and faces. Still, it is not included in the above list because the American Poultry Association of the United States no longer recognizes the Frizzle as a separate breed. However, Australia and multiple European countries, including France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, recognize it.

Problems Faced by Chickens With Unique Head Feathers

  • Impaired Vision — The feathers may cover most of the chickens’ eyes, obscuring their eyesight. This causes them to be easily startled, fail to react to their surroundings, and become easy victims of predators like foxes and coyotes.
  • Infection by Insects — Crest feathers can attract insects such as lice and mites, particularly if they aren’t regularly groomed and brushed.
  • Risk of Frostbite — In cold seasons, if the feathers get wet from rain or from their drinkers, the water droplets can freeze and separate, leaving the skin vulnerable to frostbite. As a result, the skin may darken, become brittle, or even shatter in severe cases.
  • Increased Feather Plucking — Chickens are naturally curious and often peck at objects that catch their attention, including their feathers. This behavior may become especially prevalent in summer when their feathers are frayed or wet after rain. In both cases, their exposed skin and developing feathers are more likely to catch the chickens’ attention.

Maintaining cleanliness and health in chickens involves regular grooming of their head feathers. For chickens not intended for shows, trimming the feathers around the head can enhance vision and hygiene. Tying back the feathers is another option, but this can cause discomfort or removal attempts if the hair tie or tape used is uncomfortable.

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