Cochin Chicken | All about Feathery, Friendly Cochins

Cochin chickens aren’t very good egg layers but they will lay during cold seasons when other breeds stop. It’s easy to spot a cochin chicken in a coop. These are big and fluffy birds. The hens can grow to 9 – 10 pounds and the roosters to 12 pounds.  

A dual purpose breed, they have become favorites for farmers around the world for their adorable appearance and easy-going temperament. They highly inviting to cuddle. 

They also have a tremendous history as an invaluable source of meat, starting in the far east.

We examine our fine feathered friend’s past and dig into various facets of their personality and features.

There are many reasons to keep these friendly chickens. Here’s what to know about raising cochin chickens, reasons and purpose for raising them, history of the breed, and more.

Raising Cochin Chickens

When it comes to their usefulness, cochins are considered to be dual purpose. People raise them for eggs and meat. They are also exhibition birds. Comparing them to other chicken breeds, they are ideal for children to raise for show and as pets as they are gentle, docile, and friendly.

Egg Production

Cochin hens aren’t considered to be the best egg laying chickens. They are moderate layers. However, they lay throughout the year, with the majority coming in the winter months. 

In a year, you can expect cochin chickens to lay approximately 200 eggs a year. These eggs are large in size and have a brown color. Blue cochins tend to lay more than other cochin varieties. 

They’ll start laying at around five months. They will produce approximately two eggs per week. Although this may not seem like much from one chicken, a flock can lay enough for a family to enjoy.

People sometimes choose this breed to balance out their flock. Raising cochins means you will have a steady source of eggs in colder months.

Meat Production

Homesteaders also raise these chickens for meat. Their meat’s texture is coarse. There is typically more dark meat than white, breast meat. Harvesting cochins at 15 – 16 months when they are around 12 pounds is ideal. However, you can enjoy the meat starting when they are four months. 

While they are good for meat, they aren’t considered to be among the best meat chickens.

Exhibition

With their buxom bodies and fanciful feathers, cochins are also raised to show. As exhibition birds, their fancy appearance and features are widely appreciated in the show bird community.

You can therefore look to groom cochins to showcase them in poultry competitions and farming fairs. This makes them ideal for children to exhibit for 4-H, FFA, and other projects. 

As Pets

Cochin chickens are usually extremely friendly and docile. They make excellent additions to a backyard coop.

They can be great with kids, mix well with other animals, and are excellent pets for those who enjoy having chickens. While heavier than many other chicken breeds, they are easy to handle and make great backyard pets.  

Are Cochins Beginner-Friendly?

Yes, these birds are incredibly beginner-friendly. They can’t fly very high, so they’re easy to contain, and you won’t have to worry about strays. 

Being restricted in a particular space doesn’t faze them, so they are ideal starter birds for a smallholding or in a yard. In fact, they prefer to stay in their environment and will thrive with a secure chicken coop, a chicken run, and some areas to forage. They will scratch less than other breeds. 

Noise Level

Depending on your property and space, it’s important to consider neighbors. Generally, Cochins are quiet as far as chickens go. They barely communicate with one another.

They will have an outburst from time to time if they get startled, but that’s pretty much it. They’re ideal for rearing in an urban environment, as they don’t make noisy neighbors.

Hardiness

Cochin chickens are cold hardy. With thick feathers from head to toe, they are cold hardy like brahma chickens and orpingtons such as the lavender orprington. They are extremely popular because of their excessive and elaborate feathering. These thick feathers act as a protective layer during the winter months.

However, with their thick feathering on their feet, it’s important to be sure they stay dry in the cold months. While they are tough, being wet makes them susceptible to frostbite. Dry conditions are essential.

Consider chicken watering systems to keep the area drier. 

During the summer, they can get overheated, which is why they need to remain in cool and shady areas. With their thick feathering, they aren’t as heat-tolerant as other breeds. They are not suited to hot climates.

Lifespan and Health

Cochin chickens have a lifespan of between 5 – 8 years based on the individual breed and rearing conditions. 

They are reasonably healthy birds, but because of selective breeding over the years, they have inherited some health issues. One of these is being prone to obesity. When a cochin chicken becomes obese, they can suffer many health problems. 

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to keep these birds active by giving them space to move about. It will help to avoid unnecessary health issues down the road. 

After rains or in muddy conditions, it will be important to remove the caked-on mud from their feet and legs. Also be mindful in cold months that they stay dry — especially the feathers on their feet and legs — so they don’t experience frostbite. 

Because of their large body size, these birds cannot fly very well, making them an easy target for predators. Keeping them safe in a coop is the only way to protect these birds fully from external threats. 

History of Cochin Chicken

The history of cochin chicken goes back as far as the 1840s when they were known as the Cochins-China, even though they didn’t have a Chinese connection at this point. The species was first imported from a French colony in the region that’s now known as Vietnam.

During their initial introduction to the world, the cochin chicken did not resemble their modern-day descendants. They were closer to the Malays or what is commonly known as the Jungle Fowl.

At the time, they had a tall, broad, and muscular appearance. They weren’t considered pretty or adorable like they are today. Despite their appearance then, they were still fit for a “royal” gift. Captain Edward Belcher first gifted them to Queen Victoria, and boy, were they a big hit!

The Queen’s Chicken

A little known fact about Queen Victoria is that she was an avid fan of poultry, and to celebrate her latest addition to her coop, she had a special section built for her new favorite Cochin-Chinas chicken.

The Queen's Chicken
Cochin hens make excellent mothers

As soon as this breed received the blessings of Queen Victoria, their popularity skyrocketed. This signaled the emergence of a new love affair between Victorians and their hens.

Affectionately referred to as “hen fever,” this fondness of the Cochin-Chinas spread quickly around the United Kingdom and then over to the United States. The fact that the Brahma birds were also peaking in popularity at this point further stoked the fires of hen fever.

Rise in Stocks, Drop in Utility

They now referred to the birds as exotic fowl, and one could purchase or sell these birds for a hefty chunk of change. Their prices went into hundreds of dollars or pounds at one point.

With the rise in the value of these birds, however, came the experimental stage as well. Breeders tried to develop these hens based on the time’s favored specifications, and this took a toll on the overall utility of the breed.

Originally, the species were well adapted to consistent egg-laying, and they produced a high-quality yield. With the selective breeding, though, the standard of the eggs dropped, and they even became inconsistent and coarse.

Thanks to this breeding process, the birds became prettier, but their overall value as a product began to take a fall.

Still unknown is about the varieties used to crossbreed with the cochin chicken to produce what we see today, but we know that it couldn’t have been English breeds with near-certainty.

All English chickens were quite unappealing to the eye at this time, and the breeders wouldn’t have risked crossbreeding with an unattractive species. The best guesses point to the use of Chinese and European “exotic” breeds to help produce the cochin chicken’s unique look today

History Cochin ChickenCochin chicken history

Details of the Breed

In 1865, the British Poultry Standard issued their first edition of standard breeds. The cochin chicken was one of the species listed as a standard breed then.

Within a decade (1874), the American Poultry Association launched their first publication, and that also recognized cochin chickens as a standard breed.

Both authorities classified three breeds of chicken under the Asian category, and Cochin made the cut in both. The other two breeds were the Langshan and the Brahma chicken, both of which originated in China.

Cochin Size

This breed is slow-growing. These birds can take nearly two years to mature. Cochin roosters can reach a weight of 12 pounds. Cochin hens can weigh 9 – 10 pounds. Bantam cochins are considerably smaller and weigh almost 2 pounds. 

Because they are larger chickens, it’s important they have enough space. Learn how much space do chickens need when preparing the area.

Also, consider the chicken nesting boxes. The boxes will need to be large enough to fit this larger breed.

Colors of Cochin Chickens
Cochin chickens have thick feathers, including on their feet.

Cochin Chicken Recognized Variety

Thanks to the wonders of selective breeding, there are many color variations of cochin chicken available in the market today. All cochins have yellow skin, legs, and feet.

In the UK, you can see the following colors abundantly in cochin chickens:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Buff
  • Cuckoo
  • Partridge
  • White

The United States recognizes:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Buff
  • Gold laced
  • Partridge
  • Silver laced
  • White

Black Cochin Chicken

Black cochins are a gorgeous, heavily-feathered, coal-black colored birds. Their ample feathering makes them look like they have a bulky and massive physique.

They first entered the US around 1845 and have become very popular. These birds are great around children and are also extremely gifted in raising chicks. 

You can expect them to lay two medium-sized brown eggs per week. The chicks have white feathers in their first two stages, but they grow into their all-black feathers by the six-month mark.

Blue Cochin Chicken

The Blue Cochin is one of the rarest versions of the cochin chicken breed. These bluish-slate birds have a bright red comb and are a top choice as show birds.

They possess the “blue gene” that gives them their unique coloring. This is a dominant gene and will pass down to at least half the offspring, even when mated with a black or white cochin chicken.

Blue cochins have a stately and gentle personality, and they have a great disposition. Feathers cover their bodies from head to toe, making them appear plump and extremely fluffy. 

This variety is considered to be good layers. They will lay more eggs than other cochin varieties.

Cochin Partridge

Cochin partridge chickens brown and red coloring in the feathers. The males have a hackle that’s orangish-red. The saddle feathers also match this color but are punctuated with black centers.

The female cochin partridge has a more typical partridge coloring of dark reddish feathers with a flurry of black feathers in the tail.

White Cochin Chicken

White cochins look like massive, adorable snowballs and are among the most talkative variations of the cochin chicken family. 

They were one of the first birds to be inducted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1874 and are great brooders and pets.

Cochin Appearance

The Cochin chicken is a soft and fluffy bird that’s bustling with feathers. These feathers cover the animal from its beak right down to its toes. Even the outer toes and legs of this bird are fully feathered. Because of this large number of feathers, the bird appears to be far larger than it is in reality.

The comb is a five-point, bright red color. You can see the same color running through the earlobes and wattles as well.

Their eyes are always a golden yellow hue, but the beak’s color varies significantly from one variant to another. You can find variations ranging from black all the way to yellow.

You can also see a typical shade of yellow in the skin, legs, and toes of this bird. The tail is fully feathered like the rest of the body, but the length of the tail feathers are relatively smaller.

Cochin Chicks

Cochin chicks have a fluffy and fuzzy appearance during their first four weeks. Their fledgling feathers are shades of white, black, grey, and yellow to make them stand out from their peers.

However, as soon as they reach maturity, these feathers slowly get replaced by their permanent colors of the respective breeds. For cochin chickens, this takes roughly between 16 to 24 weeks. 

Cochin Frizzle Variation

Some European countries and even Australia see a different version of the Cochin chicken. This is a distinct breed on its own and has frizzled feathers.

“Frizzling” is a common phenomenon experienced by chicken breeds worldwide based on their environmental conditions. Certain breeds, however, are more prone to frizzle feathers than others.

However, the Polish chicken and the cochin breeds seem to be the top two that are most prone to frizzling. Frizzle cochin bantams — such as black frizzle, white frizzle or red frizzle — are particularly cute and fluffy.

There is no real, verifiable evidence of how the frizzling phenomenon began in the chickens. Still, there were mentions of this in the writings of Ulisse Aldrovandi, an Italian naturalist, in the 17th century.

Even Charles Darwin noticed this strange change in the composition of the feathers, and he mentioned this phenomenon by naming them Caffie Fowl in one of his correspondences. Darwin noted that these birds were predominant in India, but this information is questionable as the master botanist had never visited the country before.

Before people started noticing this frizzle version of the Cochin chicken, they were mainly restricted to certain parts of the world such as Africa, East Indies, and Far Eastern regions.

Once word of this variation got out, though, they were quickly taken to the US and UK in order to breed them and improve their numbers.

Recent studies showed that the frizzling of the feathers happens because of genetic factors and results from an incomplete gene. The gene prevents the feathers from lying straight and gelling together but instead causes them to curl forward to create the frizzle effect.

Behavior and Disposition

In general, the cochin chicken is known to be a tame, friendly and calm bird. They make great lap chickens. Hens are nurturing and make 

Cochin Roosters

Although roosters in various species are more aggressive than the chickens, the cochin rooster is also relatively relaxed. They rarely showcase aggressive behavior. Bullying or fighting is highly uncommon.

However, bantam cochin roosters are another subspecies of cochin chickens, and these are known to get somewhat rowdy. They can get into territorial fights and do not shy away from defending what’s theirs with their beak and feet.

Hens

Cochin hens are broody and known to be excellent moms for their own as well as adopted offspring. They do not have an issue sitting on any egg you place under them once they’re in the mood to roost. This makes them excellent foster moms, and owners can use them to help solitary chicks find a new home. Many breeders use them to help hatch ducklings and turkeys as well. 

As with human beings, though, birds’ personalities can sometimes differ based on their individual natures, so it’s best to know the particular bird’s traits before making them an adoptive parent. Still, cochin hens are among the broodiest chicken breeds.

Pecking Order

They are calm and do well with other friendly fowl in a mixed flock. Consider raising cochins with brahmas and buff orpingtons

It’s important to have many areas for feeding, especially if you keep cochins with more aggressive breeds. Consider several chicken feeders for the area.

Conformity

That these birds are poor flyers means that they’re effortless to contain in a single space. A fence no higher than two feet is enough to stifle any of their plans to escape from your premises. Be sure to keep their roosts low to the ground. 

When placed in confinement, these birds do not have an issue spending large amounts of time in a single space, and they will conform reasonably well.

When left in a free-range environment, you’ll notice them spend a lot of time near the feeding stations. These birds can be quite lazy and reluctant to take on physical activities.

Due to this, they can become easy prey, and this is something you should look out for considering a cochin chicken. Ensure you enclose the coop and run fully with wire for chicken coops so they will be safe from predators.

Cochin Chicken Infographic
Cochin chickens

Cochin Chicken FAQs

Are cochin chickens good layers?

Cochins will lay 200 eggs per year on average. This is considerably less than what is considered to be a “good” breed for laying eggs. The advantage to cochins is they will lay reliably in the winter months as they are suited to cold temperatures.

How big do cochin chickens get?

This breed isn’t the largest but these birds are heavy. Roosters can weigh 12 pounds while hens can weigh 10 pounds. Bantam cochins can grow to just under 2 pounds (30 grams).

How long do cochin chickens live?

In normal chicken-raising conditions without undue stress, cochin chickens will live 5 – 8 years. 

What is a cochin?

A cochin is a large chicken breed with thick feathers from head to foot. It was mostly breed for exhibition. Today, people keep cochins in their backyard flock. They are friendly chickens you can raise for eggs and meat. 

At what age do cochins lay eggs?

As they were not bred to be heavy layers, they are slower to develop than other chicken breeds. They can take as long as eight months before they lay eggs. 

How long do cochins lay eggs?

Cochins can lay for about four years, however, this will diminish with age. They will also lay more eggs in the colder months, slowing down in production in the spring and summer.

Most people who raise cochins do so for an additional reason than just eggs. Many people keep them as backyard pets as they are friendly and gentle with kids. They are moderate layers. 

Good Luck Cluck

Are cochins for you? The cochin chicken is by far one of the cutest breeds of poultry. The fact that they’re also friendly and dual purpose makes them excellent farm birds. The egg count may be lower than other breeds, but they lay a majority of their eggs in the winter months, making for easy planning.

During the summer, you can spend all your time cuddling these adorable creatures, and that’s an absolute win-win! 

You can raise them easily with a golden comet chicken as both breeds are laid back.

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