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    Tractor Supply Company

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    Chicken breed

    Ornamental breed with long tail feathers, great for show.


    Authored by Sam Peterson

    Breed type


    Egg color


    Pen or free-range?




    Sumatra quick facts

    Lifespan: 6-8 years

    Weight: Females (Hens) - ~4 lbs; Males (Roosters) - ~5 lbs.

    Appearance: Jet-black plumage with a green tint and long tail 

    Egg Production: 90-110 eggs/season

    Good for beginners? : No, they are generally not as friendly as other breeds but can be when socialized early on

    History of Sumatra chickens

    The Sumatra is a show breed that originated on the islands of Indonesia. It made its way to Europe and the United States during the 1800s and was prized for its ornamental value. Sumatras have long, flowing tail feathering up to four feet long and a regal appearance quite similar to the Yokohama breed. They can be reliable layers but are mostly kept as show chickens or simply for looks. Across the world, the Sumatra continues to be one of the more popular show chickens available.

    Sumatra temperment and good-to-knows

    Sumatras are known for their slightly nervous temperaments. They still carry behavioral traits from their long lineage, which stems from the jungle fowl of Indonesia. Sumatras operate according to the seasons and usually stick to strict laying and mating times. In addition, the males can be quite aggressive and enjoy sparring during mating season. Hens are not seen as aggressive but will keep their distance from other chickens. When kept in mixed flocks, they keep to themselves. They like to roost in trees and are seen as strong fliers. They are rumored to have flown between islands in their native Indonesia! They are naturally predator-savvy and can protect themselves well, as they are surprisingly agile underneath their dense, regal feathering. Their small size can make them attractive targets for aerial predators, but usually Sumatras are alert and aware of potential threats. Sumatras are not especially fond of human handling, but with early socialization they can grow to be docile around their owners.

    These chickens, as an ornamental breed, are not prolific layers, but Sumatra Hens lay anywhere from 90 to 110 eggs per season. They are average sized eggs with a white shell. Prospective breeders should know that Sumatra hens often go broody and make great mothers, and that the chicks are generally easy to raise. They are not often consumed for their meat; most owners prefer to keep them for their appearance and eggs.

    Visual characteristics

    Sumatra chickens are most famous for their jet-black coloration, which shimmers in the sunlight and can be seen with a dark green sheen. Other unrecognized color varieties are available but they are much rarer, with blue and white being the most notable. Black Sumatras have black skin and bones to match their beautiful feathering, giving them a very stately appearance. Their posture is upright, flowing down their back and out along their flowing tails. A single spot of color shows on the face, usually their dark red wattles and pea combs. Many owners consider the Sumatra one of the most regal breeds in appearance. Their mannerisms are similarly fitting.

    Health and care

    Sumatra chickens are healthy and hardy, but they prefer warmer climates similar to their islands of origin. They like to have space to roam and roost and make great foragers, supplementing their feed with whatever they find available. Though they enjoy free-ranging, if you plan to keep them confined, a topper will help to prevent escaping fliers. They have no prevalent health issues but benefit greatly from attentive care and the appropriate environment, flock setup, and weather. Like most birds, they need to be kept free of parasites and given a clean run. Their long tails may require occasional cleaning if they get muddy in wet conditions. This will keep your Sumatras looking their best in the backyard or on show.

    Frequently asked questions about Sumatra chickens

    How do you care for a Sumatra chick?

    To best care for a Sumatra Chick, provide them with a secure and spacious coop, a balanced diet including high-quality poultry feed and fresh water, regular health check-ups, and appropriate socialization.

    Can Sumatra chickens be kept with other chicken breeds?

    Sumatra Chickens can be kept with other chicken breeds, but it's important to introduce them gradually and monitor their interactions to prevent any aggression or bullying.

    When is the breeding season for Sumatra chickens?

    The breeding season for Sumatra Chickens typically occurs during the spring and summer months.

    Are Sumatra chickens cold hardy?

    Yes, Sumatra chickens are considered cold hardy and can tolerate colder temperatures, but providing them with a well-insulated coop and protection from drafts is still important to ensure their well-being during extreme cold conditions.

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