BREED NAME: Sebright Chicken
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The Sebright is a breed named for Sir John Saunders Sebright (1767–1846) the designer of this true bantam breed. Created for its purely ornamental value, and Sebright’s personal fancy, this strikingly beautiful little chicken with rich graphics has no large counterpart.
Traditionally we have seen Silver and Golden Sebright chickens and now the Citron variety shows us a new dimension and possibilities. Silver, Golden, Buff or Chamois, and Citron are the current available colors.
With breed standards over 200 years old, the Sebright chicken is going strong and is the most popular bantam breed, which makes competition stiff.
Sebrights were quickly admitted into show standards once established in 1810 and the first breed to have its own specialty club. Hens lay a tiny white egg and a Sebright chicken can be difficult to breed due to a genetic quirk causing male sterility.
With their exaggerated large breast, short back, erect posture, and down ward pointing wings, this little bird stands at attention like a good English soldier. In spite of the exaggerated wing carriage these stout breasted bantams are good fliers.
The Facts: Sebright Chicken
Size: Male: 22 ounces and females 20 oz
Comb, Wattles & Earlobes: Red, rose comb, though once were purple.
Color: Gold, Silver, Buff, Citron and Buff
Place of Origin: England
Conservation Status: Popular world-wide
Special Qualities: Offering neither meat nor much egg production, this little banty is an easy keeper, but without much return, and not so easy to breed. The rewards of the breed must be hard won, beyond their ornamental value.
Hens lay 60 – 80 little cream eggs per season. Chick mortality can be high and combined with infertility issues for the roosters, this breed isn’t the best choice for the beginner. Hens are not prolific egg layers and not broody.
Though generally hardy and healthy, the breed is especially sensitive to Marek’s Disease, so precautions must be taken.
Sir John Sebright was enamored with the subject of selective breeding for certain qualities and was determined to create a very small chicken with laced plumage, like the laced Polish.
Sebright’s exact recipe for his tiny chicken remains his secret, though it’s likely that the British Hamburgh, Nankin and laced Polish birds, with a base of Rosecombs, were the pallet he worked from.
Sebrites should have clean legs and lines and feathers of the desired base color laced in black. Current efforts with the Buff or Chamois have not consistently achieved lacing, which seems to be a reverse pattern of white lacing on buff. Skin should be slate blue, including shanks and beak of dark horn.
A rose comb with distinct leader to the rear and fine points was originally purple, but today is bright red as are wattles and lobes. Roosters are hen feathered meaning they lack the signature long sickle shaped feathers on saddle, tail and neck.
The elaborate growth of these feathers is fueled by testosterone in most breeds. Breeders and researchers believe that this hen feathering is connected to the infertility gene, so will often use roosters with sickle feathers when breeding, even though this trait is a breed disqualification.
Sebright was an accomplished breeder of pigeons, chickens, dogs and cattle. Some of his writings on the subject of breeding interested and influenced Charles Darwin’s work in his theory of Natural Selection.
There is proof of their correspondence through a mutual friend, William Yarrell and Darwin praised and quoted Sebright in his work On The Origin Of The Species and other published works.
It’s reported that scientists are making use of this unusual trait of hen feathering in the Sebright chicken. Biologists find this breed of chicken beneficial in the science and study of sexual hormones.
The breed carries a mutation that makes the skin of the roosters change a large percentage of androgens - male hormones, into estrogens - female hormones.
The Sebright chicken is flighty and skittish in nature, but social and get along with other breeds. Roosters are gentle but may be protective of their hens. Due to their flightiness and size, keeping them confined is the best and safest housing.
The breed was first admitted into the APA in 1874, but established in England 1810.