Sulmtaler Chicken: The Austrian Developed Bird

The Sulmtaler Chicken is a dual purpose crested breed that was established in Austria near the end of the 19th century, though there are records of the breed dating back to the 14th century. The hens lay about 160 cream to light brown eggs a year, but this often corn fed farm chicken was famous for its plump carcass for the table.

The years between WWI and WWII were difficult for the region allowing the breed to nearly slip away. Thanks to concerted efforts of the Universities of Maribor and Ljubljana (Slovenia) to revive a genetically pure group, the breed has been slowly reintroduced to the European poultry market. Recent reports happily document a maximum of 100,000 chickens and capons per years until 2010.

Sulmtaler Chicken, The Facts:

Class: Heavy

Size: Standard Male: 7.7 – 8.8 Ibs. / Standard Female: 5.5 – 7.7 Ibs. / Capons can reach 11.6 lbs. Bantam Male: oz. / Bantam Female: oz.

Comb, Wattles & Earlobes: The male’s red single comb is moderate in height with evenly spaced points. The wattle is moderate in length.

Color: Mostly light gold with a white fluffy crest atop the head, red-golden neck feathers and hard wing feathers with a gold wash across shoulders and back; mostly golden tail feathers with some black.

Hens raised today are mostly golden, the legs short and flesh colored.

Place of Origin: Austria

Conservation Status: no longer endangered in Europe


The Sulmtaler chicken enjoyed a near royal status in the poultry world until modern hybrids entered into the gene pool. At the end of the 19th century in French and Austrian courts Sulmtaler chicken was considered a delicacy. The capon was prized for its quality and quantity of meat and striking appearance. There is a public square in Graz, Austria dedicated to the capon in honor of the economic significance of this breed.

Developed in the Southwest of Austria in the region of Stiermarken, 1865 to 1875, this breed was crossed with Cochin, Houdan and Dorkings and were recrossed with local birds from Stiermarken. They became a more popular breed after the 1914/1918 war when the breed branched out to Germany and Holland.

The bantam version was established in Germany in 1960 and has surpassed the large in popularity throughout Europe. The Bantams are an exact miniature of the large counterparts. British bantams of this breed came from four different bloodlines, three Dutch and one German, each bringing specific qualities.

Developed and established in the hills of Styrian wine country gave them the name “Sulmtaler” (from the Sulm valley south-west of Graz). Centuries of selective breeding produced a hearty breed in perfect harmony with the fertile nature of this agriculturally rich region. Providing high quality meat and eggs for many generations the breed is considered a blessing for Styria.

Bantams accepted into the Dutch standard in 1986.

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