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Cochin Chicken: Breed Profile, Care Guide and More…

Cochin Breed

The big, fluffy Cochin chicken begs to be picked up and cuddled! They have been seducing people for a long time and aren’t about to stop anytime soon!

They have been described as ‘head-to-toe feathers’ – an apt description for these beautifully feathered birds. People cannot pass them by without remarking on them.

These sweet fluff balls also have quite a bit of history, so sit back and read the story of the Cochin chicken.

We will walk you through their history, recognized varieties, general disposition, and health issues before outlining if they’re the right hen for your flock!

History of the Cochin Chicken

The Cochin first came to be noticed in the 1840s. They were originally called ‘Cochins-China.’

In fact, we imported them from a French colony in what is now Vietnam – so oriental, but not very Chinese!

The original ‘Cochins’ that were imported looked nothing like today’s Cochin. They looked more like Jungle Fowl or Malays. They were tall and rangy and not overly pretty to look at.

These original Cochin were given to Queen Victoria by Captain Edward Belcher.

Queen Victoria loved them – she was quite the poultry enthusiast and built a special enclosure for her beloved Cochin-Chinas. This started what was to be become an obsession for many Victorians: ‘hay-fever.

By this time, ‘hen fever’ had taken over the UK and US, fueled by the development of the Brahma and Cochin birds. ‘Exotic fowl’ such as these could be bought and sold for hundreds of pounds or dollars!

The original Cochins were delicious layers by all accounts. However, once ‘The Fancy’ (poultry enthusiasts) started to breed to human specifications, the utility of the breed suffered.

They became prettier but laid fewer eggs, and the meat became coarser, a fate that has befallen many of today’s breeds.

It is tough to tease out which birds may have been crossbred with the Cochin. It is unlikely to have been any English stock since most British hens before this time were nothing to write home about being straggly and unattractive.

The most likely scenario would have been crossing between different sets of imports from China and perhaps Europe to obtain the required ‘look.’

Cochin Chicken infographics

Cochin Breed Standard

The Cochin was recognized in the British Poultry Standard of 1865 – the first edition of the Standard that was issued.

It followed closely in the US, being in the American Poultry Association standard of 1874, again, the first issue.

It is classified as one of the three Asian classes in both books – the other two being Brahma (also from Shanghai) and Langshan from China also.

There are both standard-sized fowl and bantam varieties. In England, Cochin bantams do not exist – they are classified as Pekin bantams.

Cochins can take up to two years to mature since they are slow growers. When they are fully grown, the male can weigh in at 11 pounds, with the female weighing around 8 ½ pounds. The bantams weigh in at 30oz. For the male and 26oz. For the female.

The acceptable colorings for this breed vary from the US to the UK. The UK recognizes the following colors:

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

The USA recognizes in addition to the above colors:

  • Brown
  • Gold laced
  • Silver laced

The US does not recognize the cuckoo – a great shame since the coloring is so bewitching!

Cochin Appearance

The Cochin appears as a mass of soft, fluffy feathers, beak to toes almost literally! The legs and outer toes should be fully feathered so that they saw from the side. You cannot see toes – only feathers.

The fullness of the feathering gives them the appearance of being much larger than they actually are. Still, they are quite hefty when full-grown, a hen being around 8 ½ pounds.

The Cochin wears a single, five-point comb which should be read, as are the wattles and ear lobes. The eyes are a golden yellow. The beak varies with the overall color of the bird. Anywhere from yellow/horn to black/horn – the darker the bird, the darker the beak in general.

The legs and toes should be yellow, as is the skin.

Legs and toes should be fully feathered, effectively hiding the legs and most toes. Only the inner toe and part of the middle toe of each foot should be visible.

The silhouette can be described as a rounded heart shape. The tail is fully feathered, but the feathers are somewhat shortened in appearance.

Apart from fantastically fluffy, Cochins can also be frizzled.

The Cochin is considered a large breed of chickens. If you’ve seen the viral videos of large chickens bombing around their runs, the Cochin may be the chicken you’ve seen…or their cousin, the Brahma.

Their large bodies make Cochins poor flyers and easy pickings for predators, making sure you keep them in a safe space.

Frizzle Cochin

In many countries in Europe and Australia, a frizzle chicken is recognized as a distinct breed, an interesting concept.

Certain breeds are more prone to frizzling than others – Cochins and Polish being two of the most well-known.

No one really knows where the frizzle gene came from, but it is first mentioned in writing from Aldrovandi in 1600.

They were also mentioned in correspondence by Charles Darwin in which he calls them Caffie Fowl. He said they were predominant in India, but it’s hard to know where this information originated since he never visited India.

Initially, the frizzle birds were restricted to the Far East, East Indies, and Africa, but once noticed, were taken to the UK and US, where breeding began in earnest.

The frizzle gene – an incomplete dominant, causes the feathers to curl forward instead of lying flat and meshing together as they normally would.

Frizzle X ‘normal’ hen = 50/50 (frizzle/normal).

A frizzle should never be bred to another frizzle – this makes a ‘frazzle.’ Frazzles have extremely delicate feathers and can, in some cases, be almost bald or exhibit patchy feathering. They do not survive very well without constant care and attention.

Frizzled birds do not tolerate the cold well since the curled feathers do a poor job of insulating the hen or even protecting it from the rain or snow. They also cannot fly, so perches need to be set lower for them to access. Otherwise, they pile on the floor.

Needless to say, frizzles do get picked on by the more dominant hens, so bullying and feather picking can quickly become a problem unless it is carefully watched.

Cochin Chicken: General Disposition

Cochins are calm, friendly birds. Even the roosters are known for being fairly mellow. The boys rarely get aggressive, mean, or quarrelsome.

However, the bantam boys are not so mellow – they can be feisty, aggressive, and fight for territory.

Bantam Cochin Chickens
Bantam Cochin Chickens

Ladies make great broodies and Moms. They will happily sit on any eggs you give them once they are in the mood. They can also be used as foster Moms for abandoned chicks, but I think this would depend on the individual bird and whether or not she is broody at the time.

They are easily contained since they are poor flyers. Apparently, a two-foot fence will contain them easily.

In terms of confinement, they tolerate it well, but if allowed to free-range, they will spend most of their time hanging out by the feeders – they tend to be lazy.

The tendency towards laziness and obesity makes them easy targets for predators, so they should remain in a fenced area safe from predation.

They aren’t well known for their laying eggs. You will be lucky to see 180-200 eggs/year from these ladies, but the good news is that, like the Brahma, these ladies prefer to lay through the winter months!

The eggs are described as small to medium size, brown in color, although some folks report them as moderate to large eggs.

Cochin Breed

Common Health Issues of the Cochin Chicken

Cochins are prone to obesity. They are mellow, lazy hens and do not forage very much, preferring to eat what’s right in front of them. Given their size, lower roosts are to be preferred to prevent leg injuries.

Many experts recommend that Cochins be rationed in the amount they are allowed to eat. If you have a mixed flock, this could not be easy to monitor, so weighing the hens periodically is a good idea.

As with all really fluffy hens, you must regularly check external ‘residents’ such as lice and mites.

Cochins seem to be healthy birds and can live up to around 10 years other than these concerns.

Cochins are prone to getting bumblefoot due to their large size. Hopping down from roosts and landing hard on sharp objects can cause injuries and eventually lead to bumblefoot, sepsis, and possibly death.

To prevent injuries, keep roosts near the ground so the distance they must jump to get down isn’t as far, and therefore, the chicken will have a softer landing.

Is The Cochin Right For You?

If you are looking for a hen that is more of a pet than a ‘working girl,’ the Cochin maybe your ideal bird.

They are not great layers but make fabulous pets and lap chickens. They are well suited for children as they are friendly and extremely mellow, even the roosters.

They can become very tame and tolerate a wide variety of situations. Pictures of Cochins in hen strollers have circulated on social media for some time!

They are also an excellent material for exhibitions and shows since they are tolerant and straightforward to handle. They always seem to attract a crowd at the shows, too, with their profusion of feathers and personality – especially if they are frizzled!

Cochin Chicken Breed: Summary

The Cochin has won a place in many hearts simply because of the fluffiness of the feathers and a gentle disposition.

Many people keep them as ‘house chickens,’ pets, or pretty yard ornaments.

If you want a perfect egg layer bird, the Cochin is not for you.

If you would like a chicken that lays through the winter when the other hens take a break, then the Cochin fits the part well.

The Cochin will ‘break’ from egg-laying when the weather turns warmer, much like the Brahma hens.

They are wonderfully calm and laid-back birds to have among your flock.

If you keep Cochins, let us know in the comments below, we always enjoy hearing from you…

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30 thoughts on “Cochin Chicken: Breed Profile, Care Guide and More…

  1. I had a beautiful blue cochin, Unfortunately she died, but she laid a medium sized (55g-60g) egg 6 days out of 7, and she was a fantastic broody and wonderful mother.

  2. I have owned Cochins for years, and I love them! They are social, beautiful birds who are just wonderful to have around. Unfortunately, my entire flock was wiped out this year by predators, so I no longer have them. I miss them a great deal, they were fun to have around. I plan on adding some more Cochins next spring when they are more available. Definitely would recommend these lovely birds, they are social, gentle and just a treat to have!

      1. I bought 2 strait run white Cochin’s now 8 weeks old. They have black skin and beakand wattle area also black. No sign of wattle growth and tiny ridge saw like combs. Is it too early to determine sex by the lack of wattle and tiny tiny comb development. Also foes the black skin indicate mixed breed?

  3. I love my banty cichins. They are grest foragers and come in a great variety of colirs. I also have 2 blond silies. The cross makes very sturdy chicks . I have banty cochins fir 40 years. Wouldnt have any other.

  4. I have one adult buff Cochin named Goldie. I just bought 6 Cochins chicks today. 3 buff and 3 black !!

  5. I just bought 1 black Cochin Hen, (Shown at 4H ) She laid an egg that night the next day laid 1 in the morning then another that night I couldn’t believe it. She laid 1 egg next day and hasn’t laid since, 4 days now. She is so different than my 5 hens.

  6. Great birds, hens very gentle. I have three rosters and the ‘alpha’ is very aggressive. I keep my ‘roos’ separated for everybodys peace. Very vocal, we lovv’m.

  7. I was in Nepal on a trek three or four decades ago, and I caught a glimpse of what looked to me like a Cochin rooster that seemed absolutely huge. It was a long time ago, but his back must have been 3 feet off the ground, and his head 8 or 10 inches higher of course. The coloring was something like a Partridge Cochin. This year, I am hoping to get some full sized Partridge Cochins, and perhaps a few banties in other colors. (Have always had at least one or two Cochin bantam hens around.) I haven’t done a lot of research, I am building the coop now though, so I am wondering if anyone can tell me the size of the standard Cochins I can expect to obtain somewhere here in the US. I need to plan accordingly. The article mentions that the perches should be low. How low? And what size nest boxes will I need? Much appreciated! Also, of course, I don’t know a source yet. Any recommendations?

    1. You should check out Backyard Chickens forum for answers. I got some Cochins this spring from a hatchery. You may find some from a fancier/breeder that would be especially well-bred but if not, many hatcheries carry them.

    1. No worries my friend! Cochin roosters are completely & totally non- aggressive. They are mellow, laid- back & friendly. They are too food search, motivated & lazy, to fight with each other, is what I’ve read… but I believe it is just the famous Cochin disposition, to be even- tempered & easy going. Only the bantams are aggressive, as are all bantam breeds, territorial
      & pugilistic. Even my Golden Silkie Bantam rooster is a firecracker. He’s like a chihuahua, he doesn’t know how small he is at 2.5 lbs. Why do you think boxing & combative sports all have a ” bantam ” class ?? Dont worry about roosters if you have Cochins. With roosters in with your hens, its kind of nice to have naturally regenerative flocks. But sometimes the rosters get so lazy, they don’t even attempt to mate the hens. Enjoy your chickens while they’re cute fluffy chicks, because , before you know it, they’re already grown. Cheers & have a great cluckin’ New Year!??????

  8. Thank you for sharing the information about Cochins. My sister and I bought several adult chickens (other breeds than Cochin) and I just got my first chicken ever yesterday, an adult gray hen. Holding her was amazing! I have always been a bit afraid of chickens because my grandmother’s humongous (I was around 8 or 9 at the time, so they seemed really big to me) white hens used to peck me when I would try to collect the eggs, and the they would flog me and chase me.
    How long does it take for them to recognize a new person and is there anything I can do to encourage her to not be afraid of me?

  9. There is a picture on here of a gray rooster with dark gray head and neck feathers. The hen is dark gray with reddish head and neck feathers.
    What kind of Pekin bantam are they?
    My rooster looks like that. I cannot find anything that looks like him.

  10. I have one black Cochin and she is my best bird. Your post is spot on. She loves to be held and will talk to me. She is my only broody hen and is a great mother. She has been a great foster mom too. She is lazy, cannot fly or jump even remotely high so her nesting box has to be lower. She also is not a great egg layer but man is she a looker and so sweet. She lets my kids hold her all the time. Great and spot on article.

  11. I have a cochin Rooster whose so beautiful, I love him. I though he was a hen and we named him Cookoo. So it stuck. He’s a caring and vigilant rooster. He loves his hens. He has 1 cochin, 1 brahama, 2 windottes, 2 leghorns and 1 other hen. I can pick him up and he sits on my lap. This is my first year raising chickens. They are big, happy and healthy. My neighbor said they are pampered. I’m ok with that.

  12. My Cochins prefer flat spaces to sleep in or on. My 9lb. Blue Cochin hen , DOES FLY, to a higher roosting spot at night, as do her chicks!! I can barely contain them!
    My 4.5 lb. Silver Lace Cochin ( she was born a runt ) hen prefers sleeping in a nest box , or any tight space she feels safe in at night. The nicest thing you can do, for your big old Cochins, is build a ramp , with small 1/2″ tall strips of wood across the ramp, for traction, up to their flat roosting spot, with shavings and/or hay, in or on it. All that weight on their legs & feet, is hard on them, if they have to rest on hard surfaces. Also its easier to keep clean. My Cochins prefer nesting in clean dog carriers with fresh shavings and/ or straw ( hay ) in them. I keep the door on the carrier’s, since Cochins are so broody & are always sitting on eggs. They like to be closed away from the others & enjoy their privacy while brooding a clutch of eggs. Dog carriers are often found under,
    ” FREE STUFF “,
    on craigs list. They are so non-aggressive, they will not stop other breeds, or flockmates, from eating their eggs or chicks. I hope my advice helps. If you insist on having raised nesting boxes, then their roosting area can be a dual purpose nesting/ roosting area. The flat area can have a partial 3 wall construction, so that there is a part, that goes back further away from the others, full of very thick, clean, shavings . It doesn’t need a top, nor does it need partitions, so you don’t have to worry about height space. A LARGE Cochin hen, needs 3 square feet to herself, in order to feel safe & comfortable enough to roost comfortably with her flockmates & lay her eggs. I hope this advice helps you somehow. My Cochins are physician certified therapy animals, they help lower my blood pressure. I’ve put a monitor on, while holding them & I watched my blood pressure drop 24 points ! Now that’s therapy ! My gmail is lrveneziano1967@gmail.com if you ever wish to contact me. I have been raising birds & chickens, since 1969 & was in 4-H Poultry Project for 13 years. I nowhave a crazy mixed flock ( that always seems to keep mysteriously growing ) Cheers & have a great cluckin’ New Year !
    Lisa R. Veneziano-Waters

  13. We were just wondering how much a Cochin chicken is and if you have it in stock. Also the same for the Orpington.
    And where we have to pick them up from.
    Please get back to me

  14. My blue Cochin lays 5 to 6 eggs per week. she just started her break this week so not sure how long she’ll go without laying this year. She is a sweetheart and loves her mealworms.

  15. Hello! I know you said that bantam roos tend to be more aggressive, but what about the hens? I have a pretty mixed coop, a barred rock rooster, two red stars (one temporarily separated for over aggression towards the newest birds),three young bantam cochins and one equally young gold comet. Despite being raised together the bantams terrorize my poor Clementine(the gold comet) to the point of bloodying her. When they were younger I figured that they would calm down after they established a pecking order but it seems to have only gotten worse for the little push-over! I’m at a loss for what to do. I don’t want any of my birds to be brutalized by their sisters and it breaks my heart. If any one has any suggestions I would really appreciate it.

    1. If they are confined they will eventually kill her more than likely. I had a favorite comet too! Anyway my daughter recently had her chickens picking on one and she was bloodied frequently until one day they cannibalized her! We didn’t know about that. It is recommended that a bloodied chicken is removed and isolated. Sounds like they are never getting over not liking her and you will have to do something to insure her safety. I have a mixed flock of at least 7 breeds and am happy that they all get along. Also when reading up on the canabalizing incident the indication was that their enclosure was likely too small. my daughter had stopped letting them out due to predators it seemed quite possible this was a factor as the chicken had no place to escape to when being picked on. Hope it works out!

  16. I have 14 chickens that are 3 months old. They are mixed flock of 7 breeds. My black Cochin rooster has just started crowing and seems to be getting aggressive towards the girls. He pulls on their feathers, sometimes pulling them out.

  17. If they are confined they will eventually kill her more than likely. I had a favorite comet too! Anyway my daughter recently had her chickens picking on one and she was bloodied frequently until one day they cannibalized her! We didn’t know about that. It is recommended that a bloodied chicken is removed and isolated. Sounds like they are never getting over not liking her and you will have to do something to insure her safety. I have a mixed flock of at least 7 breeds and am happy that they all get along. Also when reading up on the canabalizing incident the indication was that their enclosure was likely too small. my daughter had stopped letting them out due to predators it seemed quite possible this was a factor as the chicken had no place to escape to when being picked on. Hope it works out!

  18. I picked a Cochin Rooster for my flock. Every loves him. But he still needed training. His toes and spurs dremelled cause it still hurts. The best method of making him think twice(literally) was to give him time-outs. In the big dog crate. It works! But he had babies. Mom took them to him and laid down. He was crying!!! To get out 🥲. Next time. Babies were older and went to him, Lying down. He had a shorter time out. He is doing quite well w his behavior. And makes good choices!

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