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Cubalaya Chicken: Origin, Temperament and Characteristics

Cubalaya chicken

Have you ever seen a long-tailed Cubalaya chicken? This breed is considered the rockstar on the exhibition floor and its ineffable beauty stands out in a crowd of chickens. 

It’s mainly an ornamental breed in the US, but don’t underestimate this beauty because there’s more to them than what meets the eye.

Today, we’ll discuss the answer to the most important questions about Cubalaya chickens:

  • Colorful history and origin and distinct characteristics
  • Egg-laying proficiency and meat quality
  • PLUS! Care tips for this exotic Cuban bird

If you’re looking to add this ornamental chicken to your existing flock, this article will help you make the right decision. But let’s dive right into how and why it was developed before anything else.

Cubalaya Chicken Origin, Temperament and Characteristics

Cubalaya Chicken’s Background and History

As its name suggests, Cubalaya chickens originated from Cuba, but if we’d trace its roots, it will point us to the Philippines! 

Spain colonized the Philippines for more than 300 years and when the Spaniards came to Cuba, they brought some Asiatic game fowls with them.

Nobody knew what exact breed was it bred from. But what we do know is it’s a cross between an ornately feathered European game fowl and Asiatic game fowls. And the result is a fancy-looking and long-tailed bird with piercing eyes, a curved beak, and fierce expressions!

The Cuban Poultry Association or Asociación Nacional de Avicultores recognized and accepted this breed in 1939. 

In the same year, Cubalaya chickens were introduced to the US through the International Poultry Exhibition and got accepted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection. 

They also recognized the Bantam versions a little later but still in the same year. 

It got its name from the Republic of Cuba, the country that developed the breed. It’s the only official breed acknowledged by the Cuban National Poultry Association. 

Sadly, the Livestock Conservancy listed the Cubalaya chicken as a threatened breed because only a few enthusiastic breeders are keeping the breed. And if this will continue in the next five years, this breed might go extinct. 

black-breasted red cubalaya

Cubalaya Chicken Breed Standard and Appearance

If we could describe Cubalaya chicken in one word, it would be REGAL. Everything from its red pea combs to its earlobes and wattles, down to its beautiful flowing feather, pattern, and shimmering tails, is exquisite.

It’s among the most stunning feathered fowls of all breeds. Cubalaya chickens have various plumage colors around their head, neck, and the rest of their body on the hen.

And it’s available in different color variations.

Cubalaya Chicken Color Variations

The American Poultry Association or APA and the American Bantam Association (ABA) accept and recognize these three Cubalaya colors:

1. Black Cubalaya Chicken

This variation features black plumage with slate shanks and toes.

2. Black-breasted Red Cubalaya

Roosters from this variation sport the standard black-breasted red plumage, the most commonly seen variation.

3. White Cubalaya

As the name hints, this variation displays a minimalistic white plumage.

The Cuban standard also acknowledges other colors, such as:

  • Blue Wheaten
  • Golden Duckwing
  • Silver Duckwing

Roosters have more radiant and colorful plumage than hens that appears reddish-orange and emerald-colored.

On the other hand, Cubalaya hens are usually cinnamon-colored with dark cinnamon-red on the head and neck and light cinnamon-wheaten shade on the body.

They’re not as brightly colored as the Cubalaya roosters, but their tail feathers give them a pop of color.

Cubalaya Chicken’s Tail

Cubalaya’s tails got the nickname “lobster tails” due to their curved appearance, about 20 degrees below horizontal when held.

The downward-angling shape of its lavish feathering looks like a lobster claw.

Cubalaya’s Leg

This breed has a slanted back and short legs. And unlike other game fowls, the roosters don’t have spurs.

So, young males won’t injure other chickens when they’re fighting for dominance.

Cubalaya Chicken’s Personality and Temperament

Since Cubalaya chickens are purposely bred for cockfighting, these birds are active and hardy. 

Roosters can be aggressive and assertive toward other breeds. But the good news is they’re not as hostile as other game fowls and they’re friendly towards their humans. 

In fact, many enthusiasts consider this breed as the rockstar on the exhibition floor due to their tameness and ease of handling. 

Cubalaya chickens are also polite and friendly compared to other gamefowls. 

This breed has a curious disposition. No wonder they’re excellent foragers who enjoy being independent and having freedom. 

But the downside is they don’t like being confined like other wild breeds. They love to walk around and explore. So when you confine them in a specific place, they’re likely to make loud and unpleasing noises. 

However, they still capture the heart of many breeders due to their politeness to humans, striking beauty, and versatility. 

So, don’t be swayed by their fierce, aggressive, and stubborn appearance! They also have a soft spot. 

Cubalaya Chicken’s Egg Laying Capabilities

This breed is often used for ornamental purposes here in the US. But in other areas of the world, like Cuba, they serve multiple purposes. 

Cubalaya chickens thrive as cockfighters and egg and meat producers in Cuba. But let’s focus on their laying capabilities to know how they perform in the egg-laying department. 

Most ornamental chickens do not excel in the egg-laying department but this breed has a fairly-decent performance. 

Cubalaya chickens can produce 4 to 5 eggs per week during the peak of their laying season. And you can harvest a total of 150 to 200 eggs per year from each hen. 

They usually go broody so other breeders use them to raise other chickens’ eggs. 

But here’s another surprise! They can lay all year round so you won’t have to worry during winter! 

You can still harvest fresh small to medium-sized eggs with cream to light brown color. 

Egg color: Cream

Egg size: Small to Medium

Starts laying at 24 weeks old

Eggs produced/week: 4 to 5

Eggs produced/year: 150 to 200

Cubalaya Chicken Meat Production

If you’re after chicken meat, this may not be suitable for you. But it’s fairly decent in the meat department, considering it’s developed for cockfighting. 

Most roosters weigh around 5 to 6 pounds during their maturity while Cubalaya hens are around 3.5 to 4pounds.

Their white and quality meat is known for its tenderness.  However, the downside is it takes so long for this breed to mature.

Some may even take 3 years to finally reach adulthood. This is one of the reasons why it’s not a sought-after breed in terms of meat production. 

Cubalaya bantam versions are just a third of the standard size. That’s why they’re one of the tiniest chicken breeds.

Cubalaya Chicken’s Common Health Issues

Breeds of chicken frequently carry certain genetic diseases or are susceptible to a wide range of ailments. However, unlike other species, Cubalaya chickens are not particularly susceptible to any diseases.

However, it is better to be watchful and vigilant about your poultry in order to detect illnesses early.

If you don’t address these issues right away, diseases can spread across your flock of hens all too soon.

You can be cautious and keep an eye out for symptoms like fatigue, lack of appetite, and runny eyes or nose to alert you to infections in their early stages.

Your birds may eventually pick up internal and external parasites in flocks of poultry. Make sure your chickens have a great place to dust bathe.

cubalaya chickens for sale

Where to Find Cubalaya Chickens for Sale

Cubalaya chickens are rare in the US since they’re considered an ornamental breed in the country. But you might find Cubalaya chickens in selective breeders and online marketplaces such as the following:

This breed may not always be available due to its rarity so you have to look out to see when it’s in stock. It’d help if you’d ask about the background and papers of the parent stock to ensure the chicks and pullet are of high quality. 

Now if you already found a Cubalaya chicken for yourself, how should you raise it? 

Caring Tips for Cubalaya Chicken

Here are some tips on how to raise Cubalaya gamefowl, wheaten Cubalaya, black-breasted red Cubalaya bantam, and other variations:

Feeding and Nutrition

Cubalayas can forage for their own food. However, it’s still best to provide them with balanced food before letting them explore the ground because insects won’t be sufficient to supply their nutritional needs. 

You can buy ready-to-eat commercial chicken feeds or prepare one by yourself. 

Cubalayas that are 8 weeks old and an older chicken’s diet may consist of:

  • Grains
  • Chicken pellets
  • Mash
  • Grain mix

But what about young chicks?

Food for Cubalaya Chicks

Tiny chicks below eight weeks old need a quality chick starter to boost their immunity and kickstart their growth. 

Layer feeds

If you’re raising Cubalaya layers, they need extra protein and calcium to produce more eggs and make their shells thicker.

So, if you think the shells are weak, giving them oyster shell supplements can help. 

It’s a given that you need to provide them with an accessible water source and avoid contaminated feeds. 

And if your Cubalaya will be joining an exhibition, they need protein boosts from unsalted black oil sunflower seeds to make their feathers shine more. 

In addition to that, Cubalaya chickens also need regular vaccination and vet visits to keep them healthy and save them from any health risks. 

Housing

Cubalaya chickens thrive in a free-range environment, so it’d be best to provide enough space for them to forage. If you’re going to confine them, they must have at least 10 square feet of room space per chicken.

This way, they won’t be bored because they have enough space to roam at. 

Furthermore, they have long, huge tails, so you need at least 4 square feet of chicken coop space per chicken.

They’re hardy and heat tolerant but their home must have enough ventilation too. 

If you decide to let your Cubalaya stay on the ground of the pen, give them a higher roosting place and they’ll do well. 

Grooming

Cuabalaya’s fancy long tails are one of their best assets but it requires a good grooming routine too. They’re friendly and polite to their owners, unlike other game birds. 

So you may not struggle to examine if there are external parasites like lice and mites lurking on their long feathers. 

You should do an examination for parasites in their feathers at least once a week to keep them in the best shape. 

Furthermore, Cubalaya chickens love dust baths a lo. So, they’d be more than happy if you can add herbal essences to the loose sands to help prevent external parasite infestation. 

And lastly, if you’re kids and other animals like to be around your Cubalaya chickens, it’s best to de-worm them regularly. 

Breeding

Cubalaya chickens are excellent breeders who breed quickly and produce fertile eggs for hatching. Just keep the right hen to rooster ratio which is 1 Cubalaya rooster for every 10 hens and you’re good to go. 

Is Cubalaya Chicken the Right Breed For You?

This breed can be friendly toward you and easy to handle and they can serve multiple purposes. Cubalaya chickens can be cockfighters, egg layer meat producers,s and ornamental birds all the same time.

So if you want a hardy, versatile and striking chicken that thrives in free-range environments and you can provide sufficient space, then this breed is for you.

Pros:

  • Beautiful feathering
  • Heat and cold hardy
  • Excellent foragers
  • Easy to handle
  • Friend towards their owners

Cons:

  • Aggressive towards other chicken
  • Fairly decent in egg-laying and meat department
  • Slow growing

Alternative if You Can’t Find A Cubalaya Chicken

If you’re not sure about Cubalaya chickens and you can’t find one near your area, check out these equally stunning breeds. They also sport a long, gorgeous tail so they’re surely citing!

  1. Yokohama

If you’re not sure about Cubalayas, the Yokohama chicken is a great substitute because the two foods are very similar. Yokohamas, who proudly display an extraordinarily long tail, are likewise predominantly an ornamental breed.

  1. Phoenix

This chicken breed is exceptionally beautiful and unusual. Phoenix chickens are an ornamental breed that, like Cubalayas, frequently develop exceptionally long tails.

Cubalaya Chicken Breed Profile Summary

Origin: Cuba

Color: Black, black-breasted red, and white

Average weight

Rooster: 5 to 6 pounds

Hen: 3.5 to 4 pounds

Lifespan: 8 years

Temperament: Hens are fairly tame and docile but roosters are aggressive

Toleration for Confinement: Low

Level of Aggression Towards Flock Members: High (for roosters)

Cubalaya chicken breed's appearance

Final Thoughts About Cubalaya Chicken

Cubalaya chickens have poor socialization skills towards other breeds due to their aggressive nature as gamefowl. But on the brighter side, they’re friendly toward their owners!

So, they often create a strong bond with their owners. Dealing with them and training them for a show should be easy because of their tameness.

This four-in-one breed delivers in the exhibition, egg-laying, meat, and cockfighting department. If you’re into versatile and fancy breeds with striking and distinct features, this ornamental chicken won’t disappoint you.

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