Table of Contents
The Buttercup gets its name from the chicken’s golden buff color and its unique comb. Their comb is two single combs that join at the back of the head and on the beak in front. These two combs make a crown shape or cup. Some of these chickens have been born with irregular combs that make the chicken look like they have antler. Their faces, wattles and combs are red whilst their earlobes are white making them look like they are wearing earrings.
They are more for ornamental purposes and being quite a rare chicken will give your flock a lot of added attraction.
Although they are not recommended for a small suburban garden as these chickens are excellent flyers that can and will fly especially if it is to roost high up in a tree.
|Country of Origin:||Sicily, Italy|
|American Poultry Association:||Recognized as a breed of chicken in the United States|
|Chicken Category:||Large Breed|
|Bantam Variety Available?||Yes – All Other Comb Clean Legged Bantam Classification|
|Good Starter Chicken?||They are a bit wild and not the best breed for a starter coop|
Eggs: They are not good egg layers.
They lay small white eggs up to 105 per year
They will lay throughout the year
They start to lay eggs from around 20 weeks old.
Meat: They have yellow skin but do not make good meat birds
Breeding: They are quite rare but if done in association with a registered breeding club can make a great hobby.
If you are breeding the Buttercup for show choosing the correct hens and rooster bloodline is crucial.
For advice on breeding please check our guide to breed poultry.
Foraging: They love to scratch and forage about. They make a beautiful ornamental fowl for the garden
Show Bird: They make a great show bird
Pets: They must be tamed from very young otherwise they are very active and bit on the wild side.
Other: They love to garden and free range for quite a distance.
They will give your organic garden a lot of nutritious fertilizer to ensure great blooms and tasty vegetables.
|Flyers?||They can fly very well if you are in a suburb it may be best to clip their wings.|
|Noisy Birds?||They are noisy birds|
|Interaction with other chickens:||They will socialize with other chickens. As with any flock if you are introducing new birds it is best to slowly socialize them with the flock.|
|Good with kids?||Not the best chickens to have around children|
The Buttercup has been around for centuries and used as a domestic chicken by farmers on the island of Sicily.
The breed is thought to have been derived from the interbreeding of local ancient North Africa birds and breeds such as the rose-comb Berbera. The timeline of this ancient interbreeding is unknown but there are depictions of the Buttercup type breed found in 16th-century paintings in museums in Rome, Paris and Florence.
The timeline for when the cup combed birds came to America is a bit blurred as it is thought that Sicilian immigrants brought such birds with them.
The first documented importation of these type of poultry was not until 1860 when they were brought from Sicily by Captain Dawes who brought a few chickens to his father in America.
But the breed only had some success in 1908 when a publisher of a poultry magazine, Mr Dumaresq together with his friend Mr Audinger formed a Club which managed to produce the standard of the breed.
After the First World War, the Club thrived with over 100 birds up until the mid-1920’s when the bird’s numbers started to decline. The breed has been quite rare since and is currently listed in the Livestock Conservancy as “watch”. More breeders of this ancient breed are needed to ensure their species survives.
The Buttercup was accepted into the Standard of Perfection by the American Poultry Association in 1918.
Appearance/Body: The Buttercups tail must be well spread at the base and then widely fanned. They have a smooth line from the back to their neck. They carry themselves with their heads held high making them look like royalty.
Comb: They have a Buttercup comb
Ave. Weight: Hens/Pullet 4 – 5 lbs.
Cockerel 5.5 – 6.5 lbs.
|Life Expectancy:||The average lifespan is 6 years|
|Health:||They have no known health issues|
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|Temperament:||They are an active, skittish and almost wild|
|Socialize Behavior?||They try and avoid other animals|
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|Known predators:||Most domestic animals leave them alone, but it is always best to keep an eye on dogs and cats.
If hawks and or foxes are in your area it is always best to take precautions.
Check with local animal shelters, zoos, vets, animal control and or pet stores about common predators in your area.
|Conservation Status:||These birds conservation status is recorded as “watch”. It is best to check on any special license or instructions that may be set up for owning these birds. This can be checked with your local or national conservation centers.|
|Garden Size:||They do not like to be confined and need quite a bit of space to forage and free-range.|
|Ideal Climate:||They do better in a hotter climate and do not tolerate the cold too well.|
|Ideal Coop:||The rule of thumb for any coop is 50 cm x 50 cm per hen/rooster in the coop.
Ensure there is a good space for the nesting boxes and nightly roosting rails at least 1.5 inches wide.
Good ventilation for air but not too drafty especially in winter.
It is always a good idea to raise the coop off the ground to give the birds a dry place to roost and lay especially in wet weather.
|Ideal Coop Run:||It is a good idea for safety from predators to completely cover the coop run with as these birds can and will fly.|
|Ideal Flock Size:||They prefer to mingle with their own breed and there should be at least three chickens in the flock for them to free-range around the garden with.|
|Special Instructions:||They may need to have their wings clipped as they do love to fly|
|Accessories:||The following accessories are ideal for your coop:
Straw for the boxes and roosting area
Animal carrier for transport purposes
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WHERE TO FIND THESE BIRDS TO ADD TO YOUR FLOCK
They are a rare ancient breed of chicken that you may not be able to find at live poultry outlets and farms. To get a Buttercup or two for your flock it is best to find registered breeders which you can get information for form the American Poultry Association, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust or the Livestock Conservancy websites. If you plan on breeding your chickens, you will want to make sure that they are from a good bloodline.
They will also be able to help with any special requirements, attention or care they may need.
CARING FOR THE BIRD(S)
Please click here for our full guide to “Taking care of chickens”. This is a comprehensive guide to owning chickens. It covers where to start from choosing your ideal flock, the coop that would best suit your garden, your bird and you to buying and bringing your bird(s) home.
They are not a very cold hardy chicken but do bear the heat well. Although they are not great egg layers they make an excellent show and or ornamental birds. They are also a great bird for breeding enthusiasts with an interest in rare ancient breeds.
Other than the preferred dust baths that all chickens enjoy as a grooming routine they do not require much in the way of this. But as they are skittish and do not like to be handled it is a good idea to put some essential essences into the sand of their dust bath to help with the pests and excess feather oil. It is not going to be an easy task with this breed but they must be checked at least once a week for mites, lice and various other parasites. Always get your birds de-wormed on a regular basis especially if they are around other animals or interacting with kids.
DIET AND NUTRITION
Buttercup loves to forage and eat fresh garden insects. They also love indulging in table scraps and will eat most vegetable or fruit leftovers. As with other chickens, they do their regular diet of either chicken pellets, grains, chicken mash or grain mix from 8 weeks old and older. It is advisable to feed them their regular food first thing in the morning before they are let out to forage. This ensures they get their essential nutrients before indulging in their garden feast.
For baby chickens, the best is always Chick Starter when they are under 8 weeks old.
Laying hens should get extra protein and calcium in their diets to ensure the quality of their eggs and to keep them in tip-top health.
Please see our comprehensive guide to “Feeding your chickens” for more information of the different types of chicken feed for chicks, hens, laying hens, roosters, etc. and where to buy the feed and approximate cost of the feed.
SOCIALIZING THE BIRD(S)
The Buttercup is a skittish bird that does not handle change too well and maybe a bit more difficult to socialize with newcomers of their own breed.
Always check on how well a breed will get on with your current flock before buying them as you do not want to upset your coop or stress your current flock.
If you want to introduce another breed with your Buttercup, try a breed that has a calmer nature than the Buttercup but is not aggressive.
As with any newcomer to the roost, you will have to quarantine the bird for 7 – 31 days to ensure it does not have any unwanted critters or disease that could spread to your current flock.
Even flighty independent chickens have a pecking order, so it is advisable to socialize newcomers slowly and determine when it is right to allow newcomers to become a permanent part of the flock.
NOTES / SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS
As they are registered as “watch” conservation status they may need an extra license to own or keep in your garden. For advice on what the bird’s conservation status and orders are, please check with your local conservation department.
For breeders, it is imperative that you always check your bird’s bloodlines and ensure you are buying your birds from a reputed breeder/farm. In order to sell birds of such stature, they have to be recorded and documented, always check with local animal breeding organizations for these records.
These legitimate documents are also required should you wish to show your bird(s) in various poultry shows/competition showings.
For information and advice on adopting rescued animals, you can visit or contact your local animal welfare center.
- Caring for your Chicken
- Socializing your Chicken
- Breeding Chicken
- Raising Chickens A-Z
- Hatching Eggs
- What is Molting
- Animal Shelter (ASPCA)
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- American Poultry Association
- American Animal Welfare Society
- American Animal Control
- American Animal Husbandry Society