The Sultan chicken is supposed to have lived in the Sultans castle gardens in what used to be called Constantinople and was originally known as Sultans Fowl. A Miss Elizabeth Watts of Hampstead introduced them to England from Turkey in 1854 and the breed almost became extinct in the period between the two World Wars. Thankfully it was resurrected by combining several different breeds but unfortunately this means that none of the birds of today have descended from the Sultans original birds. They are not good layers and tend to be kept for ornamental purposes because of their distinct appearance. The Sultans are small, fully feathered chickens. The neck has a very heavy plumage which gives the head a shortened appearance. The head has a muff, three clumps of feathers which form a beard and a very large, globular crest. In front of that is a V-shaped or horn comb which is hidden by the crest. They have 5 toes and their hocks are very well developed and are described as vulture hocks while the legs are heavily feathered.
Sultans are best kept in small runs as they are rather poor foragers. Their crest feathers have a tendency to freeze when the temperatures drop below zero and they find it very hard to cope with poor weather. They are calm birds which are not known for aggression and can be handled easily so make excellent pets. Hens are not known for being broody and do not make particularly good mothers while the chicks are slow developers. They are good fliers and can manage 2 metres easily so care needs to be taken with fences.
The only recognised form for the Sultan is the white variety. The birds have grey legs and their reddish bay eyes and red earlobes are hidden by their crests. There have also been blue and black varieties of Sultan produced.
For more information please visit the Rare Breed Poultry Society