Chicken Breed History:
sumatra chicken is commonly referred to as Black Sumatra because black is the standard color. The Black Sumatra is a rare and beautiful Asian long tail chicken with rich lustrous beetle green plumage originating in Sumatra. It was originally used as a fighting fowl, although it is now exclusively an ornamental bird. The Black Sumatra was admitted to the Standard in 1883. No other colors have been admitted.
The Sumatra has a personality closer to that of a wild game bird than a domestic chicken. The male has a graceful carriage and lustrous greenish black feathers and long sweeping tail, which has an abundance of long sweeping sickles and coverts, carried horizontally (females tail carriage 15 degrees above horizontal). Multiple spurs on males are desired as well as practically no wattle development. Sumatra has black skin. They are fair layers of medium size white or light tint egg.
Sumatras are an exceedingly rare breed of chicken with a personality closer to that of a wild game bird than a domestic chicken: they are thought to be closely related to the jungle fowl of the Far East. They have been known variously as “Sumatran Pheasants” or “Java Pheasant Game Birds,” even though they are most definitely chickens! Their unique carriage, with their sweeping tails held low, gives them the air of a pheasant or peacock, however. Sumatras make great show birds, and they’re usually kept for their beauty alone. This is no surprise, because they’re usually poor layers and they aren’t hefty enough to be a good meat bird. You can see from the photos that their shiny, lustrous feathers are striking, but in addition they’re the only breed of chicken whose roosters have multiple spurs! Like the Silkie, they also have black skin and black bones.
Chicken Breed Comments / Experience:
If you are interested in getting into long tail chickens I think the Sumatra is a good choice because they are relatively easy keepers. Sumatras are beautiful chickens with their flowing tails. They have a call that can be almost jungle like. They have a cantankerous personality. The more space you can give your Sumatra the happier he will be. They do not like close confinement. They prefer to roost as high as they can get.
Four week old chicks will fly 6 feet high. If you do not want to be out in the dark with flashlight and ladder getting your chickens out of a tree please do not free range your Sumatras until they have learned that home is the coop. In my experience hens do not go broody until second year but then were frequent broodies. Both hen and rooster are doting parents and fierce in protecting their young. Following is some information from the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection:
Egg Laying: Poor (1/wk)
Egg Color: White
Egg Size: Medium
Hardy In Winter: Yes
Bears Confinement: Intolerant of confinement
Especially Docile: No
Personality: Intelligent and active; usually calm but still irascible
- Cock 5 pounds
- Cockerel 4 pounds
- Hen 4 pounds
- Pullet 3 ½ pounds
According to the standard colors for both males and females:
- Comb, face, wattles and earlobes: Gypsy color
- Beak: Black
- Eyes: Dark Brown
- Shanks and Toes: Black to dark willow, black preferred. Bottom of feet: yellow
- Plumage: Very lustrous, greenish black throughout
- Undercolor of all sections: Dull black
- White earlobes
- Some white in feathers (for specifics see APA standard of Perfection)
- No spurs of any kind on males