Yokohama chickens have snow white feathers with tails reaching up to 4 feet in length.
Yokohama Chicken Scientific Classification
- Scientific Name
- Gallus gallus
Yokohama Chicken Conservation Status
Yokohama Chicken Facts
- Insects, invertebrates
- Name Of Young
- Group Behavior
- Fun Fact
- Yokohama chickens have snow white feathers with tails reaching up to 4 feet in length.
- Estimated Population Size
- Fewer than 1000 worldwide
- Biggest Threat
- Most Distinctive Feature
- Snowy white feathers and long, trailing tails
- Distinctive Feature
- White feathers, sometimes with red feathers on torso, walnut shaped comb, yellow feet
- Other Name(s)
- White Yokohama, Red Shouldered Yokohama, Yokohama classification includes Phoenix chickens in Great Britain
- Favorite Food
- Grains, fruits, vegetables
- Common Name
- Yokohama chicken
- Special Features
- Snow white feathers with long tail feathers up to four feet in length
- Originated in Germany, descended from long-tailed chickens from Japan
- Number Of Species
- Nesting Location
- Coops or enclosures
The ornamental Yokohama chicken was originally bred from Japanese long-tailed chickens that were exported from the Yokohama port in Japan in 1864. These exported chickens were known as Minohiki chickens in their native Japan. They were renamed for their port of departure and brought to Germany. The Japanese long-tailed Minohiki were thought to be descended from the Onagadori chickens, which grew tail feathers up to 27 feet long.
The modern Yokohama chickens are a product of selective breeding, which began by Hugo Du Roi, the president of the German Poultry Association. As Du Roi and other German bird enthusiasts began to import these beautiful fowl, they realized the chickens were not hardy enough to start flocks. The hens died quickly leaving only male survivors. Therefore, breeders mixed Yokohamas with other varieties, including Malay, Phoenix, and Sumatra chickens, to make the breed more formidable.
Today Yokohama chickens still prefer warmer climates and often do not survive to maturity. They are a difficult breed to start. Owners, however, favor them for their startlingly white plumage, their long and graceful tail feathers, and their friendly nature.
Incredible Yokohama Chicken Facts
- The first president of the German Poultry Association, Hugo Du Roi, began to cross-breed Japanese chickens in the mid-1800s. He created breeds such as the Yokohama and the Phoenix.
- The Yokohama is on the “critically endangered” list according to the Livestock Conservancy. The breed has fewer than 1000 birds in the whole world.
- Yokohama chickens require a high protein diet to grow their impressively long tail feathers. They lose and replace their long sickle feathers each year.
- The American Poultry Association recognizes two standard breeds of Yokohama chickens, including the Red Shoulder and White, since 1981.
- In the United Kingdom, the Yokohama classification also includes Phoenix chickens.
- Yokohama chickens are so friendly, owners claim they will fly right up and sit on a person’s arm.
Where to Find Yokohama Chickens
Yokohama chickens fare better in warmer areas. Breeders in countries around the world keep Yokohamas in small flocks. The breeding populations, however, are quite small in size and limited in number. The Yokohama is not part of large flocks or commercial operations. They are too small to be a good source of meat, they are not highly productive at laying eggs, and the breeders often have difficulty getting the chicks to maturity.
Breeders who choose to raise Yokohama chickens usually do so because of their ornamental qualities. They are beautiful birds with friendly demeanors, and they tend to make excellent show birds. Like their relative, the Phoenix chicken, the long-tailed Yokohama is an especially attractive bird to add to one’s garden, simply for the pleasure of enjoying its beauty.
It would not be easy to find Yokohama chickens to observe live. These chickens are on the Livestock Conservancy critical list, which means there are fewer than 1,000 individual birds worldwide. They can be difficult to raise to maturity, and many potential breeders have commented that chicks they ordered either arrived dead or died not long after. However, dedicated owners are willing to put in the work and suffer losses because they prize these ornamental chickens for their beauty and their friendly nature. For those who want to give raising Yokohamas a try, you can order chicks from specialty hatcheries in the United States and other parts of the world.
Yokohama Chicken Scientific Name
The Yokohama chicken’s scientific name is Gallus gallus or Gallus gallus domesticus, just like other domesticated chickens around the world. The red junglefowl of South and Southeast Asia, G. gallus, was named by Linnaeus in 1758. Today dozens of different breeds comprise the Gallus gallus domesticus species.
Yokohama Chicken Appearance
Yokohama chickens are small birds. Hens weigh only about 3.5 pounds, while roosters top out at around 4.5 pounds. They have long saddle feathers and the males have sickle feathers in their tails that can reach up to four feet in length.
The most striking feature of the Yokohama is their luminous, snow-white plumage. According to Oklahoma State University’s Department of Animal Science, the coloration of the feathers of the Yokohama are attributes of a dominant gene that encodes for pure white.
Two distinct varieties of Yokohama chickens were recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1981. The White Yokohama, as its name suggests, is all white. The Red Shoulder Yokohama has red feathers at the shoulder and sometimes spattered down the breast and torso. This coloration is due to incomplete dominance of the white gene over the gene for red feathers.
Yokohama chickens are sexually dimorphic, meaning that the birds differ in appearance between males and females as they mature. Both have bright yellow legs and beaks, and both have small, walnut-shaped combs and little to no wattle. The males, though, are a little bigger than the hens. They have stunning white tail feathers that grow to an impressive length before molting each year.
In 2018, scientists studied the effect hormones had on the growth of chicken feathers. They found that although the production of feathers in both male and female chickens can be affected by a number of factors, hormones may be the most influential. Other factors include temperature, light, and the bird’s individual diet. A diet rich in protein is absolutely necessary for growing the long, snowy tail feathers typical of a healthy Yokohama.
Yokohama Chicken Behavior
Yokohama chickens are particularly vulnerable to predators due to their small size and exceedingly bright white feathers. They are also not known as speedy or agile birds, but they do like to roam, so keeping them safe can be tricky.
A secure coop and enclosure can help ensure the safety of Yokohamas. They may also require heaters if they are being kept in a cooler climate, as they are not able to easily handle the cold.
Owners say that Yokohama chickens are especially friendly birds. They have a docile nature, and they will happily eat from people’s hands or even fly right up and sit on your shoulder. Because these ornamental birds have such beautiful, snowy white feathers and long graceful tails, they are popular as show birds.
Because Yokohama chickens do have long feathers, and they like to fly, it is recommended that owners provide them with a high perch. Owners should also try to keep enclosures clean, so that the beautiful white feathers don’t become encrusted in feces or debris.
The Yokohama hens can mix easily with other chickens, but males have a harder time, especially with aggressive breeds. Because they are small and docile, and because their white coloration is so unusual, they are easy targets for bigger, meaner roosters.
Like other poultry, Yokohama chickens typically eat grain-based feeds. These are changed as they mature. Chicks get one type of feed designed for their rapid growth. Hens should be switched to another feed that is specially designed with plenty of calcium for the best egg production as they approach 24 weeks of age.
A diet rich in protein is necessary for all birds, to support the growth of their feathers. The protein keratin makes up 90 percent or more of the structure of feathers. Yokohama chickens, especially the males which grow sickle feathers up to four feet long each year, need an abundance of amino acids. Most of this protein comes from their feed.
A proper diet will also include a variety of other nutrients. A high-quality commercial feed will provide all the nutrients chickens need. However, breeders can supplement the chicken feed with treats at a 90 to 10 percent ratio. Only 10 percent of the chicken’s diet should consist of treats like table scraps, fruits, and vegetables. They should avoid toxic foods, like avocado pits and skins, beans, and rhubarb.
Yokohama Chicken Reproduction
Yokohama chickens do not produce an abundance of eggs. Hens average between 60 to 80 eggs per year, according to the Livestock Conservancy. The eggs are cream-colored and small. Yokohama hens tend toward broodiness after laying around 12 to 14 eggs.
Yokohama chicks can be purchased and shipped from a small number of specialty breeders. However, these chicks can be difficult to raise to maturity. The Yokohama is critically endangered, according to the Livestock Conservancy. That categorization means there are fewer than 1000 of these birds worldwide. This also means that within the U.S. there are fewer than 500 birds, and no more than five breeding flocks numbering 50 or more birds. This speaks to the difficulty of raising and breeding Yokohama chickens.
Yokohama chickens are small birds. Their bright white feathers offer little to no camouflage. Also, they are slow and not very agile. These factors put them at high risk from predators such as raccoons, foxes, coyotes, owls and hawks. If Yokohamas are not kept in a secure enclosure, especially at night, they are very likely to be eaten. Yokohama chicks, like those of all breeds, are especially vulnerable to attacks by a variety of predators, including snakes. They may be better raised indoors than left outside with only small, docile adult chickens to look after them.
The Lifespan of the Yokohama Chicken
Yokohama chickens can be a particularly difficult breed to get started. If the chicks reach maturity and are provided with a secure home they can live between 6 to 8 years.
Like other chickens, they are vulnerable to certain avian diseases. These include infectious bronchitis, avian influenza, fowl cholera, fowl pox, aspergillosis, and different forms of mycoplasma. Breeders can take steps to minimize the risk to their Yokohama flock by keeping enclosures as clean as possible. They should also maintain adequate space for the number of birds in their care.
Birds Similar to the Yokohama Chicken
The Yokohama chicken is similar to its ancestor, the Onagadori chicken, in that it has impressively long and beautiful tail feathers. The Onagadori, however, does not molt its tail feathers, which grow up to 27 feet long. This is due to a recessive gene and is the reason that the sickle feathers grow to such amazing lengths.
The Phoenix chicken, also bred by Hugo Du Roi during the same mid-1800s time period as the Yokohama chicken, shares common ancestry and many similarities. In the Poultry Club of Great Britain, the Phoenix chicken is actually listed under the Yokohama standard, not as a separate standard breed. Unlike Phoenix chickens, which have black background feathers, both the Red Shoulder and White Yokohama chickens have been bred for pure white, luminous plumage.
- Phoenix Chicken – The Yokohama and the Phoenix share similar ancestors and both have long tail feathers.
- Onagadori Chicken – The Onagadori is a Japanese long-tailed chicken that grows incredibly long tail feathers, up to 27 feet in length. It is thought to be an ancestor of Yokohama.
- Silkie Chicken – The silkie chicken is a bird of Chinese origin. It is small in stature like the Yokohama, but it has fluffy feathers all over
Yokohama Chicken FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why do people raise Yokohama chickens?
Yokohama chickens are ornamental birds prized for their gorgeous, snowy white plumage, graceful and long tail feathers, and their friendly personalities.
What makes Yokohama chickens special?
Yokohama chickens have luminous white feathers, as white as snow. They were specially bred for these white feathers, and for the long tails on the roosters.
How many varieties of Yokohama chickens exist?
There are two recognized varieties of Yokohama chickens in the United States, including the White and the Red Shoulder. Several more are recognized in the United Kingdom.
Where did Yokohama chickens originate?
Yokohama chickens were bred from Minohiki chickens that were expoted from the Yokohama port in Japan. The resulting hardier Yokohama chickens originated in Germany in the mid-1800s via selective breeding.
Who created the Yokohama chicken?
Hugo Du Roi, the first president of the German Poultry Association was responsible for the breeding program that created the Yokohama chicken.
Where do Yokohama chickens live?
Yokohama chickens live in small, captive populations around the world. They are better suited to warm climates than cold.
What do Yokohama chickens eat?
Yokohama chickens eat primarily commercial chicken feed. This feed supplies them with protein and other nutrients needed for proper health and feather production.
What treats do Yokohama chickens like?
Yokohama chickens like most fruits and vegetables, in addition to insects and worms.
What should Yokohama chickens not eat?
Yokohama chickens should not eat rhubarb, avocado pits or skins, or beans.
Are Yokohama chickens good egg producers?
Yokohama chickens do not produce a large number of eggs, averaging only 60 to 80 per year. Their eggs are cream colored and small in size.
Are Yokohama chickens good for meat?
Yokohama chickens are only 3.5 to 4.5 pounds, so they do not produce much meat.
Are Yokohama chickens easy to raise?
Yokohama chickens are reportedly difficult to raise to maturity. They require more care than many other types of chickens and can be easy prey for predators. Their friendly and docile nature adds to their vulnerability.
Are Yokohama chickens rare?
Yokohama chickens are among the rarest chickens. They are on the Livestock Conservancy critically endangered list, which means there are fewer than 1000 individual birds worldwide, and fewer than 500 in the United States.
Are Yokohama chickens good with children?
Yokohama chickens are especially friendly and docile. They have been known to sit on their owners’ arms and eat right out of their hands. They are known to be good pets for children and excellent show birds.
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- The Livestock Conservancy, Available here: https://livestockconservancy.org/heritage-breeds/heritage-breeds-list/yokohama-chicken/
- The Livestock Conservancy, Available here: https://livestockconservancy.org/heritage-breeds/conservation-priority-list/
- Murray McMurray Hatchery, Available here: https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/red_shouldered_yokohama.html
- American Poultry Association, Available here: https://amerpoultryassn.com/accepted-breeds-varieties/
- The Poultry Club, Available here: https://www.poultryclub.org/breeds/chickens/rare-soft-feather-light/yokohama/
- The National Center for Biotechnology Information, Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Taxonomy/Browser/wwwtax.cgi?mode=info&id=9031
- Oklahoma State University, Available here: http://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/poultry/chickens/yokohama/breeds-of-livestock-yokohama/
- National Library of Medicine, Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6333526/
- Frontiers in Physiology / Sec. Avian Physiology, Available here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2019.01609/full
- Purina Mills / Patrick Biggs, Ph.D., Available here: https://www.purinamills.com/chicken-feed/education/detail/what-to-feed-chickens-chicken-treats-to-feed-and-avoid
- University of Florida Extension / G. D. Butcher, J. P. Jacob, and F. B. Mather, Available here: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/PS044