Cinnamon Queens, Paint Strippers, and Showgirl Chickens: It’s Hip to Have Hybrids

Exotic chicken cross breeds: pictures of stunning hybrids!

Cinnamon Queens, Paint Strippers, and Showgirl Chickens: It’s Hip to Have Hybrids

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Showgirls, Strippers, Cinnamon Queens … yes, we’re talking about poultry. What are Showgirl chickens and how are Strippers different?

Last summer I purchased four chicks; three true breeds and a hybrid. My selection process was only guided by the fact that I wanted four different looking chicks, to keep them identifiable. The hybrid I purchased was an Austra White chicken, also known as a White Australorp. She quickly was christened with the name: Betty White Australorp. Austra White chickens are usually a cross between Black Australorp roosters and White Leghorn hens. What makes them and other hybrids popular is heterosis or hybrid vigor. For example, the White Australorps are calmer than a leghorn, have a better feed to egg production rations than their parents, and produce copious amounts of large eggs.

Another popular reason why chickens are crossbred is to create sex-linked hybrid chickens. This allows hatcheries to sex day-old chicks by color. Popular hybrids include Black Sex-links and Red Sex-links. Commercial broilers will take different strains of White Rocks and White Cornish to produce fast-growing uniform looking birds able to go to market at 6-9 weeks of age.

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Coogan’s Betty White Australorp, an Austra White chicken.

Heterosis is not limited to backyard poultry. While many breeders are creating hybrids for physical characteristics, I have a supposition that some are doing it just for the name. Bascottie, Peek-a-Pom, Cockapoo, Puggle, and Goldendoodle come to mind. When Black Angus and Hereford cattle are crossed, they are called a Black Baldy. And in swine, when you take a Hampshire and Yorkshire you produce Blue Butts!

Showgirl Chickens

My favorite hybrid combination is a Transylvanian Naked Neck crossed with a Silkie bantam chicken. Known as Showgirl chickens, for their fluffy voluptuous bodies, they bring joy and astonishment to all who view them. Their silkie feathered head and shoulders paired with their naked neck, makes them look like they are wearing an amatory feather boa. I reached out to Shelbe Houchins of Mexico, Missouri to learn more.

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“Showgirls have a tuff of feathers around their neck, known as a bow tie,” she explained. “If you take a Showgirl and breed them to another Showgirl you can get some chicks with no feathers on their neck, which are referred to as Strippers.”

Silkies come in a variety of colors. Just like the American Paint horse, if a Silkie is not a solid color, their color is referred to as Paint. If you get a Stripper whose coloration is not solid you call them a Paint Stripper! Below are some of Shelbe’s hip hybrids.

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A Cuckoo Silkie Showgirl chicken. They don’t have the dark skin of a Silkie because the barring gene doesn’t allow for the skin pigment to be solid black. Photo courtesy of Shelbie Houchens.
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Marsha, a Paint Frizzled Satin Showgirl chicken. Photo courtesy of Shelbie Houchins.

Heterosis (hybrid vigor) is “the increase in growth, size, fecundity, function, yield, or other characters in hybrids over those of the parents.”

Dictionary.com
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Gypsy, a Paint Stripper. Photo courtesy of Shelbie Houchens.
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A Paint Showgirl chicken, with bowtie visible. Photo courtesy of by Shelbe Houchins.

Here are some other desired crossbreeds.

Amberlink Chicken

Amberlink chickens have descended from the genetic line of ISA Hendrix — a large U.S. distributor of commercial layers. ISA is a French acronym meaning “Institut de Selection Animale.” While Amberlink chickens can’t be sexed by color, they can be wing-sexed. Males have red plumage with a white undercoat, while females are mainly white with tints of amber in the wing feathers. These birds are described as dependable, hardy, prolific and docile.

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An Amberlink chicken. Photo courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery.

Calico Princess Chickens

These hybrids’ feathers alternate in colors between light red-orange and white, reminiscent of a topaz stone. Calico Princess chickens are docile, robust, and adaptable to several types of climates.

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A Calico Princess chicken. Photo courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery.

California White Chicken

Similar to a White Leghorn, this hybrid is created from California Gray roosters and White Leghorn hens. California White chicken coloration is white with black flecking. They are calmer than Leghorns, quiet and seldom go broody.

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A California White chicken. Photo courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery.

Cinnamon Queen Chicken

This hybrid is great for those that experience cold harsh winters. They mature quickly and lay eggs earlier than most other breeds. Cinnamon Queen chickens are said to have predominantly sweet personalities. Their heavy, compact bodies make them a dual-purpose bird.

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A Cinnamon Queen hen. Photo courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery.

Golden Comet chicken

This is a red sex-linked bird, where female chicks are brownish red and males are white. Golden Comet chickens are also known for their fast body development and quick egg production. They are confident and are excellent forages.

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A Golden Comet chicken. Photo courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery.

ISA Brown chicken

This hybrid of Rhode Island Red and Rhode Island Whites, and a sprinkling of other breeds, has been around since 1978. ISA Brown chickens were developed for the layer industry. They have been selected for shell quality and texture as well as their demeanor making them easy to work with. Another red sex-linked bird; hens and pullets are red, ISA Brown roosters and cockerels are white.

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An ISA Brown chicken. Photo courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery.

Prairie Bluebell Egger

Created by crossing Araucanas and White Leghorns, Prairie Bluebell Eggers produce blue eggs which are higher quality than a pure Araucana. They are active forages and a roaming flock would add a kaleidoscope to your yard, as their plumage varies greatly.

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Prairie Bluebell Egger chickens. Photo courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery.

Starlight Green Egger

Starlight Green Eggers were created by taking the Bluebell Egger and crossing it with a brown egg layer. Since it shares lineage with the Bluebell Egger, these birds are also lightweight, excellent foragers. Bred chiefly for their eggs, their feather patterns vary.

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A Starlight Green Egger chicken. Photo courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery.

Hip Hybrids For Your Backyard Flock

Hybrid Approximate eggs/year Egg color Mature Male WT (lbs) Mature Female WT (lbs)
Amberlink 270 Medium Brown 6 5
Calico Princess 290 Large Cream 5 4
California White 290 Large White 4.5 4
Cinnamon Queen 260 Large Brown 6 5
Golden Comet 260 Medium Brown 6 5
ISA Brown 300 Large Brown 6 5
Prairie Bluebell Egger 280 Medium Blue 5 4
Starlight Green Egger 280 Medium Green 5 4

When looking for a backyard companion what is your favorite chicken breed? Have you kept Showgirl chickens or other exotic chicken breeds and hybrids? Let us know!

Originally published in the February/March 2020 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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