Barbu de Watermael chickens are small, beautiful, even-tempered birds that are hardy and well suited for moderate climates. While this breed may not be common in the United States, the Barbu de Watermael is well-loved by people in Europe and the UK for their unusual appearance and friendly personalities. Continue reading to find out more about this rare and interesting chicken breed hailing from Belgium.


Quick Facts About Barbu the Watermael Chickens

Breed Name:Barbu de Watermael
Place of Origin:Belgium
Uses:Exhibition, pet
Cock Size:1.3 – 1.5 pounds
Hen Size:1.0 – 1.2 pounds
Colors:Black, brown, red, buff Columbia, cuckoo, quail, white
Lifespan:5 – 7 years
Climate Tolerance:Moderate
Care Level:Low to moderate
Production:100 eggs per year

Barbu de Watermael Chicken Origins

The Barbu de Watermael chicken breed was created in the early 1900s in a Belgian town called Watermael-Boitsfort. The breeder that created the Barbu de Watermael did not disclose what breed he used to create this ornamental chicken that comes in a wide variety of colors, although the most well-known colors are black and reddish-brown.

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Barbu de Watermael Chicken Characteristics

The Barbu de Watermael is a rare, small chicken breed that’s a true bantam1 and always has a crest and comb. This chicken is a close relative of the diminutive Barbu d’Anvers2, except the Barbu de Watermael differs with its small, backswept crest of feathers.

Barbu de Watermaels are calm and friendly chickens, with the exception being the males during the breeding season—they can become quite aggressive towards females and humans. This is why it’s recommended to only get a male Barbu de Watermael if you intend to breed.

The hens are seasonal egg layers that produce around 100 eggs per year. The hens make great mothers, too, which is good to know for anyone planning on breeding Barbu de Watermaels.

People who first lay eyes on this unusual chicken breed often feel their hearts melt by the bird’s unique, spined rose comb, three-part beard, and colorful plumage. On top of being beautifully unique, these chickens are also friendly and charming.

While Barbu de Watermaels can be many colors, the most commonly seen are black, brown-red, buff Columbian, cuckoo, quail, and white. Without a doubt, Barbu de Watermael chickens are one of the most gorgeous, small bantam breeds that have captured the hearts of chicken fanciers everywhere!


The rare Barbu de Watermael chicken is kept almost exclusively as an ornamental fowl for show. However, due to this breed’s small size, gorgeous looks, and even-tempered personality, some people keep Barbu de Watermaels as pets.

Since these chickens were first put on exhibit at the Belgian Feature Show in 1992, they’ve been shown numerous times at the majority of all the Belgian Bantam Club’s Annual Shows, even though only a handful of these birds were displayed due to their rarity.

Appearance & Varieties

The Barbu de Watermael chicken is an ornamental bird that’s available in over 30 color varieties3. This is a small, bantam chicken that sports a rear-facing crest of feathers, a small rose comb, clean legs, and a lower tail carriage. This little bird is well liked among chicken fanciers for its charming personality and beautiful appearance. The cocks of this breed weigh just 1.3–1.5 pounds, while the hens tip the scales at 1.0–1.2 pounds on average, making them easy birds to handle and raise.

Distribution and Habitat

Barbu de Watermael chickens do best living in moderate climates that aren’t too hot. These chickens are mainly found in Belgium and are hard to come by in other areas, although it may be possible to find Barbu de Watermael chickens for sale in the UK—if you’re lucky. If you’re very fortunate, you may run across a US-based breeder of Barbu de Watermael chickens who is selling fertile hatching eggs or chicks.

Are Barbu de Watermael Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Because they’re diminutive in size, easy to work with, and friendly, Barbu de Watermael chickens are a fantastic choice for a small-scale farm. If you do decide to raise these chickens and are lucky enough to find some for sale near you, consider breeding them so there are more of these birds available in the future.

Responsible chicken breeding4 is a multifaceted affair requiring a proper cock-to-hen ratio, proper feeding, and maintaining a clean and hygienic habitat.

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The beautiful and even-tempered Barbu de Watermael chicken is a rare Belgium breed that’s well loved among chicken fanciers. While it’s not always easy to find these bantam chickens for sale, they make great exhibition birds and even better pets.

If you decide to keep these chickens on your small farm, be sure to consider breeding your birds so the population can grow. There is always help available if you need breeding assistance or have any questions about these unique birds, so don’t be afraid to seek out help and ask for more information from others in the community.

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