Although there are hundreds of different breeds of chickens, the Sicilian Buttercup Chicken, which is usually kept as a pet but also has decent laying output, has a unique comb. The breed’s name comes from the fact that it originates from Sicily, its butter-colored plumage, and for the cup-shaped comb on top of its head. Read on for more information on this unique breed and to see whether it is a suitable chicken for your backyard or small farm.


Quick Facts about Sicilian Buttercup Chickens

Breed Name:Sicilian Buttercup Chicken
Place of Origin:Sicily
Uses:Pet and egg laying
Cockerel (Male) Size:6.5 lbs
Hen (Female) Size:5.5 lbs
Color:Gold and black plumage with green legs
Lifespan:5 – 8 years
Climate Tolerance:Thrives in hot climates and tolerates cold
Care Level:Moderate
Production:180 eggs/year

Sicilian Buttercup Chicken Origins

The exact origin of the Sicilian Buttercup Chicken is debated. Some believe that they have existed for several thousand years while others argue that they were created by breeding Arabic imported chickens with Leghorns. In either case, they have been intentionally bred in Sicily for hundreds of years and were first introduced to the US in the 1830s.

Although they have a moderate to good laying rate, the breed fell out of favor because it simply couldn’t keep up with the likes of the Leghorn, which can produce 300 or more eggs per year, almost double that of the Sicilian Buttercup.

Golden Laced Wyandotte and Sicilian Buttercup Chickens
Image Credit: Merrimon Crawford, Shutterstock


Sicilian Buttercup Chicken Characteristics


Sicily is known for its hot climate, and the Sicilian Buttercup Chicken has been reared to cope with this heat. As such, they are perfectly adapted to life in hot climates. They are also considered hardy birds that can, and will, survive in cold and wet conditions, although it is always best to provide them with housing, even though they do prefer to spend their time outdoors.

Predator Survival

The breed is considered somewhat flighty, is agile, and is a reactive bird. As such, it tends to do well when escaping the potential clutches of predators. This is quite common in free-ranging birds but the Buttercup is known to be especially skilled at predator evasion.

Foraging Capabilities

Another characteristic of a free-ranging bird is that it tends to be capable of foraging for food. If given the appropriate space and conditions, the Sicilian Buttercup can get a good portion of its daily dietary requirements by foraging.


As mentioned, the breed really does thrive when left to range and it can become stressed when kept in a confined environment. This is likely because the bird would have been left to free-range throughout its history, and also because ornamental birds were not bred to be kept in small confined spaces.


There are two schools of thought on the temperament of this breed. It has been bred as an ornamental bird and is successfully kept as a pet in some homes. On the other hand, it does tend to be a little flighty, so these busy little chickens can prove difficult to tame and befriend in some cases.


Often described as chatty birds, the Sicilian has more of a musical note than a typical chicken cackle, which is good news because this is a typical Mediterranean bird that makes plenty of noise a lot of the time.




Ornamental chickens are known for their unique appearance or for having a unique physical characteristic. They are not usually known for their prolific egg-laying or meat production. The Sicilian Buttercup Chicken was reared as an ornamental bird, thanks to its unique crown and its unusual green legs. It has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years because it has become popular for showing and exhibiting.

Egg Layers

With that said, the Sicilian can produce between 150 and 180 eggs a year, which is considered a moderate to high yield.

The breed is often kept as a hybrid bird: a combination of pet and moderate egg layer.


Appearance & Varieties

The Comb

The most distinctive physical characteristic of this breed is its comb. Originally, the breed would have had two combs but, over time, these had merged into a single crown-like comb that encircles the whole top of the head. In some cases, the two halves may not be joined, but they will stretch the circumference. This type of crown, also referred to in this breed as a flower, is entirely unique and no other chicken breed shares this physical trait.

The Legs

Although not entirely unique, the Sicilian Buttercup also has unusual green legs, usually described as being willow green. The tops of the feet are also green, although the bottoms are a yellow color.

Bantam Buttercups

The Sicilian Buttercup is considered a light breed and is quite rare, but even lighter and rarer is the bantam variant. They lay a similar number of eggs, although they are obviously smaller.

There is only a single known variant of the Sicilian Buttercup and only one that is recognized by poultry registries and groups around the world.


It is unclear how many Sicilian Buttercups exist in the world today, but they are considered a rare breed. Although they were once classified as critical by The Livestock Conservancy, they have undergone a resurgence, especially among show enthusiasts. As a result, their status has been changed to watch.


Are Sicilian Buttercup Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?

The Sicilian Buttercup Chicken has fallen out of favor with farmers because their egg production is much lower than that of the big layers. However, they can yield as many as 180 eggs a year.

They also prefer to be left to roam, rather than cooped up, and they are popular for showing and competing. They are small, too, and their propensity to spend time outdoors means that they do not need much coop space, per hen.

Their typically friendly nature also endears them to a lot of backyard farmers, even though their medium laying rate means that they may not be a profitable chicken for a farming operation.


The Sicilian Buttercup Chicken is a rare breed that originally comes from Sicily. It is considered a beautiful bird that was once bred as an ornamental bird and has found some favor for exhibition and competition enthusiasts. It has a moderate to good egg production of around 180 eggs a year, prefers to roam rather than be cooped, and it can have a friendly and amenable temperament that makes it popular with keepers that want a reasonable layer as a pet.

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Featured Image Credit: cainphotos, Shutterstock