Poultry Breeds

The Cubalaya Chicken

The Cubalaya chicken is considered a dual purpose breed which has been developed in Cuba from the cross-breeding of Oriental game fowl and European birds. As a result, the Cubalaya copes will high humidity and high temperatures. It does not cope so well with very cold temperatures and will need protection during inclement weather. Nor does it cope well with confinement. They do much better if able to move around and forage for themselves. They are active and like their freedom and space.

Cream EggsCredit: Wikimedia

It is an elegant breed which has inherited the lavish feathering of its European ancestors. The unique feature which prevents it being confused with any other breed is the 'lobster tail'- a downward angling tail. While the Cubalaya comes in a great variety of colours, wheaten hens and black-breasted red cocks are the most common. 'Cenizo' (meaning ashen) or blue-red wheaten is another popular variety in its home country.

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The lobster tail is formed of long saddle feathers which sweep from the bottom of the neck right through to the tail tip creating a cascade of colourful feathers. The stance of the Cubalaya is that of a fighting or game bird but the lethal spurs of most breeds of fighting cocks have been bred out of the Cubalaya. The breed is much more docile than many game breeds although the roosters may still be more aggressive than non-game types.

The standard size weighs from 4 to 6 pounds depending on sex. Bantam hens reach 22 ounces and the cocks 26 ounces. The comb is a pea shape. Wattles, comb and earlobes are all small and a bright red. The eyes are a reddish bay, the legs white and the beak white or horn-coloured. The legs of black Cubalayas are slate coloured. The cream-coloured eggs are of medium size. The hens will go broody and make attentive mothers. Chicks can take a full three years to reach maturity.

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In 1935, the breed was recognised by the Cuban National Poultry Association. In 1939, the breed was introduced into the United States and was admitted into the American Poultry Association and the American Bantam Association.

It is an excellent show bird but is quite rare in the States and is now classified as a threatened breed. The black and white varieties are used commercially in Cuba for egg and meat production.

The Cubalaya is friendly and brave with little chickens having little fear of humans or anything else. Perhaps this is why they are so rare!