So why are rare breeds important? The Livestock Conservancy has a great explanation of why:
"The Livestock Conservancy protects genetic diversity in livestock and poultry species through the conservation and promotion of endangered breeds. These rare breeds are part of our national heritage and represent a unique piece of the earth's bio-diversity. The loss of these breeds would impoverish agriculture and diminish the human spirit. We have inherited a rich variety of livestock breeds. For the sake of future generations, we must work together to safeguard these treasures." - The Livestock Conservancy
Sultans are very unique looking. Many described them as stunning. They have a few distinguishing features: heavily feathered feet and legs, five toes, vulture hocks, a V shaped comb, large nostrils, a beard, muffs, and crest. They are normally pure white, although some other colors exist as well. But white is the only color accepted by the American Poultry Association. Males are around 6 pounds and females around 4 pounds. They lay white eggs and are non setters.
The Sultan breed originated in Turkey. The legend is that due to their heavily feathered feet, they did no damage to elaborate gardens in which they were kept. They are reportedly known as Serai Taook or Serai Tavuk in Turkey, which both mean Sultan's Fowl. The first Sultans arrived in America in 1867. They first appeared in the American Poultry Association's Standard of Excellence in 1874.
Since that time, they have always been rare. Many people have never heard of the breed, even after having been around poultry for many years. I heard a rumor that there are less than 50 breeding pairs of Sultans in the entire United States. They do seem to be gaining slightly in popularity in recent years, most likely from people hearing about the breed online. For two years in a row, I've seen a couple of Sultan's at an agricultural fair! If you are looking for a very docile breed of chickens, I highly recommend Sultans. I currently know of no breeders who sell eggs, chicks, or adults, (I'm sure they are out there somewhere!) but I have found a few hatcheries that carry them: Meyer Hatchery (sells sexed chicks), Cackle Hatchery (straight run only), and Ideal Poultry (straight run only).
Do you raise any rare breeds? Share in the comments!