Here is an unconventional choice that does not appear on most peoples’ lists. Cubalayas do not appear in many backyards either, but they are spreading as they gain favor for their good looks, egg production, and calm demeanor. Several hatcheries sell Cubalaya chicks and I have seen ads for breeders who sell hatching eggs or chicks as well.
The breed was developed in Cuba from Asian stock which probably originated in the Philippines. These chickens are tame, peaceful, and make great pets as well as being great egg layers. They can handle confinement well. Cubalayas are still more popular in Cuba than elsewhere, but they have a devoted following.
Besides the attributes I’ve already mentioned, Cubalayas also make great show birds. The roosters are stunningly gorgeous and can hold their own with any game bird. They have bright colors which usually include bright red and black, plus a long, flowing lobster tail. The hens are much less colorful, but have a regal, upright bearing and that same angled tail. Here are pictures of both sexes.
Medium sized, with hens reaching 4-5 pounds.
Black Breasted Red: Roosters look like the previous picture with dark red necks and backs. Their bodies and tails are black with an iridescent sheen.
White: Usually same black portions as above with white neck and back.
Black: Plumage is all black.
Hens: Most commonly have dark cinnamon necks with a light cinnamon, tan, or wheaten body, and some black or gray tail feathers. Some can have lighter colored necks than bodies.
Laying hens can produce quite well, around 4 eggs per week. Eggs are cream or tan in color.
Tame and peaceful for the most part (see notes below).
While most Cubalayas are calm and friendly around people, they can be aggressive toward other birds. Roosters are especially nasty and have been used for cockfighting in Cuba. If you plan to keep other chicken breeds as well, this may not be a good addition to your mixed flock. But if you plan to keep only this one breed, they should perform very well in your backyard.