Key Characteristics

The Sultan has always been bred and selected as a show bird and is not a good layer or a suitable table bird. The breed is usually a non-sitter and is docile and friendly. This allows them to be handled quite easily which makes them ideal to keep as pets. They are not known for going broody and in most cases do not make good mothers. The chicks are very slow developers. With the profuse white feathering the breed needs extra care, so is not suitable for a backyard flock. They can tolerate confinement. Being ornamental they are better kept in large clean runs where they are sheltered from the weather, and go out on sunny days. They do not fare well in extreme weather especially when the temperature is very low. It is a good idea to have high fencing around the birds as they are very good fliers and can easily fly over a two metre high fence.


  • The Sultan was originally developed as an ornamental breed for the Sultan of Constantinople (now Istanbul) and was introduced to the UK in 1854 by Miss Elizabeth Watts of Hampstead, London.
  • All of the Sultans in the UK are descended from this original flock as there was only one more hen imported from Turkey.
  • Although the population of the breed has remained small, a succession of breed enthusiasts has prevented the breed from dying out or becoming too inbred.


  • The Sultan’s head is its most striking feature, the birds are crested and bearded.
  • The breed also has extensive leg feathering and is one of the few breeds with five toes.
  • Their white plumage is profuse throughout and gives the impression that the birds are heavier than they actually are, on older birds at least. Youngsters sometimes look rather thin but they will look splendid in their second year.
  • In both sexes the beak is pale blue or white.
  • The eyes and face are red, whilst the ear- lobes, comb and wattles are bright red.
  • The beak is blue or white and the shanks and toes white or pale blue.
  • The only recognised colour is white. Sultan bantams are very rare.


The Sultan has always been bred and selected as a show bird and is not a good layer or a suitable table bird. 

Did you know?

Sultans are known for their impressively feathered head. Birds are both crested and bearded and it can be difficult to see any comb or wattle beneath the feathers.

Breed Societies

Rare Poultry Society