Breeds and Varieties
The breeds and varieties of chicken are so numerous that it would be impossible to discuss all of them in detail at this time. However, a basic knowledge of how to identify and classify fowl may be helpful. Domestic fowl are divided into classes, breeds, and varieties.
Class: A grouping of breeds according to the geographic area of their origin or to similar characteristics.
Breed: An established group of individuals with similar physical features (i.e., body shape or type, skin color, number of toes, feathered or non-feathered legs) that when mated with others of its own kind produce offspring that have the same characteristics. The Wyandotte breed is a good example. Each breed has a very distinct shape or confirmation (Figure below shows 4 varieties in the Wyandotte breed).
Variety: A subdivision of a breed. Differentiating characteristics including plumage color and pattern, comb type, and the presence of beards of muffs. For example, the Wyandotte breed is available in many colors - White, Buff, Columbian and Silver Laced shown above. In each, the physical shape and features are the same but the feather color and pattern differ, which constitutes each as a separate variety.
Bantams - are the miniatures of the poultry world. The word "Bantam" is the term used to classify the over 350 breeds and varieties of true-breeding miniature chickens. There are bantams of almost every breed of large chicken, but there are some types of which there is no large counterpart. Bantams are purebreds raised for exhibition and hobby. Their small size and numerous shapes, colors and personalities give them a broad appeal to people who live in urban areas.
Large fowl and Bantam - both are White Wyandotte Cockerels (Same age)
White Cochin (left) is loose feathered breed; Birchen Modem Game (right) is tight feathered breed