The Sulmtaler is a rare and ancient chicken breed from the Styrian region of Austria. The breed is named after the Sulm Valley in southern Styria (Steiermark) in southwestern Austria.
These adorable birds were developed in the 19th century to fill the need for large, heavy chickens. Breeders had a hardy, fast-growing breed that is easy to fatten, particularly if fed maize.
First described in the 1400s, the breed is believed to be one of the tastiest chickens in the world. It is also known to be a prolific layer.
If you consider adding the Sulmtaler chicken breed to your backyard flock, you have come to the right place.
We will discuss everything you need to know about this adorable, productive chicken breed, including its appearance, personality, and egg production.
We will also discuss their maintenance needs. Keep reading to learn more.
Sulmtaler Chicken Appearance
The Sulmtaler chicken has a compact and robust body structure. Roosters are large and have an incandescently bright metallic sheen to their feathers.
On the other hand, hens have an entirely different pattern that is no less beautiful for its muted cream and russet tones.
Both roosters and hens share the delightful feather head crest and “S” shaped comb that are the hallmarks of this fascinating and valuable breed.
They have medium to large-sized combs. Their wattles are red and medium-sized.
As with most other chicken breeds, roosters are slightly larger than hens. A fully grown Sulmtaler rooster weighs between 8 and 10 pounds, while hens weigh between 6 and 8 pounds.
Personality And Temperament
Backyard chicken keepers who have raised the Sulmtaler chicken have described the breed as friendly and docile.
These docile and easygoing birds are suitable for backyard flocks comprising other breeds. They get along well with other flock members and usually do not display aggressive behavior towards each other.
However, ensuring that the other chickens in the flock are also friendly is essential. The Sulmtaler chicken is known to be observant and curious.
They are probably the first ones you will see when you open your coop in the morning.
They will also want to be the first to grab treats or feed, so you might not want to bring them treats first thing in the morning.
These chickens are active birds, spending most of their time foraging for bugs, seeds, and other tasty morsels.
If you plan to add them to your backyard flock, you will want to ensure you have plenty of space for them to forage – where they can be safe doing so.
Sulmtaler chickens are adaptable and quite tolerant. They are hardy chickens that can handle environments and climates well, including colder temperatures.
Their resilience makes them suitable for various geographical locations. As with roosters of most other chicken breeds, Sulmtaler roosters can be quite aggressive.
They can brave themselves to protect the rest of the flock from predators and intruders. You should not allow kids near them, especially during breeding seasons.
Sulmtaler hens are not known for broodiness, but occasionally, one will surprise you and go broody. When they decide to go broody, they are usually good sitters.
They also become great mothers to their baby chicks.
The Sulmtaler chicken is known for its decent egg production and is considered a moderate egg layer.
Under good care and proper nutrition, a Sulmtaler hen can lay 140 to 180 eggs per year. Environmental conditions can also influence the number of eggs they lay.
Sulmtaler hens tend to lay medium-sized eggs. However, the exact egg size can vary slightly among individual birds, but they generally fall within the medium range.
They usually lay tan-colored eggs. Once they lay eggs, they rarely go broody. Therefore, if you want to raise Sulmtaler chicks, you will want to put their eggs under a broody hen or hatch them in an incubator.
Their eggs are generally of good quality as they have a sturdy shell that helps protect the egg’s contents. Sulmtaler hens typically begin laying eggs at around 18 to 20 weeks.
Some may start early, though, at around 15 to 16 weeks. The eggs are known to increase in size each year.
As with most chicken breeds, Sulmtaler hens sometimes slow their laying during the winter months due to a shortening of daylight hours, and can be remedied by hanging light in the chicken coop.
Sulmtaler Chicken Care Guide
Sulmtaler chickens are healthy, hardy birds that can do well in hot and cold climates. They are very adaptable birds and seem to thrive where others do not.
You will want to ensure they have the necessary dry, draft-proof shelter and other considerations such as shade, water, and food.
Generally, Sulmtaler chickens are vigorous birds with not so many health issues.
However, like any other chicken breed, Sulmtaler chickens can be susceptible to specific common health issues in backyard chickens.
These chickens can be prone to external parasites like mites and lice. External parasites can cause feather loss, skin problems, and irritation.
Your birds may also be susceptible to internal parasites like worms. You will want to examine your birds regularly to control internal and external parasites.
Proper sanitation and appropriate deworming can help control internal parasites. While Sulmtaler chickens can tolerate hot temperatures, they can also be sensitive to extreme heat.
High temperatures can lead to reduced egg production, heatstroke, and dehydration.
It is crucial to prevent heat stress by giving them plenty of fresh water, shade, and adequate ventilation during hot weather.
Sulmtaler chickens can be prone to respiratory infections caused by viruses and bacteria. The common symptoms of respiratory disorders include difficulty breathing, nasal discharge, sneezing, and coughing.
You can prevent respiratory infections by providing a clean living environment, good ventilation, and reducing stress.
These chickens are economical to feed and will much of their diet themselves if allowed to free range.
While commercial feed forms the basis of their diet, you can supplement it with treats and kitchen scraps in moderation.
However, you will want to avoid excessive treats as they can disrupt the balance of their diet.
They will need good-quality commercial poultry feed specifically formulated for laying hens. Your birds will also need a balanced protein intake for healthy growth and to aid in egg production.
A good 16% layer feed will do them perfectly. Avoid feeding them feeds intended for broilers or chicks, as these may have higher protein content unsuitable for mature layers.
Your Sulmtaler chickens will need sufficient calcium in their diet to aid in the formation of strong eggshells.
While layer feeds are formulated with added calcium, you will want to provide a supplemental source of calcium, such as finely ground eggshells or crushed oyster shells, which they can consume free-choice.
For effective feeding, you should create a feeding schedule. Provide fresh feed once or twice a day, and monitor the amount your birds consume.
Adjust the quantity as needed to prevent wastage or overconsumption.
Coop Setup And Roaming
Generally, you should provide at least 4 square feet of indoor coop space per chicken. The coop should be large enough for your birds to move around comfortably.
In addition, to enough coop space, you will want to ensure they have enough nesting boxes. Aim for one nesting box per 3 to 4 hens.
Each nesting should be well-bedded with clean straw or other suitable nesting materials.
The bedding material you use should provide insulation and absorb moisture. Some of the best bedding materials can include pine shavings, wood shavings, and straw.
Keep the bedding dry and clean to maintain a healthy environment. Also, you will want to install sturdy perches inside the coop for the birds to rest and sleep on. Allow at least 8 inches of perch space per chicken.
Your Sulmtaler chickens will enjoy having access to an outdoor run where they can roam during the day.
It should be securely enclosed to protect them from predators and prevent them from wandering off. Providing 10 square feet of outdoor space per chicken is okay.
The Sulmtaler is a unique chicken breed known for its calm temperament and striking appearance. Under good care and proper nutrition, a Sulmtaler hen can lay up to 180 eggs per year.
They usually lay medium-sized, tan eggs. As with other chicken breeds, your Sulmtaler chickens need good care and a well-balanced diet to live a long, more productive life.