"Lysander," a two-year-old Sulmtaler bantam cock
Photo courtesy of Sue Bruton

Text by

Sue Bruton

The Sulmtaler bantams are a recent introduction to the British Isles. They made their show debut in 1991. This aroused some interest and by 1996 there were half a dozen breeders. At that time it was believed that the large Sulmtaler was represented by one hen! During the 1980's there was one person who had large Sulmtalers for a short while, but these were neither exhibited or passed on. Of Austrian origin, the Sulmtaler was created in the late nineteenth century in the valleys of Stiermarken, a traditional poultry rearing area. Throughout Europe at that time, there was an increasing population who required an increasing supply of meat. This prompted the development of many good quality utility birds, several of which are still about today. Thus the Sulmtaler came into being. Its fortunes fluctuated, it was bred extensively after the 1914/1918 war and spread into Germany and Holland. In the early 1960s the Germans produced a Sulmtaler bantam, which has now overtaken the large in popularity on the Continent. Accepted into the Dutch standard in 1986. The Sulmtaler bantams are an exact replica of their large counterparts.

As befits a table bird it is classed as a heavy breed with a deep full breast and solid body carried on strong thighs and shortish legs. Although Houdans, Dorkings and Cochins were reputed to have been used in their development the Sulmtaler has four toes, so the rather dominant five toe gene was bred out. The bantam is a miniature replica of the large. Their lack of quantity of meat is made up for by the seemingly, endless number of eggs, they lay. This pert, lively but very docile breed comes in one colour only - the male black breasted, neck and saddle a glowing golden red and the pretty wheaten female has a cream breast and body, lighter golden brown neck hackle than the male. Their most striking feature are their crests - a tuft of brown red feathers behind the males straight, upright and single comb. The females' "S" shaped comb is surmounted by a medium full half round, light wheaten crest. In Germany and Holland the large Sulmtaler is considered to be a rare breed. At recent shows in Germany the ratio has been one large to every four or five bantams. So, as often happens, lack of space and the high cost of feed stuff has curtailed the numbers of large fowl.

Allowing for the natural sexual differences the hen has a small finely serrated comb often called a 'Wickel' or 'S' shaped, a comb of which the front part falls to one side and back to the other side (irregular). The crest at the back of the comb should be half rounded and not block the vision. The wattles are smaller than those of the male, body appears heavier with a square deep and full breast.

The Sulmtaler bantams we have in Britain came from four distinct strains, three Dutch and one German, there being noticeably different characteristics in each. The use of all four strains has resulted in hardy birds with high resulted fertility and hatching rates.


The origin of the Sulmtaler lies south and south-west of Graz, capital of the Austrian county Stiermarken - especially in the valleys of Kainach, Lassnitz, Sulm and Saggau (tal = valley). The fat fowl of Stiermarken were famous for their quality. They were mainly fed maize that grew there in abundance. From 1865 to 1875 that heavy country fowl was crossed with Cochin, Houdan and Dorkings. With mixtures that were crossed back again with local fowls from Stiermarken, Mr Armin Arbeiter of Feldhof near Gras developed the Sulmtaler at the end of the nineteenth century.

Breed clubs:

Sulmtaler Chickens USA Breeders Club

Sulmtaler Links:

Walter Hagemann's Sulmtalers

Just Struttin Farm has Sulmtalers

Sulmtalers from Devine Unity Holistic Center

A Sulmthaler hen
Photo courtesy of Rupert Stephenson

A Sulmtaler flock
Photo courtesy of Walter Hagmann

A pair of Sulmtalers
Photo courtesy of Greenfire Farms

Another rooster's head
Photo courtesy of Franz Ries and Walter Hagmann

A full body shot of"Lysander"
Photo courtesy of Sue Bruton

Sue Bruton's 6-year-old Sulmtaler bantam hen "Tinkerbell"
Photo courtesy of Sue Bruton

Blue and Silver Wheaten Sulmtaler cockerels
Photo courtesy of Walter Hagmann

A pair of Sulmtaler bantams
Photos courtesy of Lukas Ruetz

Sulmtaler cockerels at 3 and 8 weeks
Photo courtesy of Walter Hagmann

Four-week-old Sulmtaler chicks
Photo courtesy of Walter Hagmann

A Sulmtaler hen with two-week-old chicks
Photo courtesy of Walter Hagmann

Sulmtaler chicks
Photo courtesy of Walter Hagmann

A three-week-old Sulmtaler pullet
Photo courtesy of Walter Hagmann

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