Breed Profile: Breda Chicken – Backyard Poultry

reading time: 5 Session minutes

education: This same breed is known by many names: Breda’s Chicken, Breda’s Chicken, Craicops, Guilders, Guilderlands, Guilderlanders, Breda Guilder, Grueldres, Grueldrelands. and Dutch Crowhead It means crow’s head, because of the shape of the head and beak. This should not be confused with Kraienkoppea separate Dutch/German show bird.

Origin: Although the Breda chicken (commonly known as Crowhead) has been recognized in the Netherlands for centuries, its roots are unknown, and there is much debate among poultry experts. Most agree that it was developed in the Netherlands, although some believe it is of Belgian or French origin. It is a compound breed, most likely of Crested origin. Its feathered legs indicate a connection to the Malines breed.

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Location of Breda and Gelderland Adapted from Wikimedia maps by Alphathon CC BY-SA 3.0 and David Liuzzo CC BY-SA 4 International

The Breda chicken has early origins

Dutch Poultry Association (Dutch Chicken ClubSourced from the city of Breda and the province of Gelderland (also known as Guilders). Large bird crowned with flat comb and feathered feet in Jan Steen’s 1660 painting Poultry yard (Hoenderhof) and reminds us of Breda’s chicken. However, the breed was not described until the mid-19th century.

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Jan Steen’s 1660 painting De Hoenderhof (The Poultry Yard)
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A section of Jan Steen’s 1660 painting shows a chicken resembling Breda

Date: The Breda chicken was a popular breed in the Dutch provinces of Gelderland and Brabant. However, the popularity of the new hybrid cars caused their decline in the late nineteenth century. However, the breed has been used by crossing with Cochins to craft market hybrids. In France, it was crossed with Crèvecoeurs, Houdans and five-toed birds. In the early 20th century, it began to recover as a show and production bird. Chickens were considered prolific layers. The breed’s distinctive head shape was chosen as the emblem of the Dutch Poultry Association in 1900. It was still a popular breed in the Netherlands at this time. The Breda bantam chicken was first shown in 1935. However, as commercial hybrids gained popularity, the Breda chicken’s status dwindled to a rare breed. The BKU Club was established in 1985 to protect the breed and maintain its standard as a heritage breed of chicken.

The breed was known as the Guelderlands or Guelders in the United States and has been around since the early 18th century. It was popular before the Civil War. In 1867, it was still described as a popular breed in the Earth wisdom by Solon Robinson. He praised her fatness, but did not consider her a good coat or broodmare. He and other early writers mention only black colouring. Shortly thereafter, the breed was largely replaced by Asian imports and an explosion of new secondary strains produced in the United States. Gelderlands went into a sharp decline into effective extinction.

The Breda chicken is a unique dual-purpose heritage breed from the Netherlands, with stunning looks and great temperament. Recently, a rare breed has become endangered.

Some early 20th-century imports of mainly cuckoos, with some blue and some white, attempted to regain a foothold in the American market. These were the first birds known as Breda chickens in America. They never gained popularity and their numbers dwindled. Around 2010, there were new imports of several colours, which are slowly gaining ground among breeders of the rare breed. Their unusual appearance may be an obstacle to mainstream acceptance, though those who keep them are infatuated and excited about them. It is not recognized by the American Poultry Association, mainly due to confusion with the same name Kraienkoppe. It is listed as “inactive” by the American Bantam Association.

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Dr. Waltz’s Black Husband, Waltz’s Ark Farm

Breda chicken is unusual and rare

conservation status: Breda chicken is one of the rare and endangered breeds. Although not a breed, it is a very early compound breed, blending traditional lines of European origin. Its unusual traits could represent unique genetic resources.

Describe: Full-sized Breda chickens are medium in size and large in body, with a prominent chest and broad back, and maintain a characteristic upright posture, with strong thighs, long legs close together with feathers, and vultures. The short, well-arched neck bears the distinctive “crow-shaped” head, and is characterized by a strongly arched bill bearing large nostrils, and a short tufted crest behind the combless forehead.

Varieties: Black is most common in the Netherlands and early exports. Other colors are white, blue, cuckoo, and dalmatians.

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comb: A flat patch of red skin uniquely devoid of the metatarsal where the metatarsal is.

common useA dual-purpose chicken breed – eggs and meat.

egg color: white.

egg size: 2 oz / 55 g.

productivity: About 180 eggs per year.

Weight: hen 5 pounds (2.25 kg) or more; Rooster 6 lb (3 kg) or more. Bantam chicken 29 oz. (800 g); Rooster 36 oz. (1 kg).

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Mottled trio showing progression to white with age. Photo by Dr. Waltz, Waltz’s Ark Farm

Breda chickens are friendly and hardy

print: These birds make for a calm, docile, child-friendly chicken breed, remaining alert and curious about people and their surroundings. When keeping different breeds of chickens together, they do best as gentle companions.

Adaptability: It is a hardy and cool chicken breed, well adapted to temperate climates. As an excellent feed, it is ideal if you want to raise free-range chickens.

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The Cuckoo’s Husband by Dr. Waltz, Waltz’s Ark Farm

quotes: “Breda is my favorite type of chicken. With their prehistoric exotic appearance and gentle, intelligent disposition, they are an ideal bird for a small pet or flock.” Verna Schekdans, Dan’s Chicken Farm, Waverly, Kansas.

“Breda is quickly becoming a favorite here at the farm – she has to be the most charismatic breed we have ever worked with.” Dr. Waltz, Waltz’s Ark Ranch, Delta, Colorado.

Sources: Russell, C. 2001. Breda Fowl. SPPA Bulletin6(2): 9. via Feathersite

Dan’s Chicken Farm

Dutch Chicken Club

Waltz’s Ark Ranch

Rolf de Ruyter, Breeding Birds in Europe

Feature image: Blue and Mottles by Verna Schekedanz, Danz Chicken Farm

Originally published in the June/July 2019 issue of Backyard Poultry and has been regularly checked for accuracy.

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Blue Hen from Verna Chicadans, Dan’s Chicken Farm

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