They may not look like the chickens you're used to seeing, but these birds have a long and storied history. Here are five interesting things you may not know about Naked Neck chickens:
The Naked Necks as a breed are known to have been around for several thousand years, but opinions differ on its true origin. According to the American Poultry Association, the breed began in Eastern Hungary. Others cite Transylvania, South Eastern Europe, and Japan as possibilities (the breed has appeared in artwork painted on Japanese paper fans). (source)
Needless to say, Naked Neck chickens attract a lot of attention for their unique appearance. Some people have even speculated that they are a cross between a turkey and a chicken, referring to them as “Turkens,” “Chirkens,” and “Churkeys.” This is not true, of course – they are 100% pure chicken. In fact, turkeys and chickens are different species, so even if they did mate, the resulting birds would likely be sterile.
The Naked Neck chicken became popular for its good foraging abilities, year-round egg production, and superior meat quality. It also helped that Naked Neck chickens were very hardy and disease resistant. And they had one other advantage as far as chefs were concerned – having naked necks, these chickens have fewer feathers to pluck than other breeds, so they’re much easier to prepare for cooking.
The gene that causes the neck to be naked was discovered by Poultry Geneticist F.B. Hutt around 1949. This dominant gene was designated “Na.” In addition to the bare neck, the Na gene improves the chicken’s temperature regulation and tolerance to heat (source), which is important in free range chickens that spend time outside, as ours do.
The American Poultry Association recognized Naked Necks in 1965 in four color varieties: Red, White, Buff, and Black. In Europe, there are six color varieties recognized: Red, White, Buff, Black, White, Cuckoo, and Blue.
Joyce Farms is proud to offer you our Poulet Rouge™ chicken - a true Naked Neck chicken from the French Label Rouge program, raised using Label Rouge raising standards (and also certified GAP Step 4 here in the United States). To produce birds of this quality and flavor, it all starts with the right genetics. Order some of our Poulet Rouge™ chicken and see for yourself!