Chickens with Beards

The Faverolle

The Faverolle chicken was developed in the town of the same name in the north of France. It was established in the mid 1800s from crossing Dorking, Houdan and Asiatic breeds. It was developed as a dual purpose chicken and lays a good number of medium sized, light brown (sometimes creamy) eggs. As a table bird, it has a large, plump carcass.

Faverolle ChickenCredit:

They are quite a fascinating bird with muffs round the face and ears. The Barthuhner variety of Appenzeller chicken also has a beard and is known as the 'bearded chicken'. The Faverolle has a large beard and feathered feet. There are five toes on each foot, a relic from the Dorking and Houdan influences. The cocks can weigh up to eleven pounds and the hens are a couple of pounds lighter. The breed also has a bantam variety. The breed is slow to mature but this only increases the flavour of the meat if you are planning on having a few for the table.

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The overall appearance is of a rather square shape with a short neck and small wings which are held closely tucked up to the body. The tail is rather upright. Recognised colours are white, salmon and mahogany. There are blue and black varieties which have dark eyes, legs and feet. Splash and cuckoo varieties also exist. Apart from the blue and black colourations, all other varieties have orange eyes and white legs and feet.

Faverolle Chicken Close UpCredit:

The Favorelle is the only chicken to come in a salmon colour and this is the most common colour. The salmon hens are very attractive with snowy white breasts and white-laced, honey-salmon plumage on the back. Not to be outdone, the handsome cocks are striking in their own right. They are big and colourful with an iridescent black where the hens are white. The back and wings are an burnished bronze and the hackles and saddle a pale straw colour. They have a single comb. The loose feathering make them appear larger than is really the case. Both hens and cocks have a profusion of feathers which puffs out at the sides of the eyes and continues down the face to become a beard.

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The hens are sometimes bullied by other breeds if kept in a mixed flock. Pens should be large enough for the birds to get away from tormentors.

They are shy, submissive and docile and have excellent temperaments. The cocks are not aggressive either but are calm and stately birds. As well as being good winter layer, they are hardy birds and cope well with being confined. They also go broody from time to time.

In 1886, the Favorelle was imported into England and used for crossing with other breeds with the aim of producing big, fleshy birds for the table. It is a popular exhibition bird, although it seems to becoming rarer. This is a very attractive and calm bird for backyard gardeners. Excess birds make great eating, you will get plenty of eggs and, by keeping a flock of Faverolles, you will be helping keep an unusual and beautiful breed alive.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust lists the English Faverolle as 'at risk'.