The Barbezieux chicken is known for its exceptional size and is considered the largest original French chicken breed. Being the tallest chicken in Europe, Barbezieux is often referred to as a mix of turkey and chicken. Due to its superior quality, it is highly prized even to its place of origin, which is France.
Due to its superior meat quality, the Barbezieux chicken is considered to be the tastiest chicken meat in the world, it has an exceptional taste when roasted. Not only does this chicken provide good meat, but it also provides ample numbers of eggs.
|Egg Color||Likely white or tinted|
|Comb Type||Large raspberry-colored comb|
|Egg Production||160-200 per year|
|Chicken Skin Color||Black, Green|
|Life Span||5-9 years|
|Adult Weight (Hen)||Approximately 7.7 lbs|
|Adult Weight (Rooster)||Approximately 9.9 lbs|
|Backyard Friendly||Estimated 3/5|
History of Barbezieux Chicken
Barbezieux chicken is probably related to the Marans. Barbezieux chicken originated in the Charente area of western France. This breed of chicken is bred all over Charente and in the bordering cantons of Dordogne and Charente-Maritime.
This chicken has been known since the Middle Ages. Barbezieux chicken, one of the 500 most ancient French poultry, was almost extinct in the 18th century. However, this chicken was restored and reached its peak from the 19th until the early 20th century.
It was recognized as a French standard breed in 1907. After World War 1, there was a decline in Barbezieux production because of intense competition in the meat market. In 1997, the breed of Barbezieux chicken nearly went extinct, but a group of poultry enthusiasts worked together to restore the breed in the same year. Currently, there are social groups that work together to preserve the comeback of this breed.
The current breed of Barbezieux chicken is said to have emerged from a single tribe after it went extinct. It is suspected that the specimen of the current breed though the appearance is similar, the genetic makeup is not the same as the original species.
Barbezieux chicken has a highly distinctive taste wherein famous restaurateurs and organizations well recognized over the years. ean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the author of the 1826 book entitled “Physiology of Taste,” described the taste of Barbezieux chicken as one “filled with excitement.”
The restaurateur was in awe and was pleased with the smell and the taste of the chicken. In 2001, the most respected guide to dining, Gault et Millau, recognized Barbezieux chicken as one of the best-tasting chickens in all of France.
Barbezieux Chicken Breed Standard and Appearance
Barbezieux chicken has a very prominent and impressive structure. Its appearance gives it a solid and sophisticated look. Barbezieux chicken has a distinctive black color, and when heated by the sunlight, it reflects a hue of green highlights. It has a large raspberry-colored comb with white earlobes and slate-blue legs.
The rooster’s comb is inclined to the right and back, giving it a proud look—the shape of the rooster’s comb is leaf-like with clear denticles. The comb is big enough that sometimes it stands prominently and sometimes falls on the other side.
The head of Barbezieux chicken is large, with an elongated neck and prominent shoulders. Its tummy is convex with solid and well-developed thighs. It has beautiful large eyes with a unique hue of brown and red. Hens have a slender head with a soft comb that lies to one side. Though the feathers are black, it doesn’t have green shimmers just like the rooster.
To be specific, the height of the Barbezieux rooster is about 70 centimeters, while the Barbezieux hen is 65 centimeters tall. Barbezieux roosters weigh more than 4.5 kilograms, while the Barbezieux hen weighs more than 3.5 kilograms. They have a large body structure covered with glossy black feathers.
Personality and Temperament
Barbezieux chicken is very friendly and can quickly get along with other chickens. There is no doubt that you can keep them with different breeds of chicken. Barbezieux chicken is considered to be the calm and submissive type. These chickens are not aggressive yet active and very curious.
These chickens love to get along with other breeds and enjoy their time foraging. They love to look for cracks in the soil to find natural foods. If you are a breeder, it is essential that you can provide ample and accessible space for these chickens. A large and spacious brooder makes them happy and comfortable.
Egg Laying of Barbezieux Chickens
Barbezieux chicken is a good egg producer; most poultry owners keep it for egg production aside from its outstanding meat production. Barbezieux chicken can lay a good amount of eggs for about 160- 200 eggs per year.
There is a huge difference in the egg size of Barbezieux chicken compared to other chicken eggs. The eggs of Barbezieux chicken are large enough that they weigh 75 grams each.
Barbezieux chickens start to lay eggs when they reach 5 to 6 months old. Though they are mature enough to start laying eggs, they produce the highest amount when they reach one year or after. The egg productivity will continue until they reach their second year.
The egg production will eventually decrease over time. If you are raising a Barbezieux chicken with a specific purpose for egg production, it is best that you replace the old chicken with younger ones.
Health Issues and Care
There are no known problems or issues that Barbezieux chickens can encounter. They are solid and adaptive to the changes in weather, even in cold seasons.
The only thing that you need to worry about is frostbite. Barbezieux chickens have large combs, wattles, and earlobes, making them prone to frostbites in severely cold seasons.
Frostbites are painful to Barbezieux chickens. To keep them safe and warm, you need to look for alternatives or solutions. To prevent these chickens from having frostbite, you can provide a warm coop with heaters and a covered outdoor run.
In case your Barbezieux chickens experience frostbites, you should warm the affected area slowly. Since the chicken’s combs usually have frostbite, it is recommended not to use direct heat. Do not use a hairdryer or lamp, and do not massage the affected area.
If the tip of the comb gets black, do not attempt to remove it. The black part serves as a protector for the remaining comb. The infected area might be swelling or may have blisters; however, you need to leave them alone since they have their natural healing for the tissues beneath.
If the chicken’s feet have frostbites, it is best to soak them in warm water. Soaking in warm water will help the chicken to regulate its body temperature bringing it back to normal. Frostbites may take time to heal for about six weeks. Low temperature is the enemy of Barbezieux chickens because it gives them frostbites and lowers their fertility and egg production rate.
4 Tips for Raising Barbezieux Chicken
It is essential to consider the four factors, including the coop, heat, lighting, and food, to raise Barbezieux chickens. Considering the factors in raising them gives assurance to healthy livestock.
The safety of Barbezieux chickens is essential. Though they love to walk around gathering food in a free-range area, they still need to be kept at night. They need to be cooped at night time to protect themselves from predators.
In the coop, there should be a roosting perch. The roosting perch is where chickens are sleeping up close to each other at night. They stay there up close to other chickens, especially during winter nights. Roosting perch should be installed in high positions and must be made from natural materials such as wood.
The chicken coop must be spacious enough, providing at least one meter of space for every three chickens. To keep them comfortable and to keep their place dry, it is best to provide good ventilation.
Barbezieux chickens are prone to frostbites. You must install heaters during cold seasons or cold nights. Make sure to provide enough heat, not lower or higher than the needs of the chicken. Enough heat is essential for their proper growth.
Lights are essential in laying eggs. It is necessary to set this up if you want to have good hatching results.
For them to have good access to food, allow them to forage in a free-range area. Barbezieux chickens like to seek food in the cracks of the soil or anywhere within their living environment.
Barbezieux chickens are known for their exceptional high-quality meat taste, they are solid and adaptive to weather changes, but they are prone to frostbites. It is essential to prepare their coops and the necessary equipment to keep them safe during cold seasons.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.