The Bresse chicken breed was originated in France. It is said to be the chicken of the Bresse territory and region, which is a former French region.
France has coined the Bresse chicken the most delicious and best-tasting chicken to ever exist. This breed of chicken is extraordinary in many ways. In fact, in France a cooked roasted Bresse chicken can cause hundreds of dollars.
Bresse Background and History
The Bresse chicken originated in Eastern France around 500 years ago in a province called Bresse. This province has since been renamed, but it was near the French Alps and the Rhone River. The area was a large stretch of beautiful woodlands and fields. Writers report the land stretched approximately sixty miles.
Amazingly, the Bresse chicken was formed by a cross breed of local French fowl. The cross breeding did not have a specific goal in mind, they were simply mixing the local fowl they had available.
The Bresse chicken was developed from this cross breeding. Some say the Bresse chicken was created out of luck. Over time, the fowl that was used to create the Bresse chicken is now forgotten and we do not know much about them.
In France, the Bresse chicken is known as Poulet de Bresse. It did not take long for the locals of this region to notice that the Bresse chicken had a distinct taste. It began to earn the reputation of having an exquisite yet unique flavor. This discovery led to more breeding of the Bresse chicken across Eastern France.
Why is the Bresse chicken unique?
We don’t know the names of the local fowl that were used to create the Bresse chicken, but it has been known that they have unique characteristics.
The Bresse breed of chickens comes from a genetically recognizably different chicken breed that is able to metabolize feed in a distinct way. This metabolism factor is said to contribute to the body form and production of the Bresse chicken.
The local fowl had a light muscular frame across their breast which may be credited for the flavorful taste of the Bresse chicken. Bresse is known for having thin sleek skin and small light bones throughout their body. All of these distinct features are said to come from their heritage of the local fowl in Eastern France.
The original creation of the Bresse chicken was so astounding to the French, they wanted to maintain the integrity and uniqueness of the bird.
The French continued specific breed selection throughout the years to produce the amazing Bresse chicken that is seen today. Unlike other breeds, this breed cannot be crossed with unrelated breeds and maintain the original taste.
Bresse chickens are fairly new to the United States. They were first imported from France to the United States in 2011. Due to certain restrictions, all Bresse chickens that are imported to the United States has to be referred to as the American Bresse.
Breed Standard of Bresse Chickens
The Bresse chicken breed has four varieties. There are white, blue, black, and gray varieties. The most popular and well-known is the white variety. The white variety is said to be the best known because it is representative of the red, white, and blue national flag of France. The Bresse chicken has the following traits:
- Large bright red comb
- Noticeable bright white feathers
- Their legs have a steel blue tint
All four breeds of the Bresse chicken have a bright red comb and blue steel leg color. The feather color differs by variety. The Bresse chicken is listed under the type of pullet, chicken or capon. The class status for the Bresse chicken is large.
The white Bresse chicken typically weighs about six pounds or more. The other varieties of the Bresse chicken are typically smaller, weighing in around 5 pounds. The white Bresse is by far the most wanted and popular.
The Bresse chicken is known to have unusually light bones and very thin skin. This is why the meat of Bresse chickens is considered one of a kind and the tastiest chickens in the world. The Bresse chicken produces succulent meat with an intense flavor.
Personality and Temperament
Like other breeds similar to the Bresse breed, the Bresse chicken can have a nervous personality meaning they do not do well in closed in areas. The Bresse chickens breed is extremely social. They are usually seen in large flocks and they like to forage together. Other characteristics of their personality include:
- The Bresse bird does not like to be handled often. Less human interaction is preferred by this breed.
- They have an even temperament, there is no sign of aggression in this breed
- It has been noted that the breed is the happiest when it is with other chickens in large open pastures.
- The personalities of the Bresse chicken may be altered if kept in a confined space for more than the recommended amount of time.
Bresse Chicken Egg Laying
The Bresse chicken is a good egg laying breed. They can usually start laying eggs a month before other egg laying chickens. One of the characteristics that set them apart from other breeds is that they mature early. If the Bresse hen is healthy and well-nourished she can lay about 250 eggs per year. The eggs produced are a cream colored.
It should be noted that the Bresse chicken is more well known for its meat than the eggs they produce. The meat of the Bresse chicken has been sought after for centuries.
The flavor of Bresse chicken is said to be far removed from the typical commercial chicken taste. The original French Bresse comes at a hefty price. Some consider it the chicken of royalty because it is more expensive than other breeds.
An official French Bresse chicken is around $50 or higher per chicken. You can only find a genuine and original Bresse chicken in the France region. The Bresse chicken is now available in other parts of the world, but they do not hold the same quality as the genuine Bresse.
An interesting fact is that in order for a Bresse to be certified as a Bresse chicken it has to be raised in the Bresse region and eat locally. This is why the imported breeds cannot just use the name “Bresse Chicken.”
Health Issues and Care
The original Bresse chicken breed does not have any specific health issues that are connected only to its breed. As the breed is now being imported, it is susceptible to the following health issues:
- Botulism– a disease that can infect chickens by paralyzing their limbs and neck. All breeds of chicken that are domesticated are in danger of getting this disease. Botulism causes quick death in chickens. There are anti-toxins available to treat botulism.
- Infectious Bronchitis– this disease is common among chickens and can be deadly wiping out entire flocks. Coughing, sneezing, and snoring are all symptoms of infectious bronchitis. This disease affects the upper respiratory tract of chickens. When chickens start to experience symptoms of this disease, it is best to separate them and place them in a warm dry area.
- Infectious Coryza– this is a serious bacterial disease. Infectious Coryza can affect the respiratory system of chickens. The disease will show up as inflammation under the eye. Other symptoms include sneezing and nasal discharge. There is no vaccine to stop this disease. If a chicken contracts this disease, they should be put down so that it does not spread to the rest of the flock.
Above are common diseases that can be found in all chicken breeds. Now that the Bresse chicken is being imported to other parts of the world, precaution should be taken to ensure the health of the breed. New locations and new regions bring new diseases and conditions. The care for a Bresse chicken should be kept at a high standard.
7 Tips for Raising Bresse Chickens
- As chicks, keep Bresse chickens on a daily diet
- Bresse likes to have open space and pasture to roam. Allow Bresse chicken to roam freely
- As a Breese chicken grows, limit the amount of corn feed
- After the chick phase, you should force the Bresse chicken to forage for themselves to find protein sources. This is said to help with the overall taste of the chicken.
- Once Bresse chickens are moved to pasture, let them forage and then return them to live their last days on a corn and dairy diet.
- Around the 3-4-month confine Bresse chicken in a small confined area to complete development.
- When providing feed to Bresse chickens, ensure that the feed is of high quality. If not, you will endanger the quality of the meat.
The Bresse chicken is a world-renowned breed of chicken. From its early days in the Bresse region in Eastern France, the Bresse chicken has always held a high-quality reputation. In its 500 years of existence, this breed has been marked as the best tasting chicken ever.
The quality has been upheld by the expense and detail taken to raise a Bresse chicken. Variations of this breed are newly being imported and becoming more readily available in other countries.
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.
5 thoughts on “Bresse Chicken: Eggs, Height, Size and Raising Tips”
I am interested in starting breeding/tasing Bresse chicken m Botswana, where can I buy the stock?
As chicks, keep Bresse chickens on a daily diet…
Do you mean dairy? if so, what kind of milk? Cow, Goat? Whole, skim, low fat?
Was there ever a response to this question?
from day 35 they are on dairy and and cereals intentional for a low protein diet to encurage foraging for natural protein in insects which is important for the flavor. 2 weeks before slaugter they are confined from the pasture and fattened with corn and milk. so to answer your question any milk that is high in fat.
I am flattered that you used some of the pictures of my flock in your document. Devil’s Gulch Ranch is producing Bresse for meat sales for restaurants and farmers markets. We are also trying to produce good quality, healthy birds for breeding. If you are interested in eggs or chicks in California, send us an email at [email protected].