Today, we’re talking about one of the most celebrated breeds – the La Fleche chicken.
The La Fleche chicken is one of the most prominent birds out there, and it is almost impossible to miss them. These French fowls sport a distinctive v-comb, which is identical to a pair of horns! Because of this feature, they have been, sometimes, referred to as the Devil Bird.
These birds were once kings and queens in the poultry world, being one of the crowd favorites. However, many of their adoring fans, later on, abandoned them. They came close to extinction, but they are now making their return.
6 - 9 lbs
Cost per Chick
There is so much more to learn about these elegant birds, so grab your favorite lap chicken and let us take you through the ABCs of the La Fleche chicken.
Background and History of La Fleche Chicken
The name ‘La Fleche’ translates to ‘the arrow’. While some might assume this refers to the birds’ unique v-combs, these chickens are actually named after their place of origin, much like many other breeds.
The La Fleche chicken originated from the beautiful town of La Fleche, found in Sarthe, Pays de la Loire. However, the date of its discovery is somewhat unclear. They could have been found around the 15th century, as the belief is they were first produced during this time.
It is no secret that these birds are crowned with a quirky comb. However, it is not the only thing that has brought them fame. The La Fleches gained their popularity as they were one – if not the best – French table birds back then. They were meaty and juicy, and even their organs were considered to be edible by their patrons.
These fowls basked in their fame for some time. However, they lost their spot as soon as fast-developing birds emerged. Like many of the other French breeds, the arrival of the second world war proved to be detrimental for La Fleche. After the war, their numbers slowly continued to decrease until they reached the brink of extinction.
However, the devil bird is not going down that easy! With the help of several movements, the La Fleche chicken has slowly been making its comeback and reclaiming its fame. With their delectable meat, they have been getting the attention of some breeders and food enthusiasts who don’t mind waiting for a hard-earned meal.
The La Fleche is still not out of the water and is currently listed as critical by The Livestock Conservancy. If you want to keep tabs on the conservation status of this breed, you can visit The Livestock Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List for updates.
La Fleche Breed Standard and Appearance
The La Fleche is recognized by the American Poultry Association and the Poultry Club of Great Britain. There is only one accepted variety of the La Fleche. However, there are a few unofficial varieties such as the White and Cuckoo La Fleche:
This fowl sports black plumage, which not only accentuates many of its distinctive features but also hides its size. Since they have such compact feathers, they appear lighter than they actually are. It may be hard to believe, but they could weigh up to nine pounds! The La Fleche is undoubtedly not lightweight.
Additionally, they also have white earlobes that are almost always prominent. While there are other fowls who also have white ear lobes, some are not as striking as the La Fleche’s.
Of course, we cannot forget to mention their v-combs. It is probably the first thing people would notice. It is not always as large or as big, but whatever the size, it catches the attention of many since you don’t get to see a comb like that every day!
The La Fleche chickens are undoubtedly one of the beauties of the poultry world.
Personality and Temperament
The La Fleche has also been called the Devil Bird. However, are they truly diabolical creatures?
The simple answer would be no. However, you should hear us out first before you think of coddling the little critters.
If you’re looking for a friendly bird, then I hope you’re not looking at the La Fleches. We hate to be the bearer of bad news. However, these guys would much rather not sit and cuddle with you. They are cautious when it comes to humans.
They are not known to be aggressive, but they’re not your most affable birds either.
The La Fleche chickens are wild birds that love to forage; their active nature and love for foraging is a good combination! If you’re looking for foragers, then they are your birds. Being active fowls, they are good choices for activities such as free-ranging. Out there, they have a better chance against hawks and such unlike their less lively counterparts.
Despite their wild personality, these birds tolerate confinement surprisingly well. Keep in mind though, while they will let you house them, they are not particularly affectionate and may not exhibit the companion-like traits seen in some other breeds.
La Fleche Chicken Egg Laying
The La Fleche hens can provide around 180 white eggs each year. While this might be an average number compared to other breeds, they compensate with the large size of their eggs.
Furthermore, they are not known to be a broody breed, so you will not have any problem breaking the cycle of a broody hen. Additionally, collecting the eggs would also be easy when it’s time to gather them.
On the other hand, this would pose a problem if you want to raise your own La Fleche chicks. In that case, you might need a surrogate hen or an incubator and brooder. We previously compiled a list of DIY brooders, so you might watch to check that out.
Health Issues and Care
The La Fleche chicken is a healthy and robust breed. They are not known to be susceptible to any ailments or illnesses, so all you have to watch out for is the usual health concerns all chickens face.
Furthermore, the La Fleche chickens are also known to tolerate heat well. However, don’t forget to give them the necessities when the warm season rolls in. Make sure they have lots of water to keep them hydrated and some shade to get out of the sun when needed.
On the other hand, they do not tolerate cold as well. Extra precautions should be taken when the chilly seasons roll in. It might be a good idea to put some balm on their beautiful combs and wattles to help prevent frostbite.
3 Tips for Raising La Fleche Chickens
- Feed: Keep in mind that the La Fleche is a slow-developing bird. If you want to care for them from start to finish, then you should adjust their diets. On average, a chick should be fed starter feed until the sixth week. However, you might want to keep your La Fleche chicks on the starter feed for more than six weeks.
- Fences: La Fleche chickens are flighty birds, and they are excellent fliers at that. They could even roost in trees! If you want to keep them in, then you might want to invest in some tall fences. On the other hand, if there are no predators around your land, then you might want to let them do their thing.
- Space: The La Fleches are big fowls, and they are also active. For that reason, they would need a large expanse of land where they could roam and run to their hearts’ content. Since they’re not the most social birds, providing them space would also give them their desired solitude when needed.
The La Fleche is an elegant breed that can almost always be recognized anywhere because of its distinctive v-comb. However, that is not the only interesting thing about these birds.
On one hand, they also have a long history that has not always been on calm waters. They went to be a crowd favorite from being unknown birds. However, after some time, they lost this fame. In addition to losing their popularity, their numbers have slowly decreased throughout the years to the point that they have almost gone extinct. Today, they are still listed as endangered, but there have been some measures taken to help in the survival of these lovely birds.
On the other, these birds are not the friendliest chickens you will see, but they most probably will not be your problem birds as well. Being a little extra patient with these birds will prove to be rewarding in the long run as they will provide you with great meat. Furthermore, they will also gift you some eggs while you wait.
Overall, we believe that raising La Fleche chickens would prove to be a rewarding experience. So, if ever you get the chance, we would like to encourage you to take it. However, please make sure you give them the tender loving care they deserve!
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.