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Naked Neck Chicken
Naked Neck chickens have been known and documented since 1810, and may in fact be much older. The chief characteristic that identifies this breed is a dominant gene that reduces the number of feather tracts. Visually, the neck of these chickens is bare of feathers, and thus the name. Naked Neck chickens are otherwise similar to many dual-purpose chicken breeds in general shape – being rather long and broad of back, with yellow skin and legs.
The American Poultry Association credits Eastern Hungary as the breed’s place of origin. Many authors cite Transylvania, which is east of modern Hungary, in Romania, or simply South Eastern Europe as the Naked Neck chicken’s homeland. One author also suggested Japan as the breed’s place of origin – images of the breed appearing as artwork on Japanese-made painted-paper fans. What we do know is the breed was widely distributed by the early 1900s, being well-known in Austria, France, the United States, Germany, the West Indies, Barbados, Grenada, and reaching England about 1920.
Naked Neck chickens attracted much attention as poultry oddities. Articles in newspapers even suggested they were some kind of cross between a turkey and a chicken, the authors dubbing them “Turkens,” “Chirkens,” and “Churkeys.” No breed of poultry has had to endure more public ridicule but, Naked Neck chickens offer useful productive attributes. Early fanciers of the breed found Naked Neck chickens to be remarkably hardly, and even resistant to several poultry ailments. The breed is a reasonable layer of large brown eggs and produces an excellent carcass. The fact that this breed of chicken has 20-60% fewer feathers make them much easier to dress as well.
By 1949, the gene that causes the neck to be naked and a general reduction of the feather tracts had been isolated by the poultry genetist F.B. Hutt. This gene was designated “Na” as it is a dominant gene and a single dose will cause the offspring to display the bare neck and reduction in feathers. Many poultry breeders made great use of the dominant nature of the Na gene, and to achieve quick improvements in type or color crossed to other dual-purpose chicken breeds.
The breed’s modern success is perhaps best attributed to the French, who for centuries favored Naked Neck chickens for the free-range production of meat. This tradition of use continues in the Label Rogue production system. Naked Neck chickens also have caught the attention of commercial poultry companies, which use it as a parent stock under names like Redbro Cou Nu, Gris Barre Cou Nu, S 77 N, and S 88.
The bare skin of the Naked Neck chicken is smooth and turns bright red in the sun and is pink to yellow in hue when not exposed. The breed is noted for docile and friendly temperament and is a good layer of large brown eggs.
The American Poultry Association recognized Naked Neck chickens as a breed in 1965 in four varieties: Red, White, Buff, and Black. Other colors have historically been associated with this breed, including: Blue, Splash, and Barred. Males weigh 8.5 lbs and females weigh 6.5 lbs.
Status: See CPL