chantecler chicken breed
Michel Craig / Flickr (Creative Commons)
  • Purpose: Eggs And Meat
  • Eggs: Brown
  • Egg Size: Large
  • Color: White
  • Comb Type: Flat-Lying

It would figure that of all countries, Canada would know what it takes to make a chicken that could laugh at their infamous winters. The incredibly cold-hardy Chantecler chicken was the first breed developed in Canada, with a fascinating history.

Whipped up into existence by a Trappist monk, beloved by those who say, “eh?”, and dangerously close to extinction, this is a breed worth getting acquainted with.

The Chantecler was created in Quebec to be the “ideal chicken” for Canada’s more frigid climate. Mixing several varieties of the hardy bird, Brother Wilfred Chatelain worked to perfect a chicken that could be both a heavy meat-producer and a decent egg-layer. It was hoped to be the go-to bird for those living off the land in the northern provinces.

Characteristics

With a bitty, flat-lying comb, almost non-existent wattles, chunky body, and close-lying feathers bolstered by dense feathering, this is truly one of the most cold-hardy chickens to be found.

If you live in an area where the cold is a serious consideration when building your flock, you should really look no further than this friendly bird! Its docile, easygoing nature should make it a fast favorite on the homestead.

But They Stand Out To Predators!

The original form of the Chantecler is a pure white bird. Brother Wilfred had intended to remove any unnecessary frills to his breed, focusing purely on making the most productive chicken.

So while it’s snowy feathering may perfectly blend into a field of freshly fallen snow, it’s a huge white flag to predators during every other season. Keep this in mind when designing their range, because these birds do love to forage!

Their brush with extinction may make them difficult to locate. Your best bet at getting Chanteclers for yourself is to find a well-established farm with a breeding population.

What’s the Yield?

This is a large, dual-purpose breed, so a healthy rooster can reach up to 9 lbs and a hen will usually reach 5-6 lbs. They are also decent layers of large, brown eggs, with a rate of about 150-200 eggs a year.

Though you could get more eggs from an excellent laying breed like the Australorp, you can expect your Chanteclers hens to faithfully continue laying through the winter.

Small-Scale Farms Save the Day

This exceedingly rare breed was thought to be extinct in the 1970’s, but has been brought back from the brink–albeit, barely so, by small local farms. As such, there are many grass-roots efforts to reinstate this historic breed, particularly by those same small-scale farmers and homesteaders who’ve kept it alive all the while.

It should be noted that the Partridge Chantecler, though it is also a Canadian breed, comes from an entirely different genetic background as the Chantecler breed. The more colorful bird, originally named the Albertan was created by Dr. J. E. Wilkinson of Alberta to be more suitable to free-ranging. Its feathers create a better camouflage than the Chantecler’s characteristic white feathering.

Pictures Of Chantecler Chickens

chantecler chicken
Dennis Jarvis / Flickr (Creative Commons)

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