The Crevecoeur chicken is a rare but beautiful black chicken breed with a head full of feathers. The breed name is tied to a bit of folklore, which is no surprise since it’s an incredibly old breed. This is one of the largest chicken breeds. They are great for food (being a dual purpose chicken that provides both eggs and meat) or to take to shows, making them a decent all around breed of chicken.
Crevecoeur chickens can lay around 120 eggs a year and the Hens themselves weigh in at 6.5 pounds make them a large bird, that’s good for meat production. If you aren’t looking for food, then the breed can easily be entered into shows, and is expected by the APA. They do have very striking features that allow you to easily tell them apart from other breeds, but you will still need to make sure that the chicks you are buying are up to standard.
The breed tends to live between five to eight years with proper care. Due to the size, and nature of this breed, you will need to invest more time and money into creating a proper coop. Be prepared to build a larger building, especially if you plan on keeping a flock of Crevecoeur chickens.
If you are still interested in the Crevecoeur after learning the facts above, then keep on reading the guide below to get a complete grasp on what it takes to care for this unique looking breed.
|Size||8 Pounds (Rooster)|
6.5 Pounds (Hen)
|Chicken Life Span||5 to 8 Years|
History and Origin
Crevecoeur chickens actually have a pretty long and interesting history as they are a pretty old breed. For starters, this breed was known to be around in the twelfth century, but the point and time they were created is shrouded in mystery. At that time in history, they were an important part of renting farmland for many farmers as they were used to pay the rental fees.
A pair of Crevecoeur chickens are said to have been the yearly cost for leasing a farm from a landowner. The name of the chicken itself translates to “broken-hearted” and seems to be derived from the farmers who originally bred them being greeted by infertile soil after moving their homes.
This took place in Normandy, where the breed seems to be originally from. Their popularity didn’t stop there as six centuries later, they were enjoyed by the French as the most popular dinner bird. Sadly, this was mostly among the middle-class making them a hard-to-eat breed for the poor. This led to a high number of birds being bred for meat and by the nineteenth century they had made their way to the United States. The breed was officially recognized by the APA in 1874.
At the start of the First World War, the breed started to see their numbers decrease. The problem didn’t stop there though and things took a bit of a tragic turn for the breed during World War II when German soldiers began eating the Crevecoeur chicken. This is partly due to the fact that they are often a delicacy. The demand overtook the supply of the breed and they became due to the Crevecoeur chicken being such a popular dinner option with the army.
Today they are still considered to be critically endangered, but efforts are being made to breed the Crevecoeur chickens back up to a healthy number. In fact, in 1990 it was reported that only between 100 to 1000 Crevecoeur chickens remained in the world. Due to these circumstances, the breed is incredibly rare and hard to find. Most Crevecoeur chickens that are bred are not used for meat due to the heavy push to increase the numbers of the breed.
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What do they look like?
The Crevecoeur chicken has a very specific appearance that is accepted by the APA. To begin with, the only recognized color is black. The chickens should have a mostly solid black body, similar to that of an Austalorp, with only a bit of white appearing. Roosters may have a bit of green in their tail feathers, chest, and feet, like a Black Copper Marans rooster.
They will have an excess of feathers on their head and roosters also have heavy feathering below their beaks. Their combs brow right above their beak, are bright red, are smaller in size, and have a very distinctive V-shape.
They have small red wattles and red earlobes that are sometimes hidden behind their feathers. Their short legs are grey in color, while their toes are more blueish. You should note that the APA accepted Crèvecœur chicken is a bit different from the French variety. The American version of the breed is a bit smaller than the French, and the French version usually has white earlobes instead of red. The eyes of the Crevecoeur chicken are black and golden.
The breed should weigh in at 8 pounds for the rooster and 6.5 pounds for the hen. This is a larger bird, but their bodies are well-proportioned. In addition to the expected colors of the breed above, there are splash, blue, and white varieties of the bird that have been made in France. These varieties are now starting to be brought to the US, but it seems it will be some time before the APA decides to recognize them.
A Bantam breed version of the Crevecoeur chicken does exist; the Rooster weighs a little under 2 pounds while the hen weighs around 1.5 pounds. The Crevecoeur chicks are a bit easier to recognize than other breeds as they are born mostly or all black they might have some white or yellow feathering mixed in with the black, but this will grow out as they mature. Their uniquely placed comb can also help you recognize this breed when they are young.
The Crevecoeur chicken is a docile breed of chicken that won’t cause you too many problems. They can easily coexist with other docile breeds as long as you know how to introduce new chickens to the flock. Many owners remark that the breed is sweet and happy to be around people. They are quiet, and the taming process is extremely easy. You should still try to handle them as much as possible as chicks.
But even Crevecoeur chickens that aren’t handled much tend to be friendly. In general, they don’t mind handling, and many will be happy to follow you around the yard. Just be sure to still keep an eye on any young children who are around the birds.
On top of being easy to manage, the breed is energetic, making them a joy to watch. The Crevecoeur will happily dart around the coop or your yard, checking out any object that has garnered their attention. Crevecoeur chickens are a cautious breed despite this curious nature and carefully watch their surroundings even when bolting around in your yard.
Please note that there are some differences in temperament between the American and French breeds of Crevecoeur chicken. The French breed tends to be a bit more flighty and can be hard to keep up with. If you are importing a chicken or chick that comes from a French line, keep this in mind.
The Crevecoeur chicken is fine with being in a coop, but you will need to make a lot of room for them. When let outside, they don’t tend to stick together well, so you should consider keeping them in a run to keep any possible predators at bay.
Please note that even though this is a very docile breed, the roosters can become aggressive. You will want to avoid keeping multiple roosters together to avoid any injuries from happening. Other than this slight problem, you will find that the Crevecoeur chicken is an accessible bird even for beginners.
If you are going to keep Crevecoeur chickens in a run, then remember that they are quite good at flying. Many owners even seem to think that they enjoy trying to soar around in the backyard. This, coupled with their energetic nature, guarantees that they will be able to escape low fencing.
What is their purpose?
Many who keep Crevecoeur chickens now solely use them to compete in shows (much like how Phoenix chickens are used) or keep them as pets. Since this breed is critically endangered, it’s rare for them to be used as meat-providing birds. While this isn’t typical, you won’t get in trouble if you decide to breed them to use as food.
They are considered to be one of the better-tasting birds out there. As for laying, you shouldn’t expect the Crevecoeur to provide you with a large amount of eggs each year. At most, you should expect around 120 medium-sized eggs per hen. While this is a standard amount, this breed doesn’t really follow an egg-laying schedule. You also shouldn’t expect them to start laying eggs until they are at least 7 months old.
They really shine as pets. Crevecoeurs are a friendly breed of bird who loves to be around and interact with humans. They are a perfect choice for beginner chicken keeps due to their temperament and hardy nature.
The only downside is that they will require a larger coop than the standard chicken breed. They are also a great pick if you are looking for show birds as they may have entry into major competitions by the APA. The breed is quite rare now, so getting one may be a bit hard.
You will want to ensure that you are getting a hold of an American Crevecoeur chicken as the French breed looks a bit different and won’t meet APA standards. Most breeders will easily be able to tell you which version they have.
While more breeders have started working on the breed, you will likely need to drive a long distance or have the chicks shipped to your door. They aren’t an incredibly expensive breed, but you will pay a bit more for Crevecoeur chicks than you would other chicks from more common breeds.
If you can visit any larger shows though, you may find a Crevecoeur breeder who is willing to sell you chicks. This can be an excellent opportunity to check out the hen and rooster they are breeding. Keep in mind that show lines do typically cost a bit more.
Buying a Crevecoeur chicken will cost you around $8 for a hen and $4.50 for a rooster. This price can fluctuate quite a bit, and many breeders have deals where the more chicks you buy, the cheaper they are.
You will also need to be a bit vigilant when trying to purchase this breed, as they do tend to sell out quite often. This is due to their rare nature and the fact that breeding them can be a bit tricky. If possible, try to contact your preferred breeder and see if there is a way to add yourself to a waiting list for the chicks. This usually does mean that you will need to pay part of the chick's cost in advance.
If you are looking to breed the Crevecoeur chicken yourself, then you may find yourself having to put in quite a bit of work. This is not a really broody chicken breed.
So if you want to hatch chicks, you will need an incubator (try to pick one of the best egg incubators to get a good hatch) to hatch the chicks. You may also find yourself waiting a while for fertile eggs as the breed only lays eggs for part of the year.
Keep in mind that this breed's egg-laying schedule is erratic, making it even hard to predict when they may lay a fertile egg. Your best bet is to keep a rooster in your flock and patiently wait.
Care and Health
Crevecoeur chickens are hardy birds that need a lot of room to roam. You will need to have a yard large enough to handle a big coop. Especially if you are planning to keep a flock of Crevecoeur chickens. The general rule of thumb is to provide 3 square feet of space per bird.
To figure out how much space your coop will take up, you will need to decide on a set number of chicks. If you are planning to breed them, then you may want to find some chicken coop plans and expand your space to allow room for growth.
The breed is happy with staying in the coop year-round, but they will appreciate the chance to run around outside. As mentioned above, this breed tends to wander away from each other, which makes them easy targets for predators nearby.
You will want to build a chicken run for your Crevecoeur chicken to keep them all contained and safe. Be sure the fencing is high enough to keep your Crevecoeur chickens from flying out. And make sure you know all the other steps you need to take to predator proof the chicken run.
They do well in both the cold and the heat, but they will still need areas where they can stay warm and dry. You should never keep a heater in your coop. Instead make sure it has good insulation, it's dry, and draft free for when colder weather rolls around. Dry and draft free are two of the main tips for keeping chickens warm in the winter.
One thing to note when keeping breeds with long feathers is that their feathers can obstruct their vision. You will need to keep a watch on your Crevecoeur chickens to ensure their feathers aren’t getting in their eyes. When you leave feathers covering their eyes, they become more susceptible to running into objects and getting eye infections.
You can trim the feathers around the Crevecoeur chicken eyes to prevent this. This is a painless process for the chicken. Be sure to hold them firmly when using scissors near any part of their body.
In addition to a nice coop, you will need to provide constant access to water for your birds. Provide this by giving them one of the best chicken waterers available.
Crevecoeur chickens will also need to be fed a nutritious meal each day and are poor at foraging. Provide this by giving them a high quality chicken feed and knowing how much to feed a chicken. You don’t need to worry about any special grooming outside of feather trimming.
The exception being unless one of your chickens somehow covers themselves in mud. The breed doesn’t really suffer from any health problems, but you should always be on the lookout for any strange behavior. Check your chickens regularly for parasites like chicken mites, as they are common and will spread through your flock quickly.
Are Crevecoeur chickens cold-hardy?
Yes, Crevecoeur chickens do well in both the cold and the heat. They are an excellent choice of chicken to keep no matter where you currently live.
What color eggs does the Crevecoeur lay?
Crevecoeur chickens lay a medium-sized white egg.
How big do Crevecoeur chickens get?
Crevecoeur roosters grow to be around 8 pounds, while the hens usually reach 6.5 pounds in size. There is also a smaller bantam version available.
How much do Crevecoeur chickens cost?
To buy Crevecoeur chicks, you are typically looking at spending around $8 for hens and $4.50 for roosters. They do sell quickly, though, so you may want to look into getting on a waiting list with your preferred breeder.
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