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The Houdan Chicken is a fancy-looking French breed of chicken with striking coloring. Outside of their black and white spotted coloring, the most prominent feature this breed has is a heavy amount of plumage on their head. If you are looking for a unique breed of chicken that is both friendly and great for shows, then the Houdan chicken may be perfect for you.
The Houdan is a chicken that is kept for meat, shows, eggs, and as pets. The breed lays around 150 eggs a year and are a breed that can be found all around the world. While they still aren’t a common breed of chicken, finding one in the states won’t be too much of a hassle. They are also easy to identify as they are a unique breed of chickens and boast five toes. They have a calm and friendly temperament that will work well with first-time chicken keepers.
Houdan chickens aren’t huge birds, but they can still provide a decent amount of meat. The breed lives for around seven to eight years with proper care. The roosters like to be kept in large flocks and are generally pretty friendly, so keeping a large amount of Houdans is easy. If the Houden Chicken has piqued your interest, then keep reading below to learn more about caring for the breed.
|Size||6.5 Pounds (Rooster)|
4.5 Pounds (Hen)
|Color||Black and White, White, Black, Cuckoo, Pearled Gray|
|Hardiness||Not Cold Hardy|
History & Origin
This is an older breed of chicken that is said to predate writing, with the first written account occurring in 1858. They are prominent in parts of Europe and considered to be of French origin. It made its way to America by 1865 and was recognized officially by the APA in 1874. The breed has since been bred to achieve different colors. In fact, the white Houdan chicken was invented in America in 1867. Since being standardized they have become a regular in chicken shows around the world.
What do they look like?
The Houdan chicken is easy to identify as it has five toes (like Silkies and Salmon Faverolle) and a V-shaped comb. In Europe, the comb may be butterfly-shaped, but this version of the Houdan does not meet the APA standards. They feature small red waddles with pale beaks and legs that have a whitish or pinkish coloring to them. Both the wattles and combs have a high chance of being hidden by feathers in the hens, while roosters should be more visible and larger. The breed has both a beard and a crest, with the majority of their feathers being held close to their body.
They have a large amount of plumage coming out of their head (similar to a Polish chicken) long bodies, and slanted tails. The breed weighs in at around 6.5 pounds for males and 4.5 pounds for hens. They come in Black and White, White, Black, Cuckoo, and a Pearled Gray coloring. Out of these, the black and white speckled coloring is the most common. The black and white coloring is a bit random, leading to several different variations in the patterns on their feathers, making each Houdan just a little bit different than the others.
The Houdan chicks are mostly yellow in color, but they will feature black feathers on their backs. Thanks to the black feathering and fifth toe, they are a bit easier than some breeds to identify when they are young.
Houdan chickens are a friendly breed of bird that can get along well with other chickens and humans. They can do well in both quiet and noisy environments and are easy to interact with. To ensure your Houdan chicken is easy to handle, be sure to interact with them as they grow. The Roosters even enjoy living in large flocks, making it easy to integrate other breeds. They can do well with children, but it’s always recommended to still keep watch just in case things start to go south.
If you don’t have a lot of room on your property for chickens to roam, this is an excellent breed to choose. They can blend in well with other docile breeds and be kept in yards with limited free-roaming space. Houdan Chickens do well when they spend large amounts of time in their coops. If you have room, though, then this breed will be more than happy to be free-range. This breed of chicken is able to fly, so if you plan to keep them in a run, you will need to ensure that they aren’t able to escape easily.
What is their purpose?
Houdan chickens are great all-around, dual purpose birds, like Australorps, Sussex, and Orpingtons. They are able to lay around 150 eggs a year, but they will slow down in the winter. Their eggs are usually medium in size and have a white coloring to them. The breed is also a decent meat provider, but you shouldn’t be expecting them to compare to some of the larger chicken breeds. You may want to consider having a mixed flock if you want to have eggs year-round.
This breed is an excellent choice if you are just looking for a pet. Their friendly temperament means that they do enjoy handling, so you can pet your bird or have them follow you around. The most popular use of the Houdan chicken is as a show bird. This is an old breed, and chicken keepers have had hundreds of years to perfect the Houdan. They are a popular show bird, especially in Europe, and can compete in shows of all sizes.
If you are planning to use the Houdan to compete, then you will want to pay special attention when purchasing chicks. Check in to reputable breeders to see if they are breeding show birds or visit some shows. It’s easy to speak with Houdan owners at shows, and you can likely find some that are actively breeding chicks. This will also give you a chance to inspect the hens and roosters that are being used for breeding chicks.
If you are planning to breed the Houdan chicken, then you may run into a few problems. For starters, this is a broody breed, but they can be a bit clumsy. Houdan hens have a tendency to crack their eggs as they put too much weight on them. To be safe, you should have an incubator on hand, as it’s a surefire way to get chicks.
Care and Health
While the Houdan may be a smaller breed of chicken, you will need to build them a sizable coop. This becomes even more important if you are planning not to let your birds free roam. This isn’t a cold-hardy breed, and they will get frostbite incredibly easily. To ensure this doesn’t happen, you will need to make your coop is well insulated in the colder months. You may also want to limit the amount of time your birds spend outside in colder months or just keep them inside. If you live in a cold area, then these chickens won’t do well unless heavy preparations are made to keep them warm year-round.
If you plan to let them free-roam during the warmer months of the year, then it may be a good idea to build a run. This breed can fly and having a run to keep them contained is an excellent way to keep them out of trouble. Just be sure to provide shade in the summer so that the Houdan isn’t in danger of overheating.
Like most breeds, the Houdan needs access to fresh food and water. Even if your Houdan chickens appear to be foraging well when outside, you should still feed them to ensure their dietary needs are met. The Houdan is also a bit more of a problem in the parasite department as its fluffy plumage makes a great home for mites. Be sure to check your chickens regularly and eliminate any pests as they will quickly make their way through your flock. Otherwise, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about as these birds won’t need you to do their grooming for them.
What are Houdan chickens good for?
The Houdan is a good all-around bird. You can get meat and eggs out of the Houdan, and if you are looking at entering shows, they are an excellent choice.
What color eggs do Houdan chickens lay?
Houdans typically lay around 150 medium-sized eggs per year, but aren’t good layers in winter.
Are Houdan chickens endangered?
While they can be a bit rare depending on where you live, this breed isn’t endangered.
Where is the Houdan chicken from?
The Houdan chicken comes from France, and the breed is so old that they predate standard record keeping.
How long do Houdan chickens live?
Houdan chickens typically live between seven to eight years when given the proper amount of care.
Can Houdan chickens fly?
Yes, Houdans can fly, so if you are building a run, this will need to be accounted for.
Are Houdans broody?
Houdans are broody, but breeding them may be difficult as they have issues with cracking their eggs.