Bresse Chicken Breed: Eggs, Size, Temperament, Pictures

The Bresse chicken breed (La Gauloise or Bresse Gauloise) originated in the Bresse region of France and is noted for its high-fat, high-protein meat and egg production. 

They are known for their superior meat quality, unique appearance, and rich history, the Bresse chicken is a favorite among poultry enthusiasts and gourmet chefs. 

They are prized for their tender, flavorful meat and produce highly sought-after eggs for their rich, yellow yolks. 

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about raising Bresse chickens, including their origin, characteristics, advantages, and how to care for them properly.

History and Origin of Bresse Chickens

The history of the Bresse chicken goes back to the 16th century in the Bresse region of eastern France. The breed was developed due to crossbreeding between local French chickens and Asiatic breeds brought to Europe by explorers and traders. 

Over the centuries, the Bresse chicken has been highly prized for its exceptional meat quality, earning it the nickname “the queen of chickens and the chicken of kings.”

In 1936, the Bresse chicken received the first-ever poultry appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) designation, which is a certification granted by the French government to protect the quality and authenticity of the breed.

Only chickens raised in the Bresse region and meeting strict breeding and production standards can be called “Bresse” chickens. The breed is often called the “American Bresse” outside France to distinguish it from the authentic French Bresse.

Bresse Chicken Color Varieties

Bresse chickens come in four primary color varieties: white, black, blue, and gray. The most common and iconic variety is the White Bresse chicken, which has a bright red comb, wattles, and striking blue legs. 

The black Bresse chicken has glossy black feathers, while the blue Bresse variety has a unique slate blue coloration. Finally, the Gray Bresse chicken, also known as the “splash” variety, has a mix of blue and black feathers with occasional white spots.

All four color varieties share the same physical characteristics and meat quality, so the choice of which color to raise largely depends on personal preference and aesthetic appeal.

Lifespan of Bresse Chickens

Bresse chickens have a relatively long lifespan compared to other chicken breeds. On average, they can live between 5 and 8 years, depending on their living environment, diet, and overall health. 

However, some Bresse chickens have lived for over 10 years with proper care and management.

However, it’s important to note that the primary purpose of raising Bresse chickens is for their meat, typically slaughtered when the birds are around 4 to 6 months old. As a result, many Bresse chickens do not live out their entire potential lifespan.

Bresse Chicken Temperament

La Gauloise or Bresse-Gauloise Rooster
  • Save

Bresse chickens are known for their active and friendly temperament, which makes them a good choice for backyard flocks and small-scale farms. 

They are a sociable breed that gets along well with other chickens and enjoys interacting with their human caretakers. Bresse chickens are also excellent foragers, making them ideal for free-ranging setups where they can roam and search for food.

But it’s significant to note that Bresse roosters can be very aggressive, especially during the breeding season. This behavior can be managed through proper flock management techniques and separating aggressive individuals if necessary.

Characteristics of Bresse Chickens

Bresse chickens are medium-sized breed with several distinct physical features. Most notably, they have a slim, athletic build and long, blue legs, which set them apart from other chicken breeds. 

Their comb and wattles are a vibrant red, while their eyes are a dark, expressive brown. In addition, Bresse chickens have white earlobes, indicating they lay white eggs.

In addition to their unique appearance, Bresse chickens are known for their exceptional meat quality. The meat is tender, flavorful, and well-marbled. 

In addition, it has a strong, almost game-like taste that gourmet chefs and food lovers alike. The meat’s unique flavor is attributed to the Bresse chicken’s diet and free-ranging lifestyle, which allows the birds to forage for a diverse range of natural food sources.

Advantages of Raising and Breeding Bresse Chickens

There are several advantages to raising and breeding Bresse chickens, including:

1. Exceptional meat quality: Bresse chickens are renowned for their tender, flavorful meat, considered a delicacy in the culinary world. Raising Bresse chickens for meat can be a profitable venture, as the meat commands a premium price in the market.

2. Egg production: While not as prolific layers as some other breeds, Bresse hens still produce a respectable number of eggs each year, with a rich, yellow yolk highly valued by chefs and home cooks alike.

3. Active foragers: Bresse chickens are excellent foragers, which can help control pests and weeds in your garden or farm. Their natural inclination to forage also means they require less supplemental feed, which can help lower your overall feed costs.

4. Friendly temperament: Bresse chickens are friendly and social birds, making them an enjoyable addition to any backyard flock or small-scale farm.

5. Hardiness: Bresse chickens are a hardy breed that can withstand various climates and weather conditions, making them a suitable choice for many environments.

6. Aesthetic appeal: With their unique appearance and striking blue legs, Bresse chickens can be an attractive addition to your flock, adding visual interest and variety.

Bresse Chicken Hen Eggs Laying Age, Count, Egg Size, and Egg Color

a bresse rooster foraging
  • Save

Bresse hens usually start laying eggs around 5 to 6 months, but this can vary depending on factors like diet, environment, and genetics. 

On average, Bresse hens will lay around 250 eggs annually, with the highest production occurring during their first two years of life.

Bresse chicken eggs are medium-sized and have a white shell. The yolks are rich and yellow, resulting from the birds’ diverse, natural diet. 

The eggs are highly sought after for their flavor and culinary qualities, making them a valuable part of raising Bresse chickens.

Bresse Chicken Weight and Size of Hens and Roosters

Bresse chickens are medium-sized, with hens weighing between 4 and 6 lbs and roosters weighing 6 to 8 lbs. The birds’ slim, athletic build contributes to their exceptional meat quality and unique appearance.

It’s important to note that Bresse chickens are typically raised for meat and are harvested at a younger age, around 4 to 6 months old. 

As a result, the birds will weigh less than their full-grown counterparts at this age but still yield tender, flavorful meat highly prized in the culinary world.

Raising Bresse Chicken Chicks and Their Appearance

Bresse chicken chicks are small and delicate, with soft, downy feathers that are either white, black, blue, or gray, depending on their color variety.

Their distinctive blue legs, red comb, and wattles will develop as they grow, giving them their iconic appearance. 

When raising Bresse chicks, it is essential to provide them with a clean, warm, and safe environment, such as a brooder, where they can grow and develop. 

Provide them with appropriate heat sources, such as a heat lamp, and monitor the temperature to ensure it remains within the recommended range for their age. 

Additionally, ensure they can access clean water and a high-quality chick starter feed to support their growth and development.

Feeding and Nutrition of Bresse Chickens

A critical factor in the exceptional meat quality of Bresse chickens is their diet. In the Bresse region of France, the birds are raised on a diverse, natural diet, which includes grains, insects, worms, and other forage. This varied diet contributes to the unique flavor and quality of their meat.

When raising Bresse chickens, providing them with a high-quality, balanced diet is essential to meet their nutritional needs. This includes a mix of grains, such as corn, wheat, and barley, and protein sources like insects, worms, and other forage. 

In addition, they add fresh fruits, vegetables, and greens to their diet to ensure they get the vitamins and minerals they need.

Allowing your Bresse chickens to free-range and forage for their food can help replicate their natural diet and contribute to the quality of their meat. However, providing them with supplemental feed is essential to ensure adequate nutrition.

Housing and Shelter for Bresse Chickens

Housing and Shelter for Bresse Chickens
  • Save

Bresse chickens need a safe and secure place to live to protect them from predators and harsh weather conditions. A well-constructed chicken coop with adequate ventilation, roosting space, and nesting boxes is essential for their well-being.

As active foragers, Bresse chickens thrive in a free-ranging setup with ample space to roam, explore, and search for food. 

Providing them with a secure, fenced area to range during the day can help keep them safe from predators while ensuring they receive the exercise and mental stimulation they need.

At night, ensure your Bresse chickens are securely housed in their coop to protect them from nocturnal predators. Regularly clean and maintain their housing environment to prevent waste buildup and reduce disease risk.

Health and Disease Management for Bresse Chickens

Like all poultry, Bresse chickens can be susceptible to various health issues and diseases, including parasites, respiratory infections, and digestive issues. 

However, regular health checks, proper housing, and a balanced diet can help minimize disease risk and keep your Bresse chickens healthy and thriving.

If your Bresse chickens become ill, it’s essential to act quickly and consult a qualified veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment. 

In some cases, preventative measures, such as vaccinations and deworming, may be recommended to protect your flock from specific health threats.

Bresse Chicken Meat Quality and Cost

Bresse chicken meat is renowned for its tender, flavorful, and well-marbled qualities, which have earned it a reputation as one of the finest poultry meats in the world. 

The unique flavor of Bresse chicken meat is attributed to the birds’ diverse, natural diet and active, free-ranging lifestyle.

Due to its exceptional quality, Bresse chicken meat commands a premium price in the market, often selling for several times the cost of conventional chicken meat. 

Raising Bresse chickens is a potentially profitable venture for small-scale farmers and backyard poultry enthusiasts.

Where to Buy Bresse Chickens in the USA? — Bresse Chicken Hatcheries

Various hatcheries and breeders in the United States specialize in Bresse chickens, offering a range of options for purchasing chicks, hatching eggs, and adult birds. 

If you’re interested in raising Bresse chickens, sourcing your birds from reputable hatcheries and breeders is essential. 

Many hatcheries and breeders specialize in Bresse chickens in the United States, offering chicks, hatching eggs, and adult birds for sale. 

Some popular online sources for buying Bresse chickens in the USA include Greenfire Farms, Meyer Hatchery, and Cackle Hatchery.

This helps you purchase healthy, high-quality birds that meet the breed’s appearance and meat quality standards.

There are many hatcheries in the United States where you can buy Bresse chicks. One of the recommended options is the Bresse Farms Rare Breed Chicken Hatchery

This hatchery offers day-old chicks, juveniles, starter birds, poultry shipping boxes, and medications.

Due to an egg shortage, there is a high demand for Bresse chickens and a waitlist for all breeds and eggs. The minimum order is four chicks for local pickup and five for shipping.

When selecting a hatchery or breeder, research, read reviews, and ask questions to ensure you are making an informed decision.

How to Select the Best Bresse Chicken Breed?

bresse hen head picture
  • Save

When selecting Bresse chickens for your flock, it’s important to consider the birds’ appearance, health, and temperament. 

In addition, look for birds that meet the breed’s standards for color, size, and physical characteristics, such as their blue legs and red comb and wattles.

Additionally, ensure the birds are healthy and free of any visible signs of illness, such as discharge, lethargy, or labored breathing. 

A reputable breeder or hatchery can provide information on the birds’ health history and any vaccinations or treatments they have received.

Finally, consider the temperament of the birds, as this can impact their compatibility with your existing flock and your overall enjoyment of raising them. 

For example, Bresse chickens are generally friendly and sociable, but individual birds may vary in demeanor and behavior.

Where are Bresse Chickens from?

Bresse chickens originate from the Bresse region of Eastern France, where they have been bred for centuries. 

The region’s unique climate, soil, vegetation, and centuries of selective breeding have contributed to the breed’s exceptional meat quality, which is renowned worldwide.

Bresse chickens are protected in France, with strict regulations governing their breeding, production, and marketing. 

Only chickens raised within the designated Bresse region and meeting specific standards can be sold as “Bresse” chickens, which helps protect the breed’s quality and authenticity.

How Much Do Bresse Chickens Cost?

The cost of Bresse chickens can vary depending on several factors, including their age, sex, and source. 

Day-old chicks can typically be purchased for around $20 to $30 each, while adult birds can range from $50 to $100 or more, depending on their age and breeding status.

Bresse chickens are generally pricier than other chicken breeds due to the breed’s high meat quality and limited availability. 

Additionally, the cost of importing Bresse chickens from France and the breed’s specialized breeding and production requirements contribute to its higher price point.

Why Is Bresse Chicken So Expensive?

Bresse chicken is considered one of the finest poultry meats in the world thanks to its exceptional quality, flavor, and texture. 

The breed’s unique characteristics, including its free-ranging lifestyle, natural diet, and genetic traits, contribute to its premium price point.

Additionally, the production and marketing of Bresse chickens are heavily regulated in France, which can contribute to its higher cost. 

Only chickens raised within the designated Bresse region and meeting specific standards can be sold as “Bresse” chickens, which helps protect the breed’s quality and authenticity.

Conclusion: Raising Bresse Chickens as a Hobby or Business

Raising Bresse chickens can be a rewarding and profitable venture, whether you are a backyard poultry enthusiast or a small-scale farmer. 

With their exceptional meat quality, unique appearance, and friendly temperament, Bresse chickens offer several advantages over other chicken breeds.

However, raising Bresse chickens also requires careful attention to their needs, including their diet, housing, and health management. 

The comprehensive guidelines in this guide will ensure your Bresse chickens’ continued viability and enjoyment.

  • Save

Leave a Comment

1 Share
1 Share