We recently began our search for the perfect homesteading chicken. The idea is to have a chicken that lays 200-250 eggs per year and is a solid table bird to deal with unwanted roosters. This bird should be quiet in nature and maintain good health with minimal intervention from us. It is important to find a bird that both can forage in the spring and summer but will take confinement well since our winters can be long and rough.
This search lead us to the Bresse chicken. This is a highly regarded breed from France dating back to 1591. Did I mention we love our old breeds! These beautiful birds are white with blue legs and red combs. This sounds like a fantastic addition to our homestead! How can we turn away from a RED, WHITE and BLUE chicken?
The Bresse is reputed to be the best-tasting chicken in the world! A roasted Bresse can cost hundreds of dollars at a Parisian restaurant. Whoa! As early as 1825, the prototypical epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin described Bresse as “the queen of chickens, and the chicken of kings.” Bresse have been said to possess “the tastiest, the firmest and most succulent flesh of any chicken anywhere.” In a quick Google search, you can read about all sorts of chefs and foodies raving about Bresse chickens. In his blog post, I Am a Bresse Man, Phil Roberts writes “WHAT A MOMENT! I never knew chicken could be so delicious – dense, but not tough; fat, but not fatty; intense but not gamey”. CNN Travel writer John Malathronas shares his experience eating Bresse by writing “The breast is on the large side, its juicy flavor a million miles away from supermarket blandness. The white meat is soft but firm, under a thin, brown-seared skin that lacks excessive fat”.
The Bresse is to chicken what Wagu is to beef!
It is said that in order for a chicken to be an authentic French Bresse chicken, with all its glorious flavor, it must be of direct genetic lineage to the flocks of eastern France. So only French raised, in their climate, forage and corn/oats/milk fed diet, can be called authentic French Bresse. We respect that. In the USA, we all call them American Bresse and that works for us!
Bresse lay about 250 eggs a year! Adding laying ability to the delicious table qualities and we are sold! We plan to raise our birds similar to the French and use tractors so they have protected forage time and a milk added to their diets. We are excited and hopeful that we have just found the perfect homesteading bird with both eggs and meat for our family and customers, as well as a way to use up extra milk from the goats! :-)