Braekel Chicken: The Old European Breed
The Braekel Chicken or Brakel dates back to 1416, making it one of the oldest European chicken breeds. Cross breeding has caused the demise of the two original types; a light type from the Kempen region of Belgium, and a large variety from Flanders. With limited breeding stock the two were blend beyond distinction into only one type in more modern times.
This breed is quite similar to the Campine. Descendants of the Kempische Brakel are in existence today in the US, UK and Australia, though they are called Campine. Hen feathering in the cock and a lower weight are the most obvious differences between the true Braekel chicken and Campine.
The breed does have a Bantam version.
Braekel, The Facts:
Class: Medium to heavy layer also Bantam
Size: Standard Male: 7 Ibs. / Standard Female: 6 Ibs. / Bantam Male: 3.3 lb. / Female: 2 lbs + or -
Comb, Wattles & Earlobes: White ear lobes with tall single tipped comb. Red comb and wattles in both sexes.
Color: Less common varieties are lemon, white-barred gold, barred white, white, black and blue, most common are silver and gold.
Place of Origin: Belgium
Conservation Status: Rare
This breed was not designed for meat, but for egg production, producing 180 to 200 white eggs a year; the Bantam variety strictly for show, though they can produce 35-40 gram eggs and are consistent layers. The breed has been called: “The Everyday Layer”, “The Nun’s Hen” and “Grey White Neck”.
The most striking characteristic of the bird is a solid colored neck, gold and silver being most readily available, and a distinct banding or barring of the main body in similar, but darker tones. Non-barred varieties existed at one time but are considered extinct. Though working toward perfection the barring of the bantam variety has not yet reached the perfection of the original standard type.
The Bantams should be a miniature of the standard in all aspects including: rectangular shape that includes deep breasts and abdomens, deeply dark eyes and blue slate shanks.
This breed is still considered a rare, and often very rare, breed. Due to hard times during and after the Second World War that caused serious decline in the number of viable flocks, the breed was pushed to its limits of near extinction.
The first of these Bantams appeared on the show scene in Holland, 1933, from breeders in Holland and Northern Belgium that exhibited one trio of silvers. The bantam variety was not reported seen in public exhibition again until 1952, when there was a Flemish entry of eight Bantam Braekel.
Though Bantams are a heavy Bantam they are very active and capable of flight, making it recommendable to keep them in a covered yard.
Once numerous across Belgium, Germany and Holland, few breeders can now be found.
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