Bresse Chicken: This Large Chicken Breed has a 500 Year History

BREED NAME: Bresse Chicken

Photos courtesy of Greenfire Farms; where Bresse and several other unique and classic breeds are being preserved and strengthened for sale and future generations.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION: Available in White, Black, Blue or Grey, this large chicken breed has a 500 year history originating from the eastern French Province of Bresse (similar to “bless”). The breed is prized and famous for its quality meat. Some have said it’s the best tasting in the world.

French purists insist that the only true Bresse is raised on French soil. With respect to that tradition, the American Bresse has been hatched on US soil by Greenfire Farms. The American Bresse decends from this ancient French breed, genetically unaltered.

During the 1980’s in Canada, French Bleu Bresse blood lines were used in the development of the “Blue Foot”. The breed was established and became popular in Canada, in spite of export bans in France, and eventually spread to California. There fanciers renamed the breed again, the “California Blue Foot”, where it remains a popular gourmet meat breed.

The Facts: Bresse Chicken

Class: Large

Comb, Wattles & Earlobes: Red comb, wattles. Rooster lobes contain white.

Color: Solid Black, White, Blue, or Grey

Place of Origin: France

Conservation Status: over 1.5 million raised in France each year

Special Qualities: No matter which feather color, steel blue-grey legs help identify this breed. They’ve been developed with a unique metabolism allowing for optimal response to a specialized feeding regime.

This process and resulting meat quality makes the Bresse highly prized in French cuisine.

In the Bresse’s 500 year history, its origin from various French country chicken breeds has been forgotten, but not its value to the gourmet food market. During the winter holiday seasons a single whole French Bresse chicken can sell at market for well over $100. A dressed average capon is about 7lbs.

Free ranging & supplemented with high quality feed is always the best recipe for the healthiest and high quality chicken meat. Traditionally Bresse cockerels headed for the meat market are caponized to ensure the tenderest possible flesh. The Bresse is a light boned large breed with thin skin.

Traditionally the French Bresse is removed from pasture life and confined for their last weeks of life. Male and female, they are super-fed on milk and grains to help infuse their meat with tasty fat for market. Purists insist on the entire regime of raising and feeding this chicken to obtain true Bresse quality meat.

Their few short months of life leave us with little written of the character and temperament of the breed. In fact most references found for the Bresse include recipes. Purists claim to be able to tell the difference in meat quality between the different color varieties of Bresse. White is the most common.

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