With its gorgeous black and white mottled pattern, calm disposition, stylish look, and table bird quality, the Houdan chicken has all it takes to get the spotlight in the poultry world.
Yet, despite all its fantastic qualities, this majestic breed is often overlooked and is now on the brink of extinction.
Others only see this breed as show material, but they’re more than just that.
So, in this article, we’ll discuss why Houdans are not just mere show birds and share with you the following:
- history and origin of the Houdan chicken breed
- temperament and distinctive characteristics that set it apart from other chicken
- and meat and egg-laying capabilities of Houdans
But before that, here’s a little teaser that will introduce you to the Houdan breed and show you what it’s got!
Houdan Chicken Breed Overview
|Average Size:||Hen: 6.5 lbs|
|Cock: 8 lbs|
|Coat Color or Varieties:||White, Mottled|
|Egg Shell Color:||White|
|Egg-Laying Capacity:||150 to 200 medium-sized eggs|
|Main Purpose:||Egg and meat production|
|Noise Level:||Moderate to High|
Origin and History of the Houdan Chicken Breed
To get more insights into Houdan chicken, let’s travel back to its country of origin and discuss how this breed came into existence.
Though many believe that the Houdan chicken breed came from Poland in the 1840s, it originally came from France.
Its name is derived from the town in west Paris, France, called Houdan.
In the 1850s, it found its way to Britain and eventually America after five years with the help of Mr. Dorose.
And because of Houdans’ unique looks, Britain started exhibiting them in many shows.
John B. Gough displayed them at Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1867.
Then, the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection first recognized Houdans in 1874.
These birds have a speckled appearance.
But F.D. produced a White Houdan in America. And in 1914, white Houdans became a recognized color.
White Polish chickens and Mottled Houdans were also crossed to create Baermen.
Sadly, this Houdan chicken subsequently lost popularity and was nearly extinct in the 21st century.
Despite being classified as “Critical” by the Livestock Conservancy, their numbers are hoped to rise even further as more people become aware of this breed and hatcheries (rather than only specialized breeders) are beginning to market these chickens.
Houdan Chicken’s Appearance and Standard
Houdan chickens are easily recognizable thanks to their unique appearance.
Their most notable features are their muffs and crests, which are large and fluffy.
The crest looks like it comes out of a bony knob on top of their skulls and adds character to this chicken breed.
They also have a fifth toe on each foot, a trait shared by only a few other chicken breeds standard in most breeds is four toes.
In terms of size, Houdans are medium-sized birds that weigh between 5 and 7 pounds. And they have short, stocky bodies.
If you’re considering showing your Houdan chickens, knowing the breed standard is important.
According to the American Poultry Association, Houdans should have white feathers with black spots, a V-shaped comb, and blue legs.
Their crests should be large and round, and their muffs should be long and full.
But it’s worth noting that only the American Houdans have a V-shaped comb.
In Europe, Houdans have a leaf-shaped comb which is also called the butterfly comb, because it resembles a butterfly with its wings open.
Houdans’ Unique Color and Pattern
Most Houdan chickens have a mottled appearance because 1/3 to 1/2 of their black feathers contain white V-shaped tips.
But what makes this breed interesting is that every time they molt, their feathers will grow back with even more white coloring than before.
That’s why old mottled Houdans appear whiter than they were before and their younger counterparts.
But you may also find White Houdan chickens, and this variety has distinct characteristics that set it apart from the mottled Houdans.
Shanks and Toes
Pinkish white mottled with black
Aside from white and mottled color, Houdans are also available in other varieties in other countries, including:
- Solid black
- Red or gold mottled
- Blue mottled
But many of these varieties aren’t available in the US.
Houdan Chicken Breed’s Disposition and Temperament
In raising Houdan chickens, one important factor to consider is their disposition and temperament.
Many people choose to raise this black and white chicken breed because of their calm and friendly nature, making them great for backyard flocks and even as pets.
Some owners have even reported that their Houdans enjoy being held and cuddled, making them a fun addition to any family.
They are also known for being a hardy chicken breed and able to withstand cold weather.
It’s important to note that while Houdans are generally friendly, they can sometimes be a bit flighty and nervous.
This is especially true when they are young. So, handling them gently and frequently is important to help them become more comfortable with human interaction.
However, with patience and plenty of socialization, Houdans can become very docile and easy to handle.
Uses of Houdan Chicken Breed
Houdan chickens are a popular breed for many reasons. They are known for their gentle disposition, which makes them great for backyard flocks and pets.
In addition to being great companions, here are some reasons why they are worth raising.
Houdans are dual-purpose chickens with a good reputation in the egg department.
Despite not being the best egg layer in the world, they can provide you with a decent number of eggs.
What color eggs do Houdan chickens lay?
This breed produces white medium to large-sized eggs with large yolks.
Are Houdans good egg layers?
Yes, Houdan Chickens are good egg layers.
They perform well in the chicken egg production department, which is a huge plus if you plan to raise them.
How many eggs do mottled Houdans lay a year?
Houdan hens lay an average of 150 to 200 medium eggs every year. Therefore, it can produce 3 to 5 eggs a week.
But their production could vary, though, depending on their strain, diet, and environment.
They start laying by the age of 6 months old and still lay well during winter months.
Many people also enjoy raising Houdans for their meat due to its tenderness and flavor.
This breed gained the much sought-after ‘Label Rouge’ certification in France thanks to its excellent taste and production capabilities.
On top of that, this meat breed matures quickly and has a high feed conversion rate.
However, American strains are much smaller because they’re mainly bred for shows and not for meat production.
Common Health Issues of Houdan Chickens
Unlike other large chicken breeds, Houdans are not prone to infectious diseases.
That’s why they are one of the easiest to raise because they only require a little attention as long as they have food and water.
However, because of the feathers in their crest, tufts, and beards, they might easily be infected with mites from other chickens.
How can you avoid the infestations?
Although you can’t quickly eliminate mites, you can avoid them by regularly cleaning their coop.
And also not letting them socialize with other chickens infected with mites.
Another way to deter parasite problems is by changing the bedding, whether hay or straw, more frequently.
You can also use pest and parasite repellants to protect your poultry birds from mite infestation.
Where to Find Houdan Chicken for Sale?
It’s best to look for Houdan chicken in your local area so you can check its bloodline before purchasing.
That is extremely crucial to ensure they’re healthy and if you want to bring your birds to shows.
Make sure that the breeder also has a good reputation and the bird has grown in a clean and healthy environment.
However, it can be challenging to find this rare breed.
So if it’s not available in your area, check these hatcheries for their Houdan chicken and chick availability:
How to Care for Houdan Chickens
Caring for Houdan chickens is relatively easy. With proper care, your Houdan chickens will thrive and provide you with years of companionship and eggs.
But here are some tips on how to care for this stylish breed.
Provide Nutritionally-Balanced Feed and Clean Water
Providing your Houdans with access to fresh water and high-quality chicken feed is very important.
Why? Because it is where your chicken’s health will depend.
Besides, nutritious and delicious treats can make them feel happy and relieve stress.
If they’re healthy, they can provide you with more meat and eggs.
Luckily, finding the right chicken feed for them is easy these days and age.
Secure Their Coop and Housing System
You should provide them with a clean and comfortable living environment to ensure they remain healthy and happy.
Make sure the chicken coop is spacious, with plenty of roosting space and fresh bedding.
The recommended space for Houdan chickens is two square feet.
These birds can tolerate confinement, but the bigger the coop, the better.
Additionally, Houdans also enjoy foraging, so providing them with a safe and secure outdoor space to roam and search for food is also important.
Not only will it encourage them to use their foraging skills, but it will also keep their beaks trimmed and allow them to exercise.
Keep Up With Their Vaccination
Although Houdans are not yet prone to any diseases, they still need complete protection from a reputable veterinarian.
Full vaccination will help them prevent any free radicals instead of curing them.
Moreover, part of taking care of Houdan chickens is giving supplements so that they can stay healthy.
Don’t Forget Their Winter Needs
Houdans are hardy in hot climates but not in the cold.
They can’t tolerate cold seasons, so they need bedding and heaters like light bulbs to keep them warm.
But you also need to ensure that their coop is well-ventilated, safe, secure, and can withstand extreme weather conditions.
Pros and Cons of Raising Houdans
To help you weigh if this breed is worth adding to your flock, we summarized the pros and cons of raising Houdan chickens below.
FAQs About Houdan Chicken
Are Houdan chickens rare?
Houdans chickens are one of the rarest breeds in the world.
In fact, their population is nearly extinct, but thanks to some passionate breeder’s efforts, this breed has been conserved.
But their numbers are insufficient to be delisted as “uncritical.”
What is the difference between Houdan and Polish chickens?
Houdan and Polish chickens are similar in their type of feather and the crest on their heads.
However, they differ in some ways because Houdans have five toes and are always bearded.
What are Houdan chickens good for?
Although Houdan chickens are medium size birds, they have the tastiest meat.
That’s why they are popular table meat in France.
Moreover, they are also known as decent egg layers that could produce medium white eggs.
Can Houdan chickens fly?
Yes, they can.
They love perching and free-ranging to search for food.
But they can’t fly higher than other flying birds.
The advantage of that is they can’t easily escape and leave their coops, and the downside is they have poor skills in escaping predators.
Do Houdans go broody?
The broodiness of Houdan chickens depends on their strain.
But what makes them appealing is the fact that they are easy to care for and grow faster, especially the chicks.
Final Thoughts on Houdan Chicken Breed: Is It The Right Breed For You?
The Houdan chicken breed is a versatile and rewarding breed for anyone interested in raising chickens.
Generally, if you’re looking for a breed that is both visually unique and easy to care for, Houdan chickens are worth considering.
Not only are they great egg layers also make wonderful pets and can be a fun and stylish addition to any flock.
Whether you’re raising them for their eggs, meat, or as pets, they’ll surely bring joy and fascination to your life.