The Naked Neck, or Turken, is the ugly duckling of the flock. At first, you might notice is her nakedness, large-looking head, and scant coif of feathers adorning her large-looking head. You may even think there is something wrong with her.
Typically, if one of your chickens has feather loss, you spring into assessment mode to attempt to figure out the underlying cause. Is she molting, sick, or full of mites? However, this eclectic breed of chicken naturally has 50% fewer feathers than most standard chickens, so rest easy, there is nothing wrong with her.
The Naked Neck, otherwise known as the Turken or Transylvanian Naked Neck, originates from Romania, and even more specifically Transylvania.
So if you want to add a little “strange” to your backyard flock, then the Naked Neck is going to be your next chicken. Don’t let their bizarre feathering turn you off, because this chicken has plenty to offer a loving chicken tender…no pun intended, well maybe.
Originally, people believed that the Naked Neck chicken was a cross between a Turkey and a Chicken. To this day, some people are still under the impression that the Turken, or Churkey, is a hybrid of the two species. However, it is biologically impossible for a chicken to breed with a Turkey, so while this hypothesis has some visual merit, it is completely untrue. The Naked Neck is 100% chicken and always has been.
So before judging this bizarre looking bird, take some time to uncover the hidden benefits of the Naked Neck Chicken and find out how this ugly duckling turns out to be one amazing chicken.
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True to its name, the Naked Neck’s most prominent physical characteristic is its naked neck. This chicken’s genetic makeup somehow decided that there would be no feathers on its bright red neck. However, the Naked Neck still sports a dashing hairpiece atop its head in the form of a few sparse feathers.
The Naked Neck lacks feathers in another, more private, place as well—the bum. This breed is naked on the neck and near the vent. So don’t be embarrassed when you see the baboon-like behind of your Naked Neck…they know their unders are showing and they don’t seem to care.
To top off their, um, uniqueness, their tail feathers are held fairly high and appear to fan out with a look-at-me flair.
The standard colors of the Naked Neck are black, white, red, and buff (all of which are recognized by the APA). In other countries, you can find cuckoo, which is thought to be the original color, and blue Naked Necks.
It should be noted that many believe the Naked Neck to be immune to many chicken diseases, or at least more resilient than their feather-full counterparts. Whether this is true or not, has yet to be tested.
The Naked Neck is a large standard chicken, and comes in bantam size as well. At maturity, this chicken weighs in at around 7 lbs, making it a surprisingly suitable meat chicken.
While their featherlessness makes the Naked Neck appear to be a scrawnier-type of chicken, they are actually considered a dual purpose chicken due to their ability to use the protein they ingest for energy toward meat building rather than feather building.
As an average layer, the Naked Neck chicken can provide their human families with approximately 3 eggs per week. So while they are not considered to be prolific layers, they consistently lay an average amount of medium, light brown, eggs throughout the entire year—just enough for holiday baking.
Here’s where the Naked Neck truly rises above the flock in yield. This chicken is considered to be dual-purpose due to the amount of meat that is harvested. In fact, the Naked Neck is a heftier bird due to the fact that its energy is not used up by feather production, and it can be used to keep the weight on.
Farmers without automatic pluckers enjoy raising the Naked Neck because there are fewer feathers to pluck out, thus butchering can be completed much quicker than if raising other meat chickens.
You’d think the Naked Neck wouldn’t do very well in cold climates due to their breezy bottoms and necks, however, they are actually quite cold-hardy. As long as they are given appropriate shelter and insulation for a cold winter, they will do just as well as the rest of your flock.
Since the Naked Neck is already half-naked, compared to other chickens, they do extremely well in hot weather. While your fluffier chickens may pant and search for shade, your Naked Necks will be going about business as usual.
The Naked Neck loves to forage and will happily seek out the best vegetation and forage in your yard. In fact, this breed actually prefers to free-range and forage for their food, and if given the choice, they will set out on a day-long peck-fest amongst your gardens.
A downside to this unique breed is their inability to take flight…period. The Naked Neck is simply too stocky and has too few feathers to be able to support a proper flight. This makes the bird easy prey, especially if they are free-range. Some chickens are able to fly short distances, but the Naked Neck has to rely on its little legs while fleeing from danger.
Unlike some family-orientated breeds, Naked Neck hens don’t go broody frequently. In fact, most Naked Necks don’t care to raise their own chicks. So, if you plan to keep producing this quirky breed year-after-year, plan on investing in an incubator to do the job.
The Naked Neck is considered to be an extremely docile and friendly chicken. So even if you are repulsed by the lack of feathers, you will probably find their personalities simply irresistible.
This quirky chicken is a misunderstood breed that needs to have the record set straight. Naked Necks are a friendly, dual-purpose, chicken that just looks a little different than the rest of the flock. When it comes down to it, they are a unique conversation starter that is happy to provide eggs and pest control for your family.