The Crèvecoeur chicken is the oldest of the standard-bred fowls of France. The breed gets its name from Crève-Coeur en Ange, a small town in Normandy, France. The breed’s name translates as “broken heart” as in the romantic sense. Little is known of the breed’s origins other than they were developed in Normandy and existed there for a very long time.
Solid black in color, Crèvecoeur chickens have crests and beards of moderate size, compact, well-proportioned bodies, and short legs. In movement they are quiet and deliberate. The breed stands confinement remarkably well, appearing quite content. Crèvecoeur chickens are only moderate layers of large white eggs, and were noted by both English and American poultrymen as being rather delicate in constitution and prone to catch colds in damp conditions.
The breed was developed principally for the quality of its flesh. Crèvecoeur chickens have small, fine bones and the proportion of meat to offal is quite high. The skin on this breed is white. And the meat is noted for being fine, short, and very white. They also fatten readily and were a French favorite to “gaver” or stuff – an old traditional practice of making birds eat more by inserting a tube into their mouths that introduces a specially blended wet mash and supplements their normal diet.
The breed was once quite popular in France, though it did not gain so much favor in other countries. In 1855, there were two sets of awards offered at the first agricultural exhibit held in Paris: one for Crèvecoeur chickens and another for all other chicken breeds. This is the oldest known French chicken breed in England. It had reached America prior to 1874, but was regarded as “too tender” for the climate of eastern and middle states there.
The Crèvecoeur chicken was recognized by the American Poultry Association and admitted in 1874. Males weigh 8 lbs and females weigh 6.5 lbs.
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