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Embracing Heritage – Our Journey with American Bresse Chickens

The Decision to Add American Bresse Chickens

Blog Post: Embracing Heritage – Our Journey with American Bresse Chickens

The Decision to Add American Bresse Chickens

As we strive to make our farm more self-sufficient, we’ve always been on the lookout for ways to optimize our resources and improve sustainability. One of our recent ventures has been the introduction of American Bresse chickens to our farm. These remarkable birds, known for their exceptional meat quality and unique dietary needs, perfectly align with our farming philosophy.

Let me set the scene. One sunny afternoon, out of the blue, my phone dinged with a text. It was Amanda, a friend with a knack for being on the same homestead brainwave as me. "Hey," it said and even though it was a just a text, it buzzing with excitement, "would you by chance be interested in some Bresse chickens?" Now, my knowledge of Bresse chickens was minimal, but my love for chickens? Immense. I mean, I was the 8 year old that asked for an incubator for my birthday, then proceeded steal the goose eggs ( which was an adventure on its own), hatch the goslings under my bed, and sneak said goslings into the shower with me until my mom caught on and banished them to the barn. My poor mother! Moving on... I naturally, responded, "Tell me more!" Amanda launched into her story. She had always dreamed of owning Bresse chickens and had stumbled upon a listing in Corpus Christi. Coincidentally, her brother-in-law was passing through the area. The catch? It was cheaper to buy all 24 chicks, than just a few, and generally, these birds are rare and costly, so she just couldnt pass up the good deal. She figured she could convince a friend or two to take some off her hands. I laughed, i would have done the same,"Let me do some quick research, but I almost never say no to chickens!"

The moment I hung up, I went into research overdrive. I discovered that these chickens were often free-ranged on pasture and fattened up on dairy at the end of their growth. This was a game-changer. I had always wanted to experiment with this method because I don't love buying endless bags of feed to keep meat chickens happy. The idea of using our farm’s resources more efficiently and sustainably while raising a heritage breed was simply too enticing to pass up.

I called Amanda back with a grin on my face and said, "Count me in! Let's bring those Bresse chickens to the farm!"

Discovering the Bresse Legacy

The story of the Bresse chicken begins in the Bresse region of France. These chickens have been prized since the 16th century for their superior meat and egg production. By the 18th century, they were celebrated as the finest chickens in France, earning the titles "queen of poultry" and "poultry of kings" by famed gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

In 1957, the French government recognized the cultural and culinary importance of these chickens by granting them the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status. This designation ensures that only chickens raised in the Bresse region can be called Bresse, protecting their unique heritage.

A New Chapter on Our Farm

Our decision to add American Bresse chickens to our farm was inspired by their rich history and the potential benefits they bring. These chickens are known for their:

  • Exceptional Meat Quality: The American Bresse is renowned for its tender, juicy meat. The finishing process, which includes a diet rich in dairy products, results in highly prized meat by chefs and home cooks alike.

  • Self-Sufficiency: Utilizing dairy from our goats to feed the chickens helps us reduce reliance on commercial feeds and aligns with our goal of being more self-sufficient.

  • Sustainability: Raising American Bresse chickens allows us to integrate more sustainable practices into our farm operations. By using local resources and reducing waste, we create a more closed-loop system that benefits both our animals and the environment.

Since welcoming these chickens to our farm, we’ve been impressed with their growth rate and hardiness. Although we have not yet processed any or had them come into lay, their progress has been promising. The chickens thrive on a diverse diet that includes grains, foraged greens, and dairy, which supports their growth and enhances the nutritional value of their meat.

Patriotic Colors: Red, White, and Blue

American Bresse chickens are not only known for their meat quality but also for their striking appearance, which reflects the colors of the American flag. These chickens boast large red combs, bright white feathers, and steel blue legs. This distinctive coloration is a result of careful breeding and adds to the unique appeal of the breed.

Egg Production

American Bresse hens are prolific layers, starting to lay eggs at around 5-6 months of age. This is huge in the meat brid world and will really set them apart if its true. They can lay approximately 250 eggs per year, with peak production occurring in their first two years. The eggs are medium to large-sized and cream-colored, with rich yolks prized by chefs and home cooks for their flavor and culinary value.

Looking Ahead

Our journey with American Bresse chickens is just beginning. We are excited to see how these birds will continue to integrate into our farm’s ecosystem. We plan to expand our flock and further explore the potential of producing high-quality, locally-sourced poultry for our community.

Call to Action

Join us as we explore the benefits of raising heritage breeds like the American Bresse chicken. Have you ever tried raising heritage breeds? We’d love to hear your experiences and tips! Share your thoughts in the comments below and stay tuned for more updates on our farming adventures.

By sharing our story, we hope to inspire others to consider heritage breeds and sustainable farming practices. The journey may be challenging, but the rewards are plentiful, enriching our lives and our farm with each new step.

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