The Chantecler chicken is an exceptional dual-purpose poultry breed from Quebec, Canada. Brother Wilfred Chatelain decided to develop the Chantecler breed while walking through the Oka Agricultural Institute’s poultry flocks. He realized there were no chicken breeds from Canada as all of the ones being used originated in Europe or America. He then set out to create a chicken that could endure the harsh Canadian climate and be used for both egg and meat production.
From the French words ‘chanter,’ meaning “to sing,” and ‘clair,’ meaning “bright,” the Chantecler is considered the first Canadian chicken breed. Under the supervision of Brother Chatelain, the monks of the Cistercian Abbey in Oka, Quebec, sought to create, “a fowl of vigorous and rustic temperament that could resist the climatic conditions of Canada, a general-purpose fowl.” The Chantecler was created by first crossing a Dark Cornish male with a White Leghorn female, and a Rhode Island Red male with a White Wyandotte female. The following season, pullets from the first cross were mated to a cockerel from the second cross. Selected pullets from this last mating were then mated to a White Plymouth Rock male, thus producing This produced a pure White Chantecler. Although work began in 1908, the breed wasn’t introduced to the public until 1918, and was admitted to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection in 1921.
Dr. J. E. Wilkinson of Alberta, Canada, decided to create a similar chicken with a color pattern more suited to range conditions, one whose color pattern would blend with its background. He crossed the Partridge Wyandotte, Partridge Cochin, Dark Cornish, and the Rose Comb Brown Leghorn to create the Partridge Chantecler. The Partridge Chantecler was admitted into Standard in 1935.
The breed is noted for having nearly no wattles and a small cushion comb, which appears like a small round button sitting low on the head. The small comb and wattles allow the breed to withstand cold winters without the worry of frostbite. Not surprisingly, the breed is noted for being very hardy, is an excellent layer of brown eggs, is a good winter layer, and has a well-fleshed breast.
The Chantecler can still be found in both of its original colors, White and Partridge. Both have yellow flesh and legs. It’s an excellent choice for anyone wanting a productive fowl that will excel in a wintry climate. The breed is noted for being calm, gentle, and personable.