The Crèvecoeur chicken is one of the oldest standard-bred fowls in France. Their name translates to “broken heart” and derives from the small town of Crève-Coeur en Ange in Normandy. Little is known about 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 moderately sized crests and beards, compact, well-proportioned bodies, and short legs. Their heads are adorned with a distinctive “v” comb. In movement, they’re quiet, deliberate, and have peaceful temperaments. The breed stands confinement remarkably well, appearing quite content. Crèvecoeur chickens are only moderate layers of large white eggs, but are adaptable to most climates.
The breed was developed primarily for the quality of its flesh. Crèvecoeur chickens have small, fine bones and the proportion of meat to offal can be quite high. Their skin is white and the meat is regarded as fine, short, and very white in the breasts. The leg meat can be quite dark and almost duck-like in color. They also fatten readily and were a French favorite to “gaver” or stuff – a traditional practice of making birds eat more by inserting a tube into their mouths that introduces a specially blended wet mash to supplement their normal diet.
The breed was quite popular in France, though it didn’t gain much support 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 at the time was regarded as “too tender” for the climate of eastern and middle states there.
The Crèvecoeur chicken was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874. Males weigh 8 pounds and females weigh 6.5 pounds.
Did you know:
The Livestock Conservancy is America’s leading organization working to save over 150 heritage breeds from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants, and donations from the public to raise the $700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare breeds of farm animals. Click here to learn how you can help.