While tending the flocks at the Cistercian Abbey of Notre Dame du Lac, in Quebec, brother Wilfred Chatelain realized that there were no chicken breeds of Canadian origin. Several American and English breeds were being used commercially in Canada, but no breed had been created that would flourish in Canada’s rigorous climate.
Brother Chatelain began experimenting in 1907, crossing White Leghorn, Dark Cornish, Rhode Island Red and White Wyandotte, later adding White Plymouth Rock. From his flock he chose good egg layers with very small combs and wattles that could produce sufficient meat. He named them White Chantecler. They were such a success that in the 1930s, J.E. Wilkinson of Alberta crossed Brown Leghorn, Dark Cornish, Partridge Cochin and Partridge Wyandotte to produce the Partridge Chantecler.
Chanteclers are one of the five most-endangered American breeds of chickens.
They are a calm, gentle and personable breed recognized for their excellent egg-laying ability. Having very small combs and wattles, they survive heavy winters well, says breeder Erin Traverse of Poultney, Vt. “Here in Vermont, where 30-degrees-below zero is common for days, even weeks at a time, frozen combs are unheard of on Chanteclers. Up along the Canadian border and points north, the winter laying ability of this breed is very much appreciated.”
Chantecler hens notoriously lay lots of brown eggs, even during winter in less sunlight. . Traverse believes his hens average 180 to 200 eggs a year. With 20 years of chef experience, he explains that he also finds the meat as delectable as the finest of Indian Games, Old English Games, Dorkings and Houdans.
Chantecler chickens may be the perfect chicken for you!
To learn more about this interesting breed, read "Enjoy Heritage Chickens" at Mother Earth News.