The Mottled Houdan Chicken is probably one of the most visually striking chicken breeds out there. This is because it has a head like no other. We will talk more about that in a short while, though. Let’s start by talking about where do Houdan chicken come from.
Houdan Chicken Facts at a Glance
|Eggs||~120 per year|
|Comb Type||Butterfly and V-shaped comb type|
|Weight||Standard Rooster: 8 lbs. (3.6 kg)|
Standard Hen: 6.5 lbs. (3 kg)
Bantam Rooster: 34 oz. (965 g)
Bantam Hen: 30 oz. (850 g)
|Country of origin||France|
Where Do Houdan Chickens Come From?
No one has an idea where the Houdan chicken originated from. However, we know that it is an incredibly old French breed. We are talking centuries and centuries old.
The first time anybody ever wrote about the Houdan chicken was in the mid-1800s, but it had existed a lot longer before then, although where the bird came from is anybody’s guess.
The chicken was named by the city of Houdan near Paris. That is why most people regard this as a French breed of bird, although both English and Polish breeds likely went into the development of this breed.
The most widely accepted theory is that the Polish chicken breed and the Crevecoeur chicken participated in the development of this breed.
It was eventually imported into England in 1850, and then headed on over to the United States from there around 1865.
In 1874 the White and the Mottled Houdan chicken were admitted to the American Poultry Association.
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The Incredible Look of the Houdan Chicken
The Houdan (the mottled or the white) has a distinctive comb type for a chicken. The comb is a butterfly comb, which can look a little bit off if you have never seen a chicken with a larger comb like this before, but we can assure you that it is completely normal!
If the bird is American, then instead of having a butterfly comb, they will have a V-shaped comb. This is due to the way that they have been bred.
An interesting fact about this chicken is that it is one of only a few chicken breeds that has five toes instead of four. This is what indicates that the bird is French. This is where 5-toed chickens originated from.
In the past, this breed was available in a variety of different colors. Nowadays, the only two varieties that are accepted by the APA are Mottled Houdan chicken or White Houdan.
You will easily recognize the Mottled Houdan chicken as it is completely black with white spots on it.
There are four other colors out there, but these are going to be much rarer, and the most people will ever see of them will be at chicken shows.
White and Mottled Houdan Chickens as a Show Birds
Both, the White and the Mottled Houdan chickens are mostly used as a show breed nowadays. In fact, there will barely be a chicken show out there where you do not see the Mottled Houdan chicken featured.
It is especially popular because there are very few chicken breeds out there that will have the two distinctive characteristics the bird has, namely the shape of the comb and the extra toe.
Because American and European Houdan chickens look slightly different, you will find that there is very little overlap between the two shows.
A European chicken probably wouldn’t do well in an American chicken show, even if it would have dominated ‘back home’
The competition is high for Houdan chicken shows. Tons and tons of breeders have been working on the development of the breed. So, a new owner of this breed may not be able to get anywhere in shows.
However, this breed is a great ornamental breed of chicken, and it can really stand out from the crowd if you have a couple of them in your flock. They aren’t too noisy either, which means they are even better.
Raising Houdans As a Meat Breed
In the past, the main purpose of the Houdan chicken in France was to be a meat chicken breed. This is because this is a breed that grows exceedingly fast, although it doesn’t have any health issues attached to the fast growth.
Although the Houdan doesn’t grow that heavy (it caps out at about 8 lbs. for standard rooster), the fast growth of the bird more than makes up for this.
We can’t imagine that there are that many people that are raising the Houdan chicken as a meat bird nowadays, mostly because they will not want to get rid of their breeding stock, but if you do want a viable meat bird, then this is likely to be an option.
In France, the Houdan chicken is known as being one of the best ‘meat’ breeds. If you see a chicken dish from a top chef, then there is a strong chance that they will have used a Houdan chicken in it.
Houdan Chicken Eggs and Egg laying Capabilities
The Houdan chicken is a fantastic bird for eggs. In fact, for those that are not raising the chicken for show purposes, the Houdan Hens are used for laying eggs.
While it is not the best chicken breed for laying eggs, it does mature a little bit quicker. This means that it will start to produce eggs quicker. The eggs are white and small to medium in size.
If you are planning on breeding the Houdan chicken, then you will be pleased to know that this breed should be easy to work with.
It lays reasonable number of eggs, and a decent number of them will mature through to hatching.
The hens can be quite broody too, which means that you do not have to worry about introducing other birds into the flock to try and get the eggs to hatch.
You can make a surprising amount of cash breeding this bird. This is because Houdan chickens, particularly the offspring of show winning birds, can sell for a lot of money.
This is how many people make money from the Houdan chicken. Although, of course, we wouldn’t suggest that you purchase this bird for breeding if you have a limited amount of space available.
Raising White or Mottled Houdan Chickens
To be honest, this isn’t really a difficult breed of chicken to raise. There are no known health issues for this chicken breed, even though it grows fairly fast.
Most of the people that raise the Mottled Houdan chicken claim that it is a friendly chicken breed. This means we believe it would be good to be raised as a pet.
However, probably not so much if you are in a colder location. This is because their comb can take a bit of effort to protect.
That being said, the Houdan chicken can do well being kept in small, confined locations for longer periods of time.
Although, it will need to be out and about at least a couple of times per day, that way it can forage. However, during the winter months, it should be mostly be kept inside nice and warm, otherwise they will suffer from frostbite on their comb.