Our Transylvanian Naked Neck Chicken
Baldy is her name and I think you can easily see why. She is the most recent of our farm animals and is quite an endearing girl. Her arrival on the farm was quite a story. Rik had helped out one of our young neighbours who was trying to remove a huge lump of granite from the floor of his, soon to be, new garage. Poor Paulo was working away using a bolster and hammer and it was taking days and days so Rik went up and took his big breaker and sorted the problem in no time. Paulos Mum and Gran (our dear neighbour Sao) were so pleased that they came down the camino bearing gifts to say thank you. The usual array of potatoes, lemons, oranges, lettuce, fresh eggs and a bottle of Riks favourite homemade Port Wine, all delicious and very welcome but there was also a blue carrier bag on the floor in the kitchen - and it moved! On closer inspection the bag contained a very young brown chicken. We decided she was far too scrawny to eat (the intention of our kind gift givers was to provide us with a meal) so we began the painstaking process of introducing her to our other two chickens. Not an easy task, they hated her and she was pretty scared of them. After weeks of careful introductions - yes really - she is now part of the gang and, although right at the bottom of the pecking order in both goat and chicken language, she is a very happy and very big girl now!
So why is she bald?
I wanted to know more and did some research, it seems that she comes from a very ancient and noble line in the chicken world. Originally bred hundreds of years ago in Transylvania as a result of a random genetic mutation that causes and over production of a feather blocking molecule these chickens actually have approximately half the feathers of other chickens, making them resistant to hot weather and easier to pluck.
Naked Neck hens are good all round birds which is surprising as here in Portugal they tend to be sold as meat chickens only. They are good layers of medium to large, light brown eggs and have a reputation for laying even through the coldest winter months. They are not known for their broodiness but those hens that do go broody are said to make excellent mothers. Baby chicks are born with naked necks so are easily recognised in mixed batches. As a breed they are considered docile and very friendly, as a result they are one of the easiest chickens to tame. They are exceptionally well suited to hot weather but are also surprisingly cold hardy too. Naked Necks have a reputation for actively foraging so they are really well suited to free ranging and baldy is always the very last animal to come in from the field, she loves scratching around out there long after the other two have gone to bed and quite often the only way I can get her in is to pick her up and she weighs a lot now.
So our lovely Transylvanian/Portuguese Naked Neck girl is a keeper, she now weighs well over 2 kilos and is happy waddling around, laying lovely eggs (my first ever triple yoke egg). She is super friendly and has a distinctive character all of her own. Lucky girl Baldy!
Some more images of our animals to finish. The goats are doing well, I'm now milking Arna every morning and getting over a pint a day of lovely, creamy milk. JC our male baby has now gone to meet his maker and his sister Sky is a very happy, pretty little goat. Life is good all round.