Chanteclers of One Earth Farm
It’s just hard to top the chantecler for a dual purpose breed here in Wisconsin. This is a bird that peers at the top of a snow bank and wonders what’s on the other side. They relish pecking the snow from your boots when you enter the coop. In the midst of a blizzard on a subzero nights, they abhor the flashlight and all my worry. They range far and wide whether across snow pack or lush green pastures, yet they have such an affinity for humankind that they are just as likely to be found underfoot. They are beautiful and gentle while being incredibly low maintenance, they keep themselves fit, and man oh man do they put out – if only wearing the gold band of ‘animal husbandry’ was always this easy. This breed is listed on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s ‘critical list’ as a breed in severe danger of extinction, and I suspect that the only reason it is there is because it is so innocuous, so trouble-free, so easy on the eye that it asks nothing of us. And like the bride that asks for nothing and receives exactly that, the chantecler has lost out to the more voluptuous broilers and the high-maintenance show girls in the neighboring coops.
While the flock here at One Earth Farm has always had a chantecler or two in the mix, it was not until very recently that I decided to take on this breed as a bonafide project – both as a preservation project and a development project. In my quest to assemble a flock of chanteclers, I found very few flocks remaining and I discovered that truly good specimens of this breed are very difficult to locate. The chantecler hails from Quebec Canada, where they were developed by the monks of the Cistercian Abbey in the early 1900’s. With the intent of creating a dual purpose, rugged fowl that could withstand Canadian winters, the brothers interbred rhode island reds, cornish, wyandotte’s, leghorns, and plymouth rock. The result was a wonderfully calm and personable fowl that is hardy, productive, and beautiful. I blame my ego for me not bowing to the work of the Cistercian brother’s sooner. The chantecler is perfection.