Brakel

History

The Brakel is one of the oldest European breeds, dating back to the 1400's. They were believed to have been brought to Belgium during the Middle Ages by the Crusaders and are probably related to the Fayoumi fowl which still exists in Egypt to this day. There were two distinct breeds; a large type from Flanders and a lighter weight type from Kempen, but due to crossbreeding the distinction disappeared, resulting in a single breed. They became very rare after the Second World War. They are classed as a light breed with barred markings, small black eyes and are a very attractive bird.

Behaviour

The Brakel was developed for egg production and lays approximately 200 white eggs per year. They are nicknamed 'The everyday Layer' and 'The Nuns hen' and are hardy birds with good resistance to disease. They prefer to free range and like nothing better than digging over a compost heap. Originally, they were left to fend for themselves and are wonderful foragers, managing to live well on what they could find. Overcrowding or confinement without any free ranging can lead to bullying, as these chickens are an active breed that like to be outside. They are trusting towards their owners, but wary of strangers. They are very alert birds and can spot a predator a mile away, so make a wonderful early alarm system! Cocks weigh around 7 pounds, with hens around 6 pounds. Raising Brakels is quite easy. The chicks mature quickly, are very hardy and disease resistant, probably due to their self sufficient ancestors.

A miniature version is also available but quite rare. The hens lay a decent sized egg which is unusual for a miniature/bantam. Cocks weigh 1kg and hens around 800g when fully grown. They can be quite flighty birds and are very active, therefore the miniatures are best allowed to free range too. They aren't prone to broodiness, so lay well throughout the spring and summer. With the larger eggs that they lay, they make an ideal addition to the flock.

Status

Fairly common

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