Naked Neck Chicken – Breed Profile & Facts
Naked neck chickens stand out among the strangest-looking birds ever seen. In the United States, they fall under ‘rare breed’ and are usually preserved by several conservationists and poultry enthusiasts. Sometimes, individuals refer to them as ostrich feather chicken because the head has long spindly feathers.
Scientifically, experts recognize them as Gallus gallus var. domestica. If you have never heard about a naked neck chicken, this article will mention plenty of stuff like its characteristics, temperament, breeding, and so forth. Keep us company as we define the benefits of rearing this unique bird species.
Naked Neck Chicken History
The first writings about Naked Neck Chicken dates back to 200 BC in Roman texts. Back then, the birds were used for sacred purposes but rarely as a source of food. However, these chickens did not become a popular meat source until after 1720, when Holland started importing them into their country.
It wasn’t long before Great Britain caught up and began cross breeding naked neck chickens with other breeds imported from Asia.
Later, after America’s independence in 1776, it didn’t take long before people recognized how efficient the breed was in meat production. Ten years later, England followed suit and started importing the chicken.
Luckily, a major breakthrough happened in 1826 when Walter Bayley, an English farmer, managed to crossbreed the new generation of the naked neck with other breeds. Mainly, this included wild jungle fowls, which doubled the bird’s growth rate.
On the other hand, American farmers began combining Naked bird breeds with Rhode Island Reds and Plymouth Rocks, known for their efficient laying. In addition, they started feeding their chickens more corn than before to enhance the growth speed.
Amazingly, this increased their growth rate by about 300% and resulted in the American Poultry Association recognizing the breed as one of America’s four primary meat breeds alongside Plymouth Rock, Jersey Giant, and White Leghorn.
Naked Neck Chicken Characteristics
Despite their large size, it is amazing how these birds fly over fences or run long distances without pausing. Mainly, the cross-breeding with jungle species gives the bird an upper hand because they have fewer feathers and low-fat content in the meat.
In addition, the bird is completely bald, with no feathers on its head and neck skin exposed at the sides of its face. Below are other fundamental traits of Naked bird species.
– Size & Weight
Naked Necks hens usually weigh between 8lbs-10lbs but can get as heavy as 13 lbs. They are also tall birds reaching a height between 26″ and 30″. The naked neck roosters are slightly taller than the hens.
Given that the birds grow quickly, it takes roughly three months for farmers to sell the chicken for meat. This translates to less time and money spent raising them.
The Naked Neck Chicken is considered one of the most intelligent chicken breeds. Their instinct for survival helps them avoid various dangers such as predators and obstacles along the way.
Most impressive is that they are social and enjoy human contact. Nevertheless, this comes as a peril because it makes them more vulnerable to attacks by strange people.
It is worth noting that Naked Necks can get pretty aggressive when they find themselves in a situation where their lives are under threat. For this reason, it would help to practice extra precautions when keeping these birds in a home or around the farm. This is because the birds often start fighting other birds that get close enough to steal food or water from them.
Some people make use of these qualities by sacrificing one chicken every year, usually during certain religious ceremonies like ‘tempering’ in some African traditions.
A healthy Naked Neck Chicken enjoys an average lifespan of 2-4 years. However, when kept under the right conditions, they can live up to 12 years.
All in all, they remain typical chickens that most farmers raise for meat because of their excellent survival instinct and long lives without the need for special treatment or drugs.
– Egg Production
The bird tends to produce more eggs daily compared to other breeds of chickens. This makes them very popular with farmers who intend to run large-scale businesses in raising chickens. The only problem is that if they are caged for production, they may not lay enough eggs because of diet restrictions and lack of exercise.
Naked Necks lay around 5-6 eggs each week. When adequately fed, they can give you up to 12 eggs weekly. It is not advisable to keep them in cages as they only produce more eggs if free-range.
– Meat Production
Naked bird’s fast growth rate means that farmers spend less time nurturing and feeding the chickens. As a result, there is more meat for sale than chickens with a more extended growth period.
Without any doubt, this attribute makes a good business venture. In reality, their earnings far exceed their initial investment per chicken, which may be as low as $2, while the rest go for more than $10 each.
A fully grown chicken weighs around 3.5-4.3 kilograms each, depending on the feeding and care given. This makes raising them a good business venture, especially for new farmers who don’t have enough money to buy large quantities of feed or other chicken-related materials.
The meat from Naked Neck Chicken is similar to any native chicken you can find, which means that it tastes much better than recent bred species.
Naked Neck Chicken Care
Akin to other bird species, you have to keep your Naked birds in an optimal environment to thrive better. Keep reading as we guide you on how to take care of your birds well.
– Feeding & Nutrition
For the first month, feed them broiler starter or grower feed that contains around 28 percent protein. However, after the 3rd month, reduce their grain to 16-18 percent protein but ensure that you don’t go below 12 percent.
After six months, switch from layer feeds to either meat producer feeds or even gamebird feeds. The transition allows the bird’s body to get more nutrients for its growth.
Naked Necks are excellent foragers in their natural environment and, as such; don’t need your help when looking for food. Also, it means that you can keep them together with other types of chickens.
All in all, make sure they have enough space to get about 5-6 square feet per bird. You will save money on coop materials if kept like this since they do not take up much space.
Remember that as long as the birds have feathered necks; there is no harm in letting them mingle freely in a single coop since it doesn’t pose any threat to their safety.
However, if you intend to keep these birds for egg production purposes, you should house them separately since each one requires an individual nest to lay their eggs. If the weather allows, keep your birds outdoors without worrying much about their safety because they are quite hardy.
In addition, use hay or straw as nesting materials since the chicken likes digging in the ground looking for food. You should avoid shredded paper and wood shavings in the coop do not work well because Naked Necks don’t feel safe underneath these materials.
– Health Problems
Thanks to the bird’s thin necks, they are prone to neck diseases that can lead to death if not treated properly. These problems usually occur when your bird is too hot or even dehydrated. As such, it is necessary to keep these birds in a cool area with plenty of water.
If some chickens die because of these conditions, make sure you clean the nest regularly and separate sickly birds to prevent spreading the condition. The best way to tell if a chicken is sick is the state of its comb and wattles.
If it appears dull or darker, that’s an indication that something is wrong with your birds. Other signs include pale feathers, head dropping, wet nose, and minimal activity. A swollen stomach also indicates an egg-bound hen which should be encouraged to pass the egg.
When changing the nesting materials, be careful not to chip away at their skin or cut them since they will bleed out easily. Also, be sure not to give them food so quickly after drinking water as their stomachs might swell and become uncomfortable.
Naked Necks are not prone to parasites, so treatment is only needed if you see your birds scratching their body or getting fur balls in their stomach! It would help if you prevented this from occurring by giving them mineral blocks and plenty of greens.
Naked Neck Chicken Breeding
When breeding your chicken, ensure that your rooster is healthy to prevent them from getting hurt or dying in the process. Moreover, it is best to breed two different kinds of Naked Necks such as black and white necks since their chicks will have the best of both worlds.
The good thing is that Naked chickens make good mothers and seem happy during the hatching period. It takes 21 days for fertile eggs to hatch, and about 11-15 weeks for chicks to grow into adults. Often, the hens begin laying eggs at about 4-6 months.
Overall, Naked Necks are brave, curious creatures with great personalities. Still, remember that they are escape experts and require a solid and secure enclosure. If possible, place them in a wide and safe enclosure to forage for bugs and worms.
Even if they may not win any special awards for egg production, Naked neck chickens are famous for their sumptuous well-sized meat.