Naked Neck Chicken

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Other common names: Naked Neck Turken; Turken; French Naked Neck; Transylvanian Naked Neck; Nachkthalshühner; Szeremlei Chicken

The basics:
The Naked Neck Chicken (or Transylvanian Naked Neck Chicken) is Europe's original naked neck chicken, developed in Transylvania (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) during the 1800's. They are characterized by their completely featherless heads and necks, and are classed as soft-feather chickens. When first seen in Europe they were believed to be a cross between a turkey and a chicken and were named Turkens, a name that has stuck even until today.

The Naked Neck trait first appeared in southeast Asia in local gamefowl. During the 17th century the Dutch East India company transported these birds to the Bay of Bengal in India, to Madagascar and to South Africa. The French then introduced birds from Madagascar to the Mediterranean region of Europe. However, it now appears that Arab traders also took the naked neck Malagasy gamefowls across land to the Ottoman Empire. They spread across the empire to the Balkans (there are naked necks in Serbia even today).

Somewhere in the 1780s the naked neck trait crossed from the Ottoman Empire to the neighbouring Austro-Hungarian empire and by 1800 there was a strong breeding population in Transylvania. From there naked neck chickens were distributed throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was then known as the Szeremlei chicken being named after one of the earliest breeders and there were many fanciers and clubs. They were an utility breed and considered a common farmyard fowl. As a result they never gained much support with the bird fanciers of the 19th century.

In 1927 the United States Department of Agriculture declared it a breed under the name of 'Bare Neck' (prior to this poultry scientists had referred to it as a breed by the name Transylvania Naked Neck). The Second World war almost killed the breed off, as the Axis powers thought it to be 'anti-Nazi' and the allies believed it to be 'too Germanic' (many breeders up to that point had been German and it was the Germans who developed the bantam variety). By 1950 the bantam variety had actually died out.

However, the Hungarian government had, after World War I, ben working on standardizing their native breeds, making them larger and more uniform in colour and appearance. This they did with the Transylvanian Naked Neck. By the 1930s the breed had been improved, standardized and stabilized. This is one reason why it was one of the commonest breeds in Transylvania and why it survived the Second World War here.

With the rise of the Iron Curtain and Romania's increasing seclusion the Transylvanian Naked Neck was almost forgotten as a breed and it is only recently that the breed has come back to the world's notice. Though classed as a rare breed, there are increasing numbers of fanciers in North America and Europe (they are available as Transylvanian Naked-neck chickens). The breed has also recently been imported into South Africa to help improve the indigenous naked neck breed there.

Types: Bantam, Largefowl
Varieties (Single Comb): Any color
Uses: Meat, Eggs, Ornamental
Bantam: 30 - 34 oz
Largefowl: 6.5 - 8.5 lb
Personality: Calm and sweet, makes a fine pet
Broody: Yes
Preferred climate: Any
Handles confinement: Yes
Egg production: Good (3/week)
Egg color: Brown
Egg size: Large - Extra Large

What else you should know:
A 2011 study found that the Naked Neck Chicken's feather-free neck is caused by a random genetic mutation that causes the overproduction of a feather-blocking molecule.

The breed is of great interest to those seeking to improve other chicken breeds as the naked neck trait leads to larger eggs size, a reduction of up to 20% in the feed required to attain mature weight and to increased health in mature birds. The Naked Neck trait is also linked with significantly increased heat tolerance and there are 30% fewer feathers to pluck.


meat production, Great mothers, large brown egg, free range, sweet


enlarged crop, little crazed, cold winter weather


easier process, naked neck, Oddly Lovely Bird.

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