The poultry world is full of many great French chicken breeds which isn’t surprising, given the country’s traditions in this area. After all, it’s no coincidence that the rooster is France’s national symbol. One breed is often lauded above all others, however, and has often been refered to as the best breed of chicken in France – the Faverolles chicken.
Even if your preferences lie elsewhere and you favor a different French breed over the Faverolles, there is no denying that it is a special breed with many great qualities. So, let’s go over the history, looks, standard, and other specifics of the Faverolles chicken breed and see what makes it special.
What is a Faverolles chicken, exactly?
Like most other chicken breeds, the Faverolles chicken is named after its place of origin – in this case, a small village called Faverolles, located in the Eure-et-Loire region to the southwest of Paris. This chicken isn’t a landrace, however, so its peculiar looks aren’t just something that randomly evolved in nature.
Instead, the breed was developed by French farmers who tried – and, some might say, succeeded – in creating the ultimate farm chicken breed.
History of the Faverolles chicken
The precise date of the creation of the Faverolles breed isn’t certain but it’s speculated to have been sometime in the 1860s. Another unknown is the exact chicken breeds that went into the inception of the Faverolles.
The breeds we know almost certainly took part in the crossbreeding process include Malines, French Rennes, Houdan, Dorking, Brahma, the Flemish Cuckoo, and possibly the Cochin. There were almost certainly other breeds that were also mixed and matched in the first years of crossbreeding, however, and we’ll never know what the full list looked like.
Because of all that crossbreeding, the first few years of this breed’s “existence” were most of a test period – the “Faverolles” chickens of the 1860s wouldn’t really match today’s breed standard set by the APA (American Poultry Association) or any other French, British, or international poultry association. That’s because the farmers back then were still experimenting until they settled on a “standard” for the breed.
It wasn’t until 1894 that a few Faverolles chickens were taken from the markets of Paris and the surrounding areas and were brought to the UK. Soon after, in 1901 and 1902, a few birds were brought across the Atlantic and into the US too, quickly leading to the formation of an enthusiastic fan base for the Faverolles chicken there.
Since then, however, only the White (1981) and Salmon (1914) color variations of the Faverolles chicken have been accepted as “standard” for the breed by the APA. Other countries recognized several other official variations, however, including the Buff, Cuckoo (a bluish and white barred chicken with some light and dark bars), Black, Laced Blue, and Ermine Faverolles.
So, let’s explore all these different looks of the Faverolles chicken next.
What does a Faverolles chicken look like?
As you’d guess from the name, the plumage of these birds has a very rich honeyed salmon color, especially on the head, back, and wings. It’s also quite loose and fluffy, more so than with most other chicken breeds you’ll see. That’s because the Faverolles have lots of under fluff that’s of a greyish color.
The legs are feathered too, with the leg feathers going all the way down to the five white toes. The breast of these chickens is very wide and covered with straw- or white-colored feathers that are lightly speckled with a salmon color. The same goes for the muff and the lower half of the body.
These chickens should only have a single comb with five points and in a deep red color, same as the small wattles that can often be so tiny that they are basically almost nonexistent. The eyes should be of a reddish bay color whereas the beak should be either pinkish or horn color. And, of course, another signature trait of this bird is that the Faverolles chicken has a literal beard, usually the same color as the breasts.
All this applies to Faverolles hens, however, things become even more colorful when we look at their roosters. Salmon Faverolles cocks have black feathers all over the lower half of their bodies and throughout their tails.
The fluffy feathers on these birds can make them look as if there isn’t much meat underneath there is a reason why French farmers settled on this breed and its pretty good weight is a part of that. So, in the US, males tend to weigh around 8 lbs with females being closer to 6.5 lbs.
According to the standard set by the Poultry Club of Great Britain, however, a British Faverolles rooster should weigh between 9 and 11 lbs, and a hen – between 7.5 and 9.5 lbs. Likewise, cockerels should be between 7.5 and 10 lbs, and a pullet – between 7 and 9 lbs.
As for the bantams of this breed, they are expected to weigh around 1,130 to 1,360 grams with bantam hens ranging between 907 and 1,133 grams.
So, as you can see, there can be quite a bit of variation between the looks and sizes of Faverolles hens and cocks, depending on who you ask. And that’s just about the Salmon variety.
Black Faverolles, as you’d expect, are entirely covered in black plumage, as you can see in this video. They also have black beaks, dark brown eyes, and black shanks and toes.
White varieties of the breed, on the other hand, have entirely white or almost white plumages, sometimes with a bit of black, blue, or salmon on the back of the neck. Their beaks are a pinkish horn color, the eyes are a reddish bay, and the shanks and toes are a pinkish white.
Blue Faverolles are similar to black ones but with a blueish-grey plumage. Their shanks and toes are also bluish-black rather than just black and their beaks are more black-streaked with gray rather than black too. Similarly, Buff Faverolles look like Salmon Faverolles but have some brown feathering on the back and their beaks are a pinkish-white color rather than a pinkish horn.
Faverolles’ health, temperament, egg laying, and other details
While the look of Faverolles chickens is more than unique enough in and of itself, there are some much more important things you need to know about these birds before you add some of them to your backyard flock. So, onto some different types of details that might actually help you keep your Faverolles happy in their coop.
If you’d prefer a video summary of the points we’re about to list, you can check out this cool video here. If not, the following is our breakdown.
Physicality and health
Even though they were developed in Europe’s moderate climate, Faverolles chickens are considered a relatively cold-resistant breed thanks to their fluffy plumage. They are not fans walking through snow or water, however, so it’s best to keep their coop and chicken run dry, especially during the colder months. Otherwise, you’d do well to check not just their combs for frostbite but their feet too.
Speaking of feet, Faverolles tend to have some strange behaviors when it comes to walking or sitting around. For example, they seem to like running wildly rather than walking when they want to get somewhere. They also are not as keen to roost on bars and branches as other chickens and prefer to stay on flat surfaces instead.
That last part can be somewhat of a problem if you have a mixed flock of Faverolles plus other breeds that don’t mind roosting up high as that can often get your Faverolles pooped on from above. Instead, if you have a Faverolles-only flock, you can customize their coop a bit differently to be more comfortable for them.
Faverolles are also relatively enthusiastic fliers, even if they are not especially good ones. So, it’s a good idea to make sure that the fencing around their chicken run is high enough.
Healthwise, Faverolles are a pretty sturdy breed that doesn’t have any breed-specific health issues you’d need to watch out for. If you know how to keep other chickens healthy, you know how to keep Faverolles healthy. The only unique thing here is that their extra fluffy plumage can make it more difficult to spot mites, lice, and other such pests. So, you’d want to be extra diligent in that regard.
These birds were bred specifically for their calm and sociable nature. This means that they don’t mind staying in their coop or in a cage when they need to and they also aren’t as assertive as other large chicken breeds. This makes them a fantastic backyard and/or mixed flock breed but it also has the drawback that they may get picked on by other more aggressive chickens.
If you can keep them safe from being pecked on by other chickens, however, Faverolles are incredibly social, gentle, lovable, and fun pets to have. They love being around other animals but are especially dependent on having other Faverolles around to socialize with, so, having just one is usually not a good idea.
When they are together, healthy, and happy, Faverolles are exceptional goofballs and are incredibly entertaining to watch, especially if you offer them a vast chicken run or free range to explore. They are natural foragers but, more so, they tend to act more like children rather than chickens. Even Faverolles roosters are famous for being very well-behaved and laidback.
Overall, Faverolles are shy and laidback but inquisitive birds. They will explore when given the chance to but they won’t stray far from home, they will always make sure to have cover nearby for safety, and they are not known for frequent escape attempts similar to other breeds.
Egg laying and brooding
As a dual-purpose bird, Faverolles are kept not just for their meat – which they are great for thanks to their large size and fast growth – but also for their eggs. Faverolles don’t lay as many eggs as commercial layer breeds but they will typically lay between 150 and 200 eggs a year, or 3 to 4 eggs a week which is still quite good for a backyard chicken coop.
The egg color is tinted or light brown and the eggs are almost always large or at least medium in size when the birds have been taken care of well enough. Faverolles are especially good winter layers as they don’t mind laying eggs even during the coldest months when other breeds take a break.
Faverolles are also very good setters and brooders, so, if you want some yellow Salmon Faverolles chicks running around, your Faverolles hens won’t mind brooding their eggs one bit. There are some controversy here as some chicken keepers find Faverolles to not be too enthusiastic about brooding but that seems to be a function of them living in mixed flocks where they get pecked on by other birds.
In conclusion – is the Faverolles chicken the right breed for you?
Faverolles is one of the best breeds for backyard chicken keepers who have little kids running around the yard and they want a gentle and social bird that won’t peck on them and doesn’t mind being held. That, plus the overall big size, dual-purpose nature, good health, and excellent behavior, makes the Faverolles a perfect candidate for new chicken keepers.
If you already have other chickens, however, just beware that you may have some difficulties introducing Faverolles to your flock without all other birds jumping over themselves to pick on the gentle newcomers.