La Bresse Breed of Chicken

Origin Developement varieties & characteristics of the legendary La Bresse hen



Origin and development

Among the varieties of French poultry, the La Bresse fowl occupies the premier position in respect to its table qualities.

 At he district Bresse where these fowls are bred is part of the Department of Ain and Seine-et-Loire, that is, to the south of the old province of Burgundy, and in that district the poultry industry is a very important branch of agriculture. The label “Bresse” is only allowed in a well defined area and it is protected by legal rules. Out of this area the breed is named Gauloise (black, white, blue and grey)

For a long period of time Bresse poulardes and capons have had a great reputation for the quality and delicacy of their flesh.



There are three varieties of this breed

Black, called La Bresse de Louhans; the black variety is very pretty, showing those metallic reflections which always add to the beauty of birds of this color.

  • Plumage: Black, with a bright green luster.
  • Beak: Dark blue or dark slate, the former preferred.
  • Eyes:  Black or as dark as possible.
  • Comb: Bright red.
  • Face: especially dark around the eyes.
  • Lobe:  White or white sanded with red the former preferred.
  • Legs and Feet: The same as the beak.

Grey called La Bresse de Bourg; in the grey variety the plumage is white penciled with grey, the neck hackle being almost entirely white, except that the points are grey. In this case the beak is blue and the legs clear grey. Not a common variety.

White, called La Bresse de Beny-Marboz. In the white variety the plumage is white colored and the legs dark grey. Whites and blacks are more numerous than the grays.

In the Bresse district the Blacks are usually regarded as the better layers, but the Whites are preferred for table purposes.


La Bresse general characteristics

In shape the La Bresse fowls are distinctly Mediterranean, and were it not for the color of the legs many would think they were Leghorns, though they are somewhat longer in body. Few would imagine that they were so fine for table qualities, and from the appearance it might be assumed that they would be distinctly better as layers.



Skull: Rather thin, and of medium length.

Beak: Strong and fairly long.

Eyes: Bold.

Comb: Single, medium size, straight, and erect.

Back part: following the curve of the neck, deeply and evenly serrated

Face: Smooth and free from feathers.

Ear lobes: Well developed  white and well defined

 Neck—Fairly short hackles.

Body: Fairly broad, square, and compact.

Breast: Well rounded.

Back: Moderately short, broad at shoulders, and tapered to the tail.

Wings: 0f moderate length and close to the body.

Tail:  of medium length, and carried well back.

 Legs and Feet

 Legs: Of medium length, free from feathering.

Toes: Four on each foot, straight, and well spread.

Weight:  6-7.5 lb (2.5-3 kg)


Except that the Comb falls gracefully over to either side of the face, the general characteristics of the hen are similar to those of the cock.

Weight: 5-6 lb.( 2-2.5 kg)

Egg production capacity

Originally a light laying breed, the Bresse can produce 250 white eggs per year.

As egg-producers they hold a very important place in France. In the La Bresse country there is no breed which touches them in egg production. They are of the best layers. They are not exceptionally good in the winter, and this might be anticipated from their appearance.

The eggs are white and of good size, as a rule weigh over 55 grams




P.S. Many thanks to my good friend Christos Zarkadas who breeds white Bresses  you can find him here .

P.P.S Many thanks also to my Facebook friend Joe Thomas who breeds white Bresses and has a genuine passion for the breed.

Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.

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