At first glance, you’d probably think Naked Neck chickens have very little going for them.
They seem to have inadequate feathers around their bodies. And their necks are bare, sticking out bizarrely in bright red color. For the most part, you can’t help but wonder if they’re a cross between a turkey and chicken.
But, the breed has never been sired by turkeys. And even though they’re not the prettiest birds, their supposed inadequacies are really blessings in disguise.
They do exceptionally well in warmer climates. They recover from molts pretty quickly. And they’re resistant to diseases.
What’s more, they’re so calm and affectionate – darlings really! They’re good for the table because they’re meaty. And they lay large, fine brown eggs at a good rate. See? They have so much going for them, they’re bound to make an amazing addition to your flock.
If you’re considering Naked Neck chickens, here’s everything you need to know.
where do naked neck chickens originate from?
Several people prefer to address Naked Neck chickens as Turkens or Churkeys. They’re blend words for turkey and chicken as people erroneously believed they were a crossbreed between the two.
However, some like to refer to them as Transylvanian Naked Neck chickens in homage to where they were originally discovered in the early 1900s –Transylvania, Romania.
Some historians, though, believe that Naked Neck chickens may have been first imported into Europe from Asia. This is because there was no mention of them anywhere in Europe before the 1700s.
Still, in later years, they were largely developed and improved into the breed we know of today in Germany.
Today, they’re very popular in parts of Europe including Germany, Austria, and France. And while it’s easy to find them in the U.S. today, they aren’t as popular here as they are in those parts of the world.
In 1965, the American Poultry Association officially admitted the breed into the Standard. Note, though, that breed standards may vary across different countries.
So, for instance, while only colors like black, red, white, and buff are recognized by the APA, the French recognize more colors like the buff, cuckoo, and blue among others.
how do naked neck chickens look?
Naked Neck chickens appear exactly how they’re called! Their heads and necks are bald. But, it’s not a deformity or anything of that sort.
Their unique trait has been traced to a random genetic mutation that produces a high amount of BMP12 – a molecule that restricts the development of their feathers.
Further research showed that when ‘normal‘ embryonic chicks were treated with BMP12 in the lab, these chicks that hatched had no neck feathers.
This mutation is what causes the breed to seem to have the head of a turkey but the body of a chicken. This development shows that the necks of chickens are very susceptible to BMP12.
What’s more, when the molecule was blocked in Naked Neck chickens’ embryos, the chicks that hatched grew neck feathers. Bear in mind that the Naked Neck gene is dominant. So, you need just one Naked Neck parent to produce a Naked Neck offspring.
Naked Neck chickens are surprisingly large birds.
Roosters weigh approximately 8 1/2 lbs while cockerels weigh 7 1/2 lbs. Hens, on the other hand, weigh about 6 1/2 lbs with pullets measuring 5 1/2 lbs.
They have a midsized head that is pointy.
Their necks are of medium length and slender. Necks often appear red due to constant sunlight exposure. If they weren’t exposed to the sun so much, they’d stay as yellow as their skin.
In addition, they have medium-long bodies that appear ovoid and muscular. Breasts are also broad and rounded.
Their backs are wide at the shoulders and have a medium length.
Naked Neck chickens have a small tuft of feathers seated on top of their heads.
However, they have no hackle feathers. So, from the base of the skull stretching all the way to their shoulders, they’re featherless.
Plus, they have sparse feathers all across their bodies. When compared to ‘normal‘ breeds, Naked Neck chickens have about half their feathers. You don’t really notice it till you physically handle them.
When you do, you’ll notice big bald patches on various body parts. Especially under their wings, around the breasts, and around their vents ( bottoms).
Both roosters and hens sport single, medium-sized combs that are straight and red. Wattles are also medium-sized and of the same color.
Eyes are expressive and have a reddish-bay color. Earlobes are oblong and red. Also, beaks are of medium length and yellowish.
Dark-feathered varieties, though, tend to have dark slate or black beaks.
The legs of this breed are clean. Shanks and toes are as yellow as the skin. Dark-colored breeds have slate blue shanks and toes. They also have just four toes.
How do naked neck chickens behave?
Naked Neck chickens are nice all-around birds. And even if they can’t wow you with their looks, you’ll soon find that they’re charming creatures that deserve all your love.
These birds are so friendly, they enjoy human company as much as they do their kind. You’ll also find that they enjoy being touched and cuddled.
Roosters may appear dominant and protective of their hens where necessary.
In general, though, these birds are really cool and simply tend to go with the flow.
They’re also quite inquisitive chickens. And oh, they’re at their best when allowed to forage. Because of their sparse feathering, they’re not flighty so you wouldn’t have to worry about them straying too far.
If you’re already raising other breeds, they’ll get along well with them. But, they’ll also be quick to stand their ground and won’t tolerate being bullied.
Caring for naked neck chickens
It’s so easy to raise Naked Neck chickens because they’re a hardy breed. As compared to some other breeds, they require little management and care.
So, if it’s your first time raising chickens, you’re in for some luck.
Naked Neck chickens don’t require any form of complicated housing.
Depending on your pocket, you may construct your coop using concrete. Or, you may rely on cheap materials like wood to do the job.
What’s more important is that the housing structure is comfortable and safe for your birds. That way, they’re easily protected from bad weather conditions and predators.
Ensure, though, that the housing is well-ventilated and spacious enough. You may keep these chickens with other breeds. But, bear in mind that they’re large when fully grown.
So, space of about 6 square feet per bird will be enough. They love to free range though. So, if circumstances allow you, break them loose. If that won’t be possible, allow them more housing space. They take to confinement well too!
Naked Neck chickens at different stages of their development will need different feed formulations.
If you’re starting with day-old chicks, they’ll need starter feed containing about 20% of protein.
The feed could either be unmedicated or medicated. Medicated starter feed consists of amprolium which will help protect the birds from coccidiosis.
However, if you’re purchasing already vaccinated Naked Neck chicks, you should just go ahead with the unmedicated variety.
You should give your chicks starter feed till they’re 18 weeks old. When your pullets reach 18 weeks of age, you should introduce them to layer feed.
These contain about 16 to 18% protein as well as some calcium for stronger bones and eggshells.
Cockerels and roosters, though, will need a different diet containing less calcium and more protein than laying hens. A diet of Purina Flock Raiser will just be ideal.
Studies show that Naked Neck chickens are not prone to many of the diseases that affect the entire chicken populace.
Naked Neck chickens are hardy birds. And because of their unique feathering, they do extremely better than any other breed of chicken in warmer climates.
In very hot climates, chickens usually lay fewer eggs to minimize heat stress. But, Naked Neck chickens are different gravy when it comes to tolerating heat.
So, if you’re in an area that constantly sees more of the sun, then they’re the breed for you because they’ll continue laying without a care in the world. In colder climates, they may not be as efficient. And you’ll want to protect them from the winter.
Are naked neck chickens good meat producers?
They don’t look it because of their rather scrappy look. But, this breed is an excellent meat producer!
A bird’s feathering consists largely of protein. But, Naked Neck chickens have minimum feathering. Because of this, protein from the feed is largely channeled into getting bigger and producing meat.
With an excellent feed conversion ratio, they grow faster and it’ll be economically beneficial if you’re going to raise them for meat production.
It’s also easier to process their carcass for meat as you have to go through a few feathers to get the finished article.
Are naked neck chicken good layers?
Naked Neck chickens are not eggcellent layers. But, while they aren’t egg-laying juggernauts, they lay reasonably well.
They should begin laying when they’re about 18 to 22 weeks old. They’ll lay an average of 3 to 4 eggs every week and should give you about 150 to 180 eggs every year.
They lay medium-sized to large brown eggs. And because of their special feathering, they only have a few feathers to grow back after molting.
It means they’re quicker to egg-laying form than most chicken breeds as they grow their few feathers back much quicker.
Not all Naked Neck hens will go broody. But, most of them will. And when they do, they make fantastic mamas.
Where can i find naked neck chickens to buy?
Naked Neck chickens are easily accessible. And you’ll find some to purchase from many hatcheries.
Breed enthusiasts in Facebook communities/groups may also be willing to offer the birds for sale.
how much do naked neck chickens cost?
Naked Neck chickens aren’t expensive. Straight-run chicks and day-old cockerels may cost as low as $5.00 for one.
Day-old pullets may cost about $6.00 for one.
What Naked Neck chickens lack in looks, they make up for in being sweethearts. They’re gentle and easy to handle. You’re never going to get a more special breed to add to your flock.
Even more special is the fact that they convert feed into eggs and meat quicker than most breeds, they thrive well in warmer climates, and they’re resistant to most diseases that plague the larger poultry body!
If you’re going to be handling chickens for the very first time, there’s no better breed to start your experience than with Naked Neck chickens.
They aren’t the most attractive birds. Not by any stretch. But, you know what? Beauty is as beauty does!