What is different about the Bresse chickens?

Bresse are different genetically and in the way they are reared.

The Bresse region is famous for it's poultry which includes not only chickens but geese, duck and turkey as well.

Bresse chickens are different to normal meat chickens in several ways:

  • La Bresse chickens are always raised free range.
  • Only genuine Bresse poultry can use the ´Appellation d´Origine Contrôlée´ Quality Seal.
  • La Bresse is supplied with the head and feet on so you can appreciate the blue legs.
  • All Breese poultry is raised for at least 4 months on lush pasture.
  • Each bird has a unique identity ring.
  • Every Breese bird has to be slaughtered by a qualified individual whose name is stamped on the back of the neck.
  • They are fattened on milk, sweetcorn and cereals.
  • Bresse has a unique fat and marbling which makes the meat incredibly tender an moist.
  • Bresse poultry production is seasonal.
  • Bresse has a dedicated championship, the Confrérie des Poulardiers de Bresse today has more then 2000 members.
  • Bresse chickens have a long history dating back more than 400 years.

La Bresse Gauloise, or the French chicken,  is a slow reared animal which at it's youngest is at least 6 months of age. All Bresse are fattened for 2 or 4 weeks on a special diet of mainly milk soaked grains and sweetcorn.

Below: Although Bresse grow quickly when compared to modern meat chickens they are quite slow to mature. Here is a Bresse chick in comparison to a light Sussex.

The Bresse chick is more than twice the size of the Sussex.

Comparison table between La Bresse, heritage meat chickens, standard broilers and dual purpose types:

Type of meat chicken.Characteristics.
La Bresse Gauloise
  • Slaughtered from 6 months of age.
  • Strict rules around rearing.
  • Each birds must have 10 square metres of pasture each.
  • Require a special diet.
  • The production and sale is regional and legally controlled.
  • Produced in small numbers and very expensive.
  • Flighty and difficult to keep.
  • Seasonal layers.
Modern Broiler (Hubbard).
  • Slaughtered from 39 days.
  • Birds can be reared by any management system.
  • Birds grow so fast they make have mobility problems.
  • Very high stocking density.
  • Huge amounts of cheap birds produced.
Heritage meat chicken.
  • Slaughtered from 120 days.
  • Generally reared in backyards.
  • Reared in sheds or on pasture with high stocking densities.
Dual purpose.
  • Slaughtered from 6 months of age.
  • Generally reared in backyards.
  • Surplus cockerel fattened for the pot.
  • Hens kept for eggs.

Below: There is a legal requirement to free range Bresse poultry for at least 4 months on lush pasture.

Raising Bresse chickens is not for everyone. They are eating machines and are not good pets like some breeds of chick.

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