A Dutch breed of chicken, the original Brabanter dates back to at least the 16th century. The original breed went extinct in the early 1900s, but a new variety was created by about 1920. The new breed is a bit smaller than the original Brabanter chickens, but similar in appearance. A heritage breed, Brabanters are still relatively rare.
Brabanter chickens' colors can include black, blue and white, as well as gold and silver. The Brabanter chicken has a very interesting face, beginning with her odd comb. The Brabanter has a tuft of feathers down the center of her head that makes her appear to be sporting a Mohawk. In front of her comb, and at the back of her beak, are two red horns that can be more than 1/2 inch in length. She has no feathers on her legs.
The Brabanter chicken comes from the Brabant region of the Netherlands and Belgium. The original Brabanter chicken was likely developed from older German poultry breeds. Fanciers of the bird worked to recreate the Brabanter chickens after their extinction. Brabanters have similarities to the Appenzeller and the Dutch Owl Beard, two other heritage breeds that may have been used in creating the new Brabanter. The bantam Brabanter was created by breeding bearded Polish bantams with the standard Brabanter.
While the original Brabanter breed was said to be a large chicken, current breed standards call for Brabanters to weigh between 5.5 and 7.5 pounds. Bantam varieties of the Brabanter chicken produce adult birds weighing less than 2 pounds. The Brabanter is considered rare even in its region of origin. However, as interest in raising backyard flocks -- and particularly heritage breeds -- grows, the Brabanter may become more popular. There are now a few breeders selling Brabanter chicks in North America.
While the Brabanter is considered an ornamental breed, like most heritage poultry, Brabanters are hardy chickens. They do well as free-range birds and in confinement. The Brabanter chicken, however, has a propensity to get fat. The Brabanter is a relatively docile chicken, produces a moderate supply of eggs, and is less likely to go broody than many other breeds. These traits make it a good choice for those raising backyard flocks.
Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.