Average User Rating:
  • Breed Purpose:
    Dual Purpose
    Egg Productivity:
    Egg Size:
    Egg Color:
    Breed Colors/Varieties:
    Black/Blue/Splash in USA, Others in Europe
    Breed Size:
    Large Fowl

    Bredas, Grueldres, Grueldrelands, Guelderlands, Gueldres and Kraaikops

    Craig Russell
    RR 4 Box 251
    Middleburg, PA 17842

    with permission from
    SPPA Bulletin, 2001, 6(2):9

    A caller recently expressed his opinion that the Breda was an interesting fowl and wondered why they never made it to America. I've had similar conversations over the years. Since this is a breed with unique characteristics and one with a rather extensive American history, it bears a closer look. The Breda never made it into the APA standard. The primary reason it is poorly remembered in North America has to do with a confusion of names. Those listed in the title are all synonyms for the same bird. To my knowledge, the breed does not currently exist in the U.S. [6/7/2012 up-date, This breed was recently imported from Europe by Greenfire Farms]

    Although usually considered a Dutch breed, the Breda may be French in origin. The Dutch call the breed Kraaikops, leading some English writers to confuse it with the Kraienkopp (Kraienkoppe for English speakers). The other names, including a few that I didn't mention, are based on the region of Holland where it was most common and where most experts believe it originated.

    Prior to the Civil War, the Breda was a fairly common breed in the U.S., where they were usually called Guelderlands or sometimes Guelders. As recently as 1867, Solon Robinson in the poultry section of his book, Wisdom of the Land, mentions them as a common breed. Leghorns, imported in the 1830s, were still not important enough to be mentioned by Robinson. He considered Dorkings the best practical fowl. He also liked Games, Dominiques, Jersey Blues and Javas for everyday purposes. For egg production he favored Spanish and Polish and mentioned the Hamburg group favorably. He praised the Guelderlands as being plump, but did not consider them good layers or sitters. His opinion of their laying ability differs with that of most European writers who generally considered them to be prolific producers.

    The Guelderlands were to a considerable extent displaced by early Asiatic imports in the U.S. Following the Civil War the great explosion of American produced breeds nearly swept them completely from public notice. They experienced a considerable decline in Europe at the same time, but in the early 1900s began to recover both as a show fowl and in economic importance. This led to additional American imports, but they never obtained a long term following.

    Robinson and most other early writers mention them only as a black fowl. Most 20th century imports were Cuckoo, but a limited number of blue and white Bredas were present also. The term Breda probably was not in use in North America until after 1900.

    The Breda is a rather large bodied fowl, with a well-developed prominent breast, strong thighs, rather long closely feathered legs, vulture hocks, broad slightly sloping back, short well arched neck, long strong head with a stout well curved beak and no comb. A tassel or small tuft of feathers (usually very small) rises from the head at the rear of the flat depressed area where the comb should be. Bredas also have large cavernous nostrils as are usually found in crested breeds such as Polish or breeds with crested ancestry such as LaFleche.

    The Breda is generally conceded to be a composite breed, but a rather early one. As far as I know, no definite records exist as to how it was produced. That it has some crested ancestry is obvious. I've mentioned that it is considered a Dutch breed, but minority opinions argue for a Belgian or French origin. The Malines is often mentioned as a probable ancestor and certainly would account for the feathered legs. That leaves us without a ready explanation for the vulture hocks. I've heard suggestions that Sultans crossed with Malines or Asiatics could have produced them, but this is a fowl that developed long before any Sultans or most Asiatics appeared in Western Europe.

    The Breda was certainly the common fowl of Northern Holland. Even after it was to some extent displaced it was popular for the production of market hybrids. Dutch breeders commonly crossed it with Cochins in the later years of the 19th century. In France it was generally crossed with Crevecoeurs, Houdans and Five toed fowl. Given what we know about the long use of both Polish and Malines to produce hybrids in that part of the world, it is likely that the Bredas themselves developed from such fowl. Individuals with the unusual and probably at the time very rare traits of vulture hocks and no combs were selected for a new breed.

    To my knowledge the no comb characteristic is unique to this breed. That alone might recommend Bredas as a future SPPA importation project.

    Breda eggs

    Breda chick

    Breda juveniles

    Breda hen

    Breda rooster

    For more information on this breed and their owners' and breeders' experiences with them, see our breed discussion here:
  • 115ced49_1324919365_ExcheckerBredaFowl.jpeg 03aaf67d_P9167245.jpeg cover.jpg eggs.jpg chick.jpg juv.jpg roo.jpg hen.jpg

  • Chicken Breed Info:
    Breed Purpose: Dual Purpose

    Comb: Combless


    Climate Tolerance: they do well in colder climates.

    General Egg Info:
    Egg Productivity: Medium

    Egg Size: Medium

    Egg Color: White

    Breed Temperament: Calm. mild

    Very easy to hold, calm, easy to change couples without fights between the animals.

    Breed Colors / Varieties:

    Black, White, Hemmed Blue, Cuckoo and Black-Spotted

    Breed Details:

    The full breed is known with several different names: Breda, Gueldre (which refers to one of the provinces in the Netherlands: Gelderland) and in the Netherlands itself, it is known as 'Kraaikop', the Dutch word for "Crowhead”. This name was given because the shape of the head of the Breda with its crested tassel, lack of a comb, and large shell nostrils looks like a crow.

    The Bredas were common in the US before the Civil War and were called Guelderlands or Guelders. In this period of time they were origianlly used for meat, but were also noted to be good layers of white eggs.

    The Breda is a large fowl with a prominent breast; long and closely feathered legs; feathered feet, volture hocks, broad and sloping back; short neck; no comb; red-brown to orange eyes, and cavernouse nostrils. It has a small tassel crest from where the comb should be.

    In Europe, Bredas were used for shows and production bird. They were also common and popular in producing market hybrids.

    Today, the Breda is a very rare in Europe and were not available in the USA until reintroduced by European imports in 2011.

    Chicken Breed Photos:

    Primary Image






Recent User Reviews

  1. Indyshent
    "Lovely underrated birds"
    Pros - Excellent egg production, lovely, quiet, stately, submissive
    Cons - Hard to find, seem to have poor resistance to disease
    I've had a number of Breda, all originally from the same owner. They were all exceptionally lovely, stately birds. Both sexes were very submissive and consistently toward the bottom of the hierarchy. males usually had strong crows, but their constant battles with illness led me to rehome them eventually. Males were very impressive, exceptionally tall and beautiful, and had a calm, quiet air of respectability.

    The sole hen I had was never once ill and laid medium cream eggs frequently. She never went broody, didn't eat much, never fought with anyone yet also never seemed to be bullied by anyone because she chose her friends wisely.
  2. BrownFamFlock
    "Great Chicken"
    Pros - Hearty, Smart, Very Good Layer
    Cons - Can be bossy
    We were talked into this breed when we went to pick up some Silkies from someone off Craigslist. We got two pullets and have been pleasantly surprised by these two girls. Although they can be very bossy and demanding at times, they are great pets. My kids and I can walk over and pick them up. They will fly onto one of our laps, especially if they see another chicken is occupying a lap (jealous chickens). They are top of the pecking order, smart, predator savvy and great about alerting the flock when a predator is nearby. Seldom do they miss a day of laying, so they are an excellent laying chicken. One follows me around every time I garden waiting for a worm to be dug up, then she tries to dig up the newly planted plant. Not a great characteristic I suppose, but they are full of personality.
  3. Sylvester017
    Pros - Unique appearance catches your eye, ultra calm, inquisitive, easily tamed/handled, good in a non-combative gentle flock
    Cons - Startles easily, pullet toe feathers break, seems annoyed at her toe quills, gentle nature & stresses easily, don't put in an aggressive flock
    Experienced our Blue Breda 4 m/o pullet who shipped to us w/ her best friend a Blue Ameraucana pullet 2 weeks ago - they were hatchmates and always pal'd around together. The vet's fecal lab tests showed they came w/ round worms so we treated them both for that. Secondly the Breda must have stressed from the shipping, plopped in a new environment, w/ new people so she exhibited CRD symptoms so we had to treat her for that. Now they are both back to good health again. Thirdly we are now experiencing the Breda picking at her toe feathers to the point that her companion started to pick at the blood - so we immediately began dipping the Breda's legs in Grannick's Bitter Apple a couple times a day to keep both birds from pecking the toes. I was prepared for these issues in getting a Breda but just didn't think all of it would happen the moment she arrived. We experienced having a Silkie with delicate health so maintenance on gentle breeds is routine for us.

    Health issues aside we are thrilled with the Breda personality - calm, curious, unafraid of coming up to receive a treat from the hand, easily picked up, one of the easiest breeds I've ever had that tamed so quickly. Hope she continues this attribute at full maturity. JC Poultry said Breda tend to be easily bullied and bottom of pecking order so we have nothing but gentle breeds in the flock - APA Ameraucanas, Silkies, and her. I'm not fond of the health issues like susceptibility to CRD, Bumblefoot, broken toe feathers - but we are aware watching for these things thanks to previous input from other owners/ breeders. I have a Silkie w/ similar issues and we know when a hen is "off" to schedule a vet visit. Taking a chicken is no more tedious than taking a cat or dog to the vet except that the chickens get a lot more attention in the vet office! A tall rare Breda w/ no comb and cavernous nostrils is worth a capture on the vet's camera phone!

    There are hardier, more prolific, meatier breeds in the chicken world but I have yet to come across other breeds so uniquely rare and regal in appearance as the Breda along w/ a gentle nature. The non-combative Breda personality is so perfect for our gentles flock who are non-combative breeds. Breda is so worth keeping around just for her personality alone - the beauty and eggs yet to come will just be an added bonus!

User Comments

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  1. LulaBell
    They are very beautiful! Especially the rooster, how handsome!
  2. SimsFarmFresh
    Beautiful specimen!!!
      GaryDean26 likes this.
  3. Sylvester017
    I am so happy to read when others are pleasantly surprised with the Breda. I had so many issues with LF not playing nice with our Silkies. We had to re-home several dual-purpose and heavy breeds because they would bully the smaller gentler breeds. We like that the Bredas are too busy foraging and seeking handout treats to worry about flock politics. We have found Ameraucanas, Silkies, and Bredas our gentlest breeds to keep together. I never expected a bonus of eggs from our Blue Breda but our girl is a laying machine. We have been so impressed we've ordered another Breda in a different color. Bredas are curious, outgoing, unafraid, people-oriented birds -- very pesty and friendly family pets. Our girl was so friendly she and the neighbor's Chow Chow would go nose to beak through the chainlink fence checking each other over. Bredas go absolutely everywhere to check things out and can't wait to be first in line for handouts. We had to take our girl out of the raised garden bed before she finally respected the fence around it. Foraging is like a game to Breda -- no worm, no insect is safe from a Breda and she'll be very quick to gulp it down before any other breed can get to it. Be careful at hand-feeding treats since the Breda will monopolize all the food so that others don't get any. We had to train our birds by name to take turns. Ours was wary about Cooper's Hawks and stayed in the coop or in the doghouse until the coast was clear -- I would say this breed is predator-savvy from the way we've seen her behave. She doesn't seem to miss a thing -- insects, hawks, strangers, unfamiliar sounds, etc.
  4. Sylvester017
    Have to let future readers of my review know that we were mis-sent a COCKEREL by a breeder who I won't do business with again. We had to re-home him with friends that absolutely adore him so the big rare guy won't be someone's dinner. Needless to say, I didn't know the difference between a cockerel or a pullet with these Blue Bredas until the boy started to crow at 1:00 a.m. Mostly he would crow a couple times at daybreak and occasionally at roost time but hardly at all during the day unless he heard my rooster crow sounds on the computer. He was such a sweet gentle curious boy while we had him. Now thanks to RFR of CA we finally have a Blue Breda girl and she is everything RFR, chicken danz, Rhode Runner, and others have shared about the Breda. I made a good breed choice for our gentle backyard flock mix! Other than knowing how to differentiate the male and female juveniles, I did a lot of research on this breed and have loved the heads up by all that shared the negatives and the positives of Breda which helped me to make my final choice. The negative health issues helped us be prepared to recognize, test, and treat the early health issues. I guess this breed has a difficult start as chicks/juvies but should be hardier once adults. I've had some feedback that says younger Breda can suddenly drop dead for no apparent reason but if they get past two years one might be confident they will be okay. Here's hoping our girl survives a long time. She's a picky eater but she loves her PolyViSol no iron vitamin drop given a couple times a week and once a week we offer her a Trader Joe's soft mini B-12.
  5. boskelli1571
    Thanks for the info. I'm hoping to get started with breeding Bredas in the future, but I have much to research right now.
  6. chicken danz
    I've raised Bredas for a few years now. They are probably my favorite chicken breed and just gorgeous. They are so quirky looking but naturally tame and very sweet. It's hard to keep the babies going, but hardy once they get some age on them. They are more for viewing than production but if you want a pet chicken I don't think there is a better breed.
  7. Sylvester017
    Thank you for the descriptions of your Bredas. Had my Blue girl for 2 weeks now and she startles her own-self flapping/jumping straight up like you described. Those long legs make her look like a miniature ostrich standing tall, stately, and regal with slow deliberate thoughtful steps. At 4 m/o when she arrived she weighed 2.725 lbs but visually I thought she was heavier because of her tallness. I'm not expecting her to get much past 4-lbs but if she gets heavier it'll be ok. Her calm tame gentle personality is outstanding and thanks to you, RhodeRunner, SilkiesForEver and dutchbunny86 sharing all your wonderful info I might have glossed over this perfect breed for my gentle backyard flock. Beauty and eggs will be just an added bonus!
  8. Sylvester017
    Your review is spot on correct regarding what we have already experienced with our Blue Breda 4 m/o pullet who shipped to us w/ her best friend a Blue Ameraucana pullet - they were hatchmates and always pal'd around together. Thank you for mentioning the feathers that come out of their toes and finding blood because of it. It helped to keep us apprised of the issue and it happened this past week. Our pullet seems annoyed by her toe feathers and pecks at them so we dip her legs in Grannick's Bitter Apple a couple times daily to keep her from picking. You described the personality very well - calm, curious, unafraid of coming up to receive a treat from the hand, easily picked up, one of the easiest breeds I've ever had that tamed so quickly. Hope she continues this attribute at full maturity. JC Poultry said Breda tend to be easily bullied and bottom of pecking order so we have nothing but gentle breeds in the flock - Ameraucanas, Silkies, and her. I'm not fond of the health issues like susceptibility to CRD (which we already had to take her to the vet), Bumblefoot, broken toe feathers - but we are alert to watching for these things thanks to previous input from other owners/breeders. The Breda personality is so perfect for our gentles flock. This breed is so worth keeping around just for the personality alone - the beauty and eggs are just a bonus!
  9. RhodeRunner
    Primarily, yes. But, I occasionally post adds here on BYC, and other places.
  10. Feike
    very pretty, do you only sell through your website?

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