- 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
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.
For more information on this breed and their owners' and breeders' experiences with them, see our breed discussion here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/breda-fowl-thread.561974/
Chicken Breed Info:
Breed Purpose: Dual Purpose
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
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:
Recent User Reviews
"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.
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.
"BREDA IS UNIQUE AND ULTRA-FRIENDLY"
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!