Average User Rating:
  • Breed Purpose:
    Egg Layer
    Climate Tolerance:
    All Climates
    Egg Productivity:
    Egg Size:
    Egg Color:
    Dark to red brown
    Breed Temperament:
    Breed Colors/Varieties:
    Crele, Partridge, Wheaten, Black
    Breed Size:
    Large Fowl

    The Penedesenca is an interesting breed originating from the state of Catalonia in northeast Spain. First imported in 2001, they are still rare, even in their homeland. They are famous for their very dark reddish brown eggs that are the color of wet terracotta to chocolate. They are Mediterranean in type, meaning they are of a lean build, have a flighty personality and have excellent foraging abilities. Mediterraneans also tend to be non-setters as well as good layers, although there is always variability. Penedesencas have an interesting comb, which is unique to them and a sister breed called the empordanesa. The “carnation comb” or “king’s crest” starts out as a single comb in the front and branches off into several lobes at the rear, roughly taking on the appearance of a flower, thus the name carnation.

    There are four varieties of the breed; three were developed for egg production, while one (the black variety) was developed for dual purposes and is of a heavier build:

    Crele (Barrada)
    Partridge (Aperdizada)
    Wheaten (Trigueña or Blat)
    Black (Negra)

    Hens are good layers of dark eggs which are somewhere between terracotta and red-chocolate in color and they are often spotted with dark brown speckles. Darkness of the egg varies between flocks. The breed has a nervous demeanor which makes them an excellent choice for free ranging. This nervousness dies down if they are handled regularly and are kept with more docile breeds, but they don’t really make good pets as they prefer to avoid contact. The breed was developed in the mild Mediterranean climate of northeast Spain but they are very cold hardy.

    The crele variety is autosexing, meaning the sex of the chicks can be determined by their color. Cockerells will be grey while pullets will be brown.

    Apparently the Black, a dual purpose bird, is the original Penedesenca. The others 3 varieties - all egg breeds were developed in the 80s in an effort to save the breed.

    In the Catalonian region of Spain there is an annual Festival of the Rooster(Fira del Gall) the weekend before Christmas. The rooster they are referring to is the Black Penedesenca. 2011 was a special celebration where 40,000 people from all over Europe attended to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the recovery of the black rooster and hen of Penedes, a breed renown for the color, taste and smoothness of its meat.

    At markets, the dressed roosters are displayed with head and feet intact so purchasers know they're getting the right bird they pay $8 a pound for.

    Roosters grown out longer, about 16-18 weeks, are the preeminent Christmas dinner, much like turkey is traditional here for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Three areas of focus are poultry, wine and cuisine. One of the main attractions of the fair is the live poultry where between 3,000 and 4,000 ducks, geese, capons and turkeys will be displayed for purchase.
    But the star of the show and the fair's namesake are 1,000 Black Penedesenca roosters. The roosters fetch about $50 each. The live birds are then processed free on the spot and brought home for Christmas.
    Besides wine tastings, there will be a poultry show with the best hens and roosters of the 4 varieties of Penedesenca. According to tradition, each year a foreign breed is invited to participate in the competition. 2011's invited breed was the Pita Pinta Asturiana.

    Another exhibit of the fair is the Kitchen of the Bird in which 7 restaurants will offer 21 dishes from traditional to more innovative, all prepared with the famous Black Rooster of Penedes.

    Black Penedesenca European Standard:
    Black Penedesenca Standards
    COMB, FACE and WATTLES: Red.
    EAR LOBES: White enclosed by red.
    EYES: Black, with dark honey iris color
    BEAK: Black horn of ox.
    SHANKS and TOES: Black slate.
    EGGS: Very dark reddish brown (Ireland) Intense reddish maroon (Spain)

    140-160 eggs per year

    over 65g (Ireland) 60g (Spain)
    CHICK DOWN: Black with white under the neck, beside the eyes, in the abdominal zone and at the tip of the wings.
    ROOSTER PLUMAGE: Tight to the body, lustrous metallic black in all sections with dark gray down.
    HEN PLUMAGE: Like the rooster in all sections.
    WEIGHT: Rooster: 2.5 to 3kg, (5.5 to 6.6 lbs.) Hen: 2 to 2.4kg, (4.4 to 5.3 lbs.)
    Rooster Morphology HEAD: Moderately elongated and wide.
    FACE: Flat.
    BEAK: Elongated, moderately curved and strong.
    EYES: Medium size and oval.
    COMB: Simple, mildly large, upright, well sitting on the head, flat, with five or six plain short peaks, with the last and the first smaller than the central ones. The rear spur, with an arched base has a tendency to go toward the back of the neck without touching it and with appendixes to each side of the posterior. The comb, viewed from behind, must resemble a flower.
    WATTLES: Medium sized and hanging.(Ireland) Fairly large, pendulous and red (Spain)
    EAR LOBES: Mildly lengthened, lightly lined, very united to the head on the upper part, and suspended on the lower part. (Ireland) Moderately elongated, oblong, slightly wrinkled close to the head at the top and hanging on the lower part. White surrounded with red. (Spain)
    NECK: Regularly arched, proportionally long with respect to the body, with abundant hackle resting on the shoulders and back.
    WINGS: Big, well pleated and belted to the body. They musn't surpass the body. (Ireland)
    Large and carried inclined so the imaginary line running from tip to the ground form an angle approximately 45º to the ground, tight to the body without exceeding it.(Spain)
    BACK: Wide, inclined from front to back and with abundant hackles, rounded and rather short.
    BREAST: Wide, deep, elongated and prominent; with well arched ribs.
    TAIL: Developed, well populated with feathers and open with two longer feathers quite curved in the shape of a sickle, inserted in angle of 45º through the horizontal. (Ireland) Sickle feathers inserted at an angle between 45º and 90º above the horizontal (Spain).
    TORSO: Rather short, wide and tilted toward the back.
    ABDOMEN: Not well developed
    THIGHS: Half longitude (meaning in the center of the side of the body) and vigorous with tight plumage.
    LEGS: Moderately lengthened, flat, very separate and free of feathers.
    TOES: Four, strong, open and straight.
    APPEARANCE: In harmony and vigorous
    Hen Morphology
    HEAD, FACE and BEAK: Like the rooster.
    COMB: Simple, mildly big, with five or six teeth very definite and jagged, fall toward a side of the face and with appendixes like in the rooster.
    WATTLES, EAR LOBES, WING, BACK and BREAST: Like in the rooster.
    TAIL: Abundant, long and in angle between 40º and 45º through the horizontal.
    THIGHS, SHANKS and TOES: Like those of the rooster.
    APPEARANCE: Like that of the rooster.

    Undesirable traits - discard criteria in Ireland:
    a) Red at the ear lobes on more than one third of their surface.
    b) Absence of reddish-brown coloration on the egg shell.
    c) Absence of the appendixes at the comb.

    Serious Defects in Spain:

    a) any golden feathers
    b) red or silver in the neck;
    c) the presence of white feathers after six months of age.
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  • Chicken Breed Info:
    Breed Purpose: Egg Layer

    Comb: Carnation

    Broodiness: Seldom

    Climate Tolerance: All

    General Egg Info:
    Egg Productivity: Good

    Egg Size: Medium-Large

    Egg Color: Dark Reddish Brown

    Breed Temperament:


    Breed Colors / Varieties:

    Breed Details:

    Chicken Breed Photos:

    Primary Image






Recent User Reviews

  1. upmycreek
    "Flighty and Finicky"
    Pros - Beautiful bird with beautifully dark colored eggs
    Cons - Flighty and vocal about not wanting to you to be near them
    Very pretty, but a little cooky. Great look out bird for predators. Will roost very high in the trees if allowed to free roam. Warms up with frequent treats but very untrusting of humans. Gorgeous feathering and funny floppy comb. Keep them around for their eggs, but will stop laying at the first sign of change or stress (over breeding rooster, new coop, seasons, etc). This is just my own personal experience.
    Purchase Price:
    Purchase Date:
  2. Hangtown Farms
    "Penedesenca breed in general"
    Pros - Very Good layers of Dark eggs , very heat tolerant , extremely alert
    Cons - some feel the flightiness is a con ( personally like it. This is what makes them alert )
    The Penedesenca and Empordanesa lay very good numbers of dark brown to very dark brown eggs. ( the 140-160 on the description is incorrect imo)
    expect 200 to 240 a year

    This breed is flighty but not aggressive . The flightiness is what makes them so great at free ranging as they are super alert. Roosters are very good protectors of there flock.

    Penedesenca are also very heat tolerant , rarely pant in our summer heat. They have large combs which can get frost damage in very cold areas.
    Best bet to combat that seems to be good air circulation in the coops. This works well for me. we do not get bitter cold her in the low mountains of northern California but still get enough snow and frost.

    As far as egg color.

    Partridge seem to average the darkest eggs
    Black , wheaten , and White Empordanesa just behind
    Crele lay a lighter egg than the others but have the benefit of being Autosexing . grayish males with Darker Nut brown hens.
    Occasionally I have seen rooster chicks that are brownish with greyish shoulders as well.

    Empordanesa is a very close cousin and basically a White Penedesenca here in the states. In Spain there are Red and also Blue Tail I believe

    In summary you will be very hard pressed to find any breed that is as alert and heat tolerant as a Penedesenca
    especially when you throw in they can lay some of the darkest eggs around !

    The Penedesenca breed does need help. We need more people to help by breeding them to the Spanish Standard
    BlackHackle and ChickenCanoe like this.
  3. amberflea
    "Penedesenca Partridge chicks!"
    Pros - Am awaiting
    Cons - none yet
    Resting after a hard night of pecking at my shell!

    BlackHackle likes this.

User Comments

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  1. Hangtown Farms
    our fly babies , flying a far
  2. beverly evans
    I live in central Texas so I would love some. What hatchery sells them? THX : )
  3. amberflea
    I really like them, a bit more flighty than normal, cut chatty and they are a sleeker bodied bird, not big gluttons like my BCM. lol
  4. Deb B
    I love the look of these birds and would love to get some! I just got my first chicks ever, and for now I'm sticking with the friendly, easy breeds- EEs, Barred Rocks, and Wyandottes. But maybe someday...
  5. SmallFarmChick
  6. NorthTexaschick
    I hatched some last year and the two cockerels are bat-poo crazy! They are always fighting each other (as opposed to picking on other roos). Lost one because he WOULD NOT stop chasing at one of my turkey she killed him. Took care of that. My one Pene pullet will not let my anywhere near her but she is a pretty thing. LOVE the way her comb flops at a "jaunty angle." :)

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