In this part 4 on the Preserved Breeds of Lille Museum of Natural History, we cover more of the Continental breeds.
Combattant du Nord
The Combattant du Nord (Northern Fighter) is a very ancient breed, dating back to Julius Caesar in a time when cock fighting was prevalent in the Roman invasion of Gaul. The breed is considered to be one of the most beautiful, rustic and interesting old breeds and is known as the “Pheasant Coq” to the local inhabitants. It is also very productive. A Mr. Benoit Vilqui, a poultry specialist, wrote in 1930: “The race is one of the best of our breeds. It is not uncommon to find in the north of France, a small house in the countryside without seeing near the house, a Combattant du Nord in the middle of a dozen hens.”
It can be seen that the head is large and there is a strong neck. The body certainly exudes power with wide, slop ing shoulders. The leg color ranges from orange to deep yellow. The hens are also regal, attractive and very alert and they are said to be good layers of whitish eggs. The main varieties are the Gold, and the silver, shown here, an exhibit fairly close to those still seen today.
The Gauloise doree (gold) is the closest race of wild origin of all the races in France and perhaps the world. It certainly dates back to Roman times in Gaul when it is said it was appreciated and kept for its beautiful appearance more than anything else. It is, just as it was in 1900, a very attractive animal and is still the emblem of France. It can also lay up to 200 eggs per year.
Coucou de Flandres
It is found both in France and Belgium in the regions of Nord-Pas de Calais, Picardy and Flanders and was created in the second half of the 19th century by a Mr. Labbe, who sought and selected birds from the region of Lompret in France. It was standardized in 1914. It is above average in size, being robust, low on the legs, round, graceful and elegant.
The rooster has a proud attitude, with a protruding chest, although it is said not to be pugnacious. As in most “cuckoo” breeds the rooster is a lighter color than the hen. The bars are usually the four black and four white, and they are less regular in the rooster than in the hen with the white part wider. Adult roosters weigh between 6 pounds, 9 ounces, and 7 pounds, 11 ounces.
The hen meanwhile, is darker than the rooster in feathering, her barring having a more dark green and reflective black on white background. The hens are excellent layers of large 2.3-ounce white shell pink to light brown eggs, are good incubators and very good mothers. Adult hens weigh 5 pounds, 8 ounces, to 6 pounds, 10 ounces. They are also said to have excellent flesh quality. The chicks, besides having the characteristic of a whitish or yellowish spot on the head, are sexable from the second week (lighter plumage for rooster), but can be sexed with experience from the first day. Apparently, the chicks with darker legs are more often male. The breed is classed as rare and very rare outside France and Belgium.
The breed originates from Faverolles in the Eureet-Loire region of France. It lays a good number of eggs up to 2 ounces in weight and the eggs are slightly tinted. It has a broad, deep and long, rectangular shape and looks to have become more stocky since 1901 judging by preserved animal shown.
The male now weighs around 8.6 pounds. They still possess a very familiar and calm character and are a joy to be around for keepers of the breed.
Stuart Sutton is a freelance writer and photographer who specializes in poultry.
Originally published in the October/November 2016 issue of Backyard Poultry magazine.