Naked Necks are an unusual breed and one might think… “Really, who would want a partially featherless chicken?” But as odd as they may look at first, Naked Necks are actually pretty cool! Here’s why…
Naked-Necks were originally bred to make raising chickens for meat easier… With less feathers to pluck, it would seem more convenient. For this reason, breeders leaned slightly towards characteristics that would make them good meat birds (such as size and meat quality). This is the reason why the Naked-Neck is a fairly large breed. Standard (non-bantam) Naked-Neck roosters weigh 8-9 pounds and Naked-Neck hens weigh 6-7 pounds. However, In spite of the meat-oriented breeding background, Naked-Necks turned out to be surprisingly good egg layers.
Naked-Necks lay an estimated 150-200 very large, brown eggs per year. However, since Naked-Necked chickens have 20-60% feathers than other breeds, their bodies don’t have to rebuild and regrow as many feathers as many other breeds. This means that there is less stress induced by molting and less energy and nutrients are converted to plumage. These factors make them require less feed and therefore have a higher egg-production/cost ratio than many other breeds with full plumage.
Because of their good meat quality, hardiness and egg laying abilities, they are outstanding in the dual-purpose breed category. However, they never became very popular in the meat or egg industries because they lay fewer eggs for their cost per year than Leghorns and do not grow as quickly as many broiler varieties.
Genetics & Color Variations
The gene that gives Naked-Necks their most noticeable feature (the featherless neck) is a dominate gene (called Na). This means that when Naked-Necks are bred with other breeds, the result will usually be Naked-Necked. This makes the creation of color variations fairly simple. However, these color variations will not be classified as part of the “true” Naked-Neck breed. Mixed Naked Necks may also have varying behavioural/physical traits even if they still have the characteristic “Naked-Neck”. Recognized color variations in the U.K include black, white, cuckoo, buff, red, and blue. However, only, black, white, buff and red are recognized in the U.S.
Heat & Cold Hardiness
Interestingly, the Na gene is largely responsible for the Naked-Necks’ breast meat size and quality an is also proven to reduce heat stress in chickens… This plus the fact that they have big Combs & Wattles, may explain some of their heat hardiness.
However, Naked Necks are not just heat hardy… They are also cold hardy. Naked Necks are also naturally resistant to some diseases, similar to Egyptian Fayoumis.
History of the Naked Neck
Naked-Necks originated in Transylvania (located near the center of Romania, a sovereign European state). However, it was Germany that played a crucial part in the Naked Neck’s breed development. From there, Naked-Necks made their way to Britain, France and the U.S. In 1965, The American Poultry Association recognized them as breed… However, even with legal breed recognition, they stayed somewhat rare in the U.S. Naked Necks are more commonly found in Europe.
Naked Neck Terminology
The Naked-Neck breed is known by many names including the Transylvanian and the Kaalnek… (The French Naked-Neck is a different breed entirely). Interestingly, their peculiar appearance lead some people to guess them to be turkey/chicken hybrids, which is how one of their most common names developed… The Turken.
Image above of turkeys and a Naked-Neck rooster by Juan Komun
Naked Neck Temperament
Naked-Necks are generally very gentle, mellow and docile chickens. These traits make them great with families and kids. Naked Necks also generally bear confinement well.
With all their awesome traits, Naked Necks may be starting their own trend!
Image of Naked-Neck chicks from My Pet Chicken
Featured Images of a Black Naked-Neck hen (named Hot Dog): Owned and Photographed by Marcus Craven.