One of our regular stomping grounds is the Madison County Historical Complex. It sits on 18 acres of gorgeous hilltop at the southeast edge of town.
This spring a new flock of chickens was introduced to the grounds. That’s nothing new in rural Iowa but, when we first saw the flock, we thought something was seriously wrong. They are the strangest chickens we’ve ever seen! None of them have feathers on their long, red necks. They seem active, healthy, and happy otherwise. But, such odd ducks – so to speak.
It turns out these lightly-feathered creatures are Transylvania Naked Neck chickens. They’re sometimes called Turken or Churkey because it was once assumed they were a hybrid of a chicken and a domestic turkey. This has since been proven untrue. The trait for the bare neck is controlled by one gene, and they are all chicken. They actually have half the total number of feathers found on other breeds, which helps them withstand hot weather better.
The modern version originally came from Transylvania and was largely developed in Germany. Today, they are fairly common in Europe, but rather rare in America. Despite their alarming appearance they are known as placid, calm birds. One breeder states:
I’ve never met a mean Naked Neck.
Must be like people: if you don’t have the looks you need to rely on personality.
Check back tomorrow and I’ll have a recipe for you. It doesn’t seem quite right to include it here.