American Bresse

Bresse getting their greens
Bresse getting their greens

We couldn’t be more excited about the future of this breed here on the farm.  We have been working with this breed for about a year, hatching our foundation flock for Greenfire eggs, and adding additional birds in the months that followed.  We’re getting them out in the sun everyday, on the ground where they can scratch, peck and stretch their wings.  They love it.  They have access to fresh water, plants and bugs, and even an organic, soy-free grower feed (See this article for more information on our feed).

We range our Bresse in tractors under the protective canopy in our orchard where the chick weed grows (convenient, right?).  You can read more about our adventures herehere and here.  Below is an excerpt from an earlier post on the Poulet de Bresse for your reading pleasure:

What kind of bird comes from a small area of eastern France, once inhabited by the Roman empire?  Poulet de Bresse, to be exact.  And like all good things from France, this natural beauty has its own Appellation d’origine Controlee, or guaranteed appellation of origin (AOC).  First granted in 1957, it was the only AOC given to a chicken anywhere in the world, the Bresse AOC.  The granting of this AOC was a means of securing the ultimate quality and taste of this unique, top-shelf bird.  However, the story of the AOC really began in 1936 when:

“the breeders, who defended an age-old quality, decided to
“clean the system up”. An petition was filed at the Court of
Bourg, and experts were called on: their study involved a
geological analysis of the soils in Bresse, the poultry-rearing
procedures, the determination of the breed which was “pure and
free from cross-breeding”. In this way, after a long, hard
struggle, the ultimate reference was the judgement pronounced
on 22/12/1936 which confirmed that an “A.O.C.” had been
acquired by the peasants themselves, on the tangible value of
their know-how, genuine, constant practices, ancestral
knowledge and customs, for a land which belonged to them
more than to any other person …”

As the association says, there is nothing “scientific about this production…[e]verything is based on experience and tradition.”  The raising of these birds requires meticulous work:

“• grassy pastures:
• 1 chicken per 10 m2
• one flock of a maximum of 500 chickens, and between
two batches a fallow period known as a “health break”
• a building measuring 50 m2 maximum
• a pasture measuring 5,000 m2 minimum
and starting from the 35th day at least, the breeder provides the
chickens with cereals (maize and wheat) and milk products. A
chicken reared on grassy pastures (for correct conformity and
full physical development of the bird) finds its complementary
food there (grass, worms, seeds, insects …).”

But the real question: does all this make a difference?  Writer James Martin in his article about searching for the “World’s Best Chicken,” noted that the price for a meal prepared with Bresse was “steep,” but “worth it.”  Or, as Jon Henley said in his Guardian article, “Top of the Pecking Order,” “There are champagnes, they like to say round the small town of Bourg-en-Bresse in south-east of France, and there is Dom Perignon. There are cars, and there is the Rolls-Royce. And there are chickens, and there is the poulet de Bresse.”

Although we are raising these birds to our “Standard of Production” for their premium table qualities, we have a limited number of eggs and chicks for purchase.  See our Store for more…

In the spring of 2014, we will be offering Black Bresse and Blue Bresse.  Stay tuned.

A link here for the traditional Poulet Bresse methods and management for raising Bresse…

2 thoughts on “American Bresse”

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