The French Barbezieux
While the French Barbezieux is virtually unknown outside its own country, its famous flavor has been delighting the fortunate few for centuries. Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, author of the 1826 book “Physiology of Taste” and father of the the genre of food writing, described his first experience feasting on a Barbezieux as one “riddled with excitement.” “What could be more pleasant than [this chicken] that grabs all the guests at the sight and smell of a beautiful Barbezieux?” Indeed.
Recognized by the Gault et Millau (France’s most respected guide to dining) in 2001 as one of the best tasting chickens in all of France, this beautiful bird continues to excite gastronomes that are lucky enough to enjoy it. Sunbird Farms is one of the first to offer this award-winning chicken.
Although they birds are massive, we have found the rooster to be well-tempered, both in the flock and with humans. The breed has an air of comfortable skepticism about it, being neither flighty or overly friendly. A few of our birds have been willing to follow us about the orchard looking for treats, but most keep a calm but safe distance. We have found that they prefer plenty of space, which equates to about 6-8 square feet per bird for housing requirements. The Barbezieux is definitely at home out on pasture, some willing to fly 20-30 feet with ease, and constantly active in the hunt for food. They remind the observer of the pheasant, large and powerful, but willing to move quickly when needed.
Looking at the roosters, it is easy to see that this breed is larger than most of its fellow fowl. However, the true heft of the Barbezieux is perhaps best observed by grasping a mature hen. Dense, extremely well-fleshed and muscular, the qualities of this table bird come to life in your hands. We raise our birds in our heirloom walnut orchard, with continual access to the natural pasture. They dine on greens and grubs, spreading their wings and roaming the farm. We supplement with organic, soy-free feed and prepare them for the table by finishing in a traditional manner. In the final 2-3 weeks, the birds dine on a combination of organic grains and pastured, organic milk, devouring the meal with vigor.
As dual-purpose birds, they lay a respected number of white to lightly-tinted eggs. The eggs are nicely-shaped, and fall into the large category. While not as prolific as their cousins the Bresse, they nevertheless are productive enough to be considered dual-purpose.
We raise our birds in our heirloom walnut orchard, with continual access to the natural pasture. They dine on greens and grubs, spreading their wings and roaming the farm. Additionally, we supplement with organic, soy-free feed and prepare them for the table by finishing in a traditional manner. In the final 2-3 weeks, the birds dine on a combination of organic grains and pastured, organic milk, devouring the meal with vigor.
We devote as much time to continuing the quality of our birds as we do preparing them for the table. We acquired our stock from the original importers, Greenfire Farms, over multiple hatches from the farm in Florida. Further, we select our breeders using guidelines issued by the Livestock Conservancy, an organization committed to the preservation of heritage breeds from around the world. At Sunbird Farms, the goal is to add to the value of this historic breed, in any small way we can.
You can find more on their availability in our store.
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