In addition to the Black Copper Marans eggs we put in the incubator a couple of days ago, we just started incubating some American Bresse eggs. While we have, to this point, raised dual-purpose chickens primarily for eggs, these are intended to be primarily meat chickens.
Why the Bresse? The Bresse is reputed to be the best tasting chicken in the world. Admittedly, this title is connected to the French Bresse, but the American Bresse is supposed to be a related line. As a heritage breed, it’s slower-growing than a meat hybrid like a Cornish Cross, but the tradeoff is sustainability and taste.
The pastured poultry from dual-purpose breeds we’ve raised and eaten has been very flavorful, though smaller-breasted than the popular broiler breeds. We think the depth of flavor develops with time and terroir; our chickens eat grass, wild greens, fruit, bugs and whatever else they find while free-ranging (including frogs!). We also prefer moist meat to dry, so smaller breasts and large drumsticks are just fine with us.
After last year’s losses to predators, we also want to make sure we have a dependable supply of eggs – we almost had to buy eggs after the foxes and hawks picked off our layers. Now, we can’t fathom not having enough of our eggs for our own needs (and we eat a lot of eggs), so with a 5 month lead time, having layers of different ages helps ensure a continuous supply.
We’ll probably introduce at least some of the Bresse into our mixed flock, but will also keep some separated to produce hatching eggs for chicks. This breed doesn’t seem to be widespread around here yet, but that could change if they live up to their reputation.
It will be about five months, including incubation time, before we even know how the Bresse taste. Let’s hope these chickens are truly worth the wait!