Chicken breeds are a world of their own that is diverse and unique. Each breed has its own characteristics and quirks and history. One breed that stands out in particular is the Turken chicken, affectionately nicknamed the “Naked Neck” due to its featherless neck and face. Despite not being as popular as some other chicken breeds, the Naked Neck has captured the hearts of many poultry enthusiasts with its distinctive appearance, adaptability to various climates, and friendly disposition.
Let’s discuss the Turken, their history, characteristics, and care requirements.
Overview of Turken Chicken Breed
Here is an glimpse at this intriguing breed:
|Purpose||Egg, Meat, and Companionship|
|Feather Color||Black, red, white, cuckoo, buff|
|Egg Production||2-4 per week, 180-240 eggs per year|
|Cost||$4 per chick|
History of the Turken “Naked Neck” Chicken Breed
The history of the Naked Neck Chicken, also known as the Turken, is intriguing and spans over a century. This distinctive breed can trace its origins to Transylvania, a region in central Romania. The breed made its first appearance in 1918. Unfortunately, the creator of the breed remains a mystery.
After its introduction, the Naked Neck Chicken quickly gained popularity and found its way into homesteads and farms across Europe. Romania, in particular, embraced this breed due to its unique characteristics and suitability for the local climate.
Despite their practical advantages, Naked Neck Chickens faced challenges over the years. As the poultry industry evolved, breeders increasingly focused on developing chickens for industrial purposes, such as meat and egg production. Additionally, chickens bred for exhibition in poultry shows favored more conventional feathered appearances.
In modern times, the Naked Neck chicken remains common in various countries around the world. In regions where heat tolerance and efficient egg production are valued, such as India and Nigeria, Naked Neck Chickens continue to play a crucial role in the local poultry economy.
Is The Turken a Cross Between a Chicken and Turkey?
A Turken or Naked Neck chicken is not a cross between a chicken and a turkey. Even though the name suggests that it is the offspring of a turkey and chicken, the Naked Neck is called a Turken because of it’s an appearance. Hybrids between chickens and turkeys, known as “churkeys” or “turkens,” are extremely rare and generally the result of controlled breeding experiments. These hybrids are distinct from Naked Neck or Turken chickens and typically exhibit a combination of characteristics from both species, including a mix of feathered and featherless areas. However, creating such hybrids is a complex and challenging process, and they are not commonly found in the poultry industry or backyard flocks.
Physical Characteristics of Naked Neck Chickens
On first glance you might think that a Naked Neck chicken is a cross between a chicken and a turkey, due to their appearance. As mentioned earlier, while such a hybrid is extremely rare, the Naked Neck chicken is indeed distinct.
The color of their neck can vary based on climate; in colder climates, it may be a lighter pink, while in hot or tropical areas, it can take on a vibrant red or dark red hue due to increased sun exposure.
These chickens are considered large in size and have a yellow beak and shanks. Their skin, apart from the head and neck, is reddish-pink. In terms of feathering, Naked Necks come in various colors, including black, buff, red, white, and cuckoo. Regardless of the color, they all share a distinctive red, single comb. Their feathers are loosely packed and have a light density across the entire body.
Distinguishing between roosters and hens is primarily a matter of size. The roosters tend to be larger than hens and exhibit crowing behavior, making them easier to identify. Roosters also have larger combs and wattles, as well as sharp sickle feathers on their tails. Approximately, roosters weigh around 8.5 pounds, while hens usually weigh around 6.5 pounds.
Here is a video about the Naked Neck chicken:
Breed Standard of Turken Chickens
The Naked Neck chicken was first recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1965. Currently, the American Poultry Association recognizes black, buff, red, and white as standard color varieties for Naked Neck Chickens. However, you can also find them in cuckoo, blue, golden-salmon, and Mille-Fleur variations. The availability of different color varieties may vary among breeders and hatcheries, so it’s advisable to explore different options to find your favorite.
What Do Naked Neck Chicks Look Like?
Naked Neck chicks, like their adult counterparts, have distinctive features that set them apart from other chicken breeds. First, do these chicks have featherless necks? Yes! While most chick breeds have feathers covering their neck and head from an early age, Naked Neck chicks will have a patchy or sparse feathering on their neck and head region. You may observe featherless areas or shorter, stubbier feathers on their necks or completely bare necks.
Naked Neck chicks will grow at a rate similar to other chick breeds. They start small, with downy feathers and a fuzzy appearance, and gradually develop their adult plumage. As they grow, you may notice the distinctive featherless neck and head becoming more apparent.
Why Do Naked Neck Chickens Have Naked Necks?
At first glance, the sight of a chicken with a featherless neck and head might raise concerns, as it’s a departure from the feathered appearance we associate with chickens. However, this unique feature in Naked Neck Chickens can be attributed to genetics.
Turkens posses a unique gene called BMP12, which plays a critical role in their featherless necks. This gene acts as a “guard” against feather growth and is active in the head and neck region. BMP12 functions by suppressing the expression of DNA responsible by feather growth, thereby stopping the growth of feathers along the neck. As a result, Turkens have their naked necks.
Keep in mind that this gene only affects certain regions, which is why the rest of their bodies are not impacted. Additionally, due to the nakedness of their neck being related to genes, there is sometimes a chance that your Turkens end up with feathering on their necks, usually a 1 in 9 chance.
Personality and Temperament of Naked Necks
Naked Neck chickens are known for their gentle and friendly temperament. These chickens are docile, tolerant, and love interacting with humans and other chickens. For those who want a pleasant flock that gets along, Naked Neck chickens are an excellent choice.
On the other hand, if you plan on introducing Turken chickens into an existing flock with more dominating chickens, you must monitor them closely. Naked Necks may occupy lower positions in the pecking order and may be vulnerable to bullying by more assertive hens.
Furthermore, if you have a large yard where your Naked Necks can roam, they will be very happy. Naked Necks have a natural inclination for foraging. Their reduced feathering on the neck and head allows them to forage without feathers obstructing their vision or getting in the way of pecking at food. They are also curious and active. These chickens enjoy exploring their environment in search of insects, seeds, plants, and other edible items. Since these chickens are also large, they also thrive when being able to supplement their diets with foraging. Plus, this can be beneficial for both the chickens and their keepers, as it reduces the need for additional commercial feed.
Naked Neck chickens also engage in dust bathing, a natural behavior where they dig shallow holes in the ground and roll in dust or dirt. This helps them keep clean, remove parasites, and aids in their overall well-being while foraging.
Naked Neck Chickens are notably talkative and can become quite vocal at times. If you enjoy conversing with your chickens, you’ll appreciate the lively conversations they engage in with you and other members of your flock. Due to their chatty behavior, this breed is best suited for rural areas where noise is less of a concern.
Egg Production of Naked Necks
Around six month old, Naked Neck chickens will begin laying eggs. They have decent egg-laying capabilities and will produce 2-4 large brown eggs each week or 180-240 eggs per year. You must keep in mind that the climate will impact how many eggs your Naked Necks lay. These chickens tend to excel at egg-laying in tropical and hot climates. In colder places, their egg production will drop off. They are not particularly broody, although occasional bouts of broodiness can occur. If you wish to hatch eggs from your Naked Necks, it’s recommended to incubate the eggs due to their lower broodiness tendencies.
The other option is to pair Naked Neck chickens with other friendly breeds, like Silkies. Plus, the Silkies will incubate the eggs that are left alone by the Turkens. Also, you may end up with some Showgirls, or the hybrid between Naked Necks and Silkies if you have a Silkie rooster walking around.
Can Naked Necks Be Used For Meat?
Yes, Naked Neck chickens can be used for meat. They are considered a dual-purpose breed, suitable for both egg production and meat. Their meat is known for its flavor, and their large size makes them a viable option for those looking to raise chickens for meat. However, it’s essential to provide them with proper care, including a balanced diet and appropriate processing techniques, to ensure high-quality meat.
Naked Neck Chicken Care Guide
Now that you have learned what Turken chickens look like and how they behave, let’s discuss caring for this breed. There are some considerations you need to know about if you plan on keeping Naked Neck chickens. These considerations include:
Naked Necks are susceptible to a couple of issues, including a susceptibility to heat stress. So long as chickens have shade and fresh, cool water, they can be comfortable in hot periods. Naked Neck chickens can also get sunburn on their necks, due to the lack of feathers. Furthermore, Naked Neck chickens are vulnerable to cold temperatures and frostbite. In colder climates, provide them with a heated chicken coop or an indoor area to protect them from freezing temperatures. Insulate the coop well and use heating lamps or heaters if necessary.
Other than these climate considerations, Turken chickens have the same vulnerabilities to health issues. Do routine checks on their feathers for external parasites, as well.
Make sure you have gotten your chickens vaccinated against certain chicken illnesses and viruses.
Coop Setup and Roaming
Given their larger size, Naked Neck Chickens require more space than average chickens. Each Naked Neck Chicken should have approximately six square feet of space inside their coop. When it comes to nesting boxes, provide boxes that are 12 inches deep, tall, and 14 inches wide. On average, you’ll need one nest box for every three Naked Neck hens in your flock.
For roosting, make sure their perches are around 12 inches off the ground. In terms of outdoor space, the more significant the run, the better. Aim for at least 15 square feet of space per chicken to ensure their well-being. Naked Necks adapt well to confinement and make an excellent choice for those who cannot allow their chickens to free-range frequently. In a run, providing perches and occasional vegetable scraps can help keep them entertained and reduce flock bullying.
These dual-purpose chickens should be fed a balanced diet of pellets with a protein content ranging from 16% to 20%. Additionally, consider supplementing their diet with grit and calcium if they cannot forage consistently. Naked Neck Chickens should always have access to clean and fresh water, which is especially crucial in hot climates. While they are more heat-resistant than other breeds, regular monitoring is essential to ensure their health and comfort.
Final Thoughts on the Turken Chicken Breed
The Turken, or Naked Neck, chicken is a remarkable and distinct breed that stands out in the world of poultry. Its unique genetic traits, including the featherless neck and head, set it apart and make it a fascinating addition to any backyard or farm. With a rich history dating back over a century and a resilience that allows it to thrive in various climates, the Turken chicken has much to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned chicken keeper or a novice looking to embark on your poultry journey, the Turken chicken is a breed worth considering. Ready to embrace a featherless flock?
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.