I'll talk about Chanteclers next week on the Chicken Whisperer's blogtalkradio program. Developed as a distinctive Canadian breed, Chanteclers are a composite breed that thrives in cold weather. Their distinctive cushion comb and small wattles aren’t affected by cold weather. Their plumage, a tight outer feathering over a thick layer of down, is as distinctive as the comb. It’s fundamental to their cold hardiness.
“It is a real down jacket!” said Gina Bisco of New York State. “If you pick up a hen of some other breed, then pick up Chantecler hen, you really notice the Chantecler's thick, warm layer of padding.”
Although Chanteclers adapt to confinement, crowded indoor conditions are too warm for their cold-hardy constitution. Breeding birds kept in warm locations will affect
the breed's cold-climate adaptation. Warmer temperatures, whether natural or artificially provided to increase laying, will inevitably select birds that prefer warmer conditions.
“Chanteclers' looks result directly from especially cold-adaptive traits,” said Ms. Bisco.
She finds her birds happiest in shaded woodlands of the hilly forest ecosystem on her New York State farm during warm summer weather. These girls seem perfectly happy in the snow. They spend their days ranging in landscape different from the sunny pastures that suit most chickens. Their white color blends well into the dappled undergrowth. So well, when she tried to show them off to a visitor, all he could see was an occasional tail disappearing under blackberry bushes and wary eyes watching the stranger.
“By the time we reached each pen, it looked absolutely empty,” she said. The visitor never got a good look at any of the thirty or more Chanteclers in that wooded area.