Houdan Chicken

Houdan chicken is an old breed which is known for it’s large white eggs and fine quality meat. It is also known as Poule de Houdan in French, and once known as the Normandy fowl.

Houdan chicken originated in France and were known even before 1700. It was raised extensively on many small farms near the village of Houdan in France.

The Houdan chickens are named for their area of origin, the commune of Houdan, in the department of Yvelines to the west of Paris. The breed was once valued in France for their large eggs and fine quality white meat. But now, they are considered as an ornamental breed.

It is unclear when and exactly how this chicken breed was developed. The Houdan chicken is possibly a cross of the Polish or Dorking chicken and Crevecoeur chicken breed along with five-toed native chickens. It was originally created as a dual purpose utility breed.

Houdan chicken was first imported into the North America in 1865 and to the England in 1850. It was admitted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1874.

Bantam version is also available of this chicken breed. The Houdan chicken is now listed in the Watch category of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List. Review characteristics, behavior and full breed profile of the Houdan chicken below.

Physical Characteristics of Houdan Chicken

Houdan chicken is large, heavy looking breed which is a great dual purpose utility bird suitable for both meat and eggs production. A large crest, fifth toe and V-shaped comb is the main characteristics of Houdan chicken.

It is unique breed having 5 toes and a beard. American Poultry Association recognizes two varieties of Houdan chicken; White and Mottled variety.

Both varieties have standard plumage and white skin. Beard, comb, crest, five toes etc. make it very easy to identify this chicken breed, even when chicks.

Houdan chickens have small V-shaped comb which is red and rests against the crest. They have white earlobes which are hidden beneath the beard and crest. Their wattles are also of red color like the comb.

Rectangular bodies of the Houdans are set on fairly short legs. The legs of the White variety Houdan chicken are solid pinkish-white. And the legs of the Mottled variety are pinkish-white with black mottling.

Their legs are featherless. Houdans are one of the best ornamental chicken breed which are also great dual purpose utility birds.

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Houdan chicks are also easily identified from other chicks for their unique appearance. The chicks often walk with a skipping gait because of their fifth toe.

Standard Houdan roosters weight about 2.5-3 kg and hens about 2-2.5 kg. And the bantam Houdan roosters weight about 0.9 kg and hens about 0.8 kg. Photo from BackYardChickens.


Houdan chicken is originally a dual purpose breed kept for both meat and eggs production. But nowadays, they are popular as an ornamental chicken breed.

They are calm, placid birds and are pretty good layers of large white eggs. The hens are not good sitters but do tend towards broodiness. As they are heavy in size, so they tend to break the eggs.

Houdan chicken is an excellent choice for the small farmers and they are very safe for the children. It is an exceptionally gentle breed and also does well in confinement.

Hens have very good feed to eggs ratio and they are also great winter layers. As the Houdan chicken has large crest and beard, so they need a special drinker.

Because their beard and large crest get wet and dirty if they use conventional types of drinker. So they require just a little amount of water in a bowl.

Houdans can be great as pets, and are easily handled if they have been raised from very young age. The average lifespan of Houdan chicken is 7-8 years. Review full breed profile below.

Breed NameHoudan
Other NamePoule de Houdan in French, and once known as the Normandy fowl
Breed PurposeOriginally a dual purpose breed, but now raised as an ornamental breed
Breed TemperamentFriendly, calm, docile, easily handled, bears confinement well, safe for children
Breed SizeLarge
Climate ToleranceAll Climates
Egg ColorWhite
Egg SizeMedium/Large
Egg ProductivityMedium
Feathered LegsNo
VarietiesTwo varieties are recognized by the American Poultry Association; Mottled and White
Country of OriginFrance

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