a.k.a. Brekels, Brakels

A pair of Silver Braekels
Photo courtesy of Johan Opsomer

A Belgian breed similar to the Campine, but larger and not hen-feathered.

According to the British Poultry Standard, the Braekel was bred extensively in the Nederbraekel area in Flanders, from which it got its name. It was once bred in many varieties, but nowadays only gold and silver are common. It shares a common ancestry with the Campine.

Males weigh in at about 7 pounds and females around 6 pounds.

History of the Braekel

Contributed by the Speciaalclub voor het Brakelhoen

With pride we can say that the "Brakel Hen" is the oldest Flemish, largest layer that still exists today. The "Ardennes Hen" has the honour to be the oldest Belgian (Walloon) breed.

One hundred years ago you could find the Brakel on every smallholding. This is why the breed was also known as the "Farmyard Hen." Other names for the breed were "The Everyday Layer," "The Grey White Neck" and "The Nuns Hen." They were admired by the people who kept them because they laid well and provided a good table bird, the meat having a slight game flavour. It is around the yard and fields, looking for worms, insects, seed and greens. In this way the breed became hardy and only the strongest, the quickest and the healthiest ones survived. A basic natural selection took place, creating a strong breed resistant to all climates.

In 1898, in the village of Nederbrakel, the first Society for Brakels was formed. The name "Brakel" is without any doubt, derived of the name of the villages Op- and Nederbrakel. Within the triangle area of Ninove, Geraadsbergen and Oudenaarde, the Brakel was bred intensely and the birds and eggs were sold at the local markets. Because there were so many birds being bred, the looks of them varied greatly. Some had a horseshoe sign in the feathers while others had a straight band sign, which is still demanded in today's standard. Due to the breed having so many looks, the different areas which bred them, also gave different names to the breed. For example: "La Poule d'Hernies," "Het Hoen van Ronse". . . . In the village of Chaam, in the Netherlands, another variety of the Brakel -- one with orange eyes -- was found. In other parts of the country people tried to change the typical layer, which the Brakel is, into a meat producing chicken. In the end there were so many varieties called "Brakel" that none of them met the Standard, which was created in 1899.

The first World War caused the population of Brakels to reduce by a large amount, due to the breed ending up as Sunday Roast . . .

The small rebirth of the breed after the war was swept away by The Second World War. A new fact was also the introduction of new varieties of layers coming from abroad. After the war the success of the breed was limited and infrequent.

In 1968, the Brakel was scarce and time was running out for the breed. An old Flemish breed was at the point of extinction.

In 1971, the club was formed to save the breed.

Breed clubs:

The Silver and Golden Braekelclub of Belgium (Speciaalclub voor het Brakelhoen)
Peter Golsteyn
Verbindingsweg 5
B-3510 Kermt

Braekels Links:

Vrienden van het Brakelhoen Only in Dutch (I think it's Dutch)

A Golden Braekel hen
Photo courtesy of The Association for the Promotion of Belgian Poultry Breeds

A Lemon Braekel pullet
Photo courtesy of The Association for the Promotion of Belgian Poultry Breeds

Gold Braekels
Photos courtesy of Paul Bradshaw and Greenfire Farms

Another Silver Braekel rooster
Photo courtesy of The Association for the Promotion of Belgian Poultry Breeds

This pretty bird is a White Barred Golden Braekel hen
Photo courtesy of The Association for the Promotion of Belgian Poultry Breeds

Two Braekel males
Photo courtesy of Frances A. Bassom

A Golden Braekel rooster
Photo courtesy of Lukas Ruetz

A Gold Braekel chick
Photo courtesy of
Greenfire Farms

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