Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Chantecler - Canada's Chicken Breed

Not far from where I currently reside is the birthplace of the only breed of chicken developed in Canada to be recognized by the American Poultry Association.  On the north shore of Lac de Deux-Montagnes, in the Municipality of Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, is an old Trappist monastery with which was connected L’institut agricole d’Oka - The Oka Agricultural Insititute.

La Trappe d'Oka - Oka Tappist Monastery

It is here that in the early 1900's a breed of chicken was developed.  That breed, the Chantecler, came into being as a result of the persistence of a Trappist monk by the name of Brother Wilfrid Chatelain.  Brother Wilfrid was at that time in charge of the poultry department of the school.  As the story goes, he was given a tour of the facilities to his father and was proudly showing him the various breeds that were being raised - Cornish Game, Leghorns, Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds and Wyandottes - these were the main varieties being kept and studied, but there were also others.  His father, apparently a farmer and very interested in what Brother Wilfrid was doing at the school, asked him the question that would forever change the history of poultry in Canada.  "This is all very well, but the Canadian breed - where is it?"  Brother Wilfrid could not answer his father, and at that moment, in 1907, Brother Wilfrid decided that Canada needed to have a breed of chicken it could call its own and he was intent on developing it.
Brother Wilfrid wanted his chicken to be "Canadian Hardy"; a bird with personality and character.  Knowing the difficulty chickens with large combs and wattles have in the harsh Canadian winters, he decided that his breed should have a very closely set comb with small wattles in proportion thereto of.  In addition, he wanted the new breed to be dual purpose, both for eggs and meat, so that the small farmer would have an all-round bird and white, so that once butchered, there would be no evidence of dark pin feathers.    With these qualities in mind, Brother Wilfrid set  upon his quest to develop his Canadian chicken.

L’institut agricole d’Oka had several breeds of chickens from which Brother Wilfrid chose the parental stock. The Dark Cornish, with its vigorous temperament, small comb and small wattles, and stocky, meaty body was one of his first choices.  As the Cornish is not known as a productive layer, he decided to use the White Leghorn for this trait.  Winter egg production also being one of his goals, he decided to add White Plymouth Rocks, White Wyandottes, and Rose Comb Rhode Island Reds into the mix. 

 Dark Cornish

White Leghorn

White Plymouth Rock

White Wyandotte

Rose Comb Rhode Island Red

From 1908 to 1918, Brother Wilfrid crossed these breeds until he developed the bird that demonstrated all of the traits he required. Thus, in 1918, Brother Wilfrid presented to the Poultry World Canada's first breed of Chicken, a beautiful white bird he  named "Chantecler" in honour of the famous rooster in the play of the same name, Chantecler, by  famous French poet and dramatist, Edmond Rostand (best known for his play Cyrano de Bergerac).  In the play, the barnyard rooster believes that his song in the morning alone makes the sun to rise.  The Chantecler, by Brother Wilfrid, was the rising of the sun on the Canadian poultry world.

The Chanteclers popularity was swift growing, first amongst Quebec poultry farmers then spreading swiftly throughout Canada and the United States.  On August 10th, 1921, having met all the requirements of admission, the Chantecler was officially recognized as a distinct breed by the American Poultry Association and was therefore admitted into the Association's Standard of Perfection.  The White Chantecler was officially introduced to the International poultry world at the World Poultry Congress that was held in Ottawa from July 27th to August 4, 1927.

Andre Auclair and some of his Chanteclers

Brother Wilfrid was also instrumental in the forming of the very first Chantecler Breeders Association, which came into being in 1918.  Later, in 1922, he wrote a booklet of 47 pages called The Chantecler - Breeder's Manual (Title translated into English).  This booklet entailed valuable information on the keeping and breeding of pure Chantecler.

Chantecler Rooster - Source Unknown

In 1918, the Chantecler Breeder's Association held its first General Meeting.  The Association's rules were developed and officers elected with Brother Wilfrid being elected in the position of Technical Advisor.  The Association's rules were quite strict.  The following are a couple of the rules that members had to agree upon:

- "Neither sell, lend, lease, give, exchange, allow to be utilized or procured in any matter whatever, any living bird of the new breed, nor hatching eggs, to or by any person except members for two years. Any breach of this engagement rendered the delinquent liable ipso facto to the sum of $25.00 and expulsion from the Association."
- "Bring or send, the first year, ALL his birds to the annual meeting or any place designated, where they would be examined by competent judges named by the Association.  Any birds found to be unfit for breeding purposes, to be killed there, and sold, their value to be transmitted to their owners.   A breach of this engagement rendered the member liable to expulsion from the Association."
- "Keep for breeding purposes only the birds approaching standard type, and as far as possible to breed only Chanteclers."
(Perhaps there is a need to adopt these rigorous rules today in order to save some of the Heritage Breeds that are in danger of disappearing forever.)

In 1919, the Association held its first ever all-Chantecler show in Montreal.  Over 300 birds were shown - imagine, 300 of one breed only!.  The second such show, also held in Montreal, was even more popular and over 25,000 people visited and were impressed by the Chantecler.  The Chantecler's rise in popularity was such that in 1925, Brother Wilfrid alone hatched over 7,400 chicks.

Photo courtesy of Radio Canada

Unfortunately, as big Agri-business is eliminating the sustainability of small family farms, the elimination of urban flocks, and strict rules for the keeping of poultry (thanks to Government and Big business collusion) have all played a part in the disappearing of the various breeds of  chickens, other poultry and livestock that once were found in abundant numbers across North America. Like so many others, the Chantecler has faced this dilemma, so much so, that at one time, it was actually declared extinct.  Fortunately, breeders maintaining stock from years gone by were found and today the Chantecler, although still considered endangered, is slowly making a comeback.  Up until recently, there were only 2,000 Chantecler chickens worldwide, most of them in Quebec. Chantecler chickens are raised at a slower pace than modern hybrid chickens but their meat is very tasty.

- the above information comes from the book, The Chantecler & Other Rare Poultry Breeds, by Linda M.Gryner and the Miner Heritage Farm Website (

Recognizing the value of this Canadian breed, in 1999, the Government of Quebec, proclaimed the Chantecler a provincial heritage animal. 

Chantecler Rrooster and three Hens Displayed at the Fête Éco-Bio-Paysanne 
"Fred Silversides, a poultry research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, mapped out the breeding plan that will preserve the Chantecler breed. As he explained, the best way to preserve a breed is to market it and have people eat it, because if a breed is being used for consumption, the breed’s population will be strong and stable.
The preservation of the breed is underway. As a report in the newspaper Le Devoir noted: in 2008, after years of considerable apathy, Quebec’s three poultry producer unions finally gave in to repeated requests by Chantecler chicken breeders. Under the agreement Chantecler chickens can be raised and marketed outside the strict regulations that prevailed in the industry until recently. This is being done to promote the survival of Quebec’s own breed, while enabling consumers to again enjoy this home-grown product.  On September 25,  2009, three Quebec poultry-producer organizations  – Éleveurs de volailles du Québec (EVQ), Fédération de producteur d’œufs de consommation (FPOCQ) and the syndicat des producteurs d’œufs d’incubation du Québec (SPOIQ) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Fédération de producteurs races patrimoniales du Québec (FPRPQ) aimed at ensuring the breed will be maintained. The plan to save this heritage breed consists of allowing 10 farms to raise Chantecler flocks, each comprising 150 hens and 15 roosters, producing a maximum of 30,000 laying eggs and 20,000 chickens. These chickens would be distributed in specialty shops.  There would also be 500 laying hens to produce eggs for the consumer.
The parties also agreed to implement the appropriate legal measures for the preservation and maintaining of the Chantecler breed. The joint plans of the three organizations will provide the 10 farms selected by the FPRPQ with the rights to preserve and maintain the breed. There will be a logbook on each of the farms and a certificate of authenticity of the breed for production will be established under a guarantee of quality of the consumer-intended eggs and chickens. The products that come from these Chantecler breeding farms will become the first such guaranteed quality label products in this sector of the poultry industry. This will lead to the developing of new niches in the marketplace and the creating of consumer product, thereby ensuring the survival of the Chantecler breed."
the Miner Heritage Farm Website (
- Le Devoirs article in French further down

Chantecler Flock - Source: Michel Boulianne, La Ferme Leclerc

Today, the Chantecler is sold from various hatcheries in four colour varieties - Buff, Partridge, White, and Red - but of these, only two, the White and Partridge, are recognized by the American Poultry Association. The Red form is the newest, some currently sold from Ideal Poultry and Sand Hill Preservation Center, but there appears to be great variance in colour and form and as of yet, no standard has been agreed upon.  The Buff variety is also new and many breeders have been perfecting the standardization of the colour to meet the Chantecler type requirements.  Chantecler, originally created in Standard form, are now also found as Bantams.

White Chantecler Rooster - Source: Moulin des Pionniers  

Buff Chantecler - Sylvie Denault's Flock
Source: Photo Courtesy of Cherry Creek Canadians(

Partridge Chantecler Roosters - Source: Cherry Creek Canadians

Partridge Chantecler Hen - Source Unknown

And, this a photo of an even newer variety of Chantecler, Black Chantecler:

Black Chantecler - Sylvie Denault's Flock
Source: Photo Courtesy of Cherry Creek Canadians(

For Chantecler Breed Standards, please visit the Chantecler Fanciers International website at: 

Other Interesting Tidbits on the Chantecler  

White Chanteclers - Source: Cherry Creek Canadians

Labour of Love - Those trying to save Canada’s Chantecler breed are experiencing some growing pains        
Canadian consumers love to have choice when they shop for food. That’s why a group of 10 heritage breed chicken breeders are betting they can use this growing demand for more food choice to save Canada’s own Chantecler chicken breed from extinction.
They believe that, if given the opportunity, enough consumers will be willing to pay a premium for a product that has a Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin, to make the breed commercially viable. In 2009, Quebec’s three poultry marketing boards have granted the group an exceptional right to produce the equivalent of about three million dollars’ worth of broilers and table eggs to prove their point.

Mario Bélanger, president of the federation of producers of heritage breeds, firmly believes that consumers will pay more for products from heritage breed chickens but they aren’t planning to mass market them throughout the province. “Our target is upscale restaurants and hotels,” he says. “A few select meat shops, like the one at Jean-Talon market, will also carry them.”

Jean-Talon Market, Montreal
In a classic example of the old chicken or the egg dilemma, before creating demand for the products, producers want to make sure they can deliver the product, while also ensuring that they will make enough of a profit in order to make the necessary investments required to meet the market demand.
La Trappe d'Oka - Trappist Monastery in Oka, Quebec
The Chantecler chicken is a breed unique to Canada. It was developed in the early 1900s by Brother Wilfrid Châtelain, a Trappist monk living near Oka, Que., to be hardy enough to withstand our harsh winters. The birds are a cross between Dark Cornish, White Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, White Wyandotte and White Plymouth Rock, and carry a number of their traits. The birds are white, with a long body, a deep breast, yellowish skins, small heads, a bright red face with a small comb and a short beak. Their walnut-shaped combs and wattles are small enough that they aren’t prone to frostbite.

While they were created to be both good layers and meat birds, the slower growing breed had long since fallen out of favour with commercial producers and had been replaced by high-performance broiler hybrids. By the time the breed officially received heritage designation in 1999, André Auclair, general manager of the federation of producers of heritage breeds, says, less than 1,500 birds survived in barnyards across the country.
“The Chantecler will never be able to compete with an industrial broiler, and nor should it try to,” says Dr. Fred Silversides, a poultry research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The vast majority of industrial chickens available are supplied by one of two companies. Current market differentiation has nothing to do with genetics; it has to do with how the broilers have been fed or processed. In short, a broiler is a broiler. The value of the Chantecler is that it’s a different product.

Dr. Fred Silversides

It has already piqued foodies’ interest and Bélanger is getting an increasing number of calls from distributors waiting for him to start delivering them by the caseload. Restaurants and hotels say they will welcome a chicken that is a distinctly, regional product.
Bélanger is eager to take some of his birds to some of the province’s top chefs, over the winter. However, he wants to make sure the birds are ready before he does. He noted that he would be cooking one the night of Canadian Poultry’s visit, to see how this batch has turned out. “I don’t want to move too quickly,” he adds. “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.”
The Quebec poultry federations decided to encourage commercial production of heritage breeds for several reasons. While all producer groups are always interested in developing new niche product markets, they were also very concerned about maintaining the Canadian chicken flock’s genetic diversity as an insurance policy against future climate change and disease outbreaks. Maintaining the chicken’s gene pool is a constant battle. Delegates to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conference in Switzerland in 2007 were told that more than 1,000 domesticated chicken breeds have vanished in the past century.

Because Silversides had produced a report on how to save endangered breeds 20 years ago, the federation turned to him in 2007 to come up with a new proposal to save the Chantecler breed. He jumped at the chance. He produced a new proposal that included a large enough breeding plan to preserve the Chantecler’s gene pool and allow for the development of a market for them so the breed could support itself. In short, his report concluded that the best way to save the breed was to market it for the dinner plate.
Quebec’s three poultry supply-management federations, which control the hatching egg, table egg and broiler production, signed an agreement with the federation of producers of heritage breeds, which allowed limited commercial production and market access for the Chantecler in 2009. Gaining the right to produce the breed commercially was a huge step. Without the quantities that were allotted, there is no way producers could maintain sufficient supply to develop a market. “Once that’s in place, you can develop your business plan and your slaughtering plans and all of the rest of it, really,” says Silversides.
A year into production, results are less than optimal, says Bélanger, one of the 10 producers involved in the project. He started with about 100 Chantecler, in 1998. He’s now up to 300. He split the group in two and put half with 15 roosters and half without. He is using a 48 x 20 foot temporary shelter specially adapted for chickens, with small openings on the sides for the birds to go in and out, as they wish.

The shelter isn’t heated and the birds can remain outside until the temperature reaches –20 C. Bélanger will move them indoors, inside the barn during the winter – which will remain unheated – and dismantle the temporary shelter to make room for the new barn he plans on building next spring.
Bélanger’s barn also houses three pigs and a flock of sheep. Because most Chantecler were raised on mixed farms, they have better disease resistance and foraging ability, among other things, explains Silversides. This is why this breed, unlike current hybrid varieties, is better adapted to such an environment. They don’t require strict biosecurity protocols that restrict one species per unit.

There is quite a learning curve involved in going from a small 42-egg hatcher to one that contains 750 eggs, explains Bélanger. “I can hardly imagine what it’s going to be like once we start with the ones that can hold up to 3,200 eggs!”
Bélanger goes on to explain that they’ve been asked to comply with industry regulations from the get-go, but the race has more or less returned to its natural state as producers switched to more performing hybrids.
“Very little selection was been made in the past 50 years and producers are finding it challenging to meet the goal of having a uniform flock that averages 200 eggs a year, even though the standard established for the breed is 225 eggs per bird.”
He estimates it will take a good three years, or six generations, to get the breed back on track to meet the target of 8,000 dozen eggs per year, using 500 layer hens.
Bélanger is aiming to finish the birds at about the same weight of a conventional chicken. The target weight for males will be 2.1 to 2.2 kilograms at 18 weeks and between 1.7 to 1.9 kilograms for the females, at 20 weeks. All 10 Chantecler producers’ goal is to produce roughly 20,000 birds, per year, as allocated by the federations.
Dr. Silversides isn’t surprised Bélanger’s layers aren’t performing to Brother Wilfrid’s standards. He says this is an example of natural rather than artificial selection. “If you take away the selection, the breed will find an ideal body weight and an ideal number of eggs which are different from what we want.”
He thinks Bélanger won’t have any problem achieving his goals within that time frame. He cautions producers of over-selecting the birds to the point that they resemble broilers. “If they do, then what’s the point?” he says. 
Chantecler - White Trio
Photo Source: Unknown

Federations supportive of the project
Saving a breed from extinction doesn’t happen overnight. “It’s a long-term project,” explains Martin Dufresne, president of Les Éleveurs de volailles du Québec. He says the Chantecler producers are in the start-up phase, and are probably facing a few hurdles. What’s more, the breed isn’t known for its performance so it comes as no surprise that things aren’t progressing as quickly as they had hoped.

Ten producers, from various regions in Quebec, were given the right to produce the Chantecler. So far, each operator has been hatching his or her own eggs and producing meat birds as well as eggs, according to the breeding plan outlined by Dr. Fred Silversides, a poultry research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada who produced a report to help save endangered species in the 1970s. They feel it’s the best way to reduce the risk of disease or anything else going wrong.
Dufresne says the Quebec poultry federations recommended they eventually concentrate their activities and designate one central location to produce all the chicks they need to increase their overall efficiency, and truck the chickens to the nine remaining facilities.
“They will have an expensive product, which will require a good marketing strategy to cater to an upscale niche market,” says Dufresne. He feels the heritage breed federation’s plan to save the Chantecler is serious and well structured. If demand takes off, production of the Chantecler would be handled like any other breed, and would have to comply with regulations, and follow supply management guidelines.

“We took exceptional measures to save the Chantecler because we felt it would be cost prohibitive if producers had to pay for quota for an inefficient bird,” explains Dufresne. “Producers are well aware, however, that things would change if there proves to be an increasing market demand for the product, and that wouldn’t be a bad thing in itself. The project would never have been able to materialize without help on our part.”  
Written by Suzanne Deutsch  for The Canadian Poultry Magazine

L’institut agricole d’Oka - The Oka Agricultural Insititute

Another Excellent Article on the Chantecler

I would like to thank Dave Kozakiewicz for sending me the link to the following article written by a great Canadian breeder of Chantecler, Michel Boulianne.  The link is to Aviculture Europe ( - a FANTASTIC poultry site by the way - and the article is in PDF format.

Chantecler - White Flock Free-Ranging
Photo Source: Unknown

Chantecler - Buff Rooster in Moult
Photo Source: Unknown

More About Brother Wilfrid:

FRERE  WILFRID ( 1876 – 1963 )

- WILFRID CHÂTELAIN, born on July the 1rst, 1876, at Curran, near 
Plantagenet, Prescott County, Ontario, belongs to an old french family strong with numerous and long lived “descendents”  knotty like centenary oaktrees. Wilfrid’s  grandfather  died at 108 years old and his grandmother at 95; his brother Johnny at 101’ two other brothers, when they came to pay their last visit at La Trappe were were nonagenarians ( 96 and 94 years old). 

- WILFRID CHATELAIN  entered the Monastery of La Trappe d’Oka in September 
1897 and made his profession  of Trappist monk in 1899. 

- In 1902, he was given charge of the poultry yard, a very small then and 
primitive affair, where he worked for 44 years, mainly in this nice little valley which runs at the right of the Monastery, deepened by the brook you certainly admired, if you came to Fr. Wilfrid then (before 1930) raising ducks and geeses, pigeons and what not...  It was in this green nook that, soon after 1902, Brother Wilfrid with rudimentary installation and rather hybrid stock, started his long selection, after crossing the birds he had:  Cornish to Wyandotte, Leghorn, and making few “croisemente de retrempe” (Eng. - "outcrosses"), then very popular among French breeders!  
Chantecler - White Flock on the Grounds at La Trappe, Oka
Photo Source:

-In 1919, Frère Wilfrid published his Standard, Origin and Monography of the Canadian CHANTECLER and the new breed received a warm reception in America, especially after Prof. Lean J. Cole published his Bulletin No. 35 
(Wisconsin Agr. Exp. Station), reproduced in the Journal of Heredity.1 

- A real artistic breeder, this monk was a naturalist to the core; he believed in patient experimentation and was in doubtedly favored with a lucky “flair”, based on an acute sense of observation. 

- All his life he, he cultivated flowers (dahlias, lilies, iris, peonies, gladioli, etc.) and trees in the poultry yard; his pet animals were dogs (Great Danes, German Police dogs, Chow-chow, hounds, etc.). 

- Two other culture tentatives  merit mention in the life of Brother Wilfrid: 

      1) the raising of rabbits (Flemish Giants) for meat and fur, (around 8930)
      2) raising and breeding Phaesants in a trial of acclimatizing of this fowl (to    
          raise) and then let to its wild life (en liberte), like partidges in Eastern   
          Canada, for the pleasure of future hunters.  The young farmers shot
          them all down in few days! 

- The Pheasant culture ibecame prosperous at Oka under the direction of 
Brother M.-Laurent, a real business man.

- But agriculture - including capon production (1920) and day old chick production, sexing, etc. remained Frère Wilfrid’s Number 1 life occupation for 45 years. 

- A great proponent of better aviculture as professor at the Oka Institute 
and as lecturer in great demand outside of Oka. 

- Founder of the Chantecler Association (1921) and of the Association des 
Leveurs des Poussins d’un jour du Comté de Deux-Montanges, Québec. 

- As a teacher, Brother Wilfrid, was largely a practical technician; all his little bulletins testified to that, even in their titles: Dix ans d’expérience… Quinze  ans d’expérience…, etc. (10 Years of Experience...., 15 Years of Experience..., etc.)

- For his outstanding services to aviculture in the first half of this century, La Province de Québec cree Frere Wilfrid Chevailez de l’Order du Mérite 
Agricole, en 1928. (The Province of Quebec created the Brother Wilfrid Knights of the Order of Merit in Agriculture in 1928), La France lui decerna sa Croix du Mérite agricole la **** année (France bestowed the Cross of Merit in Agriculture in the 'unknown' year), and L’Université de Montréal lui conféra un Doctorat en Science agricole, honoris causa, en 1948 (The University of Montreal conferred him a PhD. Honours in Agricultural Science in 1948)

*The above information about Brother Wilfrid was obtained from:

Some liberty was taken to translate from French to English and to render the information more readable.       

Chantecler Rooster - "Roger" 
Source: Photo Courtesy of Cherry Creek Canadians

A French Article of Interest:

Andre Auclair and some of his Chantecler
Elles ont été choisies par la Fédération des producteurs de races patrimoniales du Québec pour démarrer des élevages de poules Chantecler, une race rustique développée au début du siècle dernier au Québec pour résister à notre climat rigoureux. Parmi ces éleveurs, quatre sont situés en Mauricie.
Ce démarrage se fait avec l'approbation des trois organisations québécoises d'aviculture. La Fédération des producteurs d'oeufs de consommation, le Syndicat des producteurs d'oeufs d'incubation et les Éleveurs de volailles du Québec ont en effet signé une entente à cet effet avec l'APRPQ dans le but de maintenir la race en existence.
Défenseur depuis plusieurs décennies de races domestiques patrimoniales, le directeur général de la FPRPQ, André Auclair, de Saint-Paulin, explique que cette entente est le fruit «de grands combats qui ont été longs».

C'est que les poulets de race sont aujourd'hui propriété de multinationales qui s'en servent pour produire des poulets hybrides, ceux que l'on retrouve aujourd'hui sur nos tables.
Le Chantecler est synonyme d'autonomie pour les producteurs: on peut en tirer des oeufs, des poussins, des coqs et des pondeuses, comme autrefois.
André Auclair est d'autant plus heureux d'avoir obtenu le consentement des trois organisations d'aviculture du Québec et le soutien du Mapaq puisque les poules Chantecler sont une race à plusieurs fins. «Il fallait un quota de ponte et un quota de chair», explique-t-il.
Il aura fallu les recommandations d'un généticien respecté du milieu avicole canadien, Frederic Sylversides, pour s'entendre sur le nombre d'éleveurs nécessaire au maintien de la race, soit 10 troupeaux d'une quinzaine de coqs et de 150 poules desquelles seront issus environ 30 000 oeufs par année, environ 22 000 poussins et 50 pondeuses triées sur le volet.
André Auclair explique que la situation de la poule Chantecler était préoccupante. Cette mesure permettra donc de maintenir la race en existence avant qu'elle ne joigne les 1000 races d'animaux domestiques qui sont disparues de la planète depuis 100 ans. Parmi les races menacées d'extinction, il y a la vache canadienne et le cheval canadien.

Deux vaches canadiennes

M. Auclair entend aussi entreprendre des démarches afin d'encourager l'utilisation du cheval canadien pour tirer des calèches dans les trois plus vieilles villes du Québec.

Un cheval canadien

Pour André Auclair, il est vital pour l'humanité de protéger les races patrimoniales et rustiques adaptées aux conditions de vie des divers pays où on les trouve. S'il n'y avait que des vaches de race Holstein dans le monde et qu'une maladie particulière décime cette race, avec quoi pourrions-nous rebâtir un cheptel? questionne-t-il.
La poules Chantecler ne sont pas les plus «performantes». Par rapport aux poulets hybrides du marché, elles ne pondent en effet que 16 douzaines d'oeufs par année, par rapport à 25 douzaines pour les hybrides et il leur faut entre 16 et 18 semaines de croissance alors que les hybrides croissent en six semaines à peine.
Il n'en demeure pas moins que c'est avec des races pures qu'on génère des hybrides performants, fait valoir M. Auclair.
«Les races pures sont importantes», plaide-t-il en particulier à cause de leur bagage génétique unique.

Une étude de marché de la fédération révèle que les poulardes Chantecler intéresseront les tables gastronomiques et les boucheries fines puisqu'il s'agit d'une viande plus goûteuse que le poulet hybride. Si les consommateurs répondent bien, il y aura alors peut-être de la place pour le développement de nouveaux cheptels, espère M. Leclerc. 

- Brigitte Trahan in:  

Partridge Chantecler Pair - Source: L'evage Benoit Landry

From the French Newspaper, "Le Devoirs" comes the following article:

Le poulet Chantecler est sauvé!

Une petite part du marché québécois sera réservée à cette volaille patrimoniale menacée d'extinction

Fabien Deglise   22 avril 2008  

Éleveur de poulets Chantecler à Saint-Paulin, dans la région de Trois-Rivières, André Auclair se réjouit de pouvoir enfin donner des ailes à ses protégés, menacés d’extinction jusqu’à aujourd’hui.

Le sauvetage est en cours. Après des années de profonde indifférence, les syndicats d'éleveurs de poulets du Québec viennent finalement de céder aux demandes répétées des éleveurs de poulets Chantecler, un animal patrimonial en voie d'extinction. D'ici quelques semaines, ces oiseaux vont pouvoir en effet être élevés et commercialisés en dehors des règles strictes qui prévalent actuellement pour le poulet industriel, a appris Le Devoir. Et cela, afin de favoriser la survie de cette race propre au Québec, tout en permettant aux consommateurs de renouer avec ce produit du terroir.

Les Éleveurs de volailles du Québec — anciennement connus sous le nom de Fédération des producteurs de poulets — s'apprêtent à en faire l'annonce dans les prochaines semaines. Le puissant regroupement de producteurs agricoles parachève depuis quelques jours la rédaction d'une entente qu'il va signer avec la Fédération des producteurs de races patrimoniales du Québec (FPRPQ). Objectif de cette entente? Soustraire la production du poulet Chantecler aux règles contraignantes de quotas auxquels tous les producteurs de poulets sont obligés de se conformer.

Ce cadre, prévu pour des oiseaux industriels arrivant à maturité en 39 jours, a toujours joué en défaveur du poulet Chantecler, dont la croissance varie entre quatre et six mois. Ce faisant, l'oiseau génétiquement élaboré au début du siècle dernier par le frère trappiste Wilfrid Châtelain pour supporter le climat canadien était condamné à disparaître, faute de pouvoir se retrouver sur les tables des consommateurs et des restaurants versés dans la défense des terroirs.

La mésaventure est sur le point de se terminer. En effet, les Éleveurs de volailles du Québec ont accepté d'accorder un droit de production exceptionnel, hors quotas, aux éleveurs de poulets Chantecler, et ce, pour une limite fixée à 10 élevages comptant un maximum de 150 poules pondeuses. Pour commencer.

Bon an, mal an, cela devrait permettre la production à des fins commerciales de plus de 100 000 poulets Chantecler par année, une goutte d'eau dans une mer de 600 millions de poulets industriels élevés chaque année au Québec. «Selon les experts consultés, c'est le minimum qu'il faut pour assurer la survie d'une race d'oiseau», a indiqué Martin Dufresne, président de la Fédération des éleveurs de poulets du Québec, qui a travaillé activement avec la Fédération des producteurs d'oeufs de consommation et le syndicat des producteurs d'oeufs d'incubation pour élaborer ce plan de sauvetage avec la FPRPQ.

Même si quelques détails «restent encore à ficeler», André Auclair, secrétaire général de la FPRPQ s'est réjoui hier d'un tel dénouement. Éleveur de poulets Chantecler et fervent défenseur des trois seules races patrimoniales du Québec — soit le Chantecler, la vache canadienne et le cheval canadien —, l'homme réclamait en vain depuis plus de cinq ans ces allégements réglementaires afin de redonner des ailes à ses protégés. «Nous sommes satisfaits, a-t-il indiqué, et nous pouvons désormais penser à l'avenir.»

Les éleveurs de Chantecler espèrent dès cet automne organiser une dégustation en règle de ce poulet de race pour sensibiliser les restaurateurs au renouveau à venir de cette volaille. Une commercialisation plus importante de ce «produit de niche» est prévue dans le courant de l'année prochaine, au rythme du développement du cheptel. Les activités de ce genre étaient jusqu'à maintenant interdites aux producteurs en raison des règles de contingentement. Sans quotas, ils ne pouvaient en effet produire que 99 poulets par année, et ce, pour consommation personnelle seulement. L'an dernier, le cheptel de poulets Chantecler comptait près de 1500 têtes. À peine.

Selon plusieurs experts, le poulet Chantecler, qui a le Québec inscrit dans son code génétique, pourrait à l'avenir avoir le même potentiel commercial que le poulet de Bresse en France. Cette volaille, dont la production est sévèrement encadrée, est le seul poulet au monde qui affiche une appellation d'origine contrôlée. Il est aussi un animal prisé dans l'univers de la grande gastronomie.

En 1999, l'Assemblée nationale a reconnu officiellement cet oiseau comme faisant partie «des races animales du patrimoine agricole du Québec». Symbolique, cette reconnaissance n'a toutefois jamais été accompagnée de programmes pour soutenir sa production. Exaspérée par cette inertie, mais aussi par le manque d'attention des puissants syndicats de producteurs de poulets industriels, en septembre dernier, la FPRPQ avait d'ailleurs amené la cause de cette volaille devant l'Organisation des nations unies (ONU) qui, à Interlaken en Suisse, a tenu une conférence sur la biodiversité dans le monde agricole. Une biodiversité à laquelle le poulet Chantecler pouvait difficilement participer, dénonçait vertement à l'époque la Fédération des producteurs de races patrimoniales du Québec.


  1. The Chantecler rooster standing in the snow, for which you have Source Unknown, is from Gina Bisco in New York State. It's included in the copyright brochure I wrote on Chanteclers for the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquity. It's a wonderful photo and I'd appreciate it if you would credit me, the SPPA and Ms. Bisco. Thank you.

  2. Informative post Cameron! Superb images. Canadian Poultry has been an active force in the poultry industry. The intent was to provide the finest quality products, cost effective prices, paramount services and ensuring systematic approaches to food and safety.

    1. I'm so glad I found your blog, Cameron. I have been working with Light Sussex for 3 years now, with some guidance from Dr. Silversides, Don Shaver and others. LS were one of the most common chickens in Canada in the 40's, but listed as Endangered by RBC in 2009 -- population estimated at <700 birds! I started getting hatching eggs from purebred flocks in 2010, crossing the adults, selecting for the production traits of this dual purpose bird. I raised ~500 in 2011, and 700 this year. They have 'come back' gangbusters, rapidly approaching their historic growth rate and laying ability. I am always seeking new flocks that may contribute another bit of the original gene pool.

  3. Amazing how the heritage breeders had to beg and plead with the marketing boards to be allowed to sell tiny quantities of meat and eggs, yet a spokesman for those same boards had the audacity to claim credit for the breed revival:

    “We took exceptional measures to save the Chantecler because we felt it would be cost prohibitive if producers had to pay for quota for an inefficient bird,” explains Dufresne... The project would never have been able to materialize without help on our part.”

    That's enough to make me gag. The project never would have been able to materialize because the marketing boards have an ironclad strangle-hold on the industry, that's why. How very generous of them to grant "permission" to breeders to raise and market a few of these birds (but not enough to ever threaten their cozy little cartel of course). Why marketing boards were ever given that sort of clout in the first place is the question we should be asking.

  4. Wow hein belle présentation! crois que je vais vérifiez pour en élever pour mon utilité personelle....aussi pour que la race ne s éteigne pas.