The Bresse Gauloise is mainly famous as a meat breed, touted as the best in the world, a roasted Bresse can cost hundreds of dollars at a restaurant in Paris. A side from it well-known meat, it is a good layer of large to extra-large cream colored eggs with non-broody hens. They are exceptionally gentle and a favorite on our farm.
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The Bresse Gauloise is a French breed of domestic chicken. It originates in the historic region and former province of Bresse, in the regions of Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne and Franche-Comté, in eastern France. Because of legal restrictions on the use of the name, only white chickens raised within that area may be called "Bresse"; outside it, they are given the name "Gauloise"; the breed name combines both. The French argue that for a Bresse to be called a Bresse it must have been raised in France. (For this reason, Greenfire Farms referring to the Bresse they imported as “American Bresse”. Our birds are from Greenfire Farms).
The first documentation of the chickens of Bresse reportedly dates from 12 November 1591, when the citizens of Bourg presented two dozen birds to Joachim de Rye, Marquis de Treffort. In the early nineteenth century, the lawyer, politician, epicure and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826), who was born at Belley in the Ain, is supposed to have described the Bresse chicken as "the queen of poultry, the poultry of kings". Like the La Flèche, which was raised and fattened in a similar fashion, the Bresse chicken had high standing in the market. Nevertheless, by about 1900 the breed had virtually disappeared. Its recovery was due to fancy breeders, who selectively bred a sufficient number of white chickens for the breed to become stable. A new breed standard was drawn up in 1904. The Bresse name, used for both chicken products and for the dinde de Bresse, the turkey of the area, received legal protection on 22 December 1936; this became an appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) in 1957.
Should you choose this breed as a meat bird, you can copy the French traditional methods of raising Bresse by pasture raising them and finishing on organic grains and dairy products. The Wall Street Journal noted, the Bresse imported by Greenfire Farms are at the forefront of a movement to re-position chicken at the top of the list of gourmet table fare.