Thursday, 11 June 2009

French Hens

I love keeping hens and there is nothing more enjoyable than leaning on the fence in the sun watching them scratch in the dirt softly clucking away to themselves whilst on the hunt for the odd bit of grain. They always make me laugh, especially when one hen finds a choice morsel and makes the mistake of pouncing on it with a squawk of delight which inevitably brings every other hen in the vicinity dashing in a very unladylike manner to try to take it from her.

There are hundreds of chicken breeds in existence and they have been domesticated for thousands of years. The first pictures of chickens in Europe are found on ancient Greek pottery dating back to the 7th century BC.

It's thought that chickens came to Europe from the east and until recent evidence suggested that domestication of the chicken was under way in Vietnam over 10,000 years ago, it was believed that they came from India. They were imported to Greece from Persia and the Greek poet Cratinus (mid 5th century BC) calls them “the Persian Alarm”.

The oldest chicken breeds in France are thought to be the Crèvecoeur, La Flèche and the Houdan.

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