Naked Neck Chicken: Advantages + Disadvantages

When chickens lose their feathers, it’s always an indication that something is wrong. But what if the chicken naturally has fewer feathers and a bald neck? Well, if you have a hen with a bald neck in your flock, you should not worry. Naked neck chickens are just ordinary birds but with different appearances and genes.

The Naked Neck is a chicken breed originating from Transylvania in Europe. It has few feathers and a bald neck. This breed is also called Turken. This name originates from a myth that the naked neck chicken is a crossbreed between turkeys and chickens.

You are in the right place if you’re wondering whether it’s safe to eat or add the naked neck chickens to your flock. This article will explain the characteristics of this unique breed and why it might be a good idea to rear Turken.

Do nacked neck chickens feel cold?

Just because Turken chickens have naked necks does not mean they are affected by cold temperatures on them. This breed is cold-hardy and will survive well in cold temperatures. Naked necks survive well in all weather conditions and are among the best species for areas with hot temperatures.

The Turken does well in hot environments since it has almost 60% lesser feathers than other breeds. Therefore, the skin is exposed and can cool off quickly when the temperatures rise.

Reasons for rearing naked neck chickens

Most farmers usually dislike naked necks due to their appearance. However, this unique breed has a lot of advantages. Here are some of the factors that make the Turken a considerable breed to add to your flock:

1. Good egg producers

After six months, most Turken chickens will produce brown, medium to large-sized eggs. Within a week, they can lay 3-4 eggs, which equals about 150-200 eggs per year. Some naked necks are prolific layers and can produce 250-300 eggs annually.

2. Excellent brooders and mothers

The Naked neck chickens are among the best brooders to have in your flock. They take good care of the eggs while brooding until they hatch.

Once they have chicks, you can be sure that they will mother them properly until they reach maturity.

3. Good meat producers

If you are looking for a dual-purpose breed to rear, you should consider naked necks. Unlike other species that react to hot climates by reducing feeding rate and growth, Turken is heat-tolerant. Therefore, they continue to grow and eat even in hot climatic conditions.

Additionally, they lack a lot of feathers, so most of the proteins they take in are directed to meat production. The meat they produce is delicious and contains lesser fats than other breeds. It is also easy to process their meat since they have fewer feathers.

4. Happier and better foragers  

Naked necks are better foragers and love free-ranging to search for food. They will happily peck on grass, vegetation, and insects in your backyard. Though they are good free rangers, you still need to provide them with feeds and water.

The other good thing is they are very efficient feeders due to fewer feathers. Unlike other breeds that consume a lot of protein for feather production, Turken needs fewer proteins.

5. They are hardy and disease tolerant

The gene responsible for the naked neck train in the Turken also promotes disease tolerance. Generally, Naked necked chickens have a more robust immune system. They are tolerant of hot climates and will still thrive in cold environments.

6. They are docile and friendly

Although friendliness varies from chicken to chicken, Naked-necked chickens are generally friendly to their owners and children. Additionally, they are not aggressive to other breeds. They will interact peacefully with other hens and roosters.

The downside of rearing turken

Though naked chickens are good birds to rear, they have a few downsides:

1. Cannot sit on many eggs

Though they may be good brooders, these hens have fewer feathers to cover many eggs. Therefore, they will only sit and hatch a few eggs.

2. Cannot withstand prolonged cold climates

Chickens with no hair on the necks can survive in cold climates, but they may be unable to withstand if prolonged. Due to a lack of feathers, they cannot retain heat energy.

3. They may get comb frostbite

Naked neck chickens may risk getting frostbite due to their large combs. However, some Naked necks, especially in Europe, have small combs which do not get frostbite easily. You can prevent frostbite by ensuring the coops are warm or using products like Sweeter Heater.

4. They may get sunburns

Turken chicken can get sunburn characterized by a bright-red color in their exposed skin during sunny seasons. Due to their bald necks, they are more susceptible to mosquito bites and other parasites.

Naked neck chickens are safe to eat, and it is advisable to rear them since they produce meat and large eggs. If you don’t like pure Turken, you can cross-breed them with other breeds around your poultry farm. For instance, the Showgirl chicken is a crossbreed of Silkie and Turken.

Naked necks will add beauty to your coop since they come in different colors: white, black, cuckoo, etc. Besides, they are efficient feeders, hardy, and friendly. If you don’t have a Naked neck chicken, consider introducing one to your farm.

Naked neck trait in chickens: History

Naked neck chickens originated from Transylvania but developed mainly in Germany and thus the name Transylvanian Naked Neck. Some people believe that they resulted from a crossbreed of chicken and turkey since turkeys also have bald necks. However, it is biologically proven that turkeys and chickens cannot breed, thus debunking the myth.

This breed’s unique gene causes the Naked neck trait in chickens. A study led by Denis Headon at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute discovered what causes chickens to have bald necks. According to the DNA study, the trait is caused by the chickens overproducing BMP12, a feather-blocking molecule.

According to Denis Headon, “Once you have a mutation that increases BMP12 in the skin, the neck is the region that’s ready to lose its feathers-it’s already more sensitive.” Further analysis showed that chicken’s neck skin produces a certain acid that comes from Vitamin A. This acid further enhances the effects of BMP12, which leads to the chicken having no feathers on their necks.