This intriguing breed of fowl is French in origin having been developed in the Eure and Loire region of Northern France, writes Janice Houghton Wallace.


The breed can be traced back to the middle 1800s when farmers in Faverolles and nearby villages were breeding poultry for their utility qualities and supplying the markets in Paris and the surrounding areas, where urban need for food was on the increase.

The demand for poultry meat in particular was possibly due to the popularity of the white flesh and tender thin skin that certain breeds produced. These breeds included those being imported, such as Brahmas, Cochins and Langshans from Asia. To capitalize on this interest farmers bred these new breeds with the local Houdan fowl and the Dorking, which was also known in France at the time. They wanted to breed a fowl that was not only a dependable layer but also produced quality white meat. Following years of selective breeding, the native breed of Faverolles was created. This was the large Salmon Faverolles - a name after the village of Faverolles, which is spelt the same whether singular or plural.

In France during the late nineteenth century commercial poultry were kept in what can be described as an early version of battery cages but the Houdan, the local breed most commonly kept did not settle well in this confinement and the Faverolles, which was then introduced to this type of production were more placid and amenable to the conditions. As a result farmers were delighted with the breed and the numbers greatly increased. So much so, that in 1909 the Houdan Club of France became the Houdan Faverolles Club de France.

Two years earlier – in 1899, Lewis Wright wrote that the Faverolles were the last imported breed to Britain that had been developed in France. The first illustration of the breed in England is possibly the painting of a quartet of Faverolles by Harrison Weir in 1902. According to descriptions though the breed does not resemble the Faverolles we see today. It was only 12 years later though that a painting by Ludlow depicts the breed which we would recognise as a Faverolles in its current type and conformation.

Once in the UK the striking bird with a feather muff, beard and five toes – the five toes probably coming from both the Houdan and Dorking descendants – was further developed to an exhibition standard. Although the large fowl Faverolles reached the UK in 1895 it was not until 1929 that the bantam version first appeared in Germany, becoming recognised in Britain several years later. The British Faverolles Society produced an informative handbook on the breed in 1995, to coincide with and celebrate the centenary of Faverolles in Britain.


Faverolles are classified as a soft feathered heavy breed by the Poultry Club of Great Britain.

The body is thick, deep and ‘cloddy’, with broad shoulders and a flat, square back. The single comb is larger in the male than the female and is red as are the face, wattles and ear-lobes. Faverolles are standardised in a range of varieties: black, blue, cuckoo, ermine, salmon and white.

The most common and arguably the most popular is the salmon, which unlike most other breeds have totally different plumage in the male and female. The underbody of the male should be a rich deep black which extends to the leg feathering. His muff and beard should also be a solid black. The neck and saddle hackles are an even colour of straw and back and wing bows are a bright cherry mahogany. This contrasts with the white block of feathering before the tail and the white secondary feathers.

The salmon female is wheaten brown with shades of lighter and darker variations in different parts of the body. The head and neck are lined in a darker shade, whilst the breast and thighs are a very pale cream and the muff and beard is a creamy white.

The skin is white and the beak, legs and feet are white/horn or white/horn with dark markings or even black or blue depending on the variety. The formation of the toes is three facing the front, being long, straight and well spread. The fourth, is quite divided from the fifth, should be functional, on the ground and well back, with the fifth toe turned up the leg. There is sparse foot feather to the outer toe.

One feature of the British Faverolles that distinguishes it from the French and German breeds is the tail carriage. It has been bred with a longer, higher tail than its cousins and flows out but not be squirrel tailed.

Weights of the Faverolles are:

Large fowl cock 4.08 – 4.98kg (9-11lb), large fowl cockerel 3.4-4.53kg (7½ -10lb)

Large fowl hen 3.4-4.30kg (7½-9½lb), large fowl pullet 3.17-4.08kg(7-9lb)

Bantam Faverolles weights are:

Male 1.13-1.36kg (2½-3lb) and Female 907 – 1133g (2-2½lb)


Faverolles are an easy breed to keep as they adapt well to free-range as well as confinement. They are alert, active birds whilst also being quiet and gentle. It has also been said of them that they can become very affectionate towards their keepers and are an ideal breed for children. The females are good egg layers, on average laying up to 200 eggs a year and are one of the breeds that continue to lay well into the winter season.

They also make good broodies and mothers and the chicks grow quickly, develop fast on high quality feed and enjoy foraging from an early age.

Faverolles keeper Christine Norman says: “I love them because they are friendly, chatty, attractive and hardy birds that are a pleasure to keep. It is a truly dual purpose breed and I think it is sad it doesn’t get more recognition. I’ve never had a sick or sorry Faverolles and I still have 4 of my original hatched breeding stock 6 years later who are still laying and looking great.”

Contact: The British Faverolles Society, Acting Secretary Christine Norman 074434 56871/


This article was written exclusively for Smallholder magazine. For more expertise in poultry from Janice Houghton-Wallace, subscribe to the monthly magazine by calling 01778 392011 or emailing It is also available from newsagents.