Best of Both

The La Fleche

Your Chickens - - Contents -

THE LOW DOWN

The com­bi­na­tion of the deep red horned comb, strong beak, cav­ernous nos­trils and bee­tle black plumage, as well as the solid stature of this breed, mean that it is well suited to its nick­name of Satan’s Fowl. It is quite a large chicken and it makes a good layer, but it grows quickly and is an ex­cel­lent ta­ble bird that is well known in its coun­try of ori­gin.

IN THE BE­GIN­NING

The true ori­gins of the La Fleche are not fully known. It is thought to have been in ex­is­tence for many cen­turies with doc­u­men­ta­tion de­scrib­ing them as be­ing present in the 15th Cen­tury around the town of La Fleche, just north of the River Loire. This is prob­a­bly where the name orig­i­nated, although the game-like look of the bird has led peo­ple to be­lieve that they stem from Bel­gian game.

WHAT ARE THEY LIKE?

The La Fleche is a fairly up­right bird, which nods to­wards a game-like provenance. It is large in body with wide shoul­ders and a large breast, plus it is tight feath­ered and long in the back. It has a rep­u­ta­tion for ex­cel­lent tast­ing meat and pro­lific egg lay­ing that can be on a par with the Mediter­ranean breeds, such as the An­cona and the Leghorn. It is a slow ma­tur­ing breed which, when cou­pled with its pref­er­ence to range over wide ar­eas, prob­a­bly ac­counts for the taste of the flesh.

LADIES…

The La Fleche hen weighs 6-7lb (2.7-3.2kg). She has an alert ap­pear­ance akin to that of the layer breeds, which is en­hanced by her bright or­ange eyes. On her head she sports a small horned comb, cou­pled with com­par­a­tively large wat­tles. Rarely do they go broody, but when they do they can make fear­some moth­ers.

….AND GEN­TLE­MEN

The La Fleche cock is an­other pow­er­fully built bird. It is raised high on its legs and car­ries a well-de­vel­oped or­na­men­tal tail which gives the male a very stately ap­pear­ance. Closer in­spec­tion shows the ‘devil head’ as­so­ci­ated with this unique breed. Pierc­ing eyes, a deep red up­right horned comb, large wat­tles, wide, cav­ernous nos­trils and glossy bee­tle black plumage make for a stun­ning pres­ence within the flock. Weigh­ing in at 8-9lb (3.6–4.1kg), its ta­ble qual­i­ties are ev­i­dent.

EGG PRO­DUC­TION

The eggs of the La Fleche are a good size and white in colour. The breed is ca­pa­ble of lay­ing good num­bers in a sea­son and for a num­ber of sea­sons which, when cou­pled with the ex­cel­lent ta­ble qual­i­ties, means that it is easy to see how the breed be­came prized for its abil­i­ties.

DOCILE OR DOM­I­NANT?

Feisty and flighty is per­haps the best way to de­scribe the La Fleche. They are wary by na­ture and they do not tame eas­ily. They are bet­ter kept in a sin­gle breed flock and they don’t mix par­tic­u­larly well with other breeds. That said, they are not an ag­gres­sive breed de­spite their Asi­atic ap­pear­ance and likely roots.

HARDY OR SOFT?

The La Fleche ben­e­fits from be­ing able to free range as they are ex­cel­lent for­agers and will cover large dis­tances in search of food. This makes them a very eco­nom­i­cal breed ide­ally suited to their dual-pur­pose func­tion. They are also ca­pa­ble of fly­ing quite high de­spite their size and so they do need high fences or roofed ar­eas if they are not to be found roost­ing in trees. They don’t func­tion as well if they are kept con­fined in the smaller spa­ces that suit other breeds.

HOW MUCH?

The La Fleche can be a dif­fi­cult breed to source. They are found on the ex­hi­bi­tion cir­cuit and, although this is in­fre­quent, you will usu­ally find a very en­thu­si­as­tic owner be­hind the bird. De­mand is quite low for the breed in this coun­try and, as a con­se­quence, good ex­am­ples, as­sum­ing you can find a source, will set you back £50-60 for a trio of birds, with sin­gle pul­lets usu­ally ex­chang­ing hands for around £20-£25.

The La Fleche is wary by na­ture and does not tame eas­ily. Fe­males also rarely go broody

The La Fleche is not an ag­gres­sive breed de­spite the bird’s Asi­atic ap­pear­ance and likely roots

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