The Braekel or Brakel Chicken
The Brakel or Braekel is a Belgian breed similar to the Campine, although it is larger and not hen-feathered. Other names for the Brakel include “Everyday layer”, “The Grey Neck”, and the “Nuns hen”. around one hundred years ago the Beakel could be found on almost every smallholding and because of this was nicknamed “Farmyard Hen” most commonly. They were popular due to their dual purpose capabilities. They laid well and made a tasty table bird, the meat having a hint of gaminess to it. It was also popular being a hardy bird and good foyriger when free ranging around farmland.
The first society for Brakels was formed in 1898 in the Belgian village of Nederbrakel, hence the name “Brakel”. Intensely bred around area’s like Ninove, Geraadsbergen and Oudenaarde they were sold at market along with eggs. Because of the huge numbers being bred the appearance of the brakel differed greatly, some having a horseshoe sign in the feathers and others having a straight band sign, the latter is still implored in todays’ standard.
Due to the contrasting looks of the breed depending which area it came from, various names were given. For example in the village Chaam, Netherlands they were called “La Poule dÕHernies” and “Het Hoen van Ronse” this variety of Brakel had orange eyes. In other area’s of the country, people were trying to change the breed from a typical layer into a meat producing bird. Inevitably this led to so many varieties of “Brakel” and non conforming to the satandered set in 1899.
During WW1 the population of the Brakel was drastically reduced in numbers, when the breed was used to feed hungry mouths of families for their Sunday dinner! There was a small revivel after the war ended but this was short lived as during the second world war the Brakel population declined once more and to this day it is classed as a rare breed