By Tasha Greer
From their muffed, bearded faces to their feathered legs and five-toed feet, Faverolles are fanciful favorites among ornamental chicken keepers. As cold-hardy, winter layers they also make ideal off-season egg makers. Plus, like most French utility breeds, these Parisian favorites do double duty as a supplemental meat source.
Their exceptionally docile and entertaining demeanor also make them fabulous pets. The only downside of Faverolles is that their facial feathering makes them non-ideal for use on open pasture. Yet, they’re perfect for secure chicken coops and runs.
Whether you keep them for their winter eggs and occasional meat or as kid-friendly coop ornaments, Faverolles are sure to win your favor!
Faverolles chickens originated around 1860 in north-central France near the home of another famous bearded, five toed French breed: the Houdans.  Those neighboring Houdans were likely used as a starting point for breeding the ornamentally distinctive Faverolles. Other breeds, including Dorkings, Brahmas, Crevecoeurs, French Rennes, Flemish Cuckoo, Malines, and possibly Cochins may have also been used to create Faverolles.
Legend has it that as battery cages became popular for urban food production, Faverolles were able to tolerate confinement better than other common breeds of the time. This confinement capacity made the Faverolles the favorite choice for caged egg production. It also made them famous for supplying the Parisian markets with year-round eggs.
Eventually, battery cages led to the use of artificial insemination to create hybrid layers with increased egg production. After that, Faverolles fell out of favor, nearly to the point of extinction, until modern chicken keepers rediscovered the beautiful utility of this vintage breed.
Faverolles Breed Characteristics
Between their winter egg capacity and Parisian laying fame, Faverolles are often thought of as a laying breed. However, like their famous French ancestors, the Houdans, Faverolles were originally bred to be useful as a meat source. Their high carcass quality, white meat, and tender muscling is still valued by Parisian chefs and slow food proponents today.
Unlike their progenitors who are known for their feather crested heads, Faverolles have small, single red combs and nearly non-existent wattles. That makes them well-suited to cold weather.
Short wings and broad bodies limit their flying ability. To compensate, Faverolles use their wings like sails to speed up short runs give them a penguin-like appearance that many people find adorable.
Their muffs, beards, feathered legs and feet, and fifth toe made them ornamentally appealing during the chicken craze. As such, today, when buying Faverolles, you can find both utility and ornamental breed lines.
The original utility type Faverolles, often referred to as French or German types, mature more quickly than other heritage breeds. They can begin laying eggs as early as four months of age. They can also lay more 200+ eggs per year.
Utility Faverolles often have less pronounced facial feathering and their tail isn’t as upright as the ornamental breed strains. Those small changes make utility Faverolles better able to forage on protected pasture. They’ll also sound off at signs of predators and may be louder than ornamental types.
Around 1886, when the Faverolles breed began to gain popularity in the U.K., longer, fuller, more upright tail feathers became favored. Squirrel tails with wispy feathers were considered a faux pas.
Additionally, ornamental strains often grew larger than utility types. This may be the result of an emphasis on some of the Brahma or Cochin genetics being more dominant. Ornamental Faverolles can take longer to size up and may be later to get to point of lay than utility types.
Facial feathering is more pronounced in ornamental lines. As such, show quality Faverolles may have difficulty seeing the ground around them. Their foraging ability may be impaired. They also tend to avoid heights and to ground nest like ducks.
Faverolles Color Varieties
Globally, Faverolles come in several color varieties including salmon, white, black, ermine, cuckoo, mahogany, splash, and blue. In the U.S., the American Poultry Association (APA) has only accepted the salmon and white color varieties.
Faverolles bantams are not yet accepted in the U.S. They are also hard to find.
Salmon, as a color, is unique to the Faverolles. Today, it’s the color variety the breed is famous for and is often the only option available from breeders and hatcheries.
For hens, their feathers are a rich, golden salmon color over the back, head, and wings. They have a white and straw-colored breast speckled with hints of salmon. The breast, muff, and lower half of the body are lighter colored in shades of straw and cream.
Roosters have a completely different appearance. Against their black beards and breasts, Faverolles roosters’ straw-colored hackles, back, and saddle really stand out. Paired with their gold duck wings and white-tipped primaries, they appear to be dressed up in a tuxedo of sorts for a fancy dinner party.
When standing as a couple, salmon Faverolles hens and roosters are the perfect mix of contrast and complimentary coloring. Their overall fluffy and soft feathering also make them appear nearly round, like owl-faced pillows.
Full-Size and Bantams
Full-sized Faverolles weights vary depending on strain. The following averages are common in the U.S. However, some strains may get much larger.
- Pullets: 5.5 lbs.
- Hens: 6.5 lbs.
- Cockerels: 7 lbs.
- Cocks: 8 lbs.
Generally, bantam hens will grow to about 26 ounces and males to 30 ounces.
See Bantam Chickens: Small But Mighty to learn more about this size of chicken.
Faverolles are universally known as docile chickens and perfect pets. Even the roosters are gentle and calm. They can also be timid around humans if not tamed as chicks.
Caring for Faverolles
Faverolles are a cold hardy breed with an average lifespan of about 5 years. They can tolerate heat if given shade and cool water. However, they will not lay well in hot weather.
Also, as a breed recovering from the brink of extinction, there’s a shortage of good breeding stock. To ensure good health from hatching forward, a few extra precautions are necessary.
Faverolles chicks grow quickly. Unlike other chicks that can survive for 2-3 days in transit without food, Faverolles need formulated chick feed earlier. Buy chicks from close range breeders and be ready with food and water on pick up. Use a probiotic water-based supplement to stimulate appetite if chicks arrive stressed.
Faverolles chicks feather quickly. Give them a cool zone in the brooder when raising them with other breeds. Put food and water on the cool side of the brooder to ensure they eat regularly.
Vent sexing is often inaccurate for Faverolles. However, you can feather sex as soon as the wing feathers start to come in as males will have black feathers and females will not.
With their heavily feathered legs and feet this breed is better kept on dry ground especially in cold weather. Offer covered scratching areas and a dry litter coop floor to help prevent prolonged dampness.
Also, the additional toenail can get long. Trim as necessary using pet nail clippers. Similar to dogs, cut the semi-transparent area found at the tip of the nail not the denser, darker section where the nail vein resides.
Nesting and Roosting
Faverolles can have difficulty seeing the ground because of their muffs and beards. They are often fearful of heights and tend to prefer to roost and nest on low, flat areas.
You can train them to use a raised nest box and roost bar by repeatedly placing them in and on those areas for several weeks. Keep the area around those locations clear as Faverolles will often fly down rather than jump since they can see ahead but not down.
Alternatively, add ramps and train them to walk up and down the ramps. Or offer covered areas for sleeping and nesting at the ground level.
For more info on nesting boxes, check out Chicken Nesting Boxes: Guide to Purchasing or DIY
Despite their limited range of vision, Faverolles are smart and alert. They enjoy foraging. Yet they also require protection.
Since they can’t fly well, Faverolles opt to hide low under brush or buildings when threatened. Limit their access to under the coop or under shrubs, to avoid having to crawl under and get them out. Or offer them safe hiding spaces that you can easily reach.
Also, clear the coop and run of ground level obstacles that may become hazards if Faverolles are frightened into running.
A ratio of 1 rooster to 8 hens is ideal for this breed. Avoid pairing Faverolles hens with roosters from more aggressive breeds to avoid injury.
Faverolles vary in their broodiness. Dual utility Faverolles tend to go broody. Egg focused or ornamental Faverolles may not go broody. Check with your breeder for details.
Pros and Cons of Raising Faverolles
Faverolles are a wonderful breed in the right circumstance. Here are some pros and cons to consider.
- Ideal Ornamental Pets for Confinement
- Winter Egg Production
- Fast Maturing for a Heritage Breed
- Easy to Feather Sex Chicks
- Not Good for Free Ranging
- Low Egg Production in Hot Weather
- Muff and Ear Visibility and Feathered Feet Necessitate Extra Care
Overall, Faverolles stand out in secure settings when used as winter layers. They are also incredibly sweet pets if tamed as chicks.
Here are a few more fun things to know about Faverolles.
Faverolle or Faverolles which is correct?
Named for a small, agricultural village called Faverolles, the “s” at the end of the name is always included even for one Faverolles chicken.
What famous literary character do the Faverolles have a connection to?
The village Faverolles were named for is also famous for being the home of Victor Hugo’s fictional protagonist in Les Misérables, Jean Valjean.  Like that historical character, Faverolles found themselves nearly forgotten after they were unexpectedly freed from their Parisian battery cages.
Also, like Jean Valjean, though still considered threatened by the Livestock Conservancy, this once nearly extinct breed has begun to build a new name for itself as an adorable dual-utility, ornamental beauty with endearing pet qualities.
What Color are Faverolles Eggs?
Faverolles eggs are often referred to as “tinted”. Unlike other breeds that have distinctively white or brown eggs, Faverolles tend to lay anywhere from off white to light brown. Some eggs may also trend toward pinkish, greenish, or blueish in certain strains.
Until your Faverolles hens lay their first eggs, you won’t know their egg color. But the good news is since they often start laying relatively early, you won’t have to wait too long to find out!
Faverolles: Your New Favorite for Winter Eggs
For backyard chicken keepers with confined coops, cold winters, or a desire for year-round egg production, Faverolles are likely to become your newfound favorites. Whether you fall for their fashionable feathering or French literary and Parisian market connections, Faverolles (salmon colored in particular) are certain to bring la vie en rose to your coop.
Are you thinking about getting chickens or do you already have a flock? Learn more in this blogpost Raising Chickens: Beginner’s Guide (+ Pro Tips!)
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