Naked Neck Chicken

Naked Neck Chicken featured image

By Ed Haworth

Bare neck chickens are known by many names, but “Naked Neck” is the official name of the breed as recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) and the American Bantam Association (ABA). 

Although crossbred chickens with bare necks are relatively common, purebred Naked Necks on the other hand are quite rare.  The National Naked Neck Breeders Society estimates there are less than 15 serious breeders of this wonderful and unique breed in its standard-bred form — those bred to the specifics described by the Standard of Perfection of the APA and ABA.

A Naked Neck’s temperament is like the average dual-purpose breeds of the same size; flighty enough to avoid some predation, but easily gentled down. They stand confinement as well as any, but excel in a free-range management system as they are great foragers.

They lay eggs ranging in color from tinted to brown, which are usually somewhat large relative to body size.

Naked Neck chicks

Is a turken the same thing as a Naked Neck chicken?

It is very important that one makes the distinction between Naked Necks (the purebreds conforming to the standard) and turkens (slang for any crossbred chicken with a bare neck).  The incorrect term “turken” came about just over 100 years ago during the heyday of backyard poultry keeping. With such fierce competition every seller was trying to develop a competitive edge, so, the name turken was given to F1 crosses and …PRESTO! … the half chicken, half turkey myth was born.

three Naked Neck Chickens in the pen
The Pullet Pen

What colors are Naked Neck chickens?

Naked Necks are recognized by the APA and ABA in large fowl and bantams in the following color varieties; white, black, red, and buff. 

The ABA adds two additional varieties; cuckoo and blue.

The origin of Naked Necks is hidden in an obscure past.  There are two factors to consider when pondering its history.

   #1 – The body type (level body carriage) is close to that of several  breeds of European descent.

   #2 – A painting from ancient  Prussia (Hungary) depicts a nobleman with a castle in the  background and a bare necked chicken on the ground.  

Although the genetics of the bare neck have popped up throughout history all over the world, it seems that the logical origin of our Americanized Naked Neck must be presumed to be Eastern Europe.

Why does a Naked Neck chicken have no feathers on its neck?

The lack of feathering is attributed to a dominant autosomal mutation. Most of us remember the concept of dominant and recessive from junior high biology class. In actuality the gene behaves more like an example of incomplete dominance; the homozygous individuals being distinguishable by the experienced fancier from the heterozygous counterparts. 

It is important to note here that the gene results in bare necks in heterozygous specimens, but when paired with a second identical gene (homozygous) it yields very bare areas in other places too; the keel, sides of the breast, under the wings, between the waddles, around the vent, etc. 

Great care must be taken by poultry judges to identify those birds which are the result of crossbreeding. 

Interestingly enough, autosomal mutations in humans are associated with an array of diseases such as neurofibromatosis, but in Naked Necks the mutation of this conversation has been clinically linked to resistance to Newcastle disease and coccidiosis. 

Many breeders however, have blamed a lack of vigor on this homozygous gene pair.  While admitting that there is something to heterosis, I believe inbreeding to be the main culprit.  

Naked Neck chick

How do Naked Neck chickens do in hot and cold climates?

As one might assume, Naked Necks are extremely heat tolerant as evidenced by many broiler producers and egg operations in hotter climates having integrated the bare neck gene into their breeding programs. 

Surprisingly, Naked Necks are not adversely affected by cold temperatures any more than other single combed breed! 

How much do Naked Neck chickens weigh?

Cock — 8.5 pounds
Cockerel — 7.5 pounds
Pullet — 5.5 pounds
Hen — 6.5 pounds

They are truly a dual purpose fowl, providing a dependable source of eggs even in the dog days of summer, and yielding muscular carcasses with a higher percentage of juicy dark meat when compared to the mass produced birds for the American market. 

The standard weight for cockerels is seven and one half pounds, but they are absolutely delicious when harvested at lighter weights.  And, they do all this with minimal feed requirements as they are excellent foragers.  

Naked Neck Bantam Red Cockerels
Bantam Red Cockerels

How much do bantam Naked Neck chickens weigh?

The APA and ABA call for different weights. The ABA weight is listed first in the chart below.

Cockerel — 30 to 34 ounces
Cock — 27 to 30 ounces
Pullet — 24 to 26 ounces
Hen — 27 to 30 ounces

Although few, the breeders of Naked Necks are some of the most dedicated in the world of standard-bred poultry.  They have a national breed association and a Facebook group for breeders striving toward the standard in bantams and/or large fowl. Interested fanciers can post pictures, chat, ask questions, etc.  Check us out!!!

Are you thinking about getting chickens or do you already have a flock? Check out >> A Beginner’s Guide to Chickens

Curious about the other chicken breeds? Delve into a wealth of information on various chicken varieties by exploring our comprehensive list on “Encyclopedia of Chicken Breeds”.

Author Ed Haworth fell in love at first sight with Naked Necks in 1972 for their unusual appearance.  It took only a short time to appreciate their production/economic qualities as well. You can email ed_haworth at yahoo-dot-com for more information.

Click here to visit our Amazon store, which includes lists of things chickens need, as well as our favorite chicken books!

Naked Neck Chicken pin image

2 thoughts on “Naked Neck Chicken”

  1. I have a question…
    We just butchered our 15 naked-necks this morning at 12 weeks old. I had read before they can be butchered at 10-12 weeks. I think they need more time. When is the best age for these guys to process? I mean they were SMALL.

    • I have never raised naked necks but heritage chickens are usually butchered at 3.5 to 4.5 months. When raising a breed for the first time it’s a good idea to only butcher a couple each week starting at 3.5 months to determine the best age to butcher them. And you also get an idea of how fast they are gaining.


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