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Other name(s): Mechel; Malines Chicken; Mechelen; Turkeyhead Malines; Coucou de Malines; Mechelner Huhn, Kuckucksperber, Mechelner Kuckuck
Scientific name: Gallus gallus domesticus
Country / Place of origin: Belgium
History: During the first half of the nineteenth century, the large clean-legged cuckoo chicken named the Flemish Cuckoo, was popular amongst farmers throughout Dendermonde and Mechelen in Belgium. As large Asiatic breeds were imported to France, Belgian farmers crossed these asiatic birds to their Flemish Cuckoo, creating the Mechelse Koekoek. The single-combed Mechelse Koekoek chicken was also crossed with the Bruges Game chicken, and the resulting variety became known as the "Turkeyhead Malines". Up until the World Wars in Europe, the Malines chicken was considered one of the best meat producers, and was exported around Europe and to North America. Today the Mechelse Koekoek is rare outside of Belgium.
Current Uses: Meat and Egg Production
Appearance: The Malines is a very heavy bird, that has a well-fleshed breast. The body type itself is rectangular in shape, and rather deep. Their feather type can be a little downy, and goes all the way down their shanks and toes. Regular Malines have single combs, but Turkeyhead Malines have pea combs. The Cuckoo Malines is the most common, but the Malines also exists in black, golden cuckoo, and white.
Average weight: 10 - 12 lbs.
Lifespan: 8 - 12 years
Diet: The Malines does well on a basic commercial diet. Birds should be supplemented with fresh fruits, veggies, bugs, and grit if not permitted to free-range. Hens may need oyster shells added to their diet, if their feed is not high enough in calcium. Fresh water must be available at all times.
Housing: Housing can be simple, but does require planning. You will need a coop that provides your birds with a safe place to escape the weather, night and day-time predators, and is well-drained, clean, ventilated, and comfortable. Roosts should be provided for sleeping, and nesting boxes for egg laying.
Health issues: The breed is relatively healthy, and tolerates most climates. Combs of the roosters can get frostbitten in the winter. Rubbing oil on their combs and wattles will help prevent frostbite, as well as chapping. Birds will need proper housing, care, feed, and parasite control and treatment to live full healthy lives.
Behavior / Temperament / Activity level: The Malines is a calm and easy to handle breed. Birds are not active, and will be content in smaller living quarters.Written by Jamie Clark