You’ve likely noticed there are hundreds of domestic chicken breeds out there. While breeds like the Orpington or Wyandotte are the most common, there are countless others ones that also deserve love and recognition.
One of these is the adorable Barbu d’Uccle chicken, which is gaining in popularity as both a dependable egg layer and an affectionate pet.
Barbu d’Uuccle Chicken Characteristics
This is a compact Bantam breed from Belgium and hails from the town of Uccle on the outskirts of Brussels.
The name “Barbu” refers to the fact that it’s a bearded breed, as “barbe” means “beard” in French. The beard referred to here refers to their thick, protruding neck feathers, which create a sort of ruff beneath their beaks.
Barbu d’Uccles are one of the smaller chicken breeds—generally averaging only two pounds at full maturity—with an upright posture and bright eyes.
Their coloring can vary, and thus far breeders have determined 28 different color combinations in this particular breed. They usually have long, fluffy feathers around their feet (a trait common to Bantams), and their feathers are often speckled.
Uses on the Homestead
Since Barbu d’Uccle chickens are such a small breed, they’re not ideal as dual-purpose or meat birds. Instead, they’re valued for their dependable egg laying and the fact that they’re some of the friendliest and most affectionate hens available.
If you’re looking for pet chickens who will eagerly curl up on your lap or shoulder for cuddles, while also providing you with tasty eggs regularly, definitely consider this breed.
It’s important to note that Barbu d’Uccle chickens are not prodigious layers. In fact, they may offer 150 to 200 small- to medium-sized eggs a year. As a result, you won’t be able to depend on them for eggs as a daily protein source.
That said, their compact size and friendly personalities make them absolutely ideal for backyards and small homesteads. If you’re interested in raising this breed, consider having them as part of a mixed flock alongside prodigious egg layers.
As an aside, this breed’s roosters are some of the best you could hope for. They’re far more docile than other breeds, and their compact size means that their crow is fairly quiet and squeaky.
This makes them far more tolerable in an urban environment or for keeping your sanity intact while growing your flock.
Ideal Nanny and Companion Birds
Thanks to their affectionate and broody nature, Barbu d’Uccle hens are often used as “nanny” birds in mixed flocks to incubate and hatch other breeds’ fertilized eggs.
They’ll happily care for any eggs that are tucked under them and will nurture other chicks as lovingly and devotedly as though they were their own. This is invaluable if you aim to increase your flock and need extra help with hatching and chick care.
Barbu d’Uccles’s loving personalities can encourage other breeds to be more affectionate and trusting towards their owners. When the other birds see the d’Uccles getting cuddled or perching safely on their people, they may feel more comfortable getting closer as well.
Note that if you’re planning to incorporate this breed into a mixed flock, it’s important to ensure that the other breeds are compatible. D’Uccles are docile and submissive and may be bullied or even attacked by larger breeds. As such, choose those that are relatively the same size and weight and are friendly rather than aggressive.
Some potential companion breeds include:
- Brahma: Although Brahma chickens are larger, they’re very docile and gentle and get along with just about everyone, provided they have enough space to run around freely.
- Cochin: These are also larger but incredibly friendly and calm. There aren’t many breeds that Cochins won’t get along with.
- Silkie: Silkies may be your d’Uccles’ favorite companions, as they’re similar in size and weight, as well as immensely friendly and docile.
- Polish: Crested Polish chickens are also on the smaller side, and both their temperament and personality would work well in a mixed flock.
- Serama: Although Seramas are more active and boisterous than d’Uccles, they’re small and spunky and will happily play and forage alongside other birds.
Taking Care of Barbu d’Uccle Chickens
These chickens are rare in the USA and Canada, so you’ll have to find a specialized breeder to get some chicks. That said, you’ll have plenty of luck finding them if you’re based in Europe, as they’re some of the most popular breeds in Belgium, Germany, and France.
This breed has a moderate lifespan of 8–10 years, though some can live up to 12 in ideal conditions.
Barbu d’Uccle chickens are fairly cold tolerant, but if you live in USDA Hardiness Zone 6 or below, you’ll need to provide them with a well-insulated shelter for the winter months. These birds don’t tolerate hot climates well and are prone to heat stress if the temperature goes above 80°F/27°C.
Although Barbu d’Uccles are small, it’s crucial that you don’t underestimate their intelligence or capabilities! These smart, cheeky birds can get themselves into trouble if they aren’t well supervised.
For example, did you know that d’Uccles are excellent fliers? This is great if you’re okay with them nesting in tree branches but less great if you want to keep them confined to a backyard.
If you let them roam freely in the yard, ensure that you have very high fencing or that your enclosure has a roof. A wire mesh roof won’t just keep your birds from flying off—it’ll also protect them from flying predators like hawks.
Ensure that this enclosure also sinks a good 12 inches into the earth and curls outwards. This will deter diggers like foxes and weasels from getting to your birds.
Ensure a healthy, varied diet full of fruit, vegetables, and insects and your preferred chicken feed. Provide them with clean water, mental stimulation, and socialization (both with other birds and human contact), and you’ll keep them healthy and happy for years to come.
This breed is more prone to mites than most others, so you’ll need to provide them with adequate space and materials for regular dust bathing. Additionally, consider lining their nesting boxes with diatomaceous earth to repel mites and other insects.
Barbu d’Uccle chickens have the same long leg feathers as other Bantam breeds, and these feathers are prone to getting dirty and matted.
As such, ensure that they have a dry, covered enclosure to roost in, and don’t hesitate to get in there and wipe their feathers down with a damp cloth to remove accumulated mud, droppings, and other detritus.
Although d’Uccles are resistant to many health issues, their small stature can make them susceptible to getting egg-bound.
Make sure you add oyster shells to their daily grit to help prevent this issue and have a reliable vet who can see your bird asap if this happens. If a chicken gets egg-bound, it usually has about 24-36 hours before its body shuts down.
Barbu d’Uccle chickens are perfect pets, fairly reliable layers, and can make excellent companions. Whether you’re establishing a mixed flock or just want a few chooks in the backyard, this is an ideal breed that’s sure to bring you joy for years to come.