Naked Neck (Turken Chicken): Breed Profile & Pictures

Naked Neck Turken chicken on white background

Also known as the Naked Neck, the Turken chicken originates from Romania. These unique birds stand out because, just as their name hints, they sport bare necks and a somewhat turkey-like appearance.

Yet, despite being often ignored due to their weird looks, they have a lot to offer. In particular, these chickens are active and have a friendly nature. They are reliable egg layers and good for meat production, too.

In this article, we will provide you with a detailed profile of Turken chickens. We will cover everything from their origin and behavior to the advantages and disadvantages of raising them. Let’s get started!

Turken Chicken Quick Facts

Origin:Romania, France, Austria, Germany, Asia, Middle East
Weight:Roosters: 6–9 lbs (2.7–4.1 kg);
Hens: 4–6 lbs (1.8–2.7 kg)
Purpose:Eggs, meat, and as pets
Egg Production:150–200 eggs per year
Egg Color:Light brown
Temperament:Active, easy to manage, sweet, cuddly, resilient, vigorous, docile, and gentle
Broodiness:Medium to high
Hardiness:Hardy in all climates
Lifespan:7–10 years
Unique Features:Feather-free neck, crop, and face, a small tuft of feathers atop its head, various plumage coloration, turkey-like build, yellow legs, orange-red eyes
Beginner Friendly:Yes

What Is a Turken Chicken?

Transylvanian naked neck chicken in the backyard

Sometimes called Transylvanian Naked Neck, Churkey, Turkey Neck chicken, and Naked Neck, a Turken is a breed of chicken with a nude neck due to a genetic mutation. Despite their turkey-like appearance, however, they are 100% chickens. In fact, they are valued for eggs, meat, and as pets.

Often labeled the “ugly duckling” of chicken breeds, Turkens defy expectations by being excellent backyard companions. They are active, manageable, and surprisingly cuddly.

Yet, Turken chickens are not just sociable. They are also resilient and vigorous, with a notable hardiness against many diseases.

As a matter of fact, their lifespan typically ranges from 7 to 10 years, which is a testament to their robust health.

Moreover, these chickens are celebrated for their dual-purpose functionality. They are reliable both in egg production and meat yield, making them a versatile addition to many farms.

Watch this video to see what Naked Neck chickens look like in action:

My 5Month Old Turken Jeffrey Rooster #chicken #turken #nakedneck #turkey #hen #youtubeshorts

Is a Turken a Mix Between Turkey and Chicken?

Contrary to popular belief, Turkens are not a mix between turkeys and chickens. This misconception arises because of their unique appearance, which resembles turkeys.

In reality, though, they are purebred chickens with a distinctive genetic trait. In particular, a study in 2011 shed light on this phenomenon.

Researchers found that the Turkens’ bare neck is the result of a genetic mutation causing the overproduction of BMP12, a molecule that inhibits feather growth.

The study further revealed that when chicken embryos of other breeds were treated with such a molecule, they developed a similar featherless neck.

This scientific finding confirms that the Turken chickens’ nakedness isn’t because they’re half chickens, half turkeys.

Fun Fact: Interestingly, Turkens have about 50% less fluff all over their bodies compared to other chickens.

Turken Chicken Origin and History

Turken rooster walking in the yard at the farm

The origins of Turken chickens are shrouded in mystery, but many archaeologists suggest they first appeared in Romania. From there, they likely spread across Europe.

This theory is supported by historical Romanian records, which mention Luiza Hohenberg’s breeding of Naked Necks in the 1800s. Her birds are believed to have been key in introducing the breed to other countries.

However, note that some historians argue that the first Naked Necks originated in Asia and were later refined by breeders in Transylvania and Germany.

Interestingly, a different legend prevailed in America, leading to untruths about the breed. Many Americans in the 19th century believed that Turkens were a product of crossbreeding between turkeys and chickens.

As reported in books and poultry journals during that time, this belief hindered these birds’ introduction to the American poultry scene.

On another note, Naked Necks gained a reputation when they were first exhibited at the International Agricultural Show in Vienna in 1875, where they notably drew attention.

Conservation of the Turken Breed

Despite their global presence, the original Transylvanian Turken chickens are actually under conservation efforts.

In Romania, as of 1993, the numbers of purebred Naked Necks were alarmingly low, with fewer than 100 females and 20 males in each variety.

Responding to this challenge, conservation initiatives have made remarkable strides. Thankfully, the offspring of these chickens have multiplied into thousands.

As a matter of fact, from just a few hundred in each variety in 1994, the numbers soared to over 4,000 by 2021.

This significant increase in population size across various varieties — black, cuckoo, and white — demonstrates a successful turnaround in the conservation and breeding programs for Turken chickens.

Turken Chicken Physical Characteristics

Turken chicken with a naked neck

Turken chickens are immediately recognizable by their feather-free neck, crop, vent, and face, which give them a turkey-like appearance. They also have yellow-hued legs, reddish-pink skin, and striking orange-red eyes.

Furthermore, a notable feature of these birds is the small tuft of feathers on top of their heads, earning them a spot among our list of 16 chickens with crazy or funny hair.

In terms of size, Turken roosters weigh between 6 and 9 pounds, while hens are slightly lighter, ranging from 4 to 6 pounds. However, you should remember that they have bantam-sized counterparts as well.

Color-wise, Naked Neck chickens come in a range of varieties, including black, blue, white, cuckoo, red, and buff. This array of shades adds to their appeal, allowing for a diverse flock.

Note: The American Poultry Association (APA) recognizes only four colors of this breed: black, buff, red, and white. This distinction is crucial for breed standards, especially in competitive poultry shows and breeding programs.

Turken Chicken Temperament and Behavior

Young naked neck chickens breed in the garden

Turken chickens are known for their easygoing and docile nature. Their resilience in various conditions further adds to their manageability, ensuring a smoother experience for those new to chicken rearing.

Yet, bear in mind that these birds are not just easy to manage; they’re also active, sweet, and incredibly cuddly.

Their gentle streak makes them perfect for families with children, as they often display a friendly and affectionate demeanor towards humans.

However, note that Turken roosters can be territorial, especially concerning their hens. That’s why it’s best to maintain a higher ratio of hens to roosters to ensure a harmonious flock.

In addition, Naked Necks might not be the quietest birds around. In fact, they can get pretty chatty and don’t hold back when it comes to making typical chicken noises.

I recently helped a friend set up a coop for her Turken chickens in a tightly knit suburban area. She adored their vigorous streak, but we quickly realized how vocal these birds were.

We also noticed that her Turkens have an inquisitive nature. To be specific, they love to explore their surroundings, peck at things, and scratch the ground for tasty treats.

Egg Production and Broodiness of Naked Neck Chickens

Naked Neck chickens are somewhat reliable layers, as they can produce about 150 to 200 eggs annually. They reach maturity around 20 weeks of age, with hens starting to lay eggs at approximately 22 weeks.

Despite their egg-laying capabilities, however, these chickens exhibit a medium to high tendency to become broody.

This broodiness means they often want to sit on and hatch their eggs, which can be a consideration for those planning egg production.

Nevertheless, such a trait can also be delightful for those interested in raising baby chicks naturally, as these birds are great mothers and take excellent care of their offspring. 

Note: Another downside of broody Naked Neck chickens lies in the cost. In particular, feeding a broody hen for around 3 to 4 months without egg production can be uneconomical.

Turken Chicken Care Guide

Turken chicken lays eggs in chicken coop

Raising Turken chickens is easy, but making sure they stay happy and healthy is critical. Check out the helpful tips below to keep your Turkens in great shape.

Feeding and Nutrition

Turken chicks require a specific feed rich in protein, ideally comprising at least 20% protein content. This specialized feed ensures they receive the needed nutrients for healthy development during their first eight weeks.

Then, as they grow from chicks to juveniles, a transition to finisher feed is suggested. This feed should comprise no less than 18 to 19% protein to sustain their growth rate and overall health.

Upon reaching maturity, though, note that Turken chickens require a layer feed that only contains between 15 and 17% protein.

On top of that, occasional treats like fresh fruits and vegetables can be a nutritious and enjoyable addition to their diet.

Pro Tip: Incorporating diatomaceous earth (DE) into your Naked Necks’ feed can be beneficial. It has been proved that just 2% DE in the feed for egg-laying chickens can keep pesky worms away.

Housing and Shelter

For Turken chickens, adequate housing is essential. Specifically, each bird requires a minimum of four square feet of floor area inside the coop. This is vital to prevent overcrowding and maintain healthy living conditions.

Each Naked Neck also needs about 8 to 10 inches of space on the roost. Adequate roosting space is important for their comfort, especially at night when they prefer to perch off the ground.

Additionally, nesting boxes are like cozy bedrooms for hens. You should have one box for every 3 to 4 hens, and make sure each box is about 12x12x18 inches. But remember, Naked Neck chickens also enjoy some outdoor fun.

Speaking of which, I recently paid a visit to my colleague’s backyard, where he keeps Turkens. He had set up a roomy running area, following the recommended 8 to 10 square feet per chicken.

Further, I noticed that he had creatively added stumps, ramps, and ladders within the enclosure. Observing the chickens, it was clear how these features significantly enhanced their environment.

In fact, his Turkens were having a blast exploring, climbing, and sitting high up, showing off their natural instincts.

Temperature and Lighting

Generally, Turken chicks need a specific and carefully controlled temperature schedule. Initially, set the brooder box floor temp at 95°F. Then, reduce it by five degrees each week for the first six weeks.

On the other hand, adult Turkens do best when their coop’s temperature is maintained between 65°F and 75°F. This range ensures they stay comfortable and healthy throughout the year, regardless of the season.

In addition, consistent lighting is essential for Turken hens to lay eggs optimally. To be exact, they require approximately 14 to 16 hours of light daily.

This can be a mix of natural sunlight and artificial lighting, with the latter being particularly useful during winter.

How Much Does a Turken Chicken Cost?

Turken chicken as free range bird

Turken chicks typically cost between $4 and $7 each. This price range varies based on several factors, including the chick’s age, quality, and sex, as well as the breeder’s production process and reputation.

On top of that, if the chicks are not locally available, shipping fees may influence the final cost.

When considering where to purchase Turkens, you can start your search at poultry farms or specialized hatcheries. These chickens are quite popular, so you should be able to find them easily.

But if you are really struggling to locate local farmsteads, online platforms can be extremely helpful.

Joining Facebook groups and online forums dedicated to poultry farming can provide leads to more sources, often with the added benefit of community advice and support.

Pros and Cons of Naked Neck Chickens

Before you decide to raise Naked Neck chickens, let’s take a closer look at what’s good and not-so-good about them. This way, you can be sure they’re an excellent match for you and your coop.

First, here are the pros of owning Naked Neck chickens:

  • Incredibly heat hardy: According to a 2021 study, Naked Neck chickens are exceptionally hardy. Their reduced feather mass allows for better heat loss, making them well-suited for warmer climates. 
  • Efficient meat production: Naked Necks are renowned for their efficient meat production. They can grow to a suitable size for slaughter within a reasonable timeframe, usually ready for the dinner table in just 8 to 11 weeks.
  • Less feather mess: With fewer feathers, Naked Neck chickens create less mess around the coop, which in turn eases cleaning efforts.
  • Steadfast egg layers: Turken chickens are reliable egg layers. As a matter of fact, they can yield up to 200 eggs in a single year.

Contrastingly, the following are the disadvantages of Naked Neck chickens:

  • Sunburn risk: Due to their sparse feathering, especially on the neck, Turkens are more susceptible to sunburn. This requires careful management to ensure they have enough shade and protection.
  • Limited availability: While popular in certain regions, Naked Necks might not be readily available in all areas. This potentially limits accessibility for interested keepers.
  • Perception issues: Turken chickens have a one-of-a-kind look, but most people might not think they’re as cool as other breeds. Some even worry they’re not in the best health because they look like they’re sick.
  • Potential target for pecking: The exposed skin of Turkens can make them a target for pecking by other chickens, especially in mixed flocks.

On the whole, considering these factors will help you decide if Naked Neck chickens are the right fit for your poultry-keeping needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Close up of a Turken chicken

What Are Turken Chickens Good For?

Turken chickens excel in egg production, laying up to 200 eggs annually. This prolific laying capacity makes them a top choice for those seeking a consistent egg supply.

Apart from their egg-laying prowess, they are also prized for being one of the best meat chickens to raise. They have a moderate growth rate and a fair feed-to-meat conversion.

Additionally, Naked Neck chickens’ friendly, docile, and sweet-natured temperament makes them great pets, which adds value beyond their agricultural use.

Are Turken Chickens Rare?

Yes, Turken chickens are rare, but only in North America. Note that they are a common sight in South America and Europe, particularly in France and Germany, where they enjoy widespread popularity.

Are Turken Chickens Cold Hardy?

Despite their lack of feathers and enormous combs, Turken chickens are surprisingly very cold hardy. They thrive in freezing climates with minimal protection and require little intervention from their keepers.

​​What Color Eggs Do Turken Chickens Lay?

Turken chickens lay eggs that are light brown in color, and these eggs tend to be medium to large in size.

As you can see, Turken chickens are more than their unique looks: they are hardy, productive, and affectionate. Do you have opinions, thoughts, or questions? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below!

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