What Is a Turken (Turkin)? A Transylvanian Naked Neck Chicken
Is a Turken a Cross Between a Chicken and a Turkey?
This breed, also known as the Transylvanian Naked Neck, was first bred in Hungary and later perfected in Germany. Contrary to what some folks believe, the Naked Neck is 100% chicken—it is not a cross between a turkey and a chicken. It’s from this misconception, however, that its name, “turken" (sometimes spelled “turkin") has been derived. National Geographic has referred to it as a "churkey."
A number of the color varieties of the Naked Neck breed have been recognized by the American Poultry Association since 1965. The Standard of Perfection recognizes Buff, Red, and White for the large Turkens in the Miscellaneous or Continental class. But like most breeds, different colors and patterns exist. There are Turkens with both single combs and rose combs, although the Standard of Perfection only recognizes the single combs.
There is also a breed with naked necks in Australia that has pea combs and lays blue or green eggs.
Despite its recognition by the American Poultry Association, and its highly unusual appearance which would definitely draw attention to it, the breed is not really known as an exhibition bird.
The Naked Neck is a dual-purpose bird. Because of this, this breed is very popular among homesteading families.
- They lay between 120 to 180 medium to large light brown eggs each year.
- They have meaty bodies and usually weigh between 6 to 8 pounds.
- They have approximately half as many feathers as other chickens their size, making them much more tolerant of heat.
- They are also reasonably cold hardy, despite a relative lack of plumage.
- Their relative lack of plumage (making them easier to pluck) in combination with their meaty bodies make them favorable for meat production.
- They can be broody and make very good mothers.
- They are proficient foragers, making them excellent free-range birds; however, they also do well in confinement.
- They are immune to most diseases, making them a very hardy breed.
- Their necks and heads often become very bright red because of their exposure to the sun. This characteristic (its bare red turkey-like neck) is what makes a turkey come to mind when observing this chicken.
They Have a Playful and Fun Personality
Despite some people’s instant aversion to this “ugly chicken”, many are won over by the chicken’s personality.
In one of the chicken forums I read, I found this interesting story. A mother shared:
“A week ago, I went to the feed store to let my daughter pick out some chicks for her to raise for 4-H. And of course she picks out those ugly little turkins. . . I also let her pick out a few chicks out of several other breeds. So I have 30 little birds in my brooder. But I am beginning to like these ugly little guys. They have a personality all their own. They seem to be more active and high strung than the rest of our babies. When we let them out in our yard to play they are running back and forth chasing each other. My daughter says it looks like they are playing tag. One even caught a fly in midair!! I don't know how they will be when they are older but they are a riot right now. I do think I may even be the one picking out some next year!!”
Like ‘em or love ‘em, they’re still 100% chicken. No turkeys allowed.
Have you ever heard of a Turken before?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.