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What Is a Turken (Turkin)? A Transylvanian Naked Neck Chicken

Growing up on a farm and helping to manage her and her husband's homestead, Cindy has acquired a wealth of knowledge to share with others.

No, this chicken is not sick. The lack of feathers on its neck is a breed characteristic of the Transylvanian Naked Neck chicken.

No, this chicken is not sick. The lack of feathers on its neck is a breed characteristic of the Transylvanian Naked Neck chicken.

Is a Turken a Cross Between a Chicken and a Turkey?

The Turken, 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."

American Poultry Association Recognition

Several 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 single combs. In Australia, a breed of the Naked Necks has pea combs and lays blue or green eggs.

Is It a Show Bird?

Despite its recognition by the American Poultry Association and its highly unusual appearance, the Transylvanian Naked Neck chicken is not really known as an exhibition bird.

Transylvanian Naked Neck Chicken

Transylvanian Naked Neck Chicken

Breed Characteristics

The Naked Neck is a dual-purpose bird: It's both a good meat bird and a good layer, which makes it very popular among homesteading families.

Quick Facts

Transylvanian Naked Neck chickens . . .

  • Lay between 120 to 180 medium to large, light brown eggs each year.
  • Have meaty bodies and usually weigh between 6 to 8 pounds.
  • Are much more heat tolerant because they have approximately half as many feathers as other chickens their size.
  • Are also reasonably cold hardy, despite a relative lack of plumage.
  • Are favorable for meat production due to their relative lack of plumage (making them easier to pluck) in combination with their meaty bodies.
  • Can be broody and make very good mothers.
  • Are proficient foragers, making them excellent free-range birds; however, they also do well in confinement.
  • Are immune to most diseases, making them a very hardy breed.
  • Have very bright red heads and necks because of constant exposure to the sun. It's this characteristic—the bare, red, turkey-like neck—that causes a turkey to come to mind when observing this chicken.
Due to sun exposure, Naked Necks have bright red heads and necks.

Due to sun exposure, Naked Necks have bright red heads and necks.

They Have a Playful and Fun Personality

Despite some folks' instant aversion to this “ugly chicken,” many are won over by the Naked Neck’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 from 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.

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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.

© 2011 Cindy Murdoch


Janessa on November 19, 2019:

One of the friendliest birds I ever owned was a Turkin. His feathers were truly beautiful and his head bright red. He followed the kids around the yard like a dog.

john williamson on December 30, 2018:

i bought a turken two months ago because it was jaundice looking and didn't think she would live. I also have a cat that is a rescue & will be 11 in february. To my surprise, the two of them became fast friends. I have a room in my apartment that i have fixed up for "Gizmo" that is easy to clean. The past four mornings I have found my cat in the room laying down next to her when i've come in from work. I then put a large mirror in there and the real entertainment began. I never thought of having one as a pet, but i'm now a believer in how friendly, gentle, and entertaining she really is. My cat "Salem" has even perked up and now has company when i'm gone. If i've had a bad day or don't feel good, just ten minutes watching them play turns that around.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on February 17, 2012:

PDXKaraokeGuy - How funny! If you use that excuse, then a chicken that reminds you of both, such as the turken, would be considered doubly ugly and should be very easy to eat! LOL

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on February 16, 2012:

so, one of the reasons I find myself able to eat chickens and turkeys is because they are exceedingly ugly. Your hub has only increased that belief :-)

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on October 29, 2011:

LOL davenmidtown. I have not heard that saying before. too funny.

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on October 29, 2011:

My dad had a dog once that someone said was so ugly it should hurt... he was pretty soar over that for weeks....

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on October 29, 2011:

They are not quite ugly enough to be cute. They are still ugly. Poor things is right.

I'm glad you enjoyed this one. And I'm glad you were able to laugh at it. Poor things....

Hillbilly Zen from Kentucky on October 29, 2011:

Oh my goodness this made me laugh and feel sorry for the little things all at the same time. I still have the information on the Hub I did about sweaters for penguins - I wonder if those folks would consider knitting scarves for turkens....You do come up with the most interesting topics, Ms. hsb! Voted up and interesting and funny.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on October 29, 2011:

Augustine - they indeed are very bizarre looking chickens! Like an earlier commenter stated, they almost look ill. Thanks for stopping by.

Augustine A Zavala from Texas on October 29, 2011:

How bizarre! I never would have known these existed until now. I hate roosters, but now starting to like chikcens. Thank you for sharing!

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on October 29, 2011:

cmontijo - thanks for sharing that they are very nice. Many people have pet chickens, so chickens have to be nice over all. If I were going to have a pet chicken, it would have to be a silkie. I have written several silkie chicken articles and I've written a couple hubs about where I tortured my husband about wanting to get a silkie chicken. They really are cute. Those stories where I tortured my husband are the silkie chicken saga. I'm glad you stopped by to read about the turken. Thanks for stopping by!

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on October 29, 2011:

davenmidtown - If it did become the next small dog craze I would hope it would be one where they were crossed with the silkie chicken created by ShowMeSilkies. If you haven't read that hub on silkies and seen the Show-Me-Silkie, you need to read that hub. I just shared it for you if you are watching. You hve to read that one.

cmontijo from Somewhere in the World on October 29, 2011:

I had one of this they are very nice chickens and almost never get sick.

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on October 29, 2011:

OMG: I wonder if those are going to be the next "small dog" craze. This is a great hub. I loved the photos and the details about this chicken. I would have thought it was a cross.. glad it is all chicken... voted up and sharing

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on October 29, 2011:

Thomas/ThoughtSandwiches - obviously I would be very pleased if you link to it. I have thought that an interesting link would be of all things to something vampirish. Kinda strange, but since they are known as the Transylvania Naked Necks, and their neck is naked and accessible, I can't help but have the thought. And yes there are chicken forums, and newsletters. Thanks for visitin'!

ThoughtSandwiches from Reno, Nevada on October 29, 2011:


Very disturbing bird you have here. Perhaps you will allow me to provide a link in an upcoming story I have planned? The best part...there are apparently 'chicken forums'?

Great job!


Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on August 21, 2011:

Lookin' forward to seein' what you do with it, Alastar. Until then...

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on August 21, 2011:

Yes Ms. home, I was very happy to point that out. delightful bird and story. Quite the egg producer too. Hmm..generally a non-fiction writer but sure the Turken can be worked in somewhere down the chicken run:)

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on August 21, 2011:

No, not a DNA cloning attempt, Alastar Packer. I bet with a little bit of imagination, you could take this critter and do a lot with it in one of those tales you share.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on August 20, 2011:

Ah! How charming those Turkins. They are special; and its good to know they're not some freaky DNA cloning attempt. Your right homesteadbound, you can read this interesting and funny one before sleepy time! Thanks!

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on August 19, 2011:

I'm really glad you enjoyed it, Agnes. And you are right. Sometimes when you are less appealing you have to make up for it in other ways. But it's good to remember to never judge a book, or chicken, by its cover, or lack of feathers.

Maria del Pilar Perez from Nicholson, Pennsylvania, USA on August 19, 2011:

Too funny! I've different breeds in our coop, but none that look like these. Sometimes, the ones that are the ugliest compensate with personality. Interesting, funny and useful hub.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on August 14, 2011:

You are correct. Poor thing is a bittle on the ugly side, as opposed to the silkies that I wrote about which are really on the cute side for a chicken. I like to learn new things too.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on August 14, 2011:

I have never heard of a Turken before, poor thing is a bit on the ugly side!

I've enjoyed reading and learning something new, many thanks for sharing.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on August 13, 2011:

jacqui-I'm glad you found the article interesting. Thank you for taking time to share a comment

jacqui2011 from Norfolk, UK on August 13, 2011:

Very interesting - I had never heard of a Turken before I read your article. Very informative. Thank you for sharing.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on August 12, 2011:

QudsiaP1 - glad to help you. I always jokingly say when I learn something new, "Now I can go to sleep tonight. I have to learn something new every day." But they do look pretty pathetic, especially from the shoulders up.

QudsiaP1 on August 12, 2011:

Had I seen these birds before reading them I would think them to be diseased. Thank you I have learned something new today.

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