Gray hen: what breeds are we talking about?


The Limousine, the ash gray, the Vercors gray or the Blue from France are all names commonly included under the same generic name of “gray hen”. Enough to lose your Latin … This maid laying hen is she a purebred? A hybrid breed? A variety ? Decryption.

Who is really the gray hen?

If the gray hen designates several kinds of gallinacea, only the Limousine is recognized inasmuch as race in France. The other appellations (gray ash, gray from Vercors or Bleue de France) refer to a variety hybrid born from crosses between Limousine and other breeds of hens. But all share two points common:

  • Their physical characteristics : a medium-sized hen with a round silhouette and magnificent plumage ranging from pale gray to dark gray, tending to bluish;
  • A good aptitude for laying and brooding thanks to a highly developed maternal instinct.

Gray Limousin hen: the only recognized breed

Equipped with shiny feathers, both resistant and flexible, the Limousin hen has long been used to create flies, these lures attached to the end of fishing rods to attract river fish. In 1931, the Société centrale d’aviculture de France (SCAF) made it the first official description. Fallen into disuse, poultry made a comeback in November 1990, when it was standardized. Selected by Bernard Janisson, breeder based in Corrèze, the breed has adapted to life at medium altitudes and in a lively climate. Recognized in 1992 at the international level, Limousine was born from crosses between females Plymouth rock and roosters Rhodes. In its region of origin, Limousin and the Center, it is also very popular for its meat.

Standard of the gray hen limousine

This ancient breed of medium sizee has a fine frame. Red in color, its Crete is simple, straight, jagged and its barbs – fleshy appendages falling on either side of the beak – are fairly developed. The hen sports mumps Smooth and red, light gray and pinkish tarsi on the sides and its eyes are tinged with orange-red. Her tail is worn almost straight and perpendicular to the back line. The female weighs 1.9-2.1 kg.

Different varieties of gray hens

The French standard recognizes four following colors:

  • Plain blue (solid blue gray with darker coats and coats. The most common of all);
  • Plain blue with colored adornments;
  • Black (plumage entirely black with green reflections. Uncommon);
  • Semi-black and red (black plumage with greenish reflections with hackles tinged with red).

Origin of the gray ash hen

Originally from Alps (Vercors / Royan), this breed hybrid results from crosses between Hello and the Rhode. Also known as Blue from France, the ash-gray hen appeared in backyards before the Great War. At the end of World War II, the emergence of industrialization – which encouraged the breeding of imported breeds – contributed to its disappearance. The ashy gray hen was reborn in 1990, spurred on by a association bringing together several Vercors breeders, passionate about the local breed. Its resurrection is made possible thanks to the description of the crossing methods meticulously preserved in a specifications.

Description of the ash gray hen

The ash gray hen or Bleue de France is characterized by a tinted plumage of Grey and dotted with small spots white. The fowl wears a bright red crest and mumps oscillating between blue, white, red and black. Its eyes show an orange reflection and its tail is adorned with large sickles. This rustic hen from heavy strain, high on legs, can weigh up to 3.2 kg.

Gray hens: aptitude for laying

All belonging to the group of layers, gray hens differ in their aptitude for laying:

  • The Limousine purebred is able to provide between 170 and 200 eggs per year. Each egg weighs on average 55 g;
  • The gray ash hen offers a higher production capacity, with 200 to 290 eggs per year (weight: 55 to 65 g).

Behavior of the gray hen

Purebred or hybrid, the gray hen is not complicated to breed. Sociable character, it coexists with other breeds of gallinacea as well as with its fellows (they bite each other to show their affection). Provided with a calm temperament and familiar, the bird is easily tamed and can rub shoulders with children no problem. Naturally greedy, the gray hen spends her time pecking and scratching the ground in search of worms. Its hardiness makes it resistant to diseases and cold, but it will still be necessary to ensure that it receives the vaccines usual.