Association for Promotion of Belgian Poultry Breeds


Large fowl




Large fowl

|Aarschot fowl |Bruges game |Herve |Liège game |Zingem laying fowl
|Ardenner |Famenne |Hesbaye |Malines |Zottegem
|Brabançonne |Flemish cuckoo |Izegem cuckoo |Tirlemont game |Zwalmvalley fowl


Very impressive pair of cuckoo Malines

Pair of cuckoo Malines


Origin : In the first half of the nineteenth century the farmers in the Dendermonde and Mechelen (in French 'Malines') region kept a lot of clean-legged chickens with a cuckoo plumage, the Flemish cuckoo. From 1850 Brahma’s were imported in Belgium and these were crossed on a large scale with the local breeds. Later on other Asian breeds such as Cochins and Langshans were used for crossings. That way a new giant breed was created, the best meat producer of those days, the Malines. Because of its profitable characteristics, the Malines (a.k.a. Brussels chicken) conquered the Belgian market by the end of the nineteenth century. Afterwards the success story expanded to other countries, the Malines was exported to Holland, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and the United States. The original single-combed Malines was also crossed with the heavy Bruges game. This way a new and heavier sub-breed was created. The head of this new variety reminded people of the head of a turkey and therefore the name ‘Turkeyhead Malines’.


Characteristics : The Malines is a heavy meat producer that still lives up to its legendary meat qualities. It takes however several months before the heavy carcass weights are obtained. Malines are very docile and calm. They don’t fly and are satisfied with a rather small pen as long as there is a dry shelter and they are fed with a balanced diet. The hens lay about 150 light brown eggs per year. 

Appearance : In the first place the Malines is a very large and heavy utility bird with a long, broad and horizontal back and a deep well-fleshed breast. It’s remarkable size, huge volume and proud attitude give the Malines a very impressive appearance. An adult rooster weighs over five kilos and adult hens weigh 4 to 4,5 kg. The body is deep and rectangular. How deeper and how broader the breast, the better the bird. The head is rather broad and heavy, the comb is small and single, they earlobes are red and the eyes are orange. The color of the skin, nails and beak are white, a sign for superior meat quality. The tail is carried almost horizontally. The feathering is rather downy. Old writings find in this the declaration for the tasteful meat of the Malines. This down is believed to provide such a good isolation that the fat spreads into the meat and between the muscles which forms a tasteful juice when the bird is cooked. In birds that don’t have this extra isolation, the fat forms a distasteful layer between the skin and the meat. Typical for the Malines is the feathering on the shanks and toes. The outer toes are fully feathered, on the middle toes just a few stubs are sufficient.

Impressive head of a Turkeyhead Malines rooster

Compared to the original single-combed Malines, the Turkeyhead is heavier, has somewhat longer legs and has a rather attacking posture which he inherited from his game ancestors. The skull is very broad and has striking eyebrows. The triple comb is as little developed as possible, wattles should also be as little as possible or preferably absent. Remarkable is the heavy throat wattle where the name Turkeyhead refers to.


Pair of golden cuckoo Turkeyhead Malines


Varieties : The most typical and most common variety is undoubtfully cuckoo. There are other varieties that used to be quit common in the beginning, e.g. white, black, blue, birchen, yellow birchen, columbian and golden cuckoo.

State : Rather spread. The single-combed Malines are quit common in Belgium but only the cuckoo variety. Small numbers of cuckoo Malines can also be found in other Western European countries. White Malines are rare, black and golden cuckoo even rarer. The other varieties are only seen very sporadically. The Turkeyhead is becoming rare in Belgium and is unknown in other countries.