Wednesday, February 28Food Security Matters

Beijing You Chicken Breed Profile and Characteristics

Beijing You or Beijing Fatty in the Philippines, or Beijing Oil (China),  is a traditional Chinese chicken breed from the area around Beijing that nearly became extinct in the 1970s. It is now one of 50 rare breeds identified for special protection by the Chinese authorities and a breeding nucleus is maintained by the Oil Chicken Institute at the Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Research Institute, which also promotes the breed. Breeding nuclei are also maintained at other Chinese agricultural institutions.

Beijing You Breed Profile

The You Chicken is a dual-purpose breed. The males are slow-growing and take 120 days to reach a weight of 1.5kg (some are also slaughtered at 0.5kg and 1kg at 60 and 90 days respectively).

growth and longer life span reduce Food Conversion Efficiency (i.e. they are less efficient and consume more feed), there is a considerable Chinese demand for this meat which is considered more flavorsome. For example, there is a very substantial market in China for slow-growing, traditional “yellow chickens”, often kept free-range by small-scale farmers in the south of the country. Chinese consumers will pay a premium for what are locally known as “Tu” or  “Earth” chickens – birds that are kept free-range and/or which taste “like they used to”.

beijing you chicken
Image credit Simoni LoVano Scirocco

The hens lay moderate numbers of eggs (around 170 per year), just over half that of modern hybrids, which are also sold at a premium.

The eggs and the chickens are marketed with three benefits:

  • Taste and quality
  • Health
  • Social and environmental.

Quality, organic, environmental, and health arguments are used to help promote the eggs. The information on the label states that the product is organic and that it is produced from chickens who live free-range on the hills without antibiotics, hormones, or genetic modification.

Additional information also states that the birds are raised in a healthy place, in the mountains where Beijing’s clean water comes from; and that healthy birds produce healthy eggs whereas caged birds are in unhealthy conditions.

You Chicken meat and eggs are sold principally on quality and taste, as well as for social and health benefits. Whilst there are clear welfare benefits to the system, this is not at present a key selling point.

The Chinese yellow chicken, often kept free-range by small traditional Chinese farmers, is popular on grounds of quality and taste, but we have seen it on sale in Beijing supermarkets with packaging that extolls the benefits of free-range production. Welfare may become a selling point for Chinese consumers in the future.

Seldom breeders grow You Chicken in the Philippines and we are glad that we can get 4 chicks from our fellow chicken grower in laguna. The chicks are now six weeks old and healthy. We are excited to breed these birds!

General Characteristics

Uses Dual purpose utility.

Eggs: 120-170 pinkish-brown like Croad Langshan

Origin: Beijing China

Weight: Cock: 2.7-3Kg, Hen: 2.15-2.35Kg

Color: Black, White, Cream, Golden, Red, Partridge, Cuckoo

Beijing You chicken is similar to Brahma but is half smaller in size and with a crest and beard. Other breeders are crossing You with Brahmas giving them excellent good-looking birds.

Beijing Fatty in the Philippines is rare but three breeders in Calabarzon are keeping this breed in existence.

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