Discover the Unique Chee Fah and Fah Luang Chickens

In the beautiful province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, you’ll find two special chicken breeds: Chee Fah and Fah Luang chickens. They stand out with their striking black feathers and even black earlobes and combs. That’s why people often call them black-boned chickens.

But these chickens are more than just good-looking; they’re a big part of life in northern Thai communities. They’re known for their tasty, healthy meat. These black-boned chickens are low in fat and cholesterol but high in protein and collagen. Plus, they’re loaded with carnosine and anserine, which are great for your health.

A Tale of Heritage

The story of these chickens goes way back to the 1950s when they were introduced by Chinese indigenous black-boned chickens brought by military refugees from the ex-Kuomintang army and Yunnanese-Chinese. Chiang Rai, where they now thrive, has a significant Yunnanese-Chinese community.

Meet the Chickens

Chee Fah chickens weigh between 891 and 1714 grams at 16 weeks old and lay 43 to 124 eggs a year. Fah Luang chickens weigh between 917 and 1311 grams at 16 weeks old and can produce up to 141 eggs annually. These chickens are prized for their eggs and meat, which often come with higher price tags than commercial breeds. Yet, the cost of raising Chee Fah and Fah Luang chickens and their products is lower, making them accessible to people in remote highland areas, like Chiang Rai.

What’s truly remarkable is that these chickens have adapted to the chilly highland environment of Northern Thailand, where other chicken breeds struggle.

Officially Recognized

In 2005, the Thai Government officially recognized Chee Fah and Fah Luang chickens as native local breeds. They’ve since become a crucial part of efforts to ensure food security for hill tribe communities and remote schools.

Where They Thrive

Chiang Rai is a vast province, covering around 11,460 square kilometers. But not all of it suits these chickens. About 82.64% of the area isn’t quite right for them. But there are patches of perfect chicken habitat, around 0.04% with very high suitability, 1.38% with high suitability, 6.93% with moderate suitability, and 9.01% with least suitability.

Their Ideal Home

To understand where these chickens are happiest, we looked at things like tree canopy cover, elevation, forest canopy height, distance to the main river, and how green the land is (NDVI). These chickens prefer areas with no tree canopy cover, elevations between 1200 and 1300 meters, shrubby forest canopies between 1 and 13 meters tall, distances of 10 to 1000 meters from the nearest river, and land with NDVI readings between 0.17 and 0.23, typically shrubby and grassy areas.

What Matters Most

Elevation is the most important factor for these chickens. It affects where they like to live the most. So, it’s all about finding the right altitude for these special birds.