Friday, February 18, 2011

Galiña de Mos

Since my mind has turned to chickens - I thought I´d do a post on a heritage breed from Galicia - the Galiña de Mos.

Like many heritage breeds, they were ubiquitous until factory farming techniques replaced them with faster producing breeds - the Mos requires 60 days to get to a carcass weight of 1.5 kilos, while industrial crosses only need 49. They have been on the list of endangered breeds, but went from 362 existing specimens to 5400 in 2008. I think they must be well on their way to recovery now given the number of ads selling poults and eggs.

From Feagas (Spanish Federation of Select Breed Associations)link here.


The name comes from the parrish of Xan Xiao de Mos, in Castro de Rei (Lugo), where the first specimens, selected from a group of rustic chickens bred in the interior of Galicia, principally in the Terra Chá region of Lugo province, were used for subsequent breeding and selection.

The Official Spanish Breeds Book includes them in the Traditional Breeds in Danger of Extinction Group.

Male Characteristics

Small well-shaped head. Red, smooth and fine textured face. Well defined Pea comb, with three lengthwise ridges to buds or points, red in color. Small, finely textured smooth, red wattle, with a rounded lower edge. Small, smooth earlobes, close to the face, red and pointed. Strong, well curved powerful beak; upper jaw usually dark brown, but only on the proximal end. Large, round, dark orange eyes. Smooth, powerful, longish neck, held erect, well-feathered and unified with the body, with thick black hackles over the saddle.

Wide, deep trunk, long and slightly rising toward the tail. Wide back, angled slightly down toward the tail, with medium length fringe. Broad, deep, prominent breast with great capacity. Small tail, short sickles over wide and overlapping tail coverts.Angled up at 45 degrees. Large abdomen. Smaller wings, well folded and held close to the body. Strong, thick, visible, medium length thighs. Strong, thick yellow shanks, medium sized and not feathered, with four strong, straight toes. An adult rooster weighs between 3,5 and 4 kilos.

Female Characteristics

In general, the phenotype of the hen is quite similar to the rooster, excepting differences appropriate to the sex. The crest is less developed, as well as the wattle and earlobes, which are also pointed. The breast is prominant, but to a lesser extent than the rooster. The live weight of an adult chicken is between 2,5 and 3 kilos.

Geographic distribution

Corresponding to the Galician Regional Community, although beginning to expand throughout Spain.

Production and Management

The Galina de Mos is raised in the traditional way, much appreciated for it´s hardiness, when specimens reach adulthood they are raised free range on a diet of grains and natural products. It is a mixed-use bird, a good meat breed and their meat is appreciated for it´s flavor and quality. In addition, it also has acceptable annual egg production. Eggs have light brown shells and weigh at least 50 gr.

Breeders with examples for sale here.

Galiñas de Mos are also used in the production of the famous Capones de Vilalba. There´s a special market for these birds every year on December 19th (for the Christmas market) and they fetch quite hefty sums (up to 100 € a piece in 2010)

I was actually thinking about capons as another crazy idea, but after reading about them, I´m a little appalled. If I understand correctly, they´re free range or pastured to a certain age, then castrated and afterwards confined and force fed corn and potatoes. Now castration is a pretty common thing amongst farm animals, but in the case of poultry, the testicles are inside the abdominal cavity, which requires invasive surgery. That, combined with the confinement regimen, makes me think I´ll stick to turkey for the holidays.

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