The Serrana de Teruel hen is a Spanish breed of gallus gallus domesticus originating from the province of Teruel, mainly from the regions of Gúdar-Javalambre, Cuencas Mineras de Aragon, Maestrazgo (Teruel) and Comunidad de Teruel.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, these hens were abundant throughout such areas and in some districts adjoining them. A territory that roughly coincides with the southern area of the Iberian mountain range, a mountain system that advances in a northwest-southeast direction, over more than 500 km2, and which in the province of Teruel exceeds 2000 metres in altitude.
In this mountainous region, a traditional way of life has survived to the present day, revealing the persistence of an economic and social framework of Celtiberian origin, based on the interaction
adaptation between man and the natural environment.
The Serrana de Teruel hen is a rustic, lively hen, very well accustomed to life in the countryside.It is able to resist to the harsh climate of this area: a mountain climate with a continental influence as it is quite far from the Atlantic Ocean. Winters here are extremely cold, with temperatures can drop as low as -30 °C and do not exceed a maximum of 0 degrees Celsius.
The Serrana de Teruel is a semi-heavy hen of the Mediterranean type, which has a double aptitude for both laying and meat, both traditionally produced for self-consumption. The quality of meat and eggs is mainly due to its natural diet and free-range breeding technique. The eggs are cream-coloured with different shades, weighing 65 g, with an annual production of more than 150 eggs per hen. The weight is 3.2-3.5 kg for the male and 2.2-2.5 kg for the female.
The hen is indeed mainly reared in the open air and they can find protection and shelter in the henhouse. The henhouses are usually provided with nesting boxes and perches. Their feed is based on worms and insects they find in the field supplemented with garden scraps, maize and wheat.
Several factors played a part in the decline of the Teruel mountain hen: firstly, the development of industrial poultry farming during the 1930s and 1940s, which allowed the incorporation of commercial hybrids for egg production. Secondly, rural depopulation, which severely affected the mountainous regions of the province of Teruel, was largely to blame. Indeed, Serranía de Teruel, and other nearby territories in the Iberian mountain range, are currently considered the most depopulated region in the European Union.
Before the recovery of the local population, which started around 2004, this breed was known by more generic names such as "gallina del país", "gallina serrana" or "gallina del Terreno", at other names derived from its physical features, such as "gallinas apiñadas", due to its pine cone-shaped crest.
In 2004, the AVIGASTER (Asociacion de Criadores de Gallina Serrana de Teruel), started working for the recovery of the breed: From an initial census of 11 roosters and 118 hens in 11 henhouses, more than 1,500 hens have been distributed and new hens have been incorporated into the recovery project. AVIGASTER stresses that the economic return from the breeding of the Serrano breed l is low at the moment: without improving profitability, this breed will disappear in a few years from farmhouses and villages. For this reason, the challenge lies in disseminating and valuing the production of the Serrano hen of Teruel, both for the quality derived from its rearing in the open air, and for the values it represents as a living testimony of a way of life, which helps to conserve the cultural heritage of thousands of years of coexistence with the landscape.