Galo Hen

Ark of taste
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Galiña Piñeira branca or Pineira white chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus L.) is a medium-sized breed from Galicia with three varieties of white, ancestral, and wild. Both females and males have a characteristic flavor among game birds as well as their texture, with dark and firm meat without a touch of fat due to the exercise they do in the corrals. The Galiña Piñeira is a luxury animal, which climbs trees to sleep and protect itself from predators, then other breeds. It is adapted to the Atlantic climate and tolerates the cold and humid conditions of Galicia and maintains its characteristics as a good mother in the usual way of raising its chicks and is available all year round for both eggs and meat consumption.

In Galicia, especially (although not exclusively) in the province of Coruña (although not exclusively), a type of chicken has been recognized since ancient times, called according to the place such as Galiña da Casa (Home chicken), Galiña das Neves (Snow chicken), Galiña do Monte (Mountain chicken) and generally called Piñeira. The extension of this name is so wide that in the technical data sheet published on the website of the Department of Rural Affairs, in the section on the Galiña de Mos, they should have established an express reference indicating that the Galiña de Mos is not the Galiña Piñeira, since, as the Galiña de Mos has a crista reminiscent of a pine grove, a large part of the rural population tended to call it by the aforementioned names.

The characteristic sexual dimorphism of the breed (males and females are not alike) and its characteristic flattened tail or rosette, as a kind of tongue or rosette, are due to the contrast between a light hair and a more dark back and tail. This type is known in any part of Galicia as the "galiña da casa" or "galiña do país", from Fisterra to the interior (Comarca do Deza), and as such, it is possible to find it in old graphic testimonies of any of these areas.

Diving among old photographs, the chicken with this distribution of colour and flattened comb that resembles a tongue, is present throughout the Galician geography, from Mondoñedo to Cambre and from Muxía to San Cristovo de Cea.
This wide dispersion allowed the work of recovering the breed to be benefited by the presence of small, isolated groups of this type of chickens in almost part of the country and facilitated to choose the animals whose morphology was closest to the initial pattern. The first specimens were collected by the veterinarian Xesús García Rodríguez in the municipalities of Arzúa and O Pino around 1998 and the fact that this last municipality was the first to produce animals added to the common name of the chicken, reaffirms us in determining the most appropriate name for the breed that of Galiña Piñeira.

This product is consumed at any time of the year, although it is most in demand at Christmas. There are many recipes, this was the one my grandmother used to cook for us at the patron saint’s feasts and Christmas Eve dinners: the ingredients include a Piñeiro chicken, Olive oil, Parsley, Garlic
an Onion, Carrot, Round potatoes, a few slices of Ham with fat or Pancetta, Cognac, or Brandy.

This product is in danger of extinction due to the introduction of industrial animals or other breeds that at the time of extinction there is an influx of farm animals or other breeds and they mixed with the Piñeira, either to give it more weight or to get more colours to increase its productivity and commercialisation. For this reason, today’s Piñeira chicken is a heavier hen with a different morphology, and we try to preserve the original one, which was a light chicken adapted to the environment to survive and defend itself from predators.
At Agalpi, the “Galician Association for the Recovery, Defence, Production and Promotion of Galiña Piñeira”, we have various lines of work to recover the original breed, such as distributing previously selected chickens among the partners and thus also being able to establish the characteristics of the breed in the shortest possible time. We have also restarted the tasks of recognition as native to obtain the protection of the administration and thus guarantee its conservation.

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Breeds and animal husbandry

Nominated by:Mª del Carmen Fernández Barrós