The Valdarno black chicken, native to the valley of the Arno River in the Pisa plains, was a rare variety already in the first decades of the 1900s. The numerous attempts to reconstruct the breed through local varieties ended up being lost, given the general tendency of breeders to move towards the breeding of the white Livorno chickens. Recently the breed has been reconstructed on the basis of crosses between foreign breeds (Bresse and Castilian) with the contribution of a few autochthonous subjects from the countryside of Sienna.
The black Valdarno is similar to the black Livorno, but its characteristics make it unique in the poultry world, as it is one of the most awarded poultry breeds for its elegant and robust appearance. The plumage is an intense black with green highlights and their character is proud and exuberant. The skin is a delicate white, the legs are fleshy and strong. The crest, which is rather small, is bright red and it is perfectly straight on roosters and gracefully bent to one side on hens. The eggs have a snow white shell.
The black Valdarno falls into the category of light Mediterranean breeds, laying breeds with a smaller physical structure than heavy breeds. Despite being a laying breed, its meat is particularly suitable for traditional local dishes such as chicken with celery and stewed dishes. In the 1990’s the Agricultural Technical Institute of Florence – together with the Chianti Consortium with the “Gallo Nero” trademark, symbol of the breed – began the gastronomic recovery of the Black Rooster. From this project new cooking techniques were born: vacuum cooking, pot cooking and oil cooking.
As this breed is not suitable for intensive breeding, it needs many small breeders to preserve and guarantee its survival, giving shape to the typical rural landscape of Valdarno.
Moreover, the rural outdoor breeding, characterised by the biodiversity of the Tuscan territory, has a favourable impact on the aromas, scents and colours of the meat, with peculiar characteristics and a particular consistency.