The chicken gets its name – Bigawi – from the people of southern Egypt who are known for their trade in the animals. It is a rustic breed, with silvery white feathers on its head, which gradually turn blue or black in patches until becoming completely dark on the legs and tail. The chickens have gray beaks, dark brown eyes and a red crest. The males have longer, whiter necks than the females, whose are grayer in color.
The chickens are prized both for their meat – dark and with a flavor similar to turkey – as well as their eggs – smaller than those of other breeds, but particularly flavorful and locally considered to be an aphrodisiac. The skin is delicate and not fatty.
Bigawi chickens were traditionally raised by households in backyards in Fayoumi, south of Cairo, and are renowned for their disease resistance and rustic characteristics. They are also part of an annual spring festival called Sham El Nessim, an ancient Egyptian tradition where families gather to color and eat chicken eggs, which symbolize fertility, re-growth and the new season.
The Bigawi chicken breed is at risk of extinction because it is less productive than hybrids; it was in fact identified during research phase for potential Ark of Taste products. Bigawi chicken eggs, meat and day-old chicks can be found at local markets, but also continue to be raised by families for personal consumption.
The Presidium will work to safeguard and promote this little-known breed, linking producers and consumers through events and various communication initiatives.
Faiyum Oasis and Saqqara
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