Swedish Hens Saved From Extinction

The Swedish Flower hen (Skånsk blommehöna, which translates to “bloom hen”) is a rare breed with a lot of appeal for backyard chicken lovers worldwide. This colorful bird gets its name from the white-tipped feathers that breeders say mimics the look of a field of blooming flowers.

 

   They come from Sweden, where domestic chickens were first introduced over 2,000 years ago. There the birds interbred to create the distinct breeds that the region is known for today. That makes the Swedish Flower Hen a landrace breed, meaning that it developed over hundreds of years with minimal human intervention.

 

   The region’s mild weather created favorable conditions for a dual-purpose chicken that soon became valued for both its meat production and egg-laying ability.

 

   The Swedish Flower Hen was a common sight in rural villages for hundreds of years, but it began to diminish in popularity by the 1800’s due to the introduction of commercial chicken breeds. The adaption to these high producers was so sudden that the Flower Hen became a rare sight by the mid-1900’s and the total population soon shrank to under 500 birds.

 

   Chicken enthusiasts took notice of their decline in the 1980’s and started a campaign to bring them back from the brink of extinction. Conservationists identified three distinct colonies in different Swedish towns and created a focused breeding program to revive them. The establishment of the Swedish Country Poultry Club in 1989 became the start of the country’s first living gene bank.

 

   Thanks to its unique plumage and docile personality, the breed slowly attracted attention. It began to repopulate the Swedish towns it once called home, and the first breeding pairs made it to the United States in 2010. Today, these birds remain rare but are available for purchase as eggs or chicks across North America.

 

   The Swedish Flower Hen’s base colors will be black, blue-gray, reddish-brown, white, red, or yellow. Each will have white on the feather’s tips, which creates a spotted appearance. You can find individuals with and without crests, though they tend to be on the smaller side and rarely block the birds’ eyesight.

 

   Swedish Flower Hens are known for their calm and curious demeanor, as well as their intelligence and independence. Though they are exceptional foragers that can take care of themselves, the birds are also happy to be around people and other poultry and are rarely aggressive. They don’t tend to be broody, which is one of the reasons why the breed almost died out.

 

   This hardy breed can tolerate a wide variety of climates and rarely succumbs to disease. It’s not unusual for the birds to live a decade or longer.

 

   Swedish Flower Hens haven’t been recognized by poultry organizations outside of Sweden so there is no established breed standard.

 

   Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Swedish Flower Hen Club of America (Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/764778697059746/).