Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Skånsk Blommehöna

I've gotten a few inquiries asking for more details about Swedish Flower Hens, and why I got interested in them, so I thought I'd take some time to share the details of my latest adventure in chickening.  First, some information about the breed.

From Southern Virginia Poultry: "Domestic chickens were introduced to Sweden about 2000 years ago, brought to the country by traders, settlers and even Viking marauders. Today it is unknown what or how many varieties of chickens were brought to Sweden’s shores in those early days, but that unknown mix of birds propagated over the next two-thousand years, developing into what are now considered the country’s native breeds. The Swedish Flower Hen is a landrace breed. This means that the breed developed naturally over hundreds of years. As a Darwinist creation, human intervention and selective breeding never played a role in the development of the breed. Chicks hatched from random pairings of the strongest, hardiest birds in each flock to create a genuinely robust breed of chicken. The Swedish Flower Hen or Skånsk blommehöna, developed in the southern part of Sweden over the last 500 years. As the weather is generally mild in these areas providing favorable conditions for the development of the breed, the Swedish Flower Hen became the largest of Sweden’s native breeds. Farmers considered it a dual purpose chicken, favored for both its ability as an egg layer and for its meat....Named for its colorful, spotted plumage, Skånsk blommehöna literally translates to “bloom hen.” The white-tipped feathers make the birds look like a field of blooming flowers. The base color of the birds can be black, blue-gray, reddish-brown, off-white, red or yellow...the breed began to fade out in the late 1800’s with the introduction of imported chicken breeds bred specifically for high egg production or greater meat yield. By the mid 1900’s, the Swedish Flower Hen was a rarity in the country of its creation"

Fascinating story, isn't it?  They haven't been in the US for too long (Greenfire Farms imported them in 2010) but have gained in popularity steadily.  It's not hard to see why, as they are both beautiful and hardy.  I love the diversity of colors that come naturally to the breed.  The idea of keeping a naturally prone to taking care of themselves chicken is very appealing to me.  With luck, and a sturdy NoCrow collar, I'll have a self-sustaining flock which rears its young, lays plenty of eggs for me with some to share, and provides meat for the table.  It may take a couple of years to get to that level, but it will happen.  I can feel it.

Now, as to how I discovered them.  I believe it was a blog post by Jenna Woginrich where she mentioned getting some really rare, interesting chickens from one of her sponsors, the aforementioned Greenfire Farms.  And being a fan of chickens, I was immediately inspired to follow her links and read more about them, and one thing led to another and I decided that someday, oh yes someday, those Swedish Flower Hens would be mine.  Shortly after that, I randomly met a woman from Springbrook who was starting a flock, and we made a handshake deal on the spot that when she decided to sell hatching eggs I would buy some from her.  Then, there was a divorce (hers), the flock was sold (wah) and sold again, and again, and again, and I continued to try to track them down for the past five years.  I've already mentioned that I found them, only to have them evaporate again a month ago.  

Never let it be said that I lack patience, or persistence.  Those birds will be MINE, dammit.

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