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Swedish Flower Hen

Crested Swedish Flower Hen Pullet
The rare Swedish Flower Hen has a unique story. Called Skånsk blommehöna (Bloom Hen) in their native country of Sweden this landrace breed was thought to be extinct in the 1970's. (The term landrace refers to the fact that S.F.H.'s were free to develop for nearly five hundreds years without interference from man, so to speak). But in the late 1980's the Swedish Poultry Country Club located isolated flocks in the villages of Esarp, Tofta and Vomb. The gene bank that was eventually created by the S.P.C.C. was successful and there are approximately 1,300 Swedish Flower Hens currently in Sweden.

While enthusiast of rare breeds continue to work hard to increase the numbers it is painfully obvious why they slowly fell out of favor nearly 100 years ago. Though rare and visually stunning they cannot equal the number of eggs some of the top laying hens produce in a peak yearly cycle. Swedish Flower Hens average around 150 eggs over the course of 12 months. Compare that with the nearly 300 eggs a year a leghorn will lay and little explanation is needed. They are average in weight with hens weighing around 5lbs so in regards to meat production they are not top of the list either. But, with that said, they are extremely hardy birds. They have to be to survive in such harsh winter conditions and they are considered reasonably calm chickens when compared to a number of other breeds. These are the attributes that caught my attention. Last winter it reached -20 degrees Fahrenheit in southern N.Y. and though my chickens made it through I began to rethink owning flighty Mediterranean breeds.
Swedish Flower Hens


In 2010 the first S.F.H.'s made their way to the United States. Paul Bradshaw of Greenfire Farms is credited with initially importing breeding pairs of Bloom Hens from Sweden. Within the S.F.H. family there are a small number who have crested heads. Bradshaw imported a group with crest the second time around to increase the gene pool.

Fast forward to the year 2015. Here at Bossy Hen Homestead we have half a dozen laying hens. As mentioned earlier I was interested in slowly working our leghorns out of the mix. Though productive layers they were aggressive and flighty hens. I decided to peek on craigslist to see if there were any interesting breeds available locally. I was surprised to find an add for Swedish Flower Hens. To be completely honest I had never heard of them. I quickly read about them online and was shocked to find out how rare they were. I immediately contacted the owner of these fine hens and told her I was interested!

Some of the old flock
I drove to a wonderful little farm in the hills of the Catskill mountains and met a friendly couple who were raising a number of beautiful chickens and ducks deep in the woods of Delaware County. I gladly purchased two crested head hens and brought them home to my excited children!

They were small pullets when I brought them home and I had learned my lesson the hard way when I brought my Ameraucana home, http://seedtoharvest.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-bully-in-chicken-coop.html so I put them in a separate living area to begin with. Though within sight and scent of the main flock they are safely protected until they are ready to merge.

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead  https://www.facebook.com/seedtoharvestbossyhenhomestead/ which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here https://amileinhershoestalesofastayathomedad.wordpress.com/  

  

Comments

  1. What a great article about the history and story of how you found out about the Swedish Flower Hens! Good, accurate contrast with the leghorns, but I, too, personally find their benefits outweigh their disadvantages for a backyard flock.

    I'm glad to hear and see they've grown into beautiful pullets!
    Hope the introduction goes smoother this time around.
    Thanks for the update!

    Paradise in Disguise Hobby Farm Blog

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