If you’re looking for a gorgeous, cold-hardy, unique, and rare dual purpose chicken breed, let us introduce the Swedish Flower hen. Named that way after its country of origin and its multi-colored flowery appearance, this medium-to-large breed may have been overlooked by (and nearly destroyed by) the large-scale poultry industry but it’s one of those breeds that are just perfect for homesteads and backyards.
So, the Swedish Flower hen – here’s everything you need to know about this fascinating breed, including its interesting history, temperament, appearance, breed standard, health, egg-laying capabilities, and more.
What is the Swedish Flower hen?
The Swedish Flower hen – or Skånsk Blommehöna, as it’s called in Swedish – was almost entirely unknown in the United States until the early 2010s. This isn’t really surprising, given that the breed was also largely unknown in Sweden up until the 1970s and 1980s too – or, it was at least ignored up until then.
The history of the Swedish Flower hen
The Swedish Flower hen is a landrace, i.e. – a breed that had evolved on its own through natural selection in its native land and hasn’t been purposefully selected by breeders crossing and mixing different breeds for specific characteristics.
A landrace chicken is usually seen as “less optimized” than an especially crossbred bird but it’s also seen as “more natural”. More importantly, landrace flocks are usually healthier, better at survival, and more self-sufficient. And that’s certainly the case with the Swedish Flower hen too.
Yet, that breed was brought to the brink of extinction not too long ago. The reason for that was the introduction of too many industrial hens throughout Sweden in the 20th century. By the 1970s and 1980s, finding a flock of Swedish Flower hens in the wild or in the backyard of a farmer had become incredibly rare.
Still, the Swedish Genetic Project managed to step in just in time and save the breed from extinction at likely the very last moment. Very few flocks of these birds were still found at the time, most in the hills and fields of Southern Sweden.
Thankfully, through careful breeding and conversation, the breed was saved in the next few decades and it’s now on the rise. The Swedish Flower hen is still considered rare, of course, especially by most international poultry standards, but its survival is much more assured and there are enough places to find and purchase these birds if they’ve caught your eye.
The Swedish Flower hen looks and standard
So, what does this peculiar breed look like, according to its breed standard? Well, first off – the Swedish Flower hen doesn’t really have a breed standard yet. Despite being a landrace breed that’s centuries or millennia old, no one had really bothered to create a breed standard for these birds as they were largely ignored throughout the first two third of the 20th century.
As of today, breeders and conservationists are attempting to establish a breed standard but haven’t managed to do so yet as the efforts for saving the breed were still ongoing until very recently. So, Swedish flower hens today can come in a mix of colors, different crests, and more.
For a quick visual overview of this chicken breed, you can take a look at this video.
Still, there are quite a few distinguishing characteristics that make this breed what it is, even if they haven’t been formally put in a breed standard yet. Here’s what you can expect from these birds:
- Roosters weigh about 8 lb while hens tend to be around 5.5 lb. The body of a Swedish Flower chicken is robust and rounded.
- Most Swedish Flower hens have red body feathers with black feathers on the heads and tails, plus whitish spots on the tips of their feathers. This gives them their unique “flowery” look as the white spots can look like speckles. Certain chickens can have a different and more specific color too, such as blue or gold.
- Swedish Flower hens have single floppy combs that are relatively small and resistant to frostbite – something that’s usually very painful and distressing for backyard chickens.
- There are two big variations of this breed (aside from the different color variations) and those are the crested chickens found in the Vomb region of Sweden and the non-crested chickens found in Tofta and Esarp.
- The comb, ear lobes, and wattles of the Swedish Flower hen are red while the eyes are yellow or orange.
- The skin of the Swedish Flower hen can be either yellow or black and the legs are either pink or gray.
- The feathers are always white tipped regardless of the base color, however, there is a variation with some black tipped feathers mixed in with the white tipped ones to create a special pattern referred to as the “Snow Leopard” Swedish Flower hen.
Egg-laying, temperament, health, and egg-laying of the Swedish Flower hen
Swedish Flower hen typically lay somewhere between 150 and 200 eggs a year or 3 to 4 eggs a week when they are cared for well. This isn’t as much as the egg-laying of some modern chicken breeds that have been specifically crossbred to lay up to 300 eggs per year (5 to 6 eggs a week), however, 4 eggs a week is still a very good number for a hen.
Plus, because the Swedish Flower hen is a very cold-hardy breed, it keeps producing eggs week after week, regardless of the climate whereas many chicken breeds slow down during the cold winter months.
As for the eggs themselves, they can appear small at first but they grow in size pretty quickly and end up on the larger size. The egg color is typically light with a slight beige tint to it.
The temperament of these chickens is another of the many great traits of this breed. Hens and roosters alike are very social, calm, and friendly, and they get along well with people and other animals. Some roosters may only occasionally show assertiveness during the breeding season and one out of four hens will brood if allowed to. But, overall, these chickens are excellent companions and are even great with children.
As a landrace breed that has spent the major part of its history semi-domesticated, Swedish Flower chickens love to free-range. Curiously enough, however, these birds also feel all right with close confinement, as long as it’s not a permanent thing.
For the best possible physical and mental health, however, it’s of course recommended that you free-range your Swedish Flower chickens as much as possible. These birds love to forage for both seeds and insects, lizards, and mice, and they can function as an excellent form of pest control around your property. Adding this to their other characteristics basically turns them into a treble-purpose breed.
As birds that are used to being self-sufficient and living in the wild, Swedish Flower chickens are also used to looking out for the occasional predator and are capable of standing up for themselves where other chickens would panic.
Lastly, on the health of these birds, the other great news is that Swedish Flower hens are incredibly healthy and sturdy. There are no known elevated risks of any health conditions for these birds which means that they are very beginner-friendly as it’s easy to keep them alive and well.
The risk of suffering from external parasites such as lice and mites is ever-present, of course, but that’s the case with any other chicken breed too. As long as you give these chickens ample opportunities to dust bathe and you occasionally look them over for parasites yourself, this shouldn’t be much of an issue either.
In conclusion – is the Swedish Flower hen the right bird for you?
As you can see, this unique breed of chickens is an exceptional homestead choice. Even though they have only recently been brought back from the brink of extinction and they used to roam the fields of Sweden before that, these chickens love human interaction, they are incredibly calm around people and other farm animals, and they are a great option for families with children that want backyard chickens.
The amazing cold resistance of these birds makes them ideal for anyone living further north and the overall hardiness and great health of Swedish Flower hens are great for those that want low-maintenance chickens.
Is this to say that Swedish Flower hens excel at something more than any other breed? Not really – they are not the best egg-layers nor are they the most ideal chicken for meat production. However, they are close to the top in virtually every characteristic which makes them a very well-rounded choice.