Swedish Flower Hens are a unique chicken breed with a striking speckled (millefleur) feather pattern. Known for their friendly and docile temperament, they make excellent additions to backyard flocks and are often enjoyed as family pets. These dual-purpose birds not only provide a steady supply of beautiful eggs in various colors, but they also possess a moderate to high egg-laying capacity. With their hardiness, adaptability to different climates, and moderate flight capabilities, Swedish Flower Hens are a delightful combination of beauty, utility, and companionship for both novice and experienced chicken keepers alike. Read on to learn more.
Table of Contents
- Easy to care for
- All-season layer
Background & History of the Swedish Flower Hen
The Swedish Flower Hen, or Skånsk Blommehöna in Swedish, is a rare and unique breed of chicken that originated, not too surprisingly, in Sweden.
Believed to have originated in the southernmost part of the country, specifically in the region of Skåne (Scania). It is thought to have developed from local landrace chickens and various imported breeds, including some Asian and the Mediterranean. The breed is named for its distinctive feather patterns, which resemble the flowers of a blooming meadow.
The Swedish Flower Hen is thought to have ancient origins with its roots tracing back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Its ancestors were likely brought to Sweden by traders or seafarers from various parts of Europe and Asia.
For many years the breed remained unknown to the wider public. It was rediscovered by Per-Ove Larsson in Skåne when he noticed a group of unique and eye-catching chickens on a local farm and decided to revive the breed.
With its wide range of feather patterns and colors, the Swedish Flower Hen includes various combinations of black, white, red, and brown all tipped with white in a speckled or millefleur pattern. This diversity is a result of the breed’s mixed ancestry and natural selection over time.
Considered a heritage breed, which means it is a traditional breed that has been raised by many generations but is now endangered due to the rise of modern commercial farming practices. Heritage breeds possess unique genetic traits, adaptability, and historical significance, making their preservation important for biodiversity and sustainable agriculture.
Initially developed as a dual-purpose chicken, it is valued for both its egg-laying abilities and meat quality. However, its striking appearance and unique feather patterns have also made it popular in exhibitions.
The Swedish Flower Hen is currently considered to be threatened. The exact population numbers are not readily available, but it is estimated that they are still relatively low.
Their popularity dwindled due to the favoritism of more highly productive industrial hens resulting in their decline. Consequently, the number of these rare chickens diminished significantly to less than 1000.
Efforts to protect and conserve the breed included breeding programs, educational initiatives, and awareness campaigns to promote its unique qualities and raise public interest. These ongoing efforts aim to ensure long-term survival and genetic diversity.
During the 1980s, conservationists in Sweden discovered three separate breeding colonies in different towns. Chickens with feathered crests on their heads were found in Bomb, while non-crested examples were located in Earp and Tofta.
The Swedish Genetic Project was set up as a breeding program to revive the Swedish Flower Hens’ numbers. In 2010, fifteen birds were sent to the United States, marking the beginning of their recognition among American enthusiasts.
By 2014, their population had tripled, indicating a positive trajectory. Presently, numerous enthusiasts in both Europe and the US have dedicated themselves to restoring and proliferating this delightful breed.
While they remain rare, it is now possible to purchase Swedish Flowers across North America and Europe. Although the chicks may be more expensive when compared with other types of chicken.
The Swedish Poultry Association (Svenska Lanthönsklubben) and various conservation organizations actively promote preservation and work towards further increasing numbers. They are not currently recognized in the United States by either the American Poultry Association or the American Livestock Conservancy Organisation.
Swedish Flower Hen Temperament and Behavior
Known for their love of people the Swedish Flower Hen is generally described as being friendly, calm, and docile. They tend to have a curious and inquisitive nature, making them enjoyable birds to observe and interact with. They are typically easy to handle and often enjoy falling asleep on your lap.
Child-Friendly – Their calm and gentle temperament, coupled with their generally non-aggressive behavior, make them suitable for interaction with children. However, as with any chicken breed, proper supervision and guidance are recommended to ensure the safety and well-being of both the children and the chickens.
Beginner Chicken Keepers – They are considered suitable for beginner chicken keepers. Their easygoing nature and adaptability make them forgiving of potential mistakes made by novice owners. They only require standard care and management, making them a good choice for those new to raising chickens.
Activity Level – Swedish Flowers are moderately active and while not as active as some other breeds, they do enjoy foraging and exploring their surroundings. They are good at finding their own food if allowed to free-range. However, they are also content when kept in confinement if provided with adequate space and enrichment.
Broodiness – This breed of hen is moderately prone to broodiness. While not all individuals within the breed will exhibit this trait, it is a behavior that can be observed in some Swedish Flower Hens. This is advantageous if you are interested in hatching your own chicks, but it will require careful management if you do not wish to encourage breeding.
Flockmates – Generally they are non-aggressive and passive when interacting with flockmates. They tend to be social birds and coexist peacefully with other chicken breeds. However, as with any flock, individual personalities and pecking order dynamics can vary, so it is always wise to monitor interactions and provide appropriate space and resources to minimize potential conflicts.
Noise Level – This is a relatively quiet chicken. While they do vocalize and communicate with each other using a range of sounds, their noise level is considered moderate. They are not known to be excessively loud or prone to constant or extreme vocalization.
Just like people, chickens have variations in temperament and behavior, even within the same breed. It is always recommended to spend time observing and interacting with your flock to better understand their unique personalities and needs.
Breed Specifics and Traits of Swedish Flower Hens
The Swedish Flower Hen is primarily considered a dual-purpose chicken, meaning it is suitable for both egg production and meat. While they are known for their excellent egg-laying capabilities, they also have sufficient meat quality for consumption.
Size – The average weight of an adult rooster is around 6.5 to 7.5 pounds (2.9 to 3.4 kg), while hens typically weigh closer to 4.5 to 5.5 pounds (2 to 2.5 kg). There is also a bantam version of the breed, known as Swedish Flower Hen Bantams. The bantams are smaller in size, with roosters weighing between 1.5 to 2 pounds (0.7 to 0.9 kg) and hens weighing approximately 1 to 1.5 pounds (0.5 to 0.7 kg).
Average Lifespan – The average lifespan of a Swedish Flower is around 6 to 8 years. Although with proper care, some individuals may live even longer.
Appearance – Baby chicks typically have a chipmunk-like pattern with a dark line running from the beak down the back of the head. As they grow, their feather patterns become more diverse and unique, with variations of black, white, red, and brown.
These chickens are known for their intricate and beautiful flower-like feather patterns, which can differ significantly between individuals. There is a good following for the breed in the United States and they have groups on social media.
The breed typically has a single red comb, which is medium-sized with five distinct points. Some birds may exhibit a tufted head. They do not have any unusual features such as feathered legs or extra toes.
Differences Between Roosters and Hens – The roosters are generally larger and more robust than the hens. They often have more pronounced and vibrant feather patterns, with long tail feathers. The hens are usually slightly smaller and tend to have subtler feather patterns. However, individual variations within the breed are common.
Hardiness – Known as being a tough breed they are both cold and heat-hardy. They have good adaptability to various climates and are capable of withstanding colder temperatures as well as warmer environments. This is probably due to their mixed heritage. However, it is still necessary to provide appropriate shelter, shade, and ventilation to ensure their well-being.
Predator Resistance – While no chicken breed is completely immune to predators, Swedish Flower Hens are generally alert and vigilant, which helps them evade or discourage potential predators. Their ability to fly short distances also aids them in escaping from danger. However, it is essential to implement proper predator-proofing measures in their housing and surroundings to minimize any risk of predation.
Flight Capabilities – They are capable of flying short distances, especially when roosting or evading threats. However, their flight is not typically high or sustained. They are generally considered to have moderate flight abilities, so high fencing is required if you wish to contain them.
Swedish Flower Hens Health and Diseases
Like all chicken breeds, they are susceptible to various diseases and health issues.
Notable Diseases and Common Health Problems:
- Respiratory Diseases – As with other chicken breeds, they can be susceptible to respiratory infections including infectious bronchitis, mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG), and infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT). These diseases can cause symptoms like coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and respiratory distress.
- Parasitic Infestations – External parasites, such as mites and lice, can affect Swedish Flower Hens. These parasites cause skin irritation, feather loss, and discomfort. Internal parasites (worms) can also be a concern and may lead to weight loss, reduced egg production, and general weakness.
- Egg-related Issues – Some hens may experience egg-related problems like egg binding (difficulty laying eggs), prolapse (the protrusion of the oviduct), or egg peritonitis (infection of the abdominal cavity due to a ruptured egg).
Disease Resistance – While generally hardy and adaptable, there are no specific claims of disease resistance that set the breed apart from others. Their resistance to diseases depends on various factors, including overall health, genetics, management practices, and environmental conditions.
Preventing Disease and Care – To prevent diseases and maintain the health of your hens, the following care practices are recommended:
- Biosecurity Measures – Implementing proper biosecurity measures is crucial to minimize the risk of disease introduction and transmission. This includes limiting contact with other birds, maintaining a clean and sanitized coop, and preventing wild bird access to the flock. This is particularly essential to prevent the current global threat of Avian Influenza.
- Vaccinations – Consult with a veterinarian or poultry health professional to determine if vaccinations are recommended for specific diseases prevalent in your region. Vaccinations can provide protection against common diseases like Marek’s disease or Newcastle disease.
- Proper Nutrition – Providing a balanced and nutritious diet promotes overall health and disease resistance. Feed them a high-quality commercial chicken feed appropriate for their life stage and use, supplemented with fresh water and occasional treats.
- Regular Health Checks – Perform regular health checks on your birds to monitor their condition. Look for signs of illness, check for parasites, and observe their behavior and appetite. Promptly address any abnormalities or concerns.
- Clean Environment – Maintain a clean and well-ventilated coop or housing area. Regularly clean and disinfect the coop, remove droppings, and provide adequate ventilation to reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
- Parasite Prevention – Implement a regular parasite prevention program by conducting routine checks for external parasites, such as mites and lice, and treating infestations promptly. Administer appropriate deworming treatments to control internal parasites.
- Quarantine and Introductions – When introducing new birds to your flock, practice quarantine measures to prevent the spread of potential diseases. Quarantine new birds for at least two weeks, monitor their health, and consult with a veterinarian before integrating them with the existing flock.
Eggs of the Swedish Flower Hen
The breed is known to be a good layer of eggs and they have the advantage of laying year-round in all seasons and often continue to lay for more years than many of the commercially farmed breeds.
Laying Age – It is most usual for these hens to start laying eggs at around 6 to 7 months of age, although individual variations can occur. The exact age at which they begin laying depends on factors such as genetics, nutrition, and environmental conditions.
Egg Color – The eggs can be a range of diverse colors. The most common colors are cream, tan, beige, or pale brown. The exact color will vary between individual hens, and some may even exhibit other color variations, speckles, or unique patterns on their eggs.
Egg Size – The average egg size of Swedish Flower Hens is considered medium to large which often depends on the age of the bird. Young hens lay small eggs, while older ones lay larger ones. Annually eggs often start smaller and get larger as the season progresses. On average, their eggs weigh approximately 55 to 65 grams, but this varies with individual birds.
Egg Production – Known as good layers, their egg production is considered to be moderate to high. On average, a Swedish Flower Hen can lay around 150 to 200 eggs per year. However, this is influenced by factors such as genetics, nutrition, lighting conditions, and seasonal variations. Some individual hens may exhibit higher or lower egg production than the average.
Where to Buy Swedish Flower Hens
These wonderful hens can be purchased from various sources, including hatcheries, breeders, and online marketplaces. Availability and prices will vary depending on your location and the specific time of inquiry.
Average Cost of Chicks – The average cost of Swedish Flower chicks depends on several factors such as the breeder, location, and age of the chicks. They usually cost between $10 and $30 per chick. However, prices vary, and some breeders or hatcheries charge higher prices for specific traits or high-quality breeding stock.
Main Hatcheries that Sell Swedish Flower Hens:
- Greenfire Farms Greenfire Farms is a reputable hatchery known for offering a variety of rare and unique poultry breeds, including Swedish Flower Hens. They provide high-quality breeding stock and have a focus on preserving and promoting rare breeds.
- Meyer Hatchery Meyer Hatchery is a well-established hatchery that offers a wide selection of poultry breeds, including Swedish Flower Hens. They provide day-old chicks and have a good reputation for quality and customer service.
- My Pet Chicken My Pet Chicken is an online retailer that offers a variety of chicken breeds, including Swedish Flower Hens. They provide day-old chicks and pullets and have a user-friendly website with resources for chicken keepers.
Note that availability is often seasonal and additional fees for shipping and vaccinations will be in addition to the cost of each chick.
Do your research and only choose a reputable source when purchasing Swedish Flower Hens or any other poultry breed. Consider factors such as the hatchery’s reputation, customer reviews, shipping options, and the health guarantees they provide. Local breeders or poultry clubs may also be a good resource for finding birds in your area.
The Swedish Flower Hen is a charismatic, friendly, heritage chicken breed with a fascinating history rooted in southern Sweden. Its origins can be traced back to a mix of local landrace chickens and imported breeds.
The breed’s rediscovery in the 1970s led to efforts to revive and preserve it. Today, it is considered threatened, highlighting the importance of conservation and maintaining its genetic diversity.
Swedish Flowers are known to be both heat and cold-hardy and are excellent foragers. They have some limited flying ability and are alert and moderately active.
While some hens go broody, others do not, so you will need to watch your flock to determine this.
To ensure the good health of your birds consult with a veterinarian experienced in poultry health for specific guidance and advice tailored to the needs of your Swedish Flower Hens and your geographical location.
Regular veterinary care, vaccinations, and prompt attention to any signs of illness or health issues are key to maintaining the well-being of your flock.
They are excellent layers and continue through all seasons.
Discover other chicken breeds and more by reading our informative articles!
Questions & Answers
Here are the answers to some of your most frequent questions.
Q: What color eggs do Swedish Flower Hens lay?
A: Swedish Flower Hens usually lay pale cream, tan, or buff color eggs, but there can be other variations.
Q: Are Swedish Flower Hens rare?
A: Yes, Swedish Flower Hens are a rare breed, but they are gaining more and more popularity due to their amazingly sweet natures and good egg-laying abilities.
Q: How much do Swedish Flower Hens cost?
A: As Swedish Flower Hens are a rare breed, they tend to be fairly expensive. They can be purchased as fertile eggs, chicks, or pullets and prices start at around $8 for an egg, $20 for a chick, and over $100 for a pullet.