The Swedish Flower Hen (Skansk Blommehona) is everything it's name implies. They are smart birds, practically valued for their sturdy landrace health and vigor and good production of eggs and meat, but beloved for their lovely colors and brush-stroke impressionist "flower" pattern that brings to mind a Monet masterpiece.
The Swedish Flower Hen is a landrace chicken, which means that it was not engineered, but rather developed naturally over time as it adapted to the environment in which it lived. Although it has been mentioned in various writings over the past 300 years, it's true origins can only be guessed. It is likely that seafarers and settlers, perhaps even Vikings, brought chickens to remote settlements as a food source and to trade for other goods. These birds most likely fended for themselves and were used for eggs, meat, and feathers. Because of their survival-of-the-fittest development, the Swedish Flower Hen became suited to thriving in the sometimes harsh climate of southern Sweden and became the traditional farm hen of that region.
Sadly, the industrialization of agriculture and it's emphasis on high-production hybrids sidelined traditional hearty, long-lived, reproductively-vital birds and almost brought about the extinction of this breed. By the early 1970's, there were very few Swedish Flower Hens left in the country. The Swedish Genetic Project identified a few isolated flocks and put a plan into place to restore this priceless endangered heritage breed.
Many keepers of Swedish Flower Hens enjoy the great diversity which provides a fun "mixed assortment" all in one pure breed. Base plumage can be blue, black or splash with sub-coloring of mahogany, red, chocolate, orange, gold, yellow, mocha and straw. The white-tipped feather pattern, poetically called "mille fleur" (thousand flowers) creates the illusion of innumerable flowers in blossom. Birds may be crested (from fowl originating in the Vomb area) or non-crested (from fowl originating in the Esarp and Tofta areas), and also tasseled or non-tasseled. Wattles, single comb and earlobes are red, eyes are orange/yellow. The body is medium-sized, round and robust, with roosters weighting in around 8 pounds, hens about 5 1/2 pounds. Skin can be yellow or black mottled, legs are clean and light tan-colored. Chicks may hatch out with pink or grey legs.
Swedish Flower plumage classification and nomenclature can be a wee bit confusing. We'll do our best here to illuminate you. First off, even though technically the white-tipped feather pattern itself is "mille-fleur," this is also the label used specifically for Swedish Flowers that exhibit tri-colored plumage. Bi-colored plumage is referred to as mottled. Furthermore, some tri-colored Swedish Flowers possess a gene that mutes their red/brown to a lighter gold or straw, resulting in a color combination reminiscent of a snow leopard, so is understandably styled "Snoleopard" (Swedish spelling). The above patterns are preceded by either "blue" or "blue-based," "black" or "black-based." Splash-based birds get their own special classifications as follows. A splash-based bird with reddish brown or red sub-color is called a "Red Pyle," even though it is, on some level, a splash-based mille fleur, but since the base color (white) is the same as the feather tip color (white), the result is a bi-color bird, which apparently merits a different name. And lastly, a splash-based mottled is simply called "splash," since it's base color and feather tip color are both white, resulting in a completely white bird. For pictorial representations of these many color/pattern variations, please see the informative chart compiled by Swedish Flower breeder and American Poultry Association artist par excellence, Leigh Schilling.
WHY WE LOVE THEM
Swedish Flower Hens are a pure delight! Our birds are calm, yet have a poise and confidence beyond your average chicken. They are independent, forage well and are predator-savvy, yet can thrive in pens. Our birds are exceptionally people-friendly (which we understand is not the norm for this breed) and roosters are non-aggressive. They provide up to 200 large to extra-large tinted eggs a year. Our flock includes non-crested, crested and tasseled birds. And most wonderfully of all, they bloom in a profusion of colors like a vast field of wildflowers in Springtime.