It is true that just like any other animal, the price of a chicken varies according to its breed. Some are affordable and can be bought by anyone, but some might cost you more than you have expected.
This may be shocking for people who have just started their passion for poultry, but there are chicken breeds that are as expensive as the luxurious bags you may think of. The Swedish Black Hen, which can be sold for as high as $100, is exceedingly rare and ranks among the most expensive chicken breeds in the world, yet the demand for it is still high.
|Egg laying and Ornamental
|Small, Medium, and Large
|White, Creamy, Off-white
|Friendly, Quiet, Easily handled and trained, Great Free-rangers, Forager
Background and History of Swedish Black Hen
Svart Hona chicken most commonly known as the Swedish Black Hen, did not originate in Sweden. Around the 1800s, this breed of chicken was brought to Sweden from Mozambique.
However, according to some resources, the breed originated in Indonesia, likely due to its close relation to the Ayam Cemani breed. The Ayam Cemani is believed to be a relative of the Swedish Black Hen primarily because of its very close similarities.
Regardless, it was stated that Sweden is the official country of origin for this chicken breed. Hence, the name Swedish Black Hen. Svart Hona is the Swedish term that translates to “Black Female,” and it does not necessarily mean that all Swedish Black chickens are female.
The authorities in Sweden acknowledged this breed as a national treasure and a landrace breed. In 1990, it was decided by the Swedish Association for Landrace Breeds to store the genetics of the Svart Hona in the gene bank. Since this is a landrace variety in their home country, it naturally developed over time. Therefore, there is no breed standard.
Despite its remarkable and eye-catching appearance, the Swedish Black Hen continues to be a rare breed, even in Sweden. It is estimated that there are more or less 400 Swedish Black chickens in Sweden.
It was only back in 2012 when the breed was imported to the United States. Up to this date, it remains relatively rare and is predominantly out of stock even with the recommended and respectable breeders known in the United States.
Although the exact number of Svart Hona in the U.S. is unverified, the American Poultry Association (APA) does not officially recognize this breed. Therefore, you will not be able to see its name on the watch list of the Livestock Conservancy.
Breed Standard and Appearance
What makes this breed stand out among the others is its fibro melanistic genetics that make its appearance remarkable. The fibro melanistic genetics allows the black pigment cells to propagate speedily.
Thus, its legs, feathers, muscles, skin, eyes, comb, beak, organs, wattles, ears, mouth, and even its meat are jet black. Its entire being is literally and figuratively black and is believed to be the chicken breed that is the blackest among the rest.
The only variety of this breed is black it is referred to be the “Lamborghini in the Poultry World.” Although its entirety is jet black, its feather has that opalescent green and purple sheen that can only be seen when stricken by a certain luminance. The green sheen is most visible to roosters.
Although Svart Hona is relatively physically small, it is not considered a bantam size. Their weight and size typically depend on their gender, ranging from 5lbs to 7.5lbs. Usually, hens weighing at around 5 lbs, while cocks weigh about 7 lbs.
However, some Svart Hona chickens are lightweight and are just around 3 lbs. Hens have a single small comb and wattles, while its counterpart has a large single comb and wattles that are oval. Due to the large wattles and combs of the cocks, that means they are susceptible to frostbite.
Although, there are some inconsistencies and unwanted characteristics that can be seen in this breed, especially since it is considered a landrace. Some Swedish Hens may have grey feet, white wattles, mulberry-colored wattles, comb and skin, brown eyes, and a pink mouth.
Personality and Temperament
Swedish Black Hens are naturally friendly, but it is not new that the cocks tend to be more protective. On the other hand, the hens tend to be gentle only if you know how to handle them properly and more frequently. Generally, this breed is considered one of the breeds that are easy to train and make an outstanding showmanship bird.
Svart Hona is one of the most intelligent breeds among the chickens and is often found at the top of the pecking order, often related to their short temperament.
However, each Swedish Black chicken has a unique personality. A cock does its responsibility well to take care of the hens he must need to watch over. Roosters are known to be vigilant; therefore, if in case they sense a danger that may come, they make an alarm to alert the flock. On the other hand, the hens are quiet and tame compared to the other chicken breeds.
This breed is known for having compact bodies, making them a magnificent flyer compared to other chicken breeds. And by this ability, they can rest up in the trees until the threat or a predator is long gone.
In addition to this, they do best at free-ranging and a good food forager, making them an excellent breed to keep and raise. However, since these are naturally active, make sure to provide them with enough space to roam around.
Despite its flighty characteristics, people have expected this breed challenging to tame. According to people who have owned numerous Swedish black chickens, this breed is surprisingly warm, friendly, and easy-going.
They are most likely to become affectionate to their owners and the people they are more familiar with. However, in contrast to this personality, they sometimes tend to have that “I don’t care” attitude and would only be close to you if you have treats to feed them.
Swedish Black Hen Egg Laying
It is not expected that a chicken breed considered an ornamental breed would be a good egg layer. However, that is not the case for the Swedish Black Hen as they are exceptionally pretty decent at laying eggs. This breed is productive and can lay eggs ranging from 150 to 250 eggs in one year.
The size of the Swedish Black chicken eggs usually varies from small, to medium, or large. Given the physical features of the chicken breed, most laid eggs are surprisingly large.
Even though this breed is all black, it does not necessarily mean that the color of the eggs it will lay is also black. The eggs it lays are white or cream but primarily off-white. The eggs it produces also have large egg yolks.
It is a cold-hardy chicken and has adapted well to the winter weather in Sweden, and despite the cold breeze, they are still doing great at laying eggs and can keep up with egg production. The hens also make an excellent mother, and they do best at going broody.
However, even though they are believed to be a rare breed that is great at laying eggs, they are quite slow when it comes to maturity. The female chickens will only start laying eggs when they have reached the age of 24 weeks old. But once they have begun producing eggs, they are fertile birds. It is reported that some Swedish Black hens have a hatching rate of at least 98 percent.
Since this is a rare breed, do not let the opportunity fly away once you get a few.
Health Issues and Care
One of the best features of the Swedish Black Hen is that they are surprisingly healthy with a high fertility rate. Thus, resulting in an astonishing hatch rate that is reported to be at 98 percent. This breed does not have many health concerns that you need to address compared to the other common species you have encountered. Hence, it will not give you a tough time to take care of it.
Although this does not necessarily mean that your chickens are always safe and free from any poultry diseases, it is necessary that, as a responsible chicken owner, you must have your chickens tested and vaccinated for additional protection. This will not only assure you that they are protected, but you will never have to worry that much once a breakout happens.
This breed is considered a cold-hardy chicken that can withstand extreme freezing weather. Although its comb may be resistant to frostbite, it is still necessary that you stay alert just in case it happens.
This is mainly because the tip of the comb is quite distant from its body and, hence, more prone to frostbite when it gets colder. To prevent this, you can provide a cage with enough heat to somehow protect them from the freezing weather.
Apart from that, they also have a good tolerance for warmer weather and temperatures. In addition to this, a shade must be provided in their cage since they will most likely absorb all the heat because of its black color. Moreover, there is a high possibility that the scorching heat of the sun can bleach their feather.
Since this breed is considered to be a great forager and would always enjoy free-ranging, make sure that you provide them a cage that is well protected to keep away any predators that might attack the flock.
3 Tips for Raising Swedish Black Hen
Do not worry if you are new to the backyard chicken life and the first breed you will have is the Swedish Black Hen. Taking care and raising this breed is similar to any other chicken breed, just a piece of cake.
However, this breed cannot just be bought from any hatcheries you can find near you since it is a rare breed. If you have decided to purchase a few chicks, make sure that you have done your thorough research
Provide a spacious enclosure for your flock
We have established that the Swedish Black chicken loves to free-range, is a good forager, and is an independent breed that can protect itself. Make sure that you provide them with enough room to roam around.
Watch the video to get an idea of how to create a bigger and more improved chicken coop
Be gentle to your flock
Raising this breed will require you to be patient enough, especially during the waiting season and until they start laying eggs. This breed is relatively slow to mature, and at the same time, the eggs also take their time to start hatching.
For new backyard chicken owners, watch the video to learn how to take care of them
Spend time with your flock
Swedish black hens are considered to be a warm and friendly breed. They can recognize their owners and the people who raise them. If you spend enough time with them, they will become sociable towards you and might follow you around wherever you go.
Even though the Swedish Black Hen can be quite expensive, once you have had it in your hand and owned one or two, take the opportunity to multiply and grow your backyard flock.
This breed can also be recommended to those who have just started their backyard chicken as it is not difficult to raise it. Minimal attention is needed only as they are also good foragers and like to be free-range.
Apart from that, this can also be an excellent addition to your existing backyard chicken as they are unique and would often stand out among the rest.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.