Swedish Flowerhens are a Landrace breed. A Landrace can be defined as “a domesticated, locally adapted, traditional variety of a species of animal or plant that has developed over time, through adaptation to its natural and cultural environment of agriculture and pastoralism, and due to isolation from other populations of the species”. This is opposed to a Standardised Breed that is actively bred to conform as closely as possible to a written Breed Standard.
With this in mind, the following is a general description of the breed to aid in identification and to give a general idea of the typical Flowerhen. The Svenska Lanthönsklubben (aka Genebank) has produced a description of them, and those points are included in this description.
Flowerhens are a Large Fowl bird, of dual-purpose, with hens typically weighing around 2.2 kg and cockerels around 3 kg. They are of medium size, with strong bodies, and round with a broad chest.
They are active birds with a friendly personality, inquisitive, agile and ideally suited to a garden or farmyard environment. They are thrifty and hardy, coping with exposed locations due to their dense smooth feathering. They are non-aggressive, any that are, should be removed from the flock. The Hens have a moderate tendency to broodiness, some lines are more prone to broodiness than others. In Sweden only birds hatched naturally are accepted within the Genebank now.
Hens lay off-white to light tan coloured eggs, generally of around 60g. A young hen will lay around 180 eggs a year, but they will continue to lay reasonably well as they age. Most keepers find that they are seasonal layers.
Crested and uncrested birds are both the norm. Historically, only one of the three original flocks in Skane had crested birds. The Genebank suggests 30% to 40% of a flock should be crested. The crest should not be so large as to obscure the vision of the birds, after all they are a landrace, and it is important they can survive and are able to see predators. It has been noted though, outside of Sweden, that crested-to-crested breeding can result in chicks with overly large crests and vaulted skulls, something that in this breed can be fatal or result in birds with neurological issues, and therefore should be avoided.
They have simple upright single combs of medium size. Crested birds combs may take on a wavy appearance due to the crest.
Legs are clean (no feathering) and are Yellow or Flesh coloured, black mottling over these colours is also commonly seen, all are equally acceptable. Birds with any other colour legs (i.e. slate) should be excluded.
Flowerhens come in the most amazing array of colour variations. The basic colours are Black, shades of Grey (Blue); shades of Brown through to Red; Yellow and Splash (white with blue marked feathers). Cocks can have Cream, Gold or Red hackles and saddle feathers, and mahogany over the wings, making them particularly colourful. All birds should have white speckles or “Flowers” on the tips of feathers, on Cock birds this is most obvious on the chest feathers. Many birds have a black stripe between the white “flower” and the coloured body of the feather (in other breeds this feather pattern is referred to as millefleur), both feather patterns are accepted. Any bird that does not exhibit the white “flowers” though should be removed from any possible breeding, as this patterning is iconic of the breed. Those which are not as “flowery” (i.e. only light white spotting) in their first year should not be written off as they may get their “flowers” after the first adult moult. Flowerhens tend to get increasingly white with each moult / as they age. Each bird in a flock can be unique, and it is encouraged that owners keep as wide a variety of colours as is practical for them. They are not, and should not, be bred for a specific colour. Although the Genebank does counsel against breeding two Splash coloured birds together as this will only result in Splash coloured offspring removing the colour variation from your flock.
For more specific discussion on particular features of the Flowerhen, please see our Facebook group