Updated: Jan 17
Several hundred years ago chickens were introduced to Hedemora, Sweden and since that time the birds have adapted in remarkable ways to their stark environment. Their bodies are relatively small to retain heat, their skin is often black to maximize solar gain, their combs and wattles are small to avoid frostbite, and most remarkably their feathers have evolved to have a fur-like texture that better insulates their bodies. The group of chickens that emerged from Hedemora eventually became sufficiently uniform to qualify as a landrace.
Hedemora chickens are considered to be a landrace, not a breed. A landrace is a domesticated species of animal that has developed over time, through adaptation, to it's natural and cultural environment due to isolation from other populations of the species. Landraces are generally distinguished from breeds in the standard sense.
Since their emergence the Hedemora have been split into three varieties. The first is the ‘Wooly Silkied-Feather’, which has fine almost furry looking feathers covering its body. The other varieties include the ‘Feather-Legged’ defined by the feathers running down their shanks and the ‘Clean-Legged’ characterized by their smooth shanks lacking feathers. Both the clean and feather-legged varieties sport a heavy down layer under their smooth feathers, which protect them from the extremely cold weather. The hens are good layers of cream colored eggs (around 150 eggs per year), and they tend towards broodiness. Due to their thick feathering, Hedemoras are capable of brooding very large clutches of eggs regardless of their small size and make fantastic mothers who pass on adaptable traits to the next generation of your flock.
The Hedemora has a strange and otherworldly beauty. Their feathers range greatly in color patterns, many we have never seen before. The colors tend towards a lemon-blue almost lavender, lots of onyx with gold undertones and fiery reds against orange. Swedish breeders of the Hedemora believe that each flock should endeavor to encompass these primary color varieties to preserve genetic diversity in this landrace. We are proud to have representations of the wooly, feather-legged, and clean-legged varieties in our preservation flock at the homestead. The birds are docile but active and friendly making them perfect for the young and old.
Being over 500 years old Hedemora chickens are quite rare with perhaps 2,000 birds existing world wide, having only been imported into the US around 2010. Become a steward for these fascinating survivors and aid in the preservation of this Swedish gem.
We have fallen deeply in love with this exotic chicken. Our 8 year old daughter, Mia, works with her small flock of Hedemora as a 4H project and can't get enough of the fluffy snuggles from the wooly variety. We find the woolys to be very docile in nature and great for kids!
Ready for your own woolies? Grab chicks or hatching eggs from my homestead!