by Doug Oettinger
If you were to divide the map of Sweden into three similarly sized sections, each separated by a horizontal line, you might easily notice the Dalarna County landmass at the bottom of the central section. The county of Dalarna is densely forested and stunningly beautiful, and also contains a large amount of arable farmland that has been cultivated for more than half a millennium.
Within the county lies the smaller city as well as the larger municipal district of Hedemora. By the standards of the residents of the commune, both are rather small. Hedemora has a population of just under 7,300, while the larger municipality surrounding the city has just over 15,000. The region has a geographical and social history dating back more than 700 years. The famous church that still stands today, known simply as Hedemora Church, has been mentioned in written records since 1362.
Today, the area is known for its variety of mining, auto and engine parts
Industrialization, forestry and widely diversified agricultural production.
With a long history of farming and farming, many well-established
Breeds of wild livestock have been developed within the area, including the unique Hedemora chicken.
While winters are not very cold by Scandinavian standards, winter temperatures are still often below freezing, and summers much warmer.
Temperatures tend not to exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Landrace strains
that developed in the region are known for being very hardy and able-bodied forage.
Just how hardy is Hedemora Fowl?
Hedemora birds are known to be very hardy. Living in far northwest Minnesota, toughness often takes on a different meaning than it might in other areas. When I found a breeder in Rosenorth, Manitoba, Canada, just a three-hour drive from my home, I took care of it. Manitoba’s open prairies have some of the harshest winter weather any chicken keeper could wish to endure.
Poultry breeder Candice Lalique, owner of Breezy Bird Farms, was more than willing to share her first-hand knowledge about this terrestrial breed with me. Since biosecurity is the main concern, Candice was kind enough to separate several of her Hedemora chickens already for me to look at and hold.
According to Candace, the poultry you raise must not only be hardy enough to withstand the winter, but also be able to adapt to the sudden warmth and humidity of the short summer. As a breeder of over 40 breeds and varieties of chicken and quail, any breed you raise needs to be able to withstand extreme weather conditions. The customers you sell to in Canada also need birds that can meet these challenges. Hedemora chickens have proven to be able to meet these demands.
Unique little birds
Most Hedemora Landrace birds tend to be fairly small in size. Although not as small as true bantams, most birds tend to be in the 3-4 pound range, with a few breeds reaching 5 pounds. Birds are not a true “breed”.
Sense of breeding standards but a closely related group of wild birds that have evolved over the centuries, on the farmlands of Hedemora and Dalarna provinces. As such, birds show a fair amount of phenotypic or external differences, in both plumage and skin colours. However, as a close-knit group, they all developed some similar characteristics to survive in the geographical regions in which they evolved.
Hedemoras are divided into three distinct types based on their plumage patterns: one being the “woolly” or “silky-woolly” type of feathers. This plumage looks very much, at first glance, like a silky plumage, often mixed with the standard feathers on the body. However, instead of feeling silky, it is coarser in texture, with coarse, insulating, and soft feathers on the lower half of each circumferential feather. The second variety is the soft or “hard-feathered” variety, which also has a thicker coat of soft feathers.
The third consists of feather-legged birds, and they can be found in both woolly and smooth feather patterns. This division into three groups is very broad. As a breed group, there are a lot of external differences between individual birds, such as visible feather colors and patterns and even skin color.
A wide range and mix of plumage colors can be found within these territories and they are prevalent in all three basic taxa and plumage patterns. Birds may range from pure white to red, buff, brown, gray, and black, with many birds having multiple hues mixed throughout their plumage.
One interesting feature of this distinctive group is the wide range of skin pigmentations that can be found. While some birds have white skin or white skin with a pinkish tint, many other birds carry a genetic trait known as fibrosarcoma. In these birds, the skin is either black or a shade of purplish black or purplish blue, depending on the genetic makeup of the bird. Other well-known breeds that carry this color pattern include Silkies, Ayam Semanis, and another Swedish breed, Svart Huna. in
Poultry, muscles, bones, and fibrous internal organs tend to range from a very dark purple color to actual black.
The leg color of light-skinned birds is usually white, but feathered birds have black, bluish-grey, purplish-gray, or white legs with darker undertones. Yellow-legged has also been reported but tends to be somewhat rare in North American flocks. However, breeders in Sweden report that yellow stems are common.
Straight combs seem to predominate within the group. Combs and wattles are small to medium in size, as part of an adaptation to the country’s cooler climate
that they developed.
Hedemora hen lays, on average, about 150 small to medium, cream-colored eggs
or light brown eggs every year. Chickens are often known to produce steadily for five years or more. Candace showed one of her little chickens that she was raising, who was five years old and still raises regularly. She told me that the hatching rate and viability of the offspring of these eggs was still very acceptable.
Both hens and roosters tend to be gentle and docile, but there can always be the occasional quirk, especially with males. Maternal instincts in females tend to vary, depending on the individual birds and the breeds of the family. Because of the soft, warm plumage, females with brooding instincts can incubate greater numbers of eggs than females of other breeds without the heavy plumage.
Candice reports that the birds are excellent summer foragers, but they adapt well to confinement as well as free roaming.
If you are looking for a medium sized, durable and highly adaptable ground
A docile bird that produces eggs for longer than many other breeds, Hedemoras might be worth considering.
Doug Oettinger He lives, works, and writes from his small hobby farm
Northwest Minnesota. Doug’s educational background is in agriculture with an emphasis on Candace Lilick holding one of her chickens. In the science of poultry and birds.