From Hatching to Happy, We've Got You Covered!

From Hatching to Happy, We've Got You Covered!

Exploring the Enchanting Ölandsk Dwarf Chickens: A Unique Heritage Breed

Welcome to another exciting post from Cluck It All Farms! Today, we're diving into the fascinating world of the Ölandsk Dwarf hens, a rare and charming breed that boasts a rich history and unique characteristics. These pint-sized poultry gems are not just beautiful but also resilient and efficient layers, making them a wonderful addition to any backyard flock. So, let's embark on this journey to uncover the story behind these delightful birds.

A Historical Glimpse: The Ölandsk Dwarf Hen

The Ölandsk Dwarf hens trace their origins back to the 17th century. They are believed to have descended primarily from English dwarf hens or garden hens, which were brought to England from Java by the British East India Company. These chickens then spread to various parts of Europe, eventually finding a home on the Swedish island of Öland.

The breed consists of two distinct strains, both sharing similar appearances, origins, and adaptations.

The Petgärde Strain

The Petgärde strain was preserved by Johnny Andersson in Kroksjö. He remembered the small "spitehens" from his grandfather Lorens Ohlsson in Resmo. Lorens had mentioned that these tiny hens were common on the island and had been present on his parents' farm. In the 1980s, Johnny tracked down his childhood chickens, discovering a pure group in Petgärde, northern Öland.

The Asklunda Strain

The Asklunda strain was cared for by Göte Franzén in 1983. He, too, sought out the dwarf hens of his childhood. Göte found that the hens he remembered were descendants of those kept by Martin Johansson, the barn farm foreman at Mossberga farm in Köpingsvik.

Characteristics of the Ölandsk Dwarf Hen

These hens are small yet sturdy, with a body type that's short and powerful. Roosters weigh between 1.3 to 2.2 pounds, while hens weigh between 1.1 to 1.8 pounds.

Physical Appearance

  • Legs: Usually smooth, but weak feathering may extend to the toes. They have four toes, and the leg and beak colors vary, typically being light whitish or pale.
  • Comb and Earlobes: The comb is generally of normal size and single, though rose combs can occur. The ear discs are red, often with a mix of white and blue.
  • Plumage: The plumage is a tri-color mix of brown, black, and white, with white feather tips. Asklunda hens generally have larger white spots on their feathers and can be slightly heavier and coarser compared to the Petgärde strain.
Olandsk Dwarf Pullet

Internal Characteristics

Öland Dwarf hens, like other landrace breeds, are hardy and resistant to common chicken diseases. They are known for their ease of breeding and good laying capabilities, producing about 130 eggs per year. The eggs are around 1.2 ounces in weight and range in color from bone white to slightly brownish/beige.

Broodiness

These hens have a pronounced inclination to brood. Statistically, 50-60% of hens brood, and given the opportunity, almost every hen will attempt to brood.

Breeding and Maintenance

It's crucial to maintain the breed's distinct characteristics, such as their size and weight. Roosters should not exceed 2.2 pounds to ensure the breed retains its dwarf status. General breeding advice includes maintaining good production, parenting qualities, and functional flock behavior, with color being of minor importance.

Why Choose Ölandsk Dwarf Hens?

The Ölandsk Dwarf hens are an excellent choice for chicken keepers looking for a hardy, low-maintenance breed that offers good egg production despite their small size. Their rich history and unique appearance add an element of heritage and beauty to any flock. These hens are perfect for those who appreciate the charm and resilience of traditional breeds.

Preservation Efforts: The Swedish Gene Bank

The Ölandsk Dwarf hens are part of the Swedish Gene Bank, an initiative dedicated to preserving Sweden's native and heritage breeds. This inclusion is a testament to the breed's historical and cultural significance. The Swedish Gene Bank aims to maintain genetic diversity and protect these unique birds from the risk of extinction.

Importance of Preservation

Preserving the Ölandsk Dwarf hens ensures that future generations can appreciate and benefit from this resilient and charming breed. By maintaining their genetic diversity, we safeguard the breed's unique characteristics and adaptability. These preservation efforts also contribute to broader biodiversity, promoting sustainable and healthy agricultural practices.

How You Can Help

As chicken keepers and enthusiasts, you can contribute to the preservation of Ölandsk Dwarf hens by:

  • Supporting Breeders: Purchase Ölandsk Dwarf hens from reputable breeders who participate in preservation programs.
  • Breeding Responsibly: If you choose to breed these hens, follow guidelines to maintain their genetic integrity, focusing on their distinctive traits and avoiding exceeding the maximum weight limits.
  • Raising Awareness: Share information about the breed and its significance, encouraging others to consider these hens for their flocks.

Final Thoughts

Adding Ölandsk Dwarf hens to your flock can be a delightful and rewarding experience. Their fascinating history, combined with their practical benefits, makes them a standout choice for both novice and experienced chicken keepers. At Cluck It All Farms, we celebrate these unique breeds and encourage sustainable and enjoyable chicken keeping practices.

Happy chicken keeping!

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