Lets talk Landrace.
According to The Oxford Dictionary, the definition is "a local cultivar or animal breed that has been improved by traditional agricultural methods."
What does that mean exactly? We will talk in regards to chickens. It means that farmers bred their birds according to their desired traits or allowed them to breed freely. Eventually they all developed similar characteristics.
Different landrace breeds have different identifying characteristics. Take the Swedish Flower Hens in the main photo. They are all the same breed and all look unique, with yellow or white legs and different feather patterns, BUT the general body type of each bird is similar. Hedemora chickens and Icelandics are an exception to that. In Hedemora, wooly type birds are smaller, think bantam size, than the smooth feathered birds. Icelandics are really varied in their looks, with different leg colors, comb types, and feather colors. Shetland Hens have the same body type and all have tappits (crests) but their feather color varies greatly.
Landrace breeds do not have a set standard and are not recognized by the APA/ABA. A standard means that there is a set body type/characteristics that are bred for. All chickens in that breed/variety are to be the same. Think Rhode Island Red, Barred Plymouth Rock, or Buff Orpington. Standard bred chicken breeders strive for uniformity in their flock. Landrace breeders strive for diversity, while holding on to the integrity of the breed.
Just because you have a landrace doesn't mean they should be bred willy-nilly. Landrace breeds still have certain characteristics that make them that breed. You also don't breed less than ideal birds, meaning don't breed the cock with squirrel tail or the hen that doesn't have hips wide enough to lay easily. You still want healthy birds with good body types to fit their purpose, which for most landrace chickens, is meat and eggs.
The Swedish Breeds have characteristics, published by the Swedish Gene Bank, that should be bred for and maintained within the flock for preservation purposes.
Icelandics are considered threatened on the Livestock Conservancy's website. There are some preservation flocks in the US who maintain each import separately to help with genetic diversity.
The landrace breeds we are working with here are Swedish Flower Hens, Icelandics, Shetland Hens, and Hedemora.
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