Hedemora Chicken: Breed & Care Guide

Many breeds of chicken have adapted to Earth’s mixture of climates. One such chicken is known as the Hedemora, which has a long history and incredible ability to survive in cold temperatures. These chickens also do not require an expert handler to keep them. Newbies to the chicken world will find the Hedemora breed to be a wonderful addition to their flock, particularly if you are looking for a bounty of eggs throughout the year.

Here is everything you need to know about the Swedish Hedemora chicken, so you can decide if they are right for you.

Hedemora Chicken Breed Overview

Check out the details of this adaptable breed:

Lifespan6-10 years
Weight4-5 lbs (2-2.5kg)
OriginSweden
ColorVaried
PurposeEggs and meat
Egg Production150-200 eggs per year
Egg ColorLight brown
BroodinessMedium
TemperamentCalm, docile
Beginner-FriendlinessHigh
Cold ToleranceVery high

Hedemora Chicken Background and History

It is believed that the Hedemora chicken has been around for over 500 years. Despite having no breed standard, the Hedemora was developed in the cold reaches of Dalarna county in Sweden, close to a village named Hedemora. Believed to be the most cold hardy chicken in the world, the Hedemora breed is capable of foraging for food during the most frigid of days. Subzero temperatures also cannot stop them from laying eggs. For these reasons, Hedemora chickens have been a prized asset in the Nordic region for centuries.

However, despite these chickens being popular in Sweden and other Nordic countries, they are rather unknown everywhere else. Because of that, they are labeled as rare and have a population in the thousands. Aside from Hedemora chickens in Sweden, a small number reside in the United States.

Interestingly, those living in the village of Hedemora continue to breed this chicken. There are only a handful of humans residing in Hedemora, but they have kept this breed afloat.

Appearance of the Hedemora Chicken

Hedemora chickens are divided into three categories, based on their appearance: feather-legged, clean-legged, and woolly silky-feathered. Centuries ago, when the Hedemora was first brought to Sweden, it was not as it was today. The chickens adapted quickly, however.

They have small bodies that are just above bantam range to help them retain heat. Hedemora chickens also have black skin to help absorb the sun. Their wattles and combs are closer to their skin to reduce the chance of frostbite. Most of the time their wattles, combs, and earlobes are red. The most remarkable adaptation, however, is the appearance of their feathers. Rather than the smooth feathers most chickens have, Hedemora chickens look like they are wearing fur. This helps insulate them against the freezing cold.

Most Hedemora chickens are going to look either white or have a tint to their feathers, but there is a wide variety when it comes to color. Salmon pink, lavender, cream, and russet are more typical, though there are instances of all black Hedemora too.

Hedemora Chicken Temperament and Personality

One of the things that surprises people about the Hedemora breed is their calmness. Hedemora chickens are very docile yet active. They will spend most of their day foraging around the yard if you let them. They can even forage out in the snow for hours on end without any danger. Hedemora chickens are also very tame and love human interaction. It is not uncommon for your Hedemora hens to try following you into your house or snuggling up on your lap. They can adapt well to nearly any kind of yard, but you must be mindful of their need to explore and forage.

Being that the Hedemora chicken breed is on the smaller side, they may end up being bullied by larger, more assertive chickens. The roosters are not very aggressive either. Therefore, it is recommended that you mix them with chickens around the same size or without big personalities. Otherwise, consider keeping a flock of Hedemora.

Your children will love working with these chickens, being that they can form close relationships with them.

What to Know About Hedemora Egg Laying

Classified as a prolific egg layer, Hedemora hens are incredibly good at producing up to 200 eggs per year. Their medium-sized eggs are either light brown or cream colored. If you live somewhere cooler and have a number of hens who stop laying eggs during the winter months, consider bolstering your egg supply with a couple of Hedemora ladies.

Compared to hybrid breeds that lay more, the Hedemora may not be a showstopper. However, if you want a chicken that can be used for companionship, eggs, and meat combined while surviving in a colder climate, there is no better option.

Hedemora Broodiness

Compared to some breeds that can lay hundreds of eggs but never go broody, the Hedemora has a higher tendency to want to mother her eggs. Hedemora hens do not go broody all the time, but there is always a chance. When that happens, don’t worry. Your Hedemora hens make excellent mothers and are always happy to incubate the eggs of other hens, too. They are protective of their young once hatched.

One thing you have to watch out for is that Hedemora chickens will lay their eggs anywhere they please — not just the nesting box. Don’t be surprised if you find one laying out in a drift of snow.

Since Hedemora chickens have a lot of feathering around their legs, they can also handle larger clutches of eggs at one time.

Are Hedemora Chickens Good for Meat?

For the longest time, the Hedemora chicken was used solely for egg production. They did not get large enough to warrant using them for meat, after all. That said, there is no reason you cannot eat them. The flavor of their meat is said to be delicious. Therefore, if you find that you would like to make this breed dual purpose, you will not be disappointed.

Hedemora Chicken Health Issues

As a breed of chicken that was capable of adapting to frigid temperatures and snow, the Hedemora is resilient. This breed does not have many known hereditary conditions. It is a very hardy breed. However, any breed of chicken is susceptible to things like parasites and a variety of livestock diseases, including avian flu. In order to prevent such things from happening to your Hedemora chickens, make sure you are getting them to the veterinarian for their vaccines.

So long as your chickens are fed a well-rounded diet, have access to fresh water, and get the amount of exercise that they need, they will thrive.

There is one issue that some breeds and owners have noted: heat. The Hedemora breed adapted to one of the harshest environments on the planet, one that is not unlike Alaska, and has survived for hundreds of years. Yet, to gain cold-resistance, they gave up some heat-resistance. Hedemora chickens can tolerate a temperate climate, but they do not do well in sweltering heat and humidity.

If you plan on keeping these chickens somewhere warm, you are going to have to provide them with shade, water, and some kind of cooling system in the coop. Otherwise, they are vulnerable to heat stroke, particularly the woolly silky variation.

Pros and Cons of the Hedemora Chicken Breed

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of raising this rare breed.

Benefits of the Hedemora Breed

  • Easy to handle. This is one breed that is beginner-friendly. Hedemora chickens love humans and will happily act as a pet.
  • Great mother hens. Although Hedemora chickens go broody often, they are some of the best mothers around to whoever needs one.
  • Simple diet. Hedemora chickens have no problem foraging throughout the day for their nutrition, and so you do not have to worry about any specialized blend. A high quality chicken feed and some treats will keep them in their best condition.
  • High egg production. Even with a simple diet, Hedemora chickens are capable of laying up to 200 eggs per year and throughout the winter.
  • The hardiest chicken around. With their fur-like feathers and special adaptations, Hedemora chickens can survive in cold conditions that others would not.

Disadvantages of the Hedemora Breed

  • Cool weather required. Hedemora chickens are not the same jungle fowl that produced other breeds of chickens. They were built for the cold and need it to survive. You cannot bring this breed to the tropics.
  • Hens prefer laying eggs during the cold. Many other breeds will stop laying eggs during the winter months, but that is when the Hedemora hens start making more eggs. They may even leave them in the snow.
  • Low population. Being that Hedemora chickens are rare and less popular than other breeds, they may be different to find and purchase.

Tips for Raising Hedemora Chickens

Now that you have learned about Hedemora chickens, such as where they come from and what they look like, let’s discuss how to raise them. Unlike other chickens, the Hedemora does not need much consideration, but you can get the most out them by taking a moment to consider the following:

  1. You need to apply Vaseline to their combs and wattles. Yes, Hedemora chickens are highly adapted to cold weather, but that does not make them invincible. Vaseline helps keep their combs and wattles from getting frostbit while they are out foraging in the snow.
  2. Consider putting eggs in an incubator. If Hedemora hens go broody, why would you put their eggs in an incubator? Well, it turns out they like to lay eggs during the cold, which can make it hard to not only hatch but raise those chicks successfully. An incubator ensures that the eggs are staying warm and able to hatch somewhere safe.
  3. Keep your Hedemora chickens to a single flock. If you have multiple flocks running around your yard, it may be better to keep your Hedemora together. Not only does that ensure that any eggs are hatching true to the breed, but you also prevent any unwanted injuries from bullying.
  4. Keep them cool. Fans, shade, and air conditioning are going to be necessary in the summer. Hedemora chickens have dense feathers that make them vulnerable to heat stroke.

Final Thoughts on the Hedemora Chicken Breed

Although rare, the Hedemora breed deserves a place in the heart of all chicken fans. This breed has overcome challenges and is now one of the most cold hardy chicken breeds on the planet. If you want chickens that look unique, lay a prolific number of eggs per week, and are safe in the cold, you should consider adding some Hedemora chickens to your flock. They will certainly be a delight to have.

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