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Svart Hona Chicken Breed Profile

There are many beautiful chicken breeds in existence, some with fascinating histories and genealogies. One of those breeds is known as the Svart Hona, a breed that is reminiscent of the Ayam Cemani, the all-black chicken of Indonesia. Let’s learn more about the rare Svart Hona, including where this breed comes from, how it came about, and whether it is a great breed for your backyard flock.


svart hona chicken flock

Here is a glimpse at the Svart Hona chicken breed:

Other NamesSwedish Black Hen, Svarthöna, Bohusläns dals Svarthöns
PurposeDual purpose
Weight4-7 pounds
Feather ColorBlack
Egg Production180-250 medium eggs per year

History of the Svart Hona Breed

Also known as the Swedish Black Hen, the Svart Hona is a rare and beautiful breed and boasts genes connecting it to the Ayam Cemani and Kadknath breeds. he breed’s black pigmentation results from a variant of the EDN3 gene, a feature shared with other breeds such as the Chinese Silkie, Indonesian Ayam Cemani, and Vietnamese Black H’Mong. This gene, causing fibromelanosis, is believed to be a mutation from Asia over 800 years ago, possibly reaching chickens transported to Norway around 400 years ago.

Another relative, the Sumatra, also a small, black chicken, exhibits visual similarities but lacks the all-encompassing blackness of the Svart Hona. Distinctions include mulberrying in the Sumatra’s face, a pea comb, and a reputation for showy appearances, flight capability, and numerous spurs.

The breed’s origin story suggests creation in Indonesia, with subsequent importation to Sweden from Mozambique in the 1800s. A census in Sweden estimated only 400 Svart Honas left, underlining their rarity. Imported to the UK in 2011 then to the United States in 2012, they remain challenging to find in quality strains, rarer than their cousin, the Ayam Cemani.

As such, if you choose to bring Svart Hona chickens home to your flock, you would be supporting the conversation effort of this stunning and rare breed.

Physical Characteristics of the Svart Hona

svart hona hen with chicks

Physically, the Svart Hona is a small, primitive, hardy, and vigorous country fowl. Despite not being included in the APA’s Standard of Perfection, it has gained interest and presence in various shows across the country for its striking physical characteristics.

While not known for prolific egg-laying, it is considered a good broody breed. Resembling the Ayam Cemani but smaller in size, it is a striking black-skin and black-plumaged bird. The most distinctive feature is its fibro melanism, with eyes, comb, wattles, feathers, legs, and bones all in black. You may also notice a greenish sheen on the feathers, giving the bird even more visual appeal.

The male Svart Hona stands tall and proud, with a broad abdomen, medium to long back, well-developed saddle hackles, and a high, curved tail. The female shares these traits, save for a 45-degree tail carriage.

Furthermore, while there isn’t an official breed standard, breeders and enthusiasts have identified traits to avoid for maintaining quality stock. If you plan on purchasing Svart Hona chicks, do not choose ones that show the following undesirable traits:

  • Gray on the feet
  • White on the wattles
  • Mulberry-colored wattles and comb
  • Pink coloring in the mouth
  • Brown eyes
  • Silver streaking on the feathers
  • Gray skin

Svart Hona Personality and Temperament

The Svart Hona is not only distinguished by its unique appearance but also by its remarkable personality and temperament. Despite their compact bodies and excellent flying abilities, these chickens are known for being surprisingly affectionate and laid back, challenging common expectations of flighty behavior. Many owners report that these birds will fly onto shoulders, follow them around, and even sit in their laps, especially when treats are involved. Despite their active nature, they form strong bonds with their human companions.

Svart Hona are known for also being vigilant. The roosters keep an eye out on their flock, promptly alerting the others when there is any potential danger. Their lightweight build allows them to roost in trees until threats pass, showcasing both intelligence and adaptability. Despite their size, their vigilance often places them at the top of the pecking order.

As you can imagine, these chickens do not love confinement. They prefer to free range rather than being held in the same chicken run all the time. The good news is that they are extraordinary at free ranging. Furthermore, these chickens are delightful for beginning homesteaders and children. They are more likely to follow you around than behave completely aloof while you are out in the yard.

Svart Hona Egg Laying and Broodiness

Despite being primarily raised for ornamental purposes, Svart Honas surprisingly exhibit good egg-laying capabilities. While individual egg production can vary, a Svart Hona hen typically lays around 250 eggs in a year. The eggs are notably large, especially considering the size of the birds, and they have an off-white color. However, it’s important to note that this breed matures slowly, with many hens starting to lay eggs around 24 weeks of age.

The good news is that Svart Hona are relatively easy to care for, and once you have a couple in your flock, you will always have them. Additionally, these hens exhibit a tendency to go broody and are noted for their excellent mothering skills, characteristics that set them apart in the realm of chicken breeds.

While Svart Honas can be utilized for meat, it’s essential to acknowledge that they are not considered particularly meaty birds, and their meat has a distinctive black color. Therefore, their primary value lies in their ornamental qualities, egg production, and maternal instincts, making them a unique and multifaceted addition to a poultry flock.

Health Conditions and Lifespan

The Svart Hona, with a lifespan of 7-8 years, is a hardy breed known for its resilience and relatively low susceptibility to health issues. Caring for Svart Honas is akin to caring for most other chicken breeds, and their adaptability makes them suitable for various environments.

One key factor contributing to their hardiness is their high tolerance for cold, likely developed due to their origin in Sweden’s colder climate. While some keepers suggest that the black comb may offer resistance to frostbite, it’s crucial to remain vigilant, especially in very cold climates. The larger size of their combs, compared to many other breeds, makes them more exposed to the cold. Providing a warm enclosure or heated space in extremely cold climates is recommended.

For keepers in warmer climates, attention to heat management is essential. The black coloration of Svart Honas makes them prone to heat-related stress, and their feathers may bleach in the sun. Offering shade and ensuring proper ventilation are important measures during hotter seasons.

Tips for Caring For Svart Hona

Now that you are familiar with the breed and its origins, let’s take a look at some tips on how to raise the Svart Hona. Fortunately, the Svart Hona is not too unlike any other chicken. This means that you should focus on providing your Svart Hona with adequate nutrition, supplementary snacks, and a warm place at roost in the evening. Here are four other things to consider when looking to purchase and keep Svart Hona:

Source Your Chickens Well

First and foremost, when sourcing these chickens, it’s crucial to exercise caution and seek a reputable breeder with quality stock. As Svart Hona chicks are not commonly available from most hatcheries, take the time to research and obtain recommendations from experienced raisers who can guide you toward trustworthy sources. Utilize resources on buying chickens to make informed decisions and ensure the well-being of your flock.

Provide Ample Space

As mentioned previously, Svart Hona do not take to confinement well. These birds have a natural inclination to forage, and they excel at protecting themselves. Consider a chicken coop with an attached run to offer sufficient room for exploration. Even when confined, allow them opportunities for supervised free-ranging to meet their roaming instincts. This approach aligns with their heritage, as Svart Honas descended from essentially free-range birds.

Have Patience

Patience is a key virtue when raising Svart Honas, as they are slow-maturing birds. Pullets typically begin laying around 24 weeks of age, and some breeders have noted the slow emergence of chicks from their shells. Acknowledge and embrace this slower maturation process, allowing the birds the time they need to develop naturally.

Invest in Interaction

Lastly, to foster a positive relationship with your Svart Honas, invest time in daily interaction. These birds are generally sociable and can become quite affectionate. Spending time holding and talking to them will help them recognize you as a non-threatening presence.

Final Thoughts on the Svart Hona Chicken Breed

The Svart Hona stands out as a rare and striking chicken breed, reminiscent of the Ayam Cemani, with its unique black pigmentation and distinctive physical characteristics. With commendable egg production, broodiness, and a lifespan of 7-8 years, Svart Honas are hardy and adaptable.

Caring for them involves sourcing from reputable breeders, providing ample foraging space, practicing patience due to slow maturation, and fostering daily interaction. Choosing Svart Honas not only adds a visually stunning breed to your flock but also contributes to conserving this rare and remarkable chicken.