The Bjurholmshöna or Bjurholm chicken has a unique history. It was “discovered” only in 2011 in the district outside the town of Umeå in the north of Sweden. The history begins in the 1880s when a local shipyard worker exchange a portion of cheese to a small flock of landrace chickens. The shipyard worker takes the chickens home to his isolated farm where they have survived generation after generation until today without mixing with other chickens. The current owner of the original flock, now in her nineties, is the granddaughter of the shipyard worker. She has been tending the flock since the 1940s.
In the 1950s a part of the flock was sold to another farm nearby who also avoided taking other chickens to the farm. From these two flocks derives all the current Bjurholms. The Swedish gene bank project for domestic landrace animals has registered 453 Bjurholm hens and 120 roosters in 2016 kept by 44 registered breeders.
The origin of the original 1880s birds is not known for sure, but as they have some similarity with present landrace chickens from Finland and Estonia, it is possible they have been brought to Umeå from there.
The Bjurholm chickens must be some of the best suited chickens for the chilly Scandinavian climate. On the original farm the chickens have been free ranging all year round. The flock have shared the cowshed with the cows on the farm for shelter, and has been mostly self-sufficient. They have been eating snow to get water in temperatures below freezing. Occasionally they have been fed raw potatoes, carrots and peas and in the winter the dried stems of fireweed.
Despite of the very few individuals of original Bjurholm chickens, the breed show no signs of weaknesses as a result of inbreeding and they are being described as generally vital and by good health.
Opposite to the breeding of standardised or formal breeds, a big variation is encouraged within the landrace specimens. The appearance is secondary to other important features as good parenting skills, good flock behaviour, a reasonable egg and meat production and the ability to keep the minimum weight of the landrace.
Very diverse colouring. Black, brown, blue, wheat, white with black or dark feathers on the neck and tail and variations in between.
Weight hen: 1 – 1,5 kg
Weight rooster: 2,0 kg
Egg: ca 45-50 gram, cream coloured
Eggs a year: ca 140