Svart Hona’s are a striking, completely black breed of chicken. They caught my eye 3 years ago when I saw a photo of one on Instagram. I was bound and determined to get my hands on a few! Now I have been raising Svart Honas for 2 years and have learned a lot about this remarkable breed! This Svart Hona Breed Profile will hopefully give you a glimpse of what this rare breed is all about!
Name: The Svart Hona is also called the Swedish Black Hen. They get their name from their home country of Sweden. The name ‘svart hona’ literal translates as ‘black female’ in the Swedish language, although, Svart Honas are obviously both male and female.
Origin: Where the Svart Hona came from is not known for sure. Most resources agree though, that they were first created in Indonesia. Then they were imported from Mozambique to Sweden in the 1800s. Sweden’s neighbor, Norway, may have also played a role in getting Svart Honas into Sweden. Norway may have had birds that carried the same genetic mutation that the Svart Hona has. Svart Honas are extremely rare, both in the United States and in their home country. A census taken in Sweden estimated that there were only 400 Svart Honas left in their country. They are considered a landrace breed. Svart Honas were not imported into the United States until 2012 and it is still hard to find quality strains. Svart Honas are more rare then their cousin the Ayam Cemani.
Similar Breed(s): A close relative of the Svart Hona is the Ayam Cemani. Ayam Cemanis are another all black, rare chicken breed. They originated in Indonesia and have a gamey appearance. Another breed that may look similar to the Svart Hona is the Sumatra. Sumatras are small, black chickens best known for their showy appearance, ability to fly well, and many spurs. They too, are very black in color, although they do have some mulberrying (purple color) in their face. They are also not black all the way through like the Svart Hona and Ayam Cemani. Another difference is that the Sumatra has a pea comb.
Color: The characteristic that most stands out about the Svart Hona is their color, they are completely black. Black is their only variety. Not only are they all black on the outside, but they are also black on the inside too! Everything about them should be black, their eyes, ears, inside their mouth, bones, flesh, skin, organs, wattles, combs, legs, and feathers! Their all black color comes from a gene mutation that causes black pigment cells to reproduce rapidly. The gene causes the all black pigmentation called fibromelanosis.
Size: Svart Honas adapted to their colder climate in Sweden, thus they are a more sturdy breed that endure cold weather very well. The hens weigh around 4 pounds and the cocks can get up to 7 pounds. Hens should have a small, single comb (some strains have flopped combs) and small wattles. The cocks should have a large, single comb and large, oval wattles. Because of their large combs and wattles, Svart Hona cocks are prone to frostbite.
Qualities: Raising and caring for Svart Honas is really no different then any other breed. The cocks usually have excellent fertility for breeding and the hens make good mothers. Hatching Svart Honas can require some patience, as Svart Honas chicks tend not to be in a hurry to get out of their shell. I had one Svart Hona chick take nearly 21 hours from pip until hatch! The chicks are slow maturing and the pullets don’t tend to start laying until about 24 weeks. The cockerels can be a little assertive with hens/pullets once their hormones kick in.
Svart Honas are very cold hardy and withstand warmer temperatures just as well. The cock’s combs and wattles are prone to frostbite though, and you must also provide plenty of shade during the summer. Because they are all black, they can be more prone to heat related stress and the sun can actually bleach their black feathers. Svart Honas are excellent foragers and love to free-range. The cocks are very aware of their surroundings and make good flock protectors.
Personality: Svart Honas are generally a friendly breed, although some cocks can be more protective then others. The hens can be very docile if they are handled frequently and properly. I love showing my Svart Hona hen and she was very easy to train. They are a smart breed and are often near the top of the pecking order. The cocks do best if they have quite a few hens to care for (over 10). The hens are very quiet compared to some other breeds. Each Svart Hona has it’s own distinct personality, which can be very amusing at times!
Purpose: Svart Hona hens are decent layers, laying around 250 eggs a year. Their eggs range from small to medium in size and are a creamy color. The hens do like to sit on eggs to hatch. Svart Honas can be used for meat, although there are some draw backs, they are not a real meaty bird and their meat is black. Not too appetizing if you ask me!
Quality Svart Honas
Quality: Svart Honas are one of the rarest breeds in the Untied States and finding quality stock can be very tough. When looking for quality stock here is what you want to avoid:
- mulberrying on the comb and wattles
- white earlobes
- silver streaking (white feathers)
- white on toe nails and beak
- gray skin
- gray on the bottom of the foot
- pink or white inside the mouth
- brown eyes
- flopped comb
- more than 5 spikes on the comb
Svart Honas do not have a breed standard yet, so, although the traits mentioned above are undesirable, they are not disqualifications. Quality Svart Honas should be completely black, have a single comb with 5 points, no feathering on the legs or toes, and have 4 toes.
Where to Find Svart Honas
Locations: Because Svart Honas are so rare, you are not likely to find them listed in hatchery catalogs. If a hatchery does sell Svart Honas, be leery of the quality of their stock. To find quality Svart Honas you are better off going with farms who specialize in Svart Honas and use strict breeding and culling practices (meaning they don’t breed birds that have undesirable traits). Throughout my two years of raising Svart Honas I know of two places that sell good quality Svart Honas:
Both of these places sell hatching eggs, chicks, and adolescent birds. If you find another place that you think sells quality Svart Honas, ask them to send you pictures. Ask for pictures of their breeding stock, or, better yet, of the birds you will be purchasing. Make sure they send full body photos of the birds and even ask for inside the mouth photos.
With all that being said, I hope you have enjoyed learning about this rare and remarkably beautiful chicken. Maybe it has even sparked an interest in you to start raising Svart Honas. I fell in love with the Svart Hona right from the start and am now embarking on a mission to start my own breeding program of quality Svart Honas!
If Svart Honas don’t sound like the right breed for you, be sure to check out my other post on Show Chicken Breed Reviews to find just the right match for you!