BRIEF DESCRIPTION: Icelandic chickens are a landrace breed. This means that they weren’t selectively bred for specific traits, but they were allowed to develop on their own from primitive chickens. The first record of chickens brought to the island credits Norse explorers in the 9th century.
Hundreds of years of natural selection and adaptation to the harsh Icelandic climate produced a necessarily winter-hardy breed able to thrive and meet the needs of Iceland’s human population.
Icelandic, The Facts:
Size: Standard Male: Ibs. / Standard Female: Ibs. / Bantam Male: oz. / Bantam Female: oz.
Comb, Wattles & Earlobes: Combs and wattles are small and red, earlobes small and white.
Place of Origin: Iceland
Conservation Status: Rare and rarely seen outside Iceland
Special Qualities: Due to the lack of human demands for specific physical traits, the Icelandic chicken is difficult to describe exactly. There is much variety in this “self-made” breed, some in part to modern imported breeds.
Through many generations of survival and adaptations to harsh environmental influences, the Icelandic breed was hatched. It displays its uniqueness with a wide selection of traits. Some Icelandics are crested, often mottled, some have feathered legs, there is variation in feathering type, comb type, colors, patterning, and skin color.
Endangered by an influx of commercial breeds since the 1950’s, a major effort is on-going since the 1970’s to maintain pure flocks of this rare breed. A small number of the breed have been exported and just a few thousand “pure” Icelandic's are in existence today world-wide. They are a docile long lived breed, the hens go broody easily and are layers of white to light brown eggs.
The Icelandic does very well free-ranging and foraging. One of their names is “Haughænsni“ maning “pile chicken” due to being often found raking through manure piles for insects and seeds. Another name for this chicken has been: “Íslenka landnámshænan” meaning: "Icelandic hen of the settlers", as they have been found on nearly every Icelandic farm for centuries.