Olandsk Dwarf Chickens
Raising an Ultra-Rare Chicken Breed
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Raising ultra-rare chicken breeds, for example, the Olandsk Dwarf, can be a result of seeing a beautiful chicken that your friend is raising, and deciding to give them a try. At least that’s what happened in my case. My friend introduced me to the rare Swedish breed, Olandsk Dwarf chicken, three years ago. He explained the benefits of the breed, one of which was the price you could ask for fertile hatching eggs. I was intrigued.
Olandsk Dwarf chickens are a true dwarf chicken. This means that they are not a miniature version of a full-size breed as you have with Bantam breeds. Originally this small breed was found on the small island called Olands, off the coast of Sweden. This lightweight landrace breed displays a beautiful combination of red, black, gray, brown, and white multicolored feathers. Each of our chickens had a unique pattern.
Beginning Our Flock of a Rare Chicken Breed
My generous friend gifted me six hatching eggs from his Olandsk Dwarf flock. All six hatched and I was now raising this rare chicken breed. We swapped a few of the roosters back and forth so our genetics would be more diverse. When my first hens began to lay eggs, I separated some breeding pairs and hatched more rare breed chickens. By trading breeding stock with other owners of this breed, we were all able to keep diversity in our bloodlines.
Olandsk Dwarf chicks are extremely tiny, and the cute factor is off the charts. Surprisingly, they have quite a loud chirp for a small chicken. The chicks don’t require any special care aside from what is normally provided for chicks. (You will want to watch the broody and make sure she is caring for the chicks. More on that in a moment.)
With this rare breed chicken, I had better luck hatching the chicks in an incubator and using a brooder set up with heat, food, and water. The Olandsk Dwarf chicks are small so make sure the heat source is low enough to start with, or the chicks may become chilled. This can be the case with other breeds of small chickens, too. Using marbles in the base of the water fount can prevent small chicks from drowning in the water. Usually, this can be discontinued after the first week of life. Look for a chick food that is ground small or the tiny chicks might not eat enough.
Broody Olandsk Dwarf Hens
One season I allowed the broody hens to gather eggs and set the clutch. Make no mistake, this rare breed chicken is great at covering eggs. The hens were serious, and I was hopeful that the motherly instinct would relieve me from brooder duty.
That was not the case. First, the hens continued gathering eggs through the first part of the brooding time period of 18 to 19 days. Yes, you read that correctly. This dwarf breed of small chickens hatches in less than the normal 21 days. Make sure you adjust your incubator settings so you can get the necessary lockdown period without automatic egg turning.
Unfortunately, our broody hens were not the best momma hens. Once the eggs hatched, they were done playing momma hen. The hens also fought over the babies and some chicks were caught in the fight and died. They refused to allow the chicks to snuggle under them, so a few died soon after hatch.
How I Could Have Avoided Problems with the Hatching
Were there things I could have done to prevent the untimely deaths? Yes, but I had not experienced a broody ignoring her young before. In hindsight, I could have transferred the eggs to the incubator and hatched them before transferring to a brooder. This would be my recommendation to new Olandsk Dwarf chicken keepers. One of my friends also had the same experience with his broody hen. Another option with a longer history with the breed would be to specifically choose hens with stronger maternal instinct.
Preserving Rare Chicken Breeds
Rare breed chickens should be preserved. Many of the landrace chickens from hundreds of years ago have been preserved and expanded due to the efforts of groups like the Livestock Conservancy. It is worthwhile to preserve rare chicken breeds such as the Olandsk Dwarf. Heritage breeds and landrace breeds are hardy, disease-resistant, and adaptable to changes. These are qualities sought after when choosing a backyard chicken breed.
Should You Raise a Flock of Olandsk Dwarf Chickens?
Olandsk Dwarf chickens do possess many great qualities. The breed is cold hardy, and ours had a strong healthy constitution. We never had a sickly Olandsk Dwarf hen or rooster. Olandsk Dwarf chickens have beautiful feathers and are entertaining to watch. The roosters have a strong crow and a large floppy single comb.
They held their own in a coop of mixed chickens. I recommend keeping small chickens in a coop by themselves and eventually, we moved ours so we could start the breeding program for hatching eggs. We used small coops that had a run attached to the enclosed coop.
Helping a Breed Survive
If you have the space and the extra money, investigate raising the Olandsk Dwarf or other small rare breed chickens. The eggs are small, but they taste just as good as a large farm fresh egg. In addition, you will help preserve the qualities in rare chicken breeds for future generations.
Eventually, I had to downsize our chicken operation. I was fortunate to find someone who was very interested in raising the Olandsk Dwarf breed and I passed my flock on. They were an interesting and beautiful breed to raise and I am glad to have had the opportunity.
Originally published in the June/July 2020 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.