OK. Question here. I would really like to hear from some of you who actually own or have owned Norwegian Jaerhon chickens. Not only am I looking for some good laying hens, I am of Norwegian American heritage. So if these would work out as good layers I would prefer them even if they were not on the top of everyone's list. I want to find creative ways to pass on my ethnic heritage to my children. And this is, hopefully, a small and fun way.
Tell me what to expect. What should I watch out for? What quirks are there that I should know about? Any disease issues I should know about? Are egg sizes really large for their size? How big are the eggs? Any other information you think I should know or stories you want to share would be terrific!
It will all depend upon the source of your birds. Genetics and responsible breeding will most likely be more important than historic norms for the breed. If you mail order, you will need to find out for yourself. If you have a local source, they will know better than me.
I also was interested in Jaerhons. I am an advance planner and am researching what breeds would be similar in temperament and size to keep in a 5-hen flock - we can only have 5 and we're not zoned for roos so I am being especially careful in planning my next flock. We went nuts with 2 broody Silkies - they are the sweetest pets on this planet but they'll brood in a nest box on imaginary eggs to their death if you don't intervene. Since our Leghorn is an egg-laying machine and has no inclination to brood whatsoever, we decided on a Mediterranean flock next time around with an Exchequer, Brown Leghorn, Penedesenca, Cream Legbar, and an unknown 5th breed. Mediterraneans are not known for broodiness (of course there can always be an exception to the rule but mostly they're known for being non-setters). And most Mediterranean hens are lightweight in the 4 to 4.5 lbs range. Since the Jaerhon is a good forager, is alert, is lightweight, not known as a broody, and lays large eggs for an economical eater, we were considering this breed. However, as with non-broody Leghorn varieties, the Jaerhon will wear itself out laying large eggs. Leghorns are used in ovarian cancer research because 45% Leghorns die of it within their first 4 years of age. It's the way humans have bred the broodiness out of Leghorn strains that seems to make the Leghorn susceptible to this disease. I worry that the Jaerhon hen might suffer the same malady so we still haven't decided about getting one. Leghorns are 4 to 4.5 lbs and lay a large to XL eggs so I can't imagine a little 3.5 lb. Jaerhon wearing herself out laying large eggs - I personally feel she should only lay medium eggs for her size. Jaerhon is a gorgeous hen so it would be appreciated hearing more input from others who have experience with these little gems.
I have had Norwegian Jaerhons for a year and a half and they are as good as they say. They are excellent layers. Like mst pullets the start out small, but they soon are bigger until they lay eggs that are as big as my white leghorns even though the Jaerhons are about a third smaller. The hens and the roos are very pretty and colorful nad I enjoy watching them. They are active little go getters. The first out of the coop in the morning and the last in at night. They don't seek human contact, but they are all around my feet when I feed and I pet them when I reach under them to get their eggs. Their one fault is they can really fly so if you want to keep them in a run it must be covered or they will fly out. Fourteen feet almost straight up is no problem for them. I keep them with Easter Eggers and they get along great. I have had chickens for oveer 40 years and these guys are my favorites.
Norwegian Jaerhon hatching eggs available
Joined: Dec 12, 2012
Wow! Thanks Kat Roden for the info on your Jaerhons. Have any ideas about why they fly? It is said that Leghorns are flyers too yet ours has no desire to fly though she demonstrated that she is a good flyer when we first rescued her. She is content to toodle around the backyard with the 2 Silkies. She can easily jump a 2-ft garden box fence but respects the barrier. When we had the Marans, she respected the barrier also though she could easily fly upwards 8-ft without a problem.
Does a Jaerhon hen have the overwhelming desire to fly out of the yard or would she be content to stay put in a 4 or 5-hen backyard flock? Our hens free-range the backyard daily because we're home to watch them and they sort of watch for us to come out with treats so maybe that keeps the Leghorn from wanting to leave the yard. Backyards are so confining and I'm thinking to limit the hens to 4 rather than 5 and am still pondering to get a Jaerhon.
You mentioned that the Jaerhons are good with the Easter Eggers but I understand EE's get along with all breeds anyway. I'm favoring a Jaerhon blending instead with a non-setting, approximately 4-lb average-sized, aloof temperament, predator-alert, foraging, Mediterranean flock. I don't mind a skittish breed as they are usually smart, alert, intelligent, quick birds and good at hiding from flying predators like large crows, Red-tailed, or Cooper's hawks. I just can't keep a breed that wants to fly over fences. Is that what your Jaerhons do or are yours mellow enough to stay put in your yard? Over 50 years I've had mostly Leghorns with an occasional Rhode Island Red, Cuckoo Marans, or a couple of Silkies for fun. Silkies can't fly, they have a comical running jump, but all the other breeds we've had over the years that could fly never left our farming property or our suburban backyard (we don't have trees because of seasonal winds tearing up foliage so there are no trees to roost in). My preference has always been not to clip wings on any birds.
I suppose that is my major question about the beautiful little Jaerhon now - how overwhelmingly great is her ancestral desire to fly away from the safety of the free-range backyard flock? Has anyone experienced any annoyance with flight? or on the other hand, does anyone have Jaerhons that are content to stay grounded in an open yard and do you do anything in particular to entice them to stay grounded? Occasional treats and a backyard to forage works for keeping Leghorns earthbound but would that be enough for a lively Jaerhon?