Another breed entirely thanks to the Isbisters at Burland Croft. These hens are very rare and all originate from only the Shetland Isles. They have been breeding Shetland Hens since the 1970’s at Burland Croft on the island of Trondra.
There are so few left they are in a highly vulnerable position. There are currently 2 cockerels and about 10 hens of these pure bred originals in existence!! It is thought this small hen was the first type to be brought to the Islands, resembling the wild ‘jungle fowl,’ the ancestor of all modern chicken. They were brought from the continent to the islands centuries ago.
The Papa Stour Shetland Hen is a small predominantly black fowl around the size of a large pigeon. The Papa Stour Shetland Cockerels have a glossy black plumage with copper, dark red wine and deep iridescent green hues. The marks on the plumage of these hens and cockerels is startlingly like early species of jungle hens, showing strong genetic links to Asian ancestry via mainland Europe. These hens were brought to Europe at least two thousand years ago, pre Viking, for cockerel fights and not for eggs, hence the long legs.
Unless you live on Shetland you will have to breed your own for eggs – these are extremely rare.
photo: Wendy Barrie
Papa Stour Shetland Hens at Burland Croft, Trondra, Shetland