Swedish Orust Chicken Breed: A Comprehensive Guide

Swedish Orust Chicken Breed

  • Country of origin: Sweden
  • Primary uses: For eggs production
  • Eggs:
    • Egg production: 150 eggs
    • Egg size: Medium
    • Egg color: White
  • Weight:
    • Cock: 2 kg
    • Hen: 1.5 kg
  • Colors: Black and white
  • Useful to know: This is a rare breed. So their prices are expensive and it is not easy to make any purchase, even in Sweden.
  • Photo:
Swedish Orust chickens
Swedish Orust chickens

In spite of their rarity, many professional chicken breeders would like to keep the Swedish Orust chicken in their garden. That is because they are very interested in many outstanding features from this breed.

However, if you are new to chicken and do not have much information, this article will help you to get a deeper understanding of the Swedish Orust before you make any decision.

You may also like: 21 Best Chicken Keeping eBooks

Background and history

It is thought that Orust laying hens originated mainly from the Orust and Tjörn islands. In these areas, these chickens were living in local fishing villages where the owners often fed them with fish leftovers.

In 1840, Sweden started importing foreign breeds and then bred them with the native ones. After a series of cross-breeds, the Orust chickens were finally available to the public in 1950.

However, it took 30 years for many chicken breeders to recognize their genetic and cultural value. Unfortunately, the number of Orust chickens is declining remarkably to less than 500 individuals according to a 2013 report.


Sweden Orust chicken is not a large breed. They only have a medium-sized body with 1.5 kg for hens and 2 kg for roosters.

Their plumage is stunning together with patterned black and white colors. Compared to female chickens, Orust males have more impressive coloration. Both the plumage on their neck and tail often get gold and metallic tones. There are also some grey and dark black spots on their claws.

Besides, once they become excited or angry, their wattles seem to turn from red to purple. The special feature can help them to warn their flock about any upcoming threat.


Being grown in the local communities, Sweden Orust chickens are known as active free-rangers. They would like to go around and explore everything rather than staying in their coop all day.

Orust hens tend to be calm and gentle while their cocks can be aggressive sometimes. However, if you have them tamed in the right way, they will change and get along well with others.

Once they get used to your backyard, they become more friendly and docile. Their roosters are often good protectors for the whole flock due to their quick reaction as well.


Sweden Orust breed is less likely to get broody. Most of them are not good at hatching the eggs. However, it does not mean that they are unable to take care of their chicks well. These Orust hens have pretty good mothering skills relative to many non-broody chickens.

The Swedish Orust chicken productivity

Is the Swedish Orust chicken good for eggs?

The main purpose of Orust chickens is for egg production. So it is not too strange if they have a high capability to lay eggs throughout the year.

Normally, a hen can produce up to 150 medium eggs per annum in which around 5 to 6 eggs on a weekly basis. Each egg often weighs from 45 to 50 pounds along with white-colored shells.

With their hardy nature, Swedish Orust chickens are still able to survive and lay eggs even during intensive climate conditions. They are skillful enough to keep their eggs safe and healthy although they do not want to go broody regularly.

Is the Swedish Orust chicken good for meat?

Actually, this breed is not famous for its meat output. They are medium chickens with a maximum weight of about 2 kg. So it is understandable why these Swedish Orust chickens give a poor amount of meat.

Their meat also has a normal taste compared to many other breeds. You should consider other chicken options if you want to have a breed suitable for meat production.

Common issues of the Swedish Orust chicken

These Swedish chickens have very good health. However, if you raise them in the wrong way, it would cause many dangerous diseases among those chickens. They are totally resistant to any common chicken issue.

It has many reasons to explain why Orust chickens get sick as belows:

  • Poor nutritious feed
  • Close to infected birds
  • Aromania gases arising from wet or damp bedding
  • Eating moldy or spoiled food
  • Not have enough clean water or get dirty water
  • Too crowded
  • Boredom
  • Less activity

In fact, each disease is formed by some specific reasons. Therefore, you should look after all your chickens well so that you can reduce the occurence of certain popular diseases.

Environment requirements

Based on their special origin, these Swedish chickens are known as a hardy breed. They have the ability to adapt to any living environment.

It doesn’t matter for them to overcome both cold and hot weather conditions. However, if the temperatures get worse, it is necessary to keep Orust chickens indoors so that they do not have any severe health problems.

Besides, they can get along well with many types of soil. Therefore, they are able to live in almost all territories.

Benefits and drawbacks

Benefits of raising the Swedish Orust chicken

  • A hardy breed: Orust chickens are very flexible, thus making them suitable for various areas. They can go through both wintertime and summertime with little care. And they are able to adapt to many other environments different from their native area.
  • Protective roosters: Compared to other breeds, Swedish Orusts are prone to be more protective for their flock. When they realize any threat nearby, their wattles start changing color into purple and they crow loud as well to warn other chickens. This would help to minimize all potential risks for your chickens.
  • Good egg layers: A typical hen can lay up to 150 medium white eggs per year. It is possible for them to begin their laying period even in the colder months. Besides, they do not hatch their eggs usually but once they do, they show their great mothering skills.
  • Unique beauty: Although they are mainly used to produce eggs, their beauty is still outstanding relative to other similar breeds. There are some differences in color among hens and cocks. And the male chickens seem to be more impressive than the female counterparts.

Challenges or drawbacks 

  • Expensive price: The Swedish Orust is now listed in the rare status with only about 500 chickens around the world. This rarity is the main reason for their current high price. Therefore, it is quite difficult for small breeders to keep a large number of Orust chickens.
  • Need to be tamed: Unlike other common breeds, you have to pay more time to tame these chickens carefully since they are young. So it is easier to handle them as well as help to reduce many bad characteristics.
  • Less meat amount: The small to the medium-sized body makes them less valuable for meat production. Therefore, you can benefit a lot from any other output but eggs.

Is the Swedish Orust chicken right for you?

If you are living in an area that has an intensive climate condition, Swedish Orust chicken should be on your top list. They are flexible enough to fit well with many different environments. So you do not have to worry much about their adaptability.

In addition, they would bring them a lot of benefits from their egg production. They are able to produce good-quality eggs all year without any obstacles. Although it has a pretty high price, it is still value for money because of their beauty and productivity.

Moreover, after some small training, these chickens can become your great pets which are very friendly and adorable.

raising the Swedish Orust chicken
Raising the Swedish Orust chicken

How to raise the Swedish Orust chicken?

Dietary feed:

During the laying period, Orust hens might require higher nutritious food. You should offer them layer feed or broiler feed to meet their needs. There are some useful ingredients for their diet such as eggshells, laying mashes, or oyster shells. These foods have a high level of calcium to improve the quality of their eggs.

However, it is not a good idea to feed other growing chickens any food containing much calcium. That is because they can become more vulnerable to kidney diseases.

Besides, you do not store your chicken feed for too long, maybe more than 2 months. The old food would lose lots of nutritional value as well as it is easy to mold or spoil despite careful storage.

Chicken coop:

It is not necessary to prepare a large space for each Swedish Orust due to their medium size. Even though they do not get broody often, you should have some nesting boxes. You also need to clean and collect any egg from these boxes so that your chickens are more likely to lay eggs inside.

In addition, a heating system in the well-covered coop is helpful to protect them from any serious health issues.

Tame your chickens:

It is better if you can train many good habits when they are still chicks or have them tamed before you buy.

Instead of putting food in a bowl, you can feed them directly on your hand or touch and talk gently to them so as to make more connections. Besides, using a treat to draw their attention would be very effective.

Further reading: Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Chickens

Some questions related to the Swedish Orust chicken

How much would Swedish Orust chicken cost you?

This breed is sold at a higher price compared to other common breeds. To be more specific, you have to pay:

  • $10 for a hatching egg
  • $30 for a chick
  • $60 for each pullet

However, due to their rarity, it is now more difficult for any chicken breeders to buy them in large numbers.

Which heat lamp is best for your chickens?

During the winter months, even hardy free-rangers like the Swedish Orust should stay in the coop equipped with a heat lamp. So this would keep them warm enough over that period.

Among different types, a ceramic heat bulb is considered to be most suitable for any chicken. And you should get a ceramic heat emitter bulb with a good heat lamp to achieve the best result.

Which food should be added to the chicken daily feed?

To give them enough nutrients for their growth, it is useful for you to some of the healthy food as follows:

  • Fruits: watermelon, strawberries, or blueberries
  • Vegetables: Lettuce, beets, broccoli, carrots, kale, swiss chard, squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers
  • Herbs: Lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, cilantro, thyme, and basil.

Final thoughts

So, is the Swedish Orust chicken a great option for you? There are many factors making these chickens worthy for your backyard.

Swedish Orust chickens have good resistance to many external factors which would affect their survival. And they are also good at laying eggs. A result of 150 medium eggs per annum is quite impressive among various chicken breeds.

Besides, they can become your good pets with their gentle and friendly personalities. It does not take much time to have them adaptable to your backyard.

However, they are not free from any disadvantage. The biggest drawback of this breed is that they are in endangered status so a large number of Swedish Orust are not available. It is not easy for many breeders to purchase them now. In addition, creating great meat is not their capability,

Hopefully, this article can sum up some necessary and key information which can be useful and contributes to your right decision.

Links to useful resources:

  1. SWEDISH ORUST HEN, Ree Park Safari
  2. Chris Lesley, 11 Most Expensive Chicken Breeds In The World, Chickens and More, Oct 2020
  3. Chicken Pick of the Week – Swedish Orust, The Hatching House, Feb 2017