Styrian hen is only native autochthonous breed of hen in Slovenia and Austrian Styria. In distant centuries it has been living accross all Alpine countries – from Danube to e Adriatic Sea and Pannonian plains. In its history, Styrian hen repeatedly found itself in crisis, but there was always someone, who saved it.
Postwar breeding center of Styrian hen was in Loče near Poljčane, from where they organized breeding centre in the county Celje, Krško and Ptuj. On these areas, they can only be found at few isolated farms, bred by fans. In year 1903, Styria Agricultural Society established a department of poultry, which is supposed to take care for quickening of the breed. In year 1959, when breeding center in Loče closed, they also abandoned the center in Styria.
This hen is very capable to find its own food and it is suitable for farm breeding. They are particularly suitable for breeding in areas where a risk of predators is high. Natural instinct and protective color protects them against this scourge. They hide their litter in calmer and heavily approachable places. Styrian hen is brave breed, with lively temperament and likes to look for food for itself. It is resitant to diseases, modest, well adapted to Slovenian climate and it is a typical rustic hen.
BROWN STYRIAN HEN
Austrians call it sulmtalion hen. This name was given by Armin Arbeiter, who successfully raised it by gene selection at the higher weight. They used to divide it to wheat and brown color Styria, it didn’t make sense, because it was unnecessary complication. It is one of most desirable hens, because of its excellent meat. Rooster has a dark breast and golden neck, hens have brown neck and light wheat color. White feathers are not allowed. The flower is not sagging as with many other species. Rooster is heavier, after nine months of age his weight is at least 2,5 kg, and after it increases up to 3 kg.
It has hot headed character, here we call it Styrian – way, and likes to pick up the fight. Its reef is upright, tail is bushy, with sickle feathers. It has a powerful torso and wide chest.
THE PARTRIDGE STYRIA
Austrians call it old Styria, because some people think that it is more primal than other types. They think this above all because of the color, which is typical for wild hens. Slovenian Partridge Styria is not much lighter in weight than brown one, but the Austrian is. White feathers are not allowed. Hens with partridge color and with golden neck are permitted only conditionally, for a period of several years. Head and tail of a rooster are brown-red to golden. Its back and wings are dark to red brown. Primary feathers are black with brown outer edge. Secondary feathers are black inside, brown outside and are forming brown triangle. Chest, abdomen and legs are black. Tail is black with a beetle green sheen. Chest is of color of a salmon, abdomen is lighter. Feathers have darker background with distinctive crossbars without sheen. Only slight differences in shades are permitted. Hen lays from 130 to 160 eggs per year. Her eggs are extremely beautiful and of excellent taste. If it is grown in the farmyard, Styria lays more eggs as if bred in farm.
It is completely white, but it can be also yellowish. Barred Styria and heavy Styrian hen do not belong into this breed. For this breed it is characteristic to have elongated body with a strong full fleshy breastbone. Tail is bigger and more upright. Tail must be unfolded and widely worn. Ridge is upright and pressed down. Buttocks is wide and of greyish color.
Brown hen is widespread in the eastern part of Slovenia, the partridge in the central part. Each subspecies has its own specialty. Reddish-brown hens are a bit heavier, partridge hens lay more eggs and white hens are appreciated for their soft meat. The most popular type of Štajerska hen are dark brown ones.
Styrian hen farming gives too poor results to be considered as economic value. But it has a potencial, which could be developed. It is valued mostly because it is special as a breed and because it is autochthonous.