Icelandic or Viking Hen

Average User Rating:
  • Breed Purpose:
    Dual Purpose
    Climate Tolerance:
    All Climates
    Egg Productivity:
    Egg Size:
    Egg Color:
    Breed Temperament:
    Breed Colors/Varieties:
    Breed Size:
    Large Fowl

    The Icelandic breed is a landrace fowl which are rare outside its native country of Iceland, after which it's named. They are a very old breed, having been present on the island since introduction by Norse settlers in the 9th century. However, the breed has barely survived in a pure form in the 21st century, largely due to the importation and popularity of commercial strains of chickens in the 1950s. The few thousand Icelandic chickens in existence today are the result of conservation efforts in the 1970s and a handful of flocks that have been exported abroad.

    Icelandic Chickens are not firmly standardized in appearance and possess a wide range of plumage colours and patterns, skin colouration and comb types. Some will have feather crests. Despite this variance in appearance, Icelandics are uniformly hardy in winter, have white earlobes and lay white to light brown coloured eggs. They are also said to be docile in temperament, and hens will readily go broody. They are great foragers and skilled escape artists. If there is a way out, they will find it!

    Icelandic eggs

    Icelandic chick

    Icelandic juvenile

    Icelandic hen

    Icelandic rooster

    For more information on this breed and their owners' and breeders' experiences with them, see our breed discussion here:
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  • Chicken Breed Info:
    Breed Purpose:

    Dual Purpose in Iceland
    Climate Tolerance:
    All Seasons, Great winter

    General Egg Info:
    Egg Productivity:

    not well defined, Average.
    Egg Size: Medium

    Egg Color:

    Breed Temperament:
    Flighty, curious, conservative of energy

    Breed Colors / Varieties:
    Many colors, some have crests. Speckled or "calico" are some of the most striking looking.

    Breed Details:

    Chicken Breed Photos:

    Primary Image








Recent User Reviews

  1. Chullicken
    "Interesting Conversation"
    Pros - Amazing foragers, great feed conversion, all colors of the rainbow you never know what you get, fascinating back story
    Cons - Flighty as the day is long
    If you want an interesting, out of the main stream fowl type as they are not a breed and never will be, more accurately a 'Landrace'. One that you won't ever know until they grow up what color they will be, great historical fowl with plenty of personality who are known to be great brooders..this is the bird for you. Very medium frame. Do great free ranging and willingly breed on their own for a steady flow of cute chicks that change colors several times until maturity. A very big bonus to these is the Landrace philosophy as they are not breed for type, but rather for temperament, alertness, broodiness and general character which is great. My Icelandic rooster is the best one I've ever had with an amazing rose comb to boot.
    The community has a strong, knowledgeable base with very high standards almost to the point of being an elitist mentality. Worth a try though and guaranteed an interesting conversation with you fellow enthusiast.
  2. MTmillefleur
    "Very interesting, beautiful, remarkable..."
    Pros - Thrifty, hardy, beautiful, good egg layers
    Cons - Too smart for their own good, can fly
    Much more interesting than any other of the many breeds I have lived with in more than 60 years. I like their reactive instincts, like wild birds. They are very curious and intelligent and if raised right, given treats and around calm people they are very friendly. Each bird has his or her own distinct personality.

    If raised together, boys get along well, with one being the top rooster and others staying submissive to him. Roosters are very protective of their hens (they will die for them), and so a human needs to be understanding of that and not be perceived as threatening to flock members. If a human is aware and is quiet and calm, roosters can be very friendly. Mine brings me treats and drops them at my feet. Hens make good mothers, and great layers of medium eggs. Mine stop when molting and begin laying again in mid-January, with no additional light or heat in a quite airy coop in Montana winters.

    I love their unpredictable coloring. It is always a treat to see a new batch of chicks and their colors, and then wonder how they will look in three months and then adults since they change so much.

    They are great free-rangers, but must have predator protection by fencing, electric fencing or livestock guard/protection dog(s).
    rosetheriveter likes this.
  3. deputychicken21
    "The perfect chicken"
    Pros - Beautiful, unique, Self sustaining
    Cons - Flighty
    In my opinion Icelandics are the best chicken to have. They practically take care of themselves. They are extremely hardy in heat and cold. Their beauty can not be matched.I would recommend them to anyone.

User Comments

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  1. Fowlman4
    I haven't raised Welsummers but I've heard good things about them, especially their egg color. ;) ... Swedish Flower Hens look similar to Icelandics. Icelandics tipped the scale for me because of their need for preservationists to support their cause. I'm glad I decided on 'em!
      Dougtheiceman likes this.
    As you point out they don't really do everything a homestead flock should do as they fall short as meat bird. However, if you just want a colourful flock that will produce eggs they are kind of fun.
  3. AClassicalLife
    Have you raised Welsummers and/or Swedish Flower hens? Icelandics/Welsummers have captivated me the most and I'm having a hard time choosing. Great review!
  4. Fowlman4
    I have some, too (southern Oregon) .. Left Coast represent! ;)
  5. Jake Levi
    Good review. Mine will come and sit on my lap, in their run or outdoors. They are very much their 'own selves'. Gotta love the independent free rangers !

    I can see why they survived the climate of Iceland for over a thousand years ! From the 800s through the 1950s before any other commercial strains were introduced for factory production.
  6. ReiMiraa
    I have spotten ones, no crested ones yet. my rooster is imported from Iceland
  7. KalyAn
    Search for the Icelandic thread. Alot of pages, read the most recent and you'll soon see who has eggs on the west cost. Or MO if your in the central US..

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