meet the charming chickens!
I visited Ika, a marvellous friend of mine, a week ago in the forests of Ostrobothnia. There, in a nice and cozy shed adjacent to their house, a group of chickens reside. These aren’t just any chickens – they’re part of a living gene bank! When the traditional Finnish races of chicken became increasingly uncommon (due to fewer people keeping them), the Finnish agrifood research institute (MTT) started a project to save them. The race Ika keeps, Ilmajoki, has recovered from 20 individuals ten years ago to about 300 today, of which they have 2 roosters, 3 hens and 3 chicks.
There are many reasons to conserve genetic diversity: economical and ethical, direct and indirect, short-term and long-term. The traditional races are of the same species as the industrial chickens, but have a higher genetic diversity and have often also kept behaviours like brooding that the common chicken has lost.
Ika wants to let the world know that the Ilmajoki chickens are friendly and nice to live with, and wishes that a larger share of the eggs we eat would be from small-scale producers, for the joy of both humans and chickens. I totally agree.
Say hi to the chickens!
Eetu, one of the two magnificient roosters.
Tilda with Number One on her back.
A curious little One.
… who most of the time looked like this.
Kalle hanging out.
A close-up of Kalle’s face and beautiful eyes.
Ika and friends.