Heritage Breed Chicks Bring Life To The Heritage Nest!

Lena Martens from Ontario-based The Heritage Nest showcases her heritage poultry stars, including Speckled Sussex, Swedish Flower and Silverudd Isbar!

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: The Heritage Nest

The Heritage Nest is all about fusing heritage poultry breeds with a sense of self-sufficiency. “We love the many unique breeds out there and preserving them just seemed to come naturally,” explains Lena Martens, who runs the family-centered Ontario-based venture in Canada.

Counting Speckled Sussex, Swedish Flower and Silverudd Isbar breeds among the farm’s ranks, Martens says that living surrounded by so much poultry quickly becomes “incredibly entertaining” as she learns about each chicken’s “unique personality.”

We spoke to Martens about getting to know super feisty roosters and dual-purpose chickens. We also got up to speed with a new Babydoll sheep addition to the farm.

Developing an Interest in Heritage Breeds

“Growing up I had no idea there were so many varieties of chickens,” says Martens as she looks back on how she came to be so smitten with heritage breeds.

“I knew there were layers and meat birds, that’s all—but when we discovered the many amazing different heritage breeds, one thing led to another until we are where we are today.”

Read more: Check out these unique heritage-breed birds!

Spotlight on the Silverudd Isbar

Silverudd Isbar hens play a key role at The Heritage Nest. Martens admits that sometimes the breed might not be the most striking on first glance, but “the blue and splash are pretty amazing!” The olive-hued eggs they produce are also a treat.

Martens adds that the roosters are particularly handsome and sport an array of “beautiful colors”—although they are also prone to bouts of feistiness.

Appreciating the Speckled Sussex

Martens recently commented on an Instagram post that she’s surprised the Speckled Sussex breed isn’t more popular.

“Many people are looking for a dual-purpose chicken, and I feel like this breed still needs to be discovered,” she says. “I am convinced once that happens they would be greatly appreciated.”

Decked out with deep red feathers that include splashes of white and blue, Martens adds that the hens are “very friendly and actually quite heavy,” along with being good layers.

Read more: Dual-purpose chickens bring flexibility to the coop.

Poultry Care During Cold Times

When the colder weather strikes, Martens says that dealing with frozen water and keeping the bedding clean are her biggest poultry challenges.

“Because our focus is pure heritage breeds, we have all our chickens inside and in separate pens,” she explains. “In order for them to stay healthy, we are constantly needing to add bedding to keep everything clean and dry.”

Small Sheep Make Great Pets

The Heritage Nest recently added Babydoll sheep to the resident animals. “We love the idea of a smaller sheep for a pet,” enthuses Martens. “It was purely their adorable smiling faces that won us over. And the size works so well on a small hobby farm with kids.”

Martens adds that her family have found the sheep to be “very friendly, and the babies are beyond adorable”—and she expects the number of Babydolls on the hobby farm to expand.

Follow The Heritage Nest on Instagram.

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