Every nation seems to harbor its share of backyard biologists and mad monks who are irresistibly drawn to tinker with the chicken genome in the quest for a more perfect bird. Sweden is no exception, and its monk –literally in this case—was Martin Silverudd, a Catholic monk who in the tradition of Gregor Mendel before him plumbed the depths of genetics and created a number of chicken breeds in the 1950s and 1960s. Silverudd had in mind the goal of creating auto-sexing breeds that laid a high volume of unusually colored eggs. (For a more detailed description of the auto-sexing function, please read the description of the cream legbar.)
To a remarkable degree Silverudd was successful in his quest and along the way created breeding protocols that would later be studied and adopted by sophisticated university geneticists and animal scientists. But, perhaps his greatest achievement was the creation of the isbar (pronounced ‘ice bar’), a breed as practical as it is beautiful and the only green-egg-laying single combed chicken breed in the world.
Father Silverudd created a number of fancifully named breeds including the fifty-five flowery hen, the Queen Silvia, the molilja, and, of course, the isbar. There are a few varieties of isbar, and Greenfire Farms was lucky enough to locate one of the last remaining flocks of blue isbars, the most spectacular variety of the breed. Probably fewer than a hundred blue isbars exist in the world; a tragedy given the beauty and usefulness of this variety. Roosters have shimmering metallic hackles that overlay deep blue body feathers. The hens are also striking with their blue feathers, and splash color patterns are common within the variety. Because of the genetics of the blue coloring, the auto-sexing feather patterns in chicks are not as pronounced (and may be altogether absent) when compared to other auto-sexing breeds like the cream legbar. These cold-hardy birds are thrifty foragers that will produce 150-200 moss green eggs a year. Whether speckled or pure green, the isbar eggs are as fantastic and exotic as the birds themselves.