Nature is full of all kinds of colors and patterns. But how often do you find cute little hearts? This white hen sports adorable black hearts, and is rightfully named “Heart Hen”. While many chickens tend to look alike, this one stands out, and her photogenic looks went viral over social media. And no, no one has photoshopped these pictures.
The Adorable Heart Hen
There are 150 kinds of chicken breeds but this one is believed to be the Appenzeller Spitzhauben. According to a DNA analysis of fossilized chicken bones from northern China, this breed can be about 10,500 years old, related to the red jungle fowl, a wild ancestor of the domestic chickens we know today.
Paleogeneticist Professor Michi Hofreiter at the University of Potsdam in Germany and the University of York, said, “These are really exciting results as they suggest that societies with mixed agriculture developed in northern China around the same time they did so in the Near East. Our analyses also suggest that northern China represents one region of the earliest chicken domestication.”
Hofreiter added, “Moreover, our results support the idea that multiple members of the genus Gallus, specifically Gallus gallus and Gallus sonneratii (grey jungle fowl) contributed to the gene pool of the modern domestic chicken.”  In other words, it took a lot of evolving and development for the Heart Hen to exist today.
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However, the hearts aren’t the only rare thing about her. The Appenzeller Spitzhauben chicken breed stands out with its unusual traits of a v-shaped comb and forward-facing crest. They’re the national breed of Switzerland and they naturally adapt to living in mountain ranges. They prefer to roost in trees, are great climbers, are tolerant of different weather, and require a lot of free-roaming. Plus, they tend to run small, about 4–5 pounds. Unfortunately, most hens sport regular spots, not hearts. 
The good news is people can keep Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens as backyard animals; they lay white-shelled eggs about every three weeks. But the American Poultry Association (APA) in the United States doesn’t recognize them as of yet. However, they are recognized by similar associations in several European countries.
The History of Appenzeller Spitzhauben Chickens
The history of this specific breed is unknown. However, they are believed to have originated in Switzerland, perhaps a crossing of Brabanter, a Dutch breed, Crevecoeurs, and La Fleche. Farmers kept them in Switzerland until the late 1800s and early 1900s when they appeared outside of their homeland.
In 1953, Kurt Fischer imported some Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens to Germany and began to breed them. This led to their acceptance as the German poultry standard. After that, Dutch and German breeders helped revive this rare breed. In the 1950s, a German friend brought a dozen of their eggs to his Dr. Albert McGraw in the United States. Then, in 1978, the chickens started growing in England. 
From there, the rest is history for these flighty, foraging chickens. Hopefully, with proper breeding their numbers will increase in the future, perhaps creating more heart hens.
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