The Pavlovskaya hen is Russia’s most ancient chicken breed. Its origins are lost in the murky depths of history, but by the time Russians began to take stock of their native chicken breeds in the late 1800s Pavlovskaya hens were already virtually extinct. Many centuries ago this breed emerged in the town of Pavlovo, a small enclave of peasants and craftsmen about 200 miles east of Moscow. The town was known for a number of unique agricultural specialties including the breeding of fighting geese, canaries, and the cultivation of lemons. Some poultry historians believe that the Pavlovkskaya hens are the foundational breed that gave rise to more recently developed crested breeds like the Polish, Barthuhners, and Brabanters.
Pavlovskaya hens are known to be extremely cold hardy and have unique feathering on their feet that is similar to the feathering on wild grouse. A Russian myth describes the origin of this exotic breed as an illicit tryst between a chicken and grouse. Despite their hardiness, the breed all but perished in the Soviet era. At one time in the early 1990s, the total global population of authentic Pavlovskaya was reduced to two roosters, and one was infertile. By breeding the fertile rooster with somewhat similar hens, and then back-breeding to the father, the breed was re-established.
Today very few of these remarkable birds remain in their native Russia, and they are virtually unknown outside that country. Nevertheless, in what was our most challenging import project, Greenfire Farms located a small breeding group and brought them to the United States in 2012. In 2014, Greenfire followed up with a second import of an unrelated bloodline of pure white birds. In 2015, Greenfire imported a new bloodline of pumpkin-colored Pavs with black crests. These flocks should contain enough genetic diversity to keep this breed healthy in America for centuries to come. Pavlovskaya lay relatively few eggs. Typically Greenfire hatches fewer than a few hundred Pavlovskaya chicks each year. If you order these chicks please be prepared to wait several months to receive your chicks from them at $99. per chick, or you can wait till Spring 2020 and order them from us at just $45. per chick and you'll be helping us to complete our mission ofsaving a Vet. But, given their outlandish good looks and pleasant personalities, we think you will find they are worth the wait.