Odds are you may have never heard of the Iowa Blue chicken because the breed is rare these days and was on the verge of extinction at one time. This breed is not recognized by the American Poultry Association or the American Bantam Association.
Hatcheries throughout Iowa carried this breed in the 1960s, but most went out of business, leaving the breed nearly extinct. However, through conservation efforts in the 1980s, this breed was preserved from a few remaining flocks. Read on to learn more about his fascinating chicken breed.
Quick Facts About Iowa Blue Chickens
|Breed Name:||Iowa Blue|
|Place of Origin:||Decorah, Iowa|
|Uses:||Meat and eggs (dual purpose)|
|Male Size:||7 pounds|
|Female Size:||6 pounds|
|Color:||Black, silvery-white, gray, blue-gray (females)|
|Lifespan:||3 to 7 years|
|Climate Tolerance:||All climates|
|Production:||Roughly 200 eggs per year|
Iowa Blue Chicken Origins
This breed was developed in Decorah, Iowa, way back in the early 1900s. The exact story is not clear-cut, but according to legend, the breed was developed by an Iowa farmer named John Logsdon. He needed a chicken that could handle the harsh cold climate in the winter and the hot, humid summers.
Logsdon initially mated a Chinese pheasant with a Black Minorca hen and a Rhode Island hen, resulting in 8 chicks. He chose the Black Minorca because of its ability to lay large eggs, and the Chinese pheasant for its hardiness to any climate. The rest is history.
Iowa Blue Chicken Characteristics
They are even-tempered and get along well with humans. The roosters are fierce flock defenders and have no problem chasing off predators. This chicken breed is an excellent commodity for farmers in Iowa because they can tolerate the harsh climates in that region, and they have a large egg production, laying roughly 200 eggs per year. They also have a fair meat production, but these chickens are smaller compared to other meat chickens.
The Iowa Blue chicken fancies roaming in large areas but also do fine with confinement. They are active foragers and do well in large free-range spaces. They mature early and breed vigorously. Hens make excellent mothers and will go broody, and the roosters protect their young from hawks and other predators. This chicken breed does not fly too often, and they have the ability to learn simple commands, which makes it easy to control the flock if need be.
It’s hard to find these rare, dual-purpose chickens, but they make wonderful additions to your farm if you can find them.
These chickens are a dual-purpose breed with excellent meat and egg production, with the hens laying up to 200 eggs per year. They also offer decent meat production. With this breed, you can expect an abundance of eggs yearly. If you can find Iowa Blue chickens, know that you will be adding an extremely useful breed to your flock, and you’ll be helping to restore their near extinction.
Appearance & Varieties
Despite the name, these chickens are not blue; however, the females have a bluish-gray color on their backs. Some differences differentiate the males from the females. The male’s neck and upper back are white with a black transition down the center, whereas the female’s back is bluish-gray.
They both have red waddles, red earlobes, and a red comb with silver-white heads. They are similar in size, with the males weighing 7 pounds and the females 6 pounds. The beaks are slightly curved and are medium-length. The face is free of wrinkles, and they have large, prominent round eyes. They have full, broad bodies, and their shanks and toes are slanted.
Population & Habitat
The Iowa Blue is well equipped to handle the freezing temps and hot, humid summers in Iowa. Sadly, they are still on the brink of extinction, and their population is not well known nowadays. If you’re interested in finding the Iowa Blue, there are some breeders scattered throughout the United States in Texas, Ohio, New Mexico, and of course, Iowa.
Are Iowa Blue Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?
Yes. The Iowa Blue chicken make terrific backyard flocks and do well with open spaces, but they will tolerate confinement, although free-range is preferred. With the Iowa Blue, you will certainly have an abundance of eggs per year.
There’s no doubt the Iowa Blue Chicken is rare, but if you can find them, you’ll be adding an excellent dual-purpose chicken breed to your flock. Conservation efforts are still underway today, and if you’d like to get involved, check out the Iowa Blue Chicken Club for more information.
Featured Image Credit: Hundva , Pixabay