Photo Credit: Photo by Lynn Stone
Use: The nearly extinct Iowa Blue chicken breed has great dual-purpose qualities. Photo by Lynn Stone
History: Very little is known about the origins of the Iowa Blue chicken, though a folktale surrounding the breed has its lineage beginning with a Leghorn hen. The Leghorn is believed to have gone broody while under a building, reemerging with chicks like none seen before. Some of the chicks were colored basic chestnut while others appeared uniquely pheasant-like with remarkable color patterns. Those familiar with the Iowa Blue chicken breed will say that a pheasant fathered the Iowa Blue.
Conformation: Despite being called “blue,” the Iowa Blue chicken breed does not exhibit true blue feathering. Head, neck and breasts are white or silvery white, with a thin black stripe down the middle, which transitions to white-laced black feathers. The remaining plumage is bluish-black or gray with penciling. Some variation exists between males and females in the back and saddle feathers. Its comb is red, single and upright with six defined points. Its medium- to large-sized earlobes and wattle are red, too. Shanks and toes are slate. Standard Iowa Blue cocks weigh 7 pounds and hens weigh 6 pounds.
Special Considerations/Notes: The Iowa Blue chicken breed is extremely rare and can be difficult to find; however, it makes a great addition to backyard and barnyard flocks. It’s a great forager, and farmers can enjoy its dual-purpose capabilities while helping to restore a near extinct breed. The Iowa Blue is listed in the Study category of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List.