This thread is dedicated to discussion of Iowa Blues and for breeders interested in preserving the breed.
The following proposed standard is a work in progress, but is compiled from various websites on Iowa Blues as well as from Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds.
The Iowa Blue was developed in the first half of the 20th century near Decorah, Iowa and was carried by many small hatcheries around Iowa until those hatcheries closed down and the breed was nearly lost. Through the efforts of interested breeders striving to preserve the breed, the Iowa blue is a very rare breed in need of preservation. Having never been recognized by the APA, ABA, or any other breed registry, the Iowa Blue is classified as a "Study" breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, acknowledging that the breed is of conservation interest but lacks the documentation to be firmly categorized.
Although the exact origin of the Iowa Blue is not known, the breed has an interesting, folksy legend:
It was noted that a White Leghorn hen appeared one day out from under a building with a clutch of chicks unlike any seen before. Some were solid chestnut, but others resembled pheasant chicks, colored light yellow with horizontal striping on their cheeks and black stripes down their backs. The tale was passed down by the old-timers that the sire of the clutch was a pheasant, and these chicks gave rise to the Iowa Blue.
Iowa Blues are one of the more striking New Heritage breeds, resembling Grey Junglefowl in carriage and voice with the bearing and production traits of an old heritage breed like the Black Java.
Country of Origin: United States
Conservation Status: Study
Type of Breed: Dual-purpose, good amount of meat
Eggs: Good number of lightly tinted brown eggs
Cocks: 7 to 7.5 pounds (Cockerels 6.5 pounds)
Hens: 6 pounds (Pullet 5 pounds)
Characteristics: Good foragers; do well in free range conditions with males being excellent flock guardians and are noted to be talented hawk fighters. Hens will go broody and have great maternal instincts. Though very aware of surroundings in a free-range situation, are fairly docile and not particularly flighty. Males are vigorous breeders and mature quite early.
Comb: Medium to moderately large single comb with six well-defined points that stand upright.
Wattles: Medium to moderately large wattles and earlobes, all being bright red.
Eyes: Dark Brown
Shanks and Toes: Slate
Color: Birchen. Head is white to silvery white. Neck and upper breast are white penciled with slender black central stripe transitioning to solid black feathers with white lacing. Lower breast, body, legs, wings, and tail are bluish black to gray with penciling. Lower breast should not be over-laced. Males show white to silvery white back and saddle area. Females have a back that is bluish to gray with penciling.
The breed can be used to create sex-links when mated with other breeds, especially White Plymouth Rocks (producing gray cockerels and black pullets) or New Hampshires (producing reddish gray cockerels and blackish gray pullets).
Some advice regarding breeding birchen breeds from a cochin breeder:
With birchens you will for the most part have to double mate them, meaning that you will have a breeding pen that will produce good males and another pen that will produce good females. Breed males with very little or no breast lacing to good laced or overly lace females to produce good males. Likewise, breed weak laced females to overly laced males with good yellow legs and light undercolor to achieve nicely colored females. In both cases the females out of the first breeding or the males out of the second breeding won't be fit for show due to color but they may be used in the breeding pens to achieve the same results.
Edited by Hurley - 3/21/11 at 9:28am