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Iowa Blues - Breed thread and discussion

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the Standard o' started by Hurley, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. Hurley

    Hurley Egg Of A Different Color

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    My Coop
    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.

    Iowa Blue

    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
    Beak: Horn
    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.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2011
  2. schroeder vanhorner

    schroeder vanhorner Out Of The Brooder

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    will anyone have Iowa Blues at the sale in Waverly ???? I think that we will look for a couple of hens
     
  3. Hurley

    Hurley Egg Of A Different Color

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    It sounded like a few of the Iowa breeders will be there, not sure if they will have Iowa Blues with them to sell or not.

    Wish I could attend Waverly, but have a conflict with a dog show that weekend, darn it.
     
  4. Hurley

    Hurley Egg Of A Different Color

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    My Coop
    When researching on the breed, I found frustratingly little information available and pretty much each source had the same 3 vague paragraphs written. When trying to locate sources to start an Iowa Blue flock (as I really would like to contribute to the promotion and preservation of the breed), every lead I tracked down came back to Sandhill Preservation. Even a couple larger hatcheries that offered them when contacted reported their stock came from Sandhill. While putting together plans for my founding stock, along with my order from Sandhill I wanted to bring in as much genetic diversity as possible to work with. I don't know if there are any non-Sandhill origin stock, there must be some somewhere. At any rate, there is already a large diversity in what I've seen in the breed photos from various breeders so it looks like there is plenty of work to be done to set type in the breed (which is the fun part of getting into them, for me). Seems like in the last couple years several people have gotten into them (myself getting my first ones this season). I think this is fantastic that the interest is sparking up as it is going to give us a good quantity of birds to look at and idea of what we want to breed for as "type".

    I would love to see an Iowa Blue Fanciers Club begin to get people together and set the breed, get a good solid standard agreed upon, and promote these fine birds. Not only do I find them attractive and love the characteristics of being good free range birds with hawk fighting skills, but being a native Iowan (displaced to Wisconsin) they have my heart from my homeland as well. [​IMG]

    I would be willing to put up a website for a breed club and host it on one of our servers in the future (unless someone else is dying to take on that project), but in order to provide stable, helpful information I think that more birds, more breeders, more discussion on what we want to breed FOR would be beneficial before setting up an informational website.

    So what do you think, breeders? What's the ideal look for an Iowa Blue? What should be considered faults/traits to breed away from?

    Obviously there is wide variety in the birchen pattern currently from almost no white to way too much white. How much red leakage are you seeing in the flocks, is this a large problem?
    Are you finding the combs to follow the upright 6-point listing? What's the tail set and spread average?



    Looking forward to a good selection to choose from in 2011!
     
  5. Jake Levi

    Jake Levi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think that it is way too early to be talking of setting type. First we need to see and find out what the breed is now, and what the variations, if any are, all the pics I have seen are of young birds so we dont really even know what the mature fowl look like, so how can we know now what it should be with none to compare to?

    THere are several traits that interest me, the hardiness, ranging ability, independence, broodiness and mothering ability, growth as a dual purpose farm flock, eggs and meat. Colors etc are pretty much of fine points, the Blue is a breed definer, but of course not all Blue birds are Iowa Blues.

    I think that it would be wisest to say set up several shows in a year or so and then do some comparison judging to see what we have, and build a breed type as a conscensus.

    There doesnt seem to be a lot of literature on them and I think that needs to be remedied. Just to find out what they were.

    I am glad that Sandhill is the one producing them now, if there has to be just one, I have far more faith in them then I do others. Ideal had some but isnt offering any this year.
     
  6. Hurley

    Hurley Egg Of A Different Color

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    Mar 17, 2010
    Palmyra, WI
    My Coop
    I suppose "setting type" wasn't exactly what I was meaning so much as figuring out what we have and what we want to breed towards. The thought isn't so much culling everything except the perfect bird, it's exploring what there is and what is typical of the breed. As we know, there isn't much of a historical record on them so we have no baseline. Looking more for discussion, photos, sharing, and getting us more specimens to study as the goal. However, I do intend to breed towards the "standard" above, such that it is from what we've been able to piece together for the limited information on them, as much as possible. There has to be some sort of goal or a breeding program goes nowhere.

    The breed is almost being "born again", or so it seems. Really looking forward to more information and more comparisons over the next few years.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Jake Levi

    Jake Levi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am in total agreement with you on that Hurley, and starting a fanciers group to promote and also get information is a good idea to me.

    I asked Sandhill to add some to my Turkey order, probably the first part of May I think, I am going to call them and try to get more information. I'd like 10-12 to start with and to grow out and see what I have. And finding out how many others have them is paramount to preserving the breed.

    Glad that you started this thread, stay the course.
     
  8. FlashPointFarm

    FlashPointFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Jake, for letting us know about this thread. Hurley, were you the one showing the Iowa Blues at the EIPA show last Fall?

    A few of us went in on an order from Privett and Ideal hatcheries, hosted by MrandMrsChicken. I hope I'm not forgetting anyone, but the following Iowa members went in on this order. KariMW, PBJmaker, Tiramisu, and I think there was one other. Haven't had enough coffee yet to remember. (I think I should just mainline the coffee this morning!)

    There is quite the difference in size and color from these birds. Some are very small, an over sized bantam if you will. The rest are still under the proposed standard. I have yet to weigh one to verify. The two cockerels I have are very tiny, and will be culled. Karimw is graciously bringing me a better one that she ended up with today.

    For color, some hens barely look birchen. The 2 hens that do have decent lacing are very mossy.

    I had one cockerel that had some red leakage on his saddle feathers, so I culled him.

    These are very thrifty birds. I like them. They definitely need a covered coop!

    Mine just started laying little cream colored eggs.
     
  9. Jake Levi

    Jake Levi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Flash Point,

    so you got chicks from both hatcherys? Are they marked as to who came from where?

    How many total did you get, and have now?

    I agree on the strict culling, size and conformation and temperament should come first, the colors can be fine pointed once the rest is in place. But these 3 traits are to me paramount, and as the hens develop their egg laying ability , in pens and free ranging.

    I'm mainlining the coffee too this morn, [​IMG]

    watching spring creep in on us, by next weekend it should be about here. The next several days we should say goodbye to our snow.

    I would be interested in buying some eggs about June from folks there in Iowa. A dozen or so.
     
  10. FlashPointFarm

    FlashPointFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 3 roosters. 2 are very small, but lack the red leakage in their feathering. I thought about culling them due to size, but then I would lose the genetics for the color. Need to keep it all or lose it, IMO. Which is also what was taught to me by a very respected, master breeder. Breed for everything at once, or you will lose it.

    I am big on breeding for temperament too. No people haters allowed! LOL!

    I'm getting some eggs from KariMW at the Waverly swap.
     

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