Category: Standard Chickens
Facts about Delaware blue hen chicken. The delaware blue hen chicken is a variant of the domestic chicken. It is not a recognized chicken breed but one of several landraces of chickens. It is related if not descended from the Kent County blue hen.
The Delaware blue hen chickens lay brown eggs. Because they were bred for cockfighting first, they are skittish and flighty.
Appearance of Delaware blue hen chicken
The blue hen chicken has blue chest feathers and blue tail feathers. The feathers above its bare legs are white. The neck feathers are orange, yellow or brown, while the back feathers are primarily black. The Delaware blue hen chicken has a classic and prominent red crown. Only half the chicks of blue hens will have blue fathers; the rest will be black or a mixture of black and white.
Male Delaware blue hen chickens weigh around five pounds (2.2 kg), while females weigh about four pounds (1.8 kg). They have yellow beaks and reddish eyes.
History of Delaware blue hen chicken
The blue hen chicken dates back to the Revolutionary War. The blue hen chicken breed was noted for its ferocity and fearlessness at that time, regularly used in cockfighting. Cockfighting was a sport where cocks (male chickens) were put in a ring and fought, often to the death.
Official Status of the Delaware blue hen chicken
The Delaware blue hen chicken was made the Delaware state bird in 1939, beating out the scarlet cardinal recommended by the Women’s Clubs of Delaware. It probably lost to the scarlet cardinal because that is a state bird of seven other states.
Delaware isn’t the only state bird to be a breed of poultry. Rhode Island maintains the Rhode Island Red chicken as its state bird.
The Blue Hen Chicken was made the state bird in Title 29, Chapter 3, Section 304 of the Delaware state code.
The Delaware blue hen chicken isn’t included in the Audubon society’s lists, because the Audubon only tracks wild birds, not domestic breeds of poultry. Conversely, the Delaware blue hen chicken isn’t a recognized breed according to the American Poultry Standards of Perfection, either.
The Blue Hen Chickens in History
In 1775, a regiment from the Delaware River area was known as the fighting blue hens. The group was headed by Jonathan Caldwell, a man who raised fighting gamecocks that were part blue hen. He said that no fighting cock was as fierce as his blue hens, and his company ended up adopting the name fighting blue hens. The group was also called the Fighting Delawares, Caldwell's gamecocks or Sons of the Blue Hen. (Caldwell’s men were known for entertaining themselves by cockfighting and being led by a man who used blue roosters in cockfighting.) The group wore blue coats, black shoes, white breeches and red feather plumes in their jackets as a uniform, one of the few uniformed regiments of the Revolutionary War. The color scheme was said to resemble a blue hen.
The Delaware blue hen chicken was also the name of a Kent County militia during Civil War. They were also called the Blue Hen’s Chickens.
Trivia about blue hen chicken
The fighting blue hen is also the mascot of the University of Delaware, in honor of Caldwell’s fierce freedom fighters. The mascot’s name is YoUDee.
The University of Delaware has another connection to the breed – they breed Delaware blue hen chickens to maintain the line. Their birds are descended from stock from the estate of S. Hallock DuPont, a fan of the breed. The modern breed is purported to more closely resemble Mediterranean chickens than fighting cocks, since the blue hens were crossbred with Blue Adalusians.
While the Delaware blue hen chickens (cocks) were renowned as fierce fighters, cockfighting is illegal in Delaware today.