Delaware Blue Hen

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The Blue Hen of Delaware is a variety of chicken that was adopted on April 14, 1939 as the state bird of Delaware. The University of Delaware mascot, known as YoUDee, is also modeled after the bird.

While it is not a currently recognized chicken breed, the fame of the Blue Hen can be traced back to the Revolutionary War. On December 9, 1775, the Continental Congress resolved that a military battalion was to be raised from Delaware, then known as the Lower Counties on the Delaware. Thus, the Delaware regiment was born - a group composed of eight companies representing New Castle, Kent and Sussex Counties.

The second company was composed of men from Kent County and was under the command of Capt. John Caldwell, who was an avid fan and owner of gamecocks. The troops often amused themselves by staging cock fights with a breed known as the Kent County Blue Hen, recognizable for its blue plumage.

The renown of these chickens spread rapidly during the time when cock fighting was a popular form of amusement, and the "Blue Hens' Chickens" developed quite a reputation for ferocity and fighting success. Capt. Caldwell's company likewise acquired a considerable reputation for its own fighting prowess, in engagements with the British at Long Island, White Plains, Trenton and Princeton, and soon it was nicknamed "Caldwell's Gamecocks."

Capt. Caldwell's company was part of Col. John Haslet's first Delaware regiment that reported for duty near the outset of the American Revolution in January 1776. In August 1781, remnants of the regiment were still battling at Eutaw Springs, South Carolina. Although often referred to as "The Fighting Delawares," Haslet's regiment also won the nickname, "The Blue Hens' Chickens," and that name was formally adopted by the Delaware General Assembly in 1939 when the Blue Hen Chicken was named the official state bird. It is one of only three US state birds that is not a species native to the United States.

The University of Delaware's College of Agriculture & Natural Resources maintains a breeding group of the Blue Hen Chicken on the campus farm.


The Delaware Blue's are very good foragers, and though they were once an gamefowl, they no longer possess the attitude and are purely kept for backyard enthusiasts. The cocks are said that they can be manfighters sometimes, though rarely ever. The hens lay medium sized white eggs, and if given the chance will go broody and be great mothers.


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