The Whiting True Blue chicken is a relatively new blue egg laying breed that has become more readily available through McMurray Hatchery. The ideal would be to have blue chickens that lay blue eggs, but with the genetics of the blue gene in chicken, they will throw 25% black, 50% blue, and 25% splash.
These birds are a grand variety of colors, with the blue gene involved, for example, there are blue wheaten, blue red, lemon blue, silver blue and many other variants. These chickens were created by Tom Whiting of Whiting Farms in Delta, Colorado. They were developed over more than a decade of breeding by crossing Ameraucana chickens with commercial lines of white Leghorns. The current birds are a very high percentage of Leghorn.
Blue chickens come in a wide spectrum of feather patterns including solid blue, black, black breasted red, and many of their variants. I have raised these birds and they are very charismatic, though they are not the most docile backyard chickens. They are the type of bird that will go around free ranging, scratching, and wandering the yard but not one that you can pet and hold easily.
These egg producing chickens are great producers of blue eggs that are consistent in color. In Colorado, many local small egg producers get these hens to add some color to their egg cartons as they produce more efficiently than brown egg layers. If you are looking for a bird that will lay like a leghorn, but you want blue eggs, these are the way to go.
The Whiting Blue chicken typically has yellow legs and a pea comb, although a single comb still occasionally shows up due to the crossing to leghorns. Some of them have beards of varying sizes, and others don’t have beards at all. The egg color is still being worked on, but the idea is to get towards a robin blue like egg, though trying to keep the egg color and size is tricky because a larger egg causes the color to lighten.
Tom Whiting is a poultry geneticist that received his Ph.D. in Poultry Genetics from the University of Arkansas. Since that time he has been the leading producer of fly tying feathers, developing the best quality feathers available on the market. Now he has set to develop new, improved lines of the popular breeds sold in the mail order hatcheries, along with developing new breeds and crosses to fill new niches and markets. Some of them are the Whiting True Blue, Whiting Green, and the Welsummer Cross. Currently, the Whiting True Blue is the only chicken that has been sold through mail order hatcheries, the rest have only been available through Murdoch stores in western Colorado.
By Jon Alden
Photos by Jon Alden