Historic Hubbard chicken named N.H.’s official state poultry

Monday, October 1, 2018

N.H. Red Hen
Illustrations by John S. Dykes
facts by the dozen

South Carolina has a state spider. Montana has a state lullaby and Vermont a state flavor. Four states have wild turkeys as their game bird. Only Delaware and Rhode Island have chickens — or had, until now. On June 18, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill designating the New Hampshire Red, a chicken bred to withstand hard winters, as the state’s official poultry.

The measure was approved by the State Legislature in April at the urging of fourth-graders at the Canaan Elementary School. Teacher Ian Henry ’14, ’15G worked with his students to create the bill at the urging of Rep. Tim Josephson, whose daughter is in the class.

“When it was presented on the House floor, my class then had the special privilege of attending the session,” Henry says. “They were able to take part in the whole legislative process.”

A lush chestnut color, the New Hampshire Red was developed by brothers Oliver ’21, Austin ’25 and Leslie Hubbard ’27, whose commitment to education led them throughout the years to contribute millions of dollars to UNH.

Their gifts have funded scholarships as well as new programs, strengthening the university's reputation for excellence in teaching, research and public service.

The disease-resistant New Hampshire Red helped the trio grow their Walpole, New Hampshire, family farm into one of the largest poultry operations in the Northeast. With a focus on research and development, the brothers applied advanced poultry genetics and modern management techniques to develop a superior breeding stock that provided more meat and egg protein efficiently and at lower cost. By 1974, when the business was acquired by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Hubbard Farms had become a worldwide success, operating in more than 50 countries.