Polynesian settlers brought chickens to the Hawaiian islands centuries ago as a reliable food source. This led to a prevalence of chickens across the island, and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa even had their own poultry farm at one point.
Ka Leo took so much pride in the farm, they covered the campus chickens’ healthy reproductive rates on the front page of the 1931 issue.
At that time, the campus farm was home to a prize winning chicken after a White Leghorn hHen was crowned the “College Egg Champ” for laying 323 eggs in just 365 days. She was referred to as the University Queen, who reigned over a thousand hens at the university farm.
The average egg output for a White Leghorn is around 280 eggs per year, so the University Queen’s exceptional output did not go unrecognized. Her egg-laying skills broke all local records and entered the national championship class.
Five other hens, all of which produced 300 eggs, were also highlighted. The vitality of the chickens was attributed to a rich diet of island produce including pears, bananas and sweet potatoes – all leftovers that would have gone to waste had it not been for the chickens.
UH Mānoa no longer has a farm, but it is not uncommon to see chickens happily trotting around campus. Today, the chickens consist mainly of the Red Junglefowl, also known as the Moa. They are hard to miss with their striking red combs and black, iridescent tail feathers, reminding us of bygone eras.