Delaware Chicken Breed
Here we will focus on the Delaware chicken breed. The Delaware is a heritage breed of chicken, which produces brown eggs. They are dual purpose birds, that are noted for being docile. Delaware roosters attain a weigh of about 8 pounds, whereas a hen will attain a weight of 6 pounds. This breed retains the ability to hatch its own eggs, termed broodiness.
According to the American Livestock Breed Conservancy website, Delwares were developed by George Ellis in 1940. They were originally developed for their meat and began with crosses of Barred Plymoth Rocks with New Hampshires. The coloring pattern of a Delware is similar to that of the more common Columbian chicken. At one point, they were one of the most important and common breeds for production of broilers.
One interesting tidbit about the Delaware chickens is that mating a Delaware hen to either a New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red male will result in sex-linked offspring. This means that chicks can be easily sexed once their adult feathers come in. The males form this cross will look like a Delaware, whereas the hens will be solid red.
Since falling out of favor with the larger factory farms, Delaware chicken numbers have dwindled. They retain very good meat and egg attributes, making them an excellent choice for homesteaders. They tend to grow rapidly (though not nearly to maturity in 6 to 8 weeks like the commercial meat breeds). One advantage when considering a chicken for meat production is that white feathers do not produce marks on the carcass, making it more pleasing to the eye and on the plate. Delware Chickens have large, strong legs and a moderately large body frame.
We have found Delaware Chickens to truly be docile. They are very curious birds that like to forage on grass and bugs. They seem to love scratching and dirt baths (like many other chicken breeds). We feel that they are strikingly beautiful chickens. They seem to have a fairly good rate of laying eggs. I would estimate that we get 5 eggs per week (It is hard to estimate for certain as we have a few mixed breeds and various breeds in our flock). We hope to order more Delaware sometime this year in order to get a start on our next round of layers.
Until Next Time!