Delaware chickens are an easy to raise chicken breed. They are used for both eggs and meat and therefore make a good breed addition for most homesteaders that are striving to be more self-sufficient.
Delaware chickens are a heavy, dual purpose breed of chicken originally created around 1940. They are decent layers of around 210 large brown eggs per year. They are on the watch list for the Livestock Conservancy. They tend to be a calm and friendly breed that is also cold hardy making them good layers throughout the winter.
If you are thinking of adding this chicken breed to your flock then read on to learn more about their uses, temperament and care needs.
|Size||Males: 7.5 - 8.5lbs; Females: 5.5 - 6.5lbs|
Bantam Size: 28-32oz
History & Origin
This breed originated around 1940 and was created by George Ellis. They are aptly named after the state they came from, Delaware.
They were created by breeding specific offspring of crosses from Barred Rocks and New Hampshire chickens (source). By focusing on the offspring from this cross that were white together eventually they became a standalone breed.
While they became fairly popular when they were first developed, over time, other breeds have taken over some of their uses. This caused them to go on the Livestock Conservancy's critically endangered list. As of recently, they have been moved to the watch list.
What Do They Look Like?
Although not the largest chicken breed in the world, they are a heavy breed with females weighing about 5.5 lbs as pullets and about 6.5 lbs as full grown hens. Males weigh about 7.5 lbs when they are still maturing and top out at about 8.5 lbs as full grown roosters.
In addition to the standard size, they also come in a bantam size. For bantams, they usually range from 28-32oz.
Unlike some breeds like Orpingtons that come in a wide variety of different colors, Delaware chickens only come in one color. The color is very close to Columbian which is essentially a black and white chicken.
They are mostly white with black barring in their hackle, tail and tips of their wing feathers. The difference between their coloring and that of the Columbian coloring is that Columbian coloring is solid black with no barring.
One additional neat thing about this breed is their ability to create sex-linked offspring. This essentially means that you can tell if the chicks are hens or roosters based on their color at hatch. To produce these (though they won't be fully Delaware breed at this point), you mate a Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire Red Rooster with a Delaware hen. The resulting offspring all males will be have the Delaware coloring and all females will be red.
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They were accepted into the Standards of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1952. To meet the standards, their weight should meet the criteria laid out above (Males: 6.5-7.5lbs; Females 5.5-6.5lbs; Bantams: 28-32oz).
This breed should have a large single comb with 5 points. Both comb and wattles should be bright red in color. If you're not familiar with chicken terminology, combs are the fleshy parts on the chickens head and wattles and the fleshy parts under their beak.
Their body should be elongated, and broad. And they should have moderately full feathering covering their body (source).
Although temperament can vary from bird to bird, just like humans have individual personalities, this breed tends to be friendly. They are also rather calm, so they tend to be fairly easy to handle.
Roosters have been noted to be a bit protective over their hens and the rest of the flock, but not outwardly aggressive. So, that is one thing to keep in mind.
Their docile nature makes them a good addition to any flock. Though they are friendly, they are also independent and do not necessarily come over to ask for attention regularly much like the Swedish Flower Hen.
What is Their Purpose?
They were developed to be a dual purpose chicken breed meanining good to be used for both meat and eggs. And, they certainly meet that mark.
They are a heavy breed (the standard version anyhow) and therefore produce a decent amount of meat.
They also lay around 4 large brown eggs per week which translates to roughly 210 eggs per year. With some hens laying over that amount. Additionally, they are cold hardy which means that they will lay eggs more regularly through the winter than other breeds.
One other quality that they have is that they are good foragers, this means that the cost to feed these chickens to produce eggs or mature to butchering age is less than some other breeds. That means that they are an economical choice.
Care & Health
This breed is fairly durable and easy to care for much like Deathlayers. Like any other chicken, they will need a decent chicken coop and chicken run. They will also need a chicken waterer and a chicken feeder.
Even though they do well in cold weather by keeping up their egg laying, they do have large combs. These larger combs tend to be susceptible to frostbite due to their size. Given this, it is important to provide them with a draft free shelter during cold times. Also, keep a good eye on their combs as you may need to give them some protection in the form of applying vaseline to help with any potential frostbite issues.
Are Delaware Chickens good layers?
They are decently good layers of around 4 Large brown eggs per week. That amounts to just over 200 eggs per year and they are cold hardy which means they lay well throughout the winter.
Are Delaware chickens aggressive?
No, in general they tend to be relatively friendly and calm. Although, some roosters have been reported to be a little protective of their girls.
How big do Delaware chickens get?
Males usually weigh in the 7.5 - 8.5 pound range. Females usually weigh in the 5.5 - 6.5 pound range.
At what age do Delaware chickens start laying?
They tend to start laying eggs around an average of 4 - 6 months which is common for most good egg laying breeds.
Are Delaware chickens noisy?
This can be a toss-up dependent on the specific bird. While they don't tend to be the loudest chicken, they certainly do like to cluck and crow and make chicken noises at times.
What color egg does a Delaware chicken lay?
They lay a Brown egg.
How long do Delaware chickens live?
They have a pretty average lifespan for a chicken as they don't have any breed specific health concerns. So, typically about 8 years or so.
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