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The Delaware chicken breed is one of the fastest-growing of the popular heritage chicken breeds.
One of the best ways to be self-sufficient in rural areas is to produce your own food, and many homesteads benefit from the addition of Delaware chicken.
It is known for being a stunning hen that produces brown eggs which are perfect for breeding and consumption.
Additionally, its calm demeanor and friendly temperament make it ideal for beginners.
Due to its thick feathered body, it is also suitable for cooler climates.
The only issue is that it is a dying breed.
Similar to the Cornish cross, the Delaware breed soon became overpopulated, but fortunately, it is slowly coming back into trend due to homestead construction and backyard flocks.
If you plan on taking care or breeding chickens, today, we will give you a detailed breakdown of the breed.
This will help you understand if it can fit your rural lifestyle or not.
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Delaware Chicken Breed’s History
As the name may suggest, this chicken breed originated from Delaware in the USA.
The breed started in the early 1940s by a man named George Ellis.
He raised this chicken breed for the sole purpose of providing single comb brown eggs.
He mixed the chickens with the Rhode Island Red breed, and this resulted in a higher grade of meat and eggs.
The chicken was not originally named the “Delaware”, but Indian Rivers and was changed sooner to Ohio Beauty.
This was due to its growing popularity in Ohio.
In the year 1952, it finally changed to represent its origins.
For production, the chicken breed has been a favorite because its plumage produced both white and black feathers.
This later was found to be even more amazing because its appearance remained slightly even when plucked.
Likewise, the chicken’s rapid growth ensured that there was a steady flow of both plumage and eggs, as well as showed a great capability to provide a meat source.With growing popularity, the Delaware breed became useful for many different activities.
The chicken’s quick production speeds and healthy appearance made it ideal for use in the competitive broiler industry.
However, they were outclassed by other standards such as the Cornish Rock Cross nearly 20 years later.
In 1952, this chicken breed was finally admitted into the American Poultry Association.
It is the only variety of the white and black spotted chicken breeds, as well as a breed that features bearings on its hackles.
Sadly, the Delaware breed is not commonly bred unless on small farms, which means there are no other standards from their breed.
As such, as of 2009, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Company included them in the list of dying chicken breeds.
Delaware Chicken Characteristics
Let us look at the different things you would expect from a Delaware breed of chicken.
This way, you will understand their needs and usefulness.
Delaware Chicken Appearance and Traits
The Delaware breed of chicken is a medium-sized bird characterized by its white and black plumage.
The feather color is a mixture between either white or silver, and the tails and wings contain a few black barrings.
The chicken has a broad and deep body, which is perfect for colder climates.
Other characteristics prominent to the Delaware breed are the deep red comb, wattles, and earlobes.
Additionally, the combs are larger than other chicken breeds.
Their eyes range from a deep reddish bay color all the way to a golden brown. Lastly, their beaks are a deep red with their skin and legs being bright yellow.
Compared to other chicken breeds like the Cornish Hen, they are very similar in build and weight.
Generally, males weigh between seven and eight pounds and feature a stocky build.
On the other hand, females are approximately six pounds and feature a slightly smaller stature.
Delaware Chickens Disposition and Behavior
As for their disposition, Delaware Chickens breed is known to be calm, friendly, and intelligent.
Although one of the chicken breed’s major behavior is being quiet, they do enjoy chatting with one another from time to time.
Other prominent traits include being assertive towards others at times.
While they generally get along in a flock, sometimes they may be irritated with one another.
That said, the Delaware breed is less assertive than other chicken breeds such as the Rhode Island Reds.
Many of the Delawares enjoy being around others and benefit from a rich environment.
Their keen sense of curiosity makes them ideal for small homesteads or backyard farms.
Their favorite activities are pecking around in the dirt and observing or aiding humans around them in daily tasks.
Their thick feathered body makes them ideal for colder climates, but they may also enjoy the sun if they have shade to rest in.
Their interaction with humans is always positive, and they can even befriend their owners.
Many of them enjoy interacting with humans, which includes cuddling, petting, and resting on their laps.
They are very loving creatures and are some of the most friendly chickens you will find.
That being said, they aren’t always ideal for those looking for maximum production and profits.
They are ideal for a small homestead but shouldn’t be bred for industrial use.
Delaware Chicken Egg Laying Habits
The Delaware breed can produce up to four large brown eggs every seven days.
However, they are not interested in brooding, which can make it difficult for some of the eggs to hatch on time.
So, investing in an incubator and learning how to hatch chickens on your own will help ensure that the eggs are properly fertilized and brooded.
If you’re not planning on using the eggs to produce more hens, then you can easily skip the incubator, but still, we highly recommend to keep the incubator.
That is because it will provide you free hens and a stable flow of both meat, plumage, and eggs.
Delaware Breed Sex Linkage
As mentioned, the Delaware breed was originally bred from a mixture of both the New Hampshire and Barred Rock chicken breeds.
With their genetic similarities, you can produce Delaware chicken with several other breeds easily.
Many times we see farmers breed the Delaware breed with other sex-linked baby chicks.
The best combination of the Delaware rooster is, of course, the New Hampshire Red or the Rhode Island Red hen.
They can also be mixed by using a New Hampshire Red or Rhode Island Red rooster and mate it with a Delaware hen to get red sex-linked baby chicks.
Delaware Chicken Health Issues
The Delaware breed is generally a healthy chicken, but it may be susceptible to parasites.
The only other major issue breeders are aware of is that their combs are huge, which results in them being sensitive to cold weather.
While the breed itself does well in the cold, their comb can easily be damaged.
To avoid this, many breeders tend to place petroleum jelly on their combs, which helps prevent frostbite and lubricate the combs and keep them warm.
Other than that, there are no known issues with the Delaware breed.
You can check out the video below if you’d like to see a live Delaware chicken.
Are Delaware Chickens Right for Your Homestead?
If you’re building a backyard flock or want a small addition to your homestead, the Delaware breed can be a good pick.
They are often recommended for small suburban homesteads that have a wide-open range since it helps promote a healthy mindset and also is good for plentiful egg production.
With the chicken’s temperament, they enjoy being around other animals, flock members, and humans.
They love to chatter amongst themselves and are very lively and social.
Putting them into an isolated area can cause them great distress, so if you’re planning on getting a few, you must get a small flock.
Besides that, they are good around children and other humans.
However, they benefit the most from being able to roam freely around your homestead.
In rural living, you should have plenty of open space, but we recommend them only in places with fences.
The Delaware chicken also loves being in a rich soil environment that provides them plenty of bugs.
They enjoy the chase and nutrition provided by worms, bugs, and other small critters.
Additionally, they prefer gardened areas where they have the chance to come into contact with multiple plant species.
Lastly, they are perfect for beginners or those wanting to expand their homesteads.
The only downside we’re aware of is that they will need to be supervised on how they mate, especially if you want them to reproduce.
If you’re not aiming for high-quality birds, though, then you can easily skip this step.
Delaware Chicken Breed
While the Delaware chicken may be a dying breed, we find that many homesteads can benefit from its production.
Small farms, other individual families, or those looking to build a successful homestead will enjoy their egg production.
Due to their genetics, they also mature quickly, which means quicker egg production and reproduction.
As long as you have the drive to expand your rural life, these chickens are your best bet.
They include plumage, eggs, meat, and can even help with keeping the soil fertile.
Either way, you’ll find that they are a unique and fascinating chicken breed.