The Delaware chicken breed has a rich history that begins in the early 1940’s in Ocean View, Delaware. The breed is credited to Mr. George Ellis who bred Barred Plymouth Rock males to New Hampshire Red females in a quest to breed a fast-growing, sturdy meat bird for America’s growing appetite for chicken. This cross produced a silver “sport”, and Ellis bred this small group of silvery offspring to each other to produce the Delaware pattern that we see today.
The Delaware still holds honor as a good layer that also carries enough meat to be useful as a table bird. Unfortunately for the Delaware breed (and possibly also for Mr. Ellis), in the early 1950’s the white Cornish cross broiler was developed and surpassed the Delaware as the popular choice for a commercial meat bird because of its even faster growth rate.
The Delaware is a hardy breed for all areas of the United States. Their smaller, single combs are not subject to frostbite in harsh winters. They mature quickly and begin to lay at around 20 weeks of age, laying an average of 4 eggs per week. Their white feathering means they can do well in warmer areas of the country too. The Delaware is an excellent choice for those wishing to keep an all heritage breed flock.
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We purchased 15 day-old Delaware male chicks on June 7 this year, from Meyer Hatchery. Amongst those were two surprises: a female and a male with a badly deformed leg. This male died yesterday (at 13 weeks), and the female we are trying to find a home for (we would hate to have to butcher her for meat). If anyone else has had some bad luck with this particular batch, Meyer needs to know about it.
Hi Ann. We are saddened to hear of your recent experience in raising your chicks. It is not something we have heard from others who have purchased the Delaware breed. There could be a few reasons why your chicks have developed skeletal issues, the first that comes to mind would be a nutritional deficiency. If you have specific questions about your order, please contact our Customer Support team by sending an email to info at Meyer Hatchery dot com.
I also had an issue with a day-old Delaware chick received from Meyer hatchery who was unable to walk. Based on internet searches, she seemed to have multiple issues including curled toe and possible vitamin deficiency since she had no strength in her legs. I gave her vitamin supplements, put little band-aid splints on her toes, and worked with her daily. It took about 3 weeks, but she did eventually get enough strength to stand and walk. Now, at 6 months old, she walks and runs like the other chickens, and the only sign of the issue is that she is a little pidgeon-toed. Still, everything I read suggested that there was probably either an issue during incubation or that her mother hen was vitamin deficient when laying.