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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I think at one time or another, every crazy chicken lady was once an onlooker, wondering what all of the hype over chickens is about. Perhaps it started with an innocent desire to have fresh eggs in one’s own backyard, or an interest in a unique pet. But eventually many of us cannot stop at just a “few” chickens.