The Delaware chicken is one of the best breeds of chicken I have ever come across. This breed is not only eye cuddly but also friendly and good with kids and bird hobbyists.
These chickens are hardy and can do well in both hot and cold climate zones. They grow fast and you will not have to feed then for long before they are ready for the market.
Delaware chickens are good dual purpose birds that will lay you lots of large eggs and offer enough meat enough for your family.
This article indulges more on this friendliest chicken breed. Keep reading to k now whether this is the right bird for your backyard.
Delaware Chicken History
Delaware chicken is a recent addition in the poultry world. This bird dates back to the era of the Second World War when there was a huge demand for food to feed the war soldiers.
Mr. George Ellis decided to refine the qualities of this bird so as to make it more popular. He knew that the Hampshire Red could feather up quickly and mature first.
Additionally, the Barred Rocks had desire weighs for meat birds and could lay a good number of eggs. Certainly, his dreams come true!
However, the popularity of the Delaware chicken could not last for long. The commercialization of the poultry industry had already kicked off.
Chicken farmers wanted a bird that could mature fast and offer much meat. This was because there was a huge demand for white meat in supermarkets that had become more popular.
Britain was wrestling Germany and their farmers could not produce enough food because of the instability in the region then.
This saw the development of the modern day broilers the Cornish Cross chicken. They could mature fast and offer much meat pushing out and replacing Delaware chickens in huge poultry barns.
These chickens were almost going extinct until in 2009 when the Livestock Conservancy listed them on the watch list and renewed breeding began.
They enjoy recognition by the American Poultry Association where they were admitted in 1950. Only one color variety white with black barring on the tails, wings and neck recognized.
Features of a Delaware Chicken
The Delaware chickens fall in the category of medium to large birds. A mature rooster will weigh between 7-8lbs while a hen will weigh 6-6.6lbs.
There are bantam Delaware chickens where males weigh 32oz while the females weigh 28oz. Both versions look very identical only that the bantams are smaller in size.
They are solid white with black barring feathers on the neck, wing tips and tail area. Most people will confuse them with the Columbian Wyandotte chicken.
However, the Columbian Wyandotte chickens do not have barring feathers but instead complete solid black stripes.
Delaware chickens have red single combs with five peaks on them. The wattles and earlobes are red too while the skin is yellow in color.
Their legs and feet are yellow, clean and have no feathers on them. On each foot, there are four well-spaced toes with short claws.
The beaks are of a horn color while the ayes are reddish bay. They have deep and broad bodies with closely packed body feathers.
Temperament and Hardiness
The Delaware chicken is a curious, quiet band friendly bird. This breed is not aggressive and will not harm your Buckeye chickens or peck the kids.
Some say that they are lap chickens but mine will not let anyone hold them. However they will follow you around and give you company when doing your daily chores.
Delaware roosters are not aggressive too but will face off other males especially during the mating season when competing for hens.
These chickens are easy to tame and make some quick learners. My girls have cute chicken names and will turn when called by the name.
Delaware chickens are very hardy and will do well on both hot and cold climates. They are predator savvy and will spend most of their time in the woods collecting insects and grubs.
These feathered friends do well on natural environments requiring little care and maintenances. Free ranging has helped me double the size of my flock because the cost of feeding them is relatively low.
Delaware Chicken Eggs and Meat
Delaware chicken breed is reliable and will perfectly match your expectations. These feathered friends have a wonderful feed to meat conversion ratio than most chicken breeds.
They mature fast and will reach the desired market weight early. Delaware chickens are excellent foragers and you will only give them small amounts of chicken feeds to top up on what they get naturally on your backyard.
A mature rooster will offer some 7 lbs. while a hen will offer 6lbs of their delicious white meat when butchered.
These birds are big and will pluck clean in your Kitchener chicken plucker. The white pin feathers are less seen making their carcass one of good quality in the market.
When cared for well, a Delaware hen will give you a clutch of 200 eggs in a year translating this number to about 4 per week.
Delaware chicken eggs are large which others may refer to them as jumbo. Their egg shell color is light brown but sometimes dark brown eggs are common.
In the inside egg, there is a thick semi-viscous clear albumen and a large single yolk which is of a yellow color.
However, under rare circumstances, a single hen or two may exhibit signs of broodiness and hatch well when given a chance.
Additionally, Delaware chicks and chickens for sale can be found with a few dedicated breeders. In addition to this, they can also be sourced from reputable hatcheries like the Hoovers.
Delaware Chicken Lifespan
Your Delaware chicken will live for 5-7 years depending on the quality of care she gets. However the bird may live longer if raised well just like we do to our chicken pets.
The hens will not live longer like roosters and probably will not make it to the 7 year mark. Because of laying a large clutch of eggs, their bodies will get exhausted and lack enough calcium and other nutrients used in egg making.
Free ranging chickens will face a host of threats like chicken predators, bad weather and lack of enough food which will have a negative impact on their lives.
Some chicken breeds can live longer when kept on the right environment. I have a Delaware rooster who is now eight years old and looks strong and healthy crowing like a teenager though he seems to have a low libido.
These chickens are strong, healthy and robust. They are hardy and require little maintenance to survive and reproduce.
However, chicken worms and external parasites like chicken lice and scaly mites are a common problem in most flocks.
Worms will require a good chicken wormer that will be administered by a qualified bird vet near you. Lice and scaly mites will need a dose of diatomaceous powder in the dirt bath.
Diatomaceous earth works by dehydrating body oils and moisture from the parasites thus, dehydrating them to death.
Laying hens may suffer from calcium deficiency because of laying lots of eggs. Supplement this with crushed oyster shells or dried mealworms and they are good to go.
During winter, their single combs will suffer from frostbites. A small coating of Vaseline jelly smeared on these delicate organs is a good remedy.
Delaware Chicken Raising Tips
Although Delaware chickens are adept foragers, they will need food. Not everyone has a large background where they can roam freely.
Chicks will require chick starter feeds. They are high in protein which these little critters require to develop muscles, organs and feathers.
The hens should be fed on layers feeds. This type of diet is rich in calcium to help them lay those tasty eggs with strong eggshells.
Water is very vital on the health of every living organism. It helps prevent dehydration and will make sure your chickens are cold in summer when it is very hot.
Chicken water should be put in clean waterers or troughs. They will keep it clean, fresh and free from impurities chickens kick in when scratching.
In winter, go for heated waterers. They will help keep chicken water from freezing and make it a few degrees warm for your hens to drink.
When watering your Delaware chicks, use shallow chick waterers. These little critters can fall in easily and drown.
If you have open bowls, add rock pebbles to act as islands for these birds to step on when drinking.
Delaware chickens will require a good coop. This will keep them safe and free from predators like possums or bad weather.
The chicken coop should have a dry, warm and draft free bedding material. I prefer to use chopped straw because it has air pockets that retain warm air in winter.
Your rooster house should be well ventilated to allow air circulation. It should have large doors where chickens will get in and out freely without congestion.
Integration is a very important part when raising chickens. Care should be taken when removing chicks from a chicken brooder to the main coop.
Have enough roost bars and feeding stations to avoid unnecessary bullying. Isolation pens will help just in case there is someone trying to establish a pecking order.
5 Collect Gender Ratio
The collect male to female ratio is very important. A single Delaware rooster can mate and fertilize the eggs of 10 hens each day.
Keeping more than one rooster with a few hens can be disastrous. These male birds can fight injuring each other to the point of death.
Additionally, if the hens are many than the recommended ratio, there is a likelihood that not all the hens will get a chance to mate thus, lay infertile eggs.
The Delaware chicken is a good bird to keep in your backyard. This breed is calm and quiet and will not disturb your neighbors.
These chickens are adept foragers and will collect every bug and grub in your compound. They require low maintenance because they are hardy and tolerant.
If you want a bird that will lay lots of eggs and offer enough, meat go for this one. This breed of chicken matures fast and you will not wait for long before you put cash in your pocket.
Do you have Delaware chickens? Talk to us.
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