Pros: Friendly, beautiful birds
Cons: Rooster not particularly dominant (could be a good thing!)
I bought a barnevelder rooster and hen in early 2011, and have been pretty pleased with them. They're beautiful birds, and integrated well with my mixed flock, although the young rooster had a hard time gaining dominance over a couple of old, roughhouse leghorn ladies.
The hen lays quite well, although she does definitely go off the lay in winter - our hen, at least, is not as good a winter layer as we were led to believe of the breed before investing. Her eggs, however, are large, quite long and narrow, and beautiful warm reddiah brown with dark chocolate speckles.
We first tried hatching eggs without an incubator, and failed dismally, and I was starting to wonder whether our rooster was a "dud", and shooting blanks, but this year's purchase of an incubator has seen a huge number of barnevelder and barnevelder cross chicks hatching beautifully. The chicks are cute, striped, and robust. They remind me of tiny emu chicks in some ways, and there is quite a variance in their coloration. Barnevelder chicks can be sex typed at birth by coloration supposedly, although so far my crossed breed only have hatched, so I'm guessing ;-)
I'm not particularly interested in pure breeding, but in breeding tough, dual purpose birds that lay well. Am currently also breeding up some rhode island red chicks, and will be mixing the two breeds - barnevelder and rhode island red - in search of the perfect dual purpose, cold-weather great layer.
I'll also be keeping some of my better, true to breed barnies separate for pure line breeding.
Overall, I'd have to say I've grown very fond of my Barnevelders. The rooster (named "Sirius Black"!) is a spectacular looking bird, and is not particularly noisy. He's also quite friendly, and is happy to be handled. He's a great-looking addition to our place - everyone comments on how terrific he looks. So if you're into the real, archetypal rooster, Barnevelders will suit you.
There's also a BIG size / visual difference between males and females in this breed. You won't ever be guessing which one is your roo. Which can be very beneficial, especially with dual-purpose birds. You won't ever accidentally chop the wrong bird!
Barnevelders are enough of a favourite with me to consider investing in them significantly, and recommending them to others.