Pros: Beautiful birds and eggs, hardy, good foragers, good producers of lovely speckled or dark brown eggs
Cons: Can't think of any.
I spent months researching what breed I wanted when I decided to get chickens about 4 years ago. I settled on the Welsummer for their reputaion as a great back-yard all-purpose bird, which is what they were designed to be. I also liked the idea of a dark brown or speckled egg. When I read Will's descrription of them on teh Whitmore Farm website (www.whitmorefarm.com) as his friendliest breed, who laid his customers' favorite eggs, I was sold. I drove down to his farm in western Maryland and brought home five of his babies, and enjoyed a wonderful tour of his gorgeous, well-managed operation. My girls started laying at four months (!) and one of them imediately went broody -- rare for a Wellie. My youngest son was entranced-- i remember watching him out the window one morning as he ran laughing into the coop, and came out with the broody pullet, Mrs. White. He plunked her down on trhe seat of our garden tractor, where she sat as stil as a statue for 30 minutes. When I asked him why he did this, he replied delightedly, "You can pick that chicken up and put her anywhere, and she just sits there!" After she got over her little hormonal fit, she became my best layer. alll five had very distinct egg patterns, shapes and sizes. They are great foragers, super-smart, with great survival instincts. They all seem to prefer to forage for seedheads on grasses rather than bugs, except for butterflies and moths, for some reason! I have four of the five left after four years.
The largest, heaviest one (probably close to 8 lbs) was found dead in my yard during a 100+ degree humid day (I am in Delaware). They have a nice grassy, shaded yard and plenty of water, but she was a big. heavy girl and it was just to much, I guess. Cold does not bother them, though they hate walking in snow (as do all my chickens). They are all still beautiful, a testament to their good breeding, I am sure. I get about an egg a week now from each, and what I love is that their eggs, unlike my other older hens', never got excessively large as they aged. They are nice, large, perfectly-shaped and speckled, which I love. they get lighter toward the end of the cycle, which is normal. They laid through the winter for two years, and started to taper off their third year, but I love their peronalities, so I will never put them down. They are laid back, but don't allow anyone to bully them, including the roos! They like to be around people, and come running when I go out, although they have never loved being held. If I need to handle them, I get them off the roost in the evening. I imagine they would make good table birds, too, being heavy, but I can't say since I could never bring myself to eat them ( although I have slaughtered and eaten others -- usually roos, or hens who were mean to other hens). I also have buff orps, Aussies, sex links, and have had barred rocks, but the Wellies are my favorite, and my egg customers love their speckled eggs the best. Once the coop got inadvertently closed and they could not get in. I got home after dark and saw this, and went out with a guilty, heavy heart. I looked around their yard and eventually found them all -- cleverly hidden under various objects like the wheelbarrow, a piece of plywood resting against the fence, etc. I tucked them under my arm and placed each one lovingly in their coop, none the worse for wear. They quietly murmered what sounded like " thanks" and hopped up on the roost. They have never been sick. My favorite whistles a quiet little song to me if I talk to her on her roost when they first go in, while she gently rocks back and forth. What's not to love?