Originally Posted by emorems0
Delaware are supposed to be a good meat bird (that you could get eggs for)... I guess they were 'the' meat bird for a while before the cornish cross was developed. We have some that we want to eventually breed with the dark cornish for long term selective breeding, but they are supposed to be pretty good just as they are (no experience as mine are only ~8 weeks).
Right, the broiler industry was concentrated in the DelMarVa peninsula then and the Delaware was a key breed. It has since become fairly scarce. The other part of the old fashioned broiler hybrids was the New Hampshire, an enlarged version of the Rhode Island Red. My understanding is that a hybrid of those 2 was the "go to" bird for broiler houses before they were replaced by the Cornish / White Rock cross we have now.
The hatchery quality birds of both of these are just colored layers. It makes sense if you think about it, a hatchery must optimize for lots of normal sized eggs to produce their raw materials (hatching eggs). The current broilers are Cornish (not especially good layers) crossed to White Rocks (excellent layers) so they can produce eggs cheaply, but get the paternal genes for large breasts.
I have heritage New Hampshires that I am not going to continue breeding past this year and am looking for people to carry on with them, or just benefit from the genetics. I think this strain is inbred and become too weak for my taste, but the roos would be awesome sires over some Delaware or Rock hens. They are pretty boys too. I'll give away eggs if anyone wants to come get them.