Leslie, that is a good looking group of birds. I would be happy to be working with them. You guys are doing well with them. Watch the feathering.
The discussion of productivity goes round and round. It is simple. They have it or do not have it. In other words, they are improved, or they have not been improved. Then it is a use it or lose it game. If you are not literally pushing them to a better place, they are falling back to their unimproved state. The natural current is always towards mediocrity. If you allow them, that is where they will drift. Guaranteed. If you are not pushing them, they are going backwards. The tendency is to drift back to their origins as jungle fowl. That is pretty simple I think. It is simply use it or lose it.
There are no magic selection points to make birds more productive like feathering etc. All of that stuff is wives' tails. What we have learned along the way is the most direct points of selection are the most sure and certain points of selection. Concerning eggs, you count eggs. That is pretty simple, but that is the most direct selection point. Then you cull eggs etc. For flesh, it is quality of carcass in young age groups. Again that is pretty simple. The numbers do not lie. There are other points of selection to keep in mind. They are the sum of their parts, but it is not complicated. It is simply a seasonal rhythm of measurable.
Breeding them is another matter and subject.
The truth is that we enjoy chatting about our birds being productive or not, but we are rarely interested in an intentional and intelligent effort to work in a positive direction. For many of us, it is all we can do to select for type and color. That is a lot on it's own, and we often outsource help for that.
If we are not breeding them to be more productive, or we cannot do it, we should leave the topic alone. We should simply say that I breed for type and color alone. That is an honest answer. It is not for everyone to do. We live in the year 2016. It is very rare to find someone that is actually breeding their birds along these lines. Many are interested, but not interested enough to actually go through the trouble to do it. There is no incentives to go through the trouble, and there is nothing wrong with that.
The Delaware breed has a could be/should be identity. Many are attracted to the breed because of the story, or what they were. What they were was a utility breed that never caught on in the exhibition circle. They were accepted, and they were a here today, gone tomorrow breed. They were a victim of their timing. They did not establish themselves among the Rocks and Reds. Much of what we have today is a color pattern, and a story. Personally, I am interested in the breed. Much of the interest for me in the beginning was their relation to the New Hampshire. It also works that I like the black tailed color varieties. Black Tail Red, Black Tail Buff, Black Tail White etc.
It will always be my opinion that the Delaware should be selected to be fast growers and good layers. More than many other breeds, because they were a utility breed at their core. That is my thinking, but that does not have to be for anyone else. We are in 2016.