Delawares?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mdoerge, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. mdoerge

    mdoerge Out Of The Brooder

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    I am looking to add to my chicken family (a real shocker to all of you chicken people!). I have Golden Buffs and a Black Star (all pullets I was told). I would like to have a rooster and a couple of broody hens in order to raise my own chicks. I was looking through the Meyer catalog (I live about 40 minutes from them) and thought the Delaware breed might be a good choice - large eggs, good production, broody, etc. However, I don't know anything about their personalities. Those of you that have Delawares, what is your opinion? Does anyone have any other suggestions? Thanks! [​IMG]
     
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Hatchery Delawares vary widely in temperament. I've had some terrors! I am now hatching eggs of real heritage Delawares from a breeder, from terrific lines. Their temperament is what the breed is supposed to be, not what some have encountered with aggressive birds.
     
  3. seriousbill

    seriousbill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Speckledhen is pretty much right. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy describes the Delaware breed as having "a calm and friendly disposition." But that breed description applies to the old-time heritage birds that are very rare in this country with only about 500 breeding birds known in existence:
    http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/delaware.html

    If you buy from a hatchery, you're less likely to get birds that line up perfectly with that breed description. Now, of course, individual birds are always going to vary in temperament, and several people on this board swear by their hatchery Dels. I myself have had breeder birds that were more friendly than others. So, not all breeder birds are sweethearts and not all hatchery birds are little monsters. But, with that said, in my experience, hatchery Delawares' temperaments are much more unpredictable overall. And heritage Dels are generally more calm and laid-back.

    Regarding Meyer birds: I've actually heard a couple of people say some good things about Meyer hatchery's strain of Dels. They are apparently very good layers (I don't know about the broodiness in that strain, though. Maybe someone else can chime in on that. I'd expect them to be less broody than a non-hatchery strain).
     
  4. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    This is from the ALC website:

    Delaware Chicken
    Delawares, originally called "Indian Rivers," were developed by George Ellis of Delaware in 1940 and were used for the production of broilers. The breed originated from crosses of Barred Plymouth Rock roosters and New Hampshire hens. A few off-colored sports were produced that were almost white with black barring on the hackles, primaries, secondaries, and tail. This coloration is very similar to the Colombian color pattern, but with the barring substituting for the black sections. For about twenty years the Delaware and the Delaware x New Hampshire cross were the most popular broiler chickens on the Delmarva Peninsula, because of the Delaware’s ability to produce offspring with predominately white feathering. This is an advantage for carcass appearance since white feathers don’t leave dark spots on the skin when feathers are growing in. Both the Delaware and the Delaware x New Hampshire were replaced in the late 1950's by the Cornish x Rock cross (solid white) that has come to dominate the industry.

    Though its economic dominance was short lived, the Delaware still makes an excellent dual-purpose bird. It has well-developed egg and meat qualities, and a calm and friendly disposition. The breed is noted for rapid growth and fast feathering of the chicks. Cocks grow to 8 pounds and hens to 6 pounds.

    Delaware males may be mated to New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red females and produce chicks of the Delaware color pattern. Delaware females mated to New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red males produced sex-linked offspring; the males having the Delaware color pattern and the females having the solid red color of the sires. Chicks from this second cross can even be sexed by their down color when hatched.


    I suspect the "mean-ness" people complain about is what in the old days was called "hybrid vigor." Dels are a relatively new hybrid, just a few decades old. Call it unsettled, if you will, with variation among strains likely. Me, I like a bowler bird, one that is rough and tumble.

    One mans 'calm disposition' is another's 'mean-a**' chicken.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2008
  5. mdoerge

    mdoerge Out Of The Brooder

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    I appreciate the feedback. I have four kids, so a good disposition is high on my list. Does anyone have any suggestions about a breed that would be a better choice?
     
  6. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Quote:Australorps, if eggs are what you are after.
     
  7. seriousbill

    seriousbill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I'd take issue with the term "hybrid" being applied to Delawares. Sure, they were originally developed as a hybrid of New Hamps and Rocks, but they've been a recognized true-breeding APA breed since 1952. That's over half a century. So, while I get what you're saying, Dave, since some newbie folks don't realize that Dels aren't a hybrid outright, I tend to avoid that characterization.

    Also, I'd take issue with the strains and variation theory. Y'see, most of the Delawares in this country nearly died out in the 70's and 80's, with only a couple of very highly inbred strains left to keep the breed going. I get this info from a couple of poultry scientists that used to post on another board: D. Caveny and R. Okimoto. I know from them that at least one university was using a line of Dels to study genetic problems. So, as far as variation and vigor, you couldn't pick a less likely candidate than heritage Delawares. Hatchery Delawares are indeed likely candidates for this characterization because they've often been outcrossed for exactly that hybrid vigor, usually to production reds, since it's really easy to produce the Delaware color pattern by breeding a Del male over a genetically "gold" female, as the ALBC description indicates.
     
  8. mdoerge

    mdoerge Out Of The Brooder

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    Okay - I'm really new to this [​IMG] Are "Hamps" New Hampshire Reds? How about "Rocks" - Are you referring to Barred Plymouth Rocks, Partridge Plymouth Rocks, White Plymouth Rocks (I'm looking through my catalog) or others? The blurb in the catalog says that they are broody "infrequently." Is that not correct?
    Davaroo - I am looking for eggs. Do the Australorps have a good disposition?
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2008
  9. seriousbill

    seriousbill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Sorry about that. Yes, New Hamps are New Hampshire Reds and the Rocks I was referring to were Barred Plymouth Rocks. These are the birds that originally went into the Delaware breed.

    I'd suspect that hatchery Delawares would be broody infrequently. My Delawares are broody frequently. Very frequently.
     
  10. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Quote:Well I'll be the first to admit that breeds and "breedology" is a little weak on my slate. I defer to you and your comments. I would think from what I can gather and your comments that hatchery Dels are the culprit. Ive always thought it odd to label them aggressive when you consider the lines that went into them, originally. Thanks for that.
     

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