Hatchery Delaware ?? and white egg x brown egg ??

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by fatcatx, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. fatcatx

    fatcatx Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have an egg/breeding related question I hope someone can answer - just to satisfy my curiousity and learn a little more genetics.

    We have a hatchery Delaware. (Delaware thread already warned me she wouldn't look anything like the heritage standard. [​IMG]) Curious what breed(s) would have likely been used in her background because she has a big ol' floppy comb. I immediately thought a leghorn, but the threads I already read that a leghorn over a brown egg layer would produce a light brown egg (brown being dominant). Hers are a darker brown, tinted terra cotta and sometimes speckled. What breeds are usually used to create these "faux Delawares"? Any reason why my eggs would be on the darker side of brown or just luck of the genetic draw?
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    50 or 60 years ago Delaware were bred as meat birds. A claim to fame was that certain strains of Delaware chicks could reach 4 pounds at 10 weeks on a meat bird diet. But that was 50 to 60 years ago. The Cornish Cross, Cornish X, broilers, whatever you wish to call them, were developed by selective breeding to fill that marketing niche and people stopped selectively breeding Delaware for meat birds.

    If the person selecting which birds are allowed to breed does not enhance certain traits, pretty soon those birds lose that trait. You can take grand prize championship winning chickens of any breed and breed their offspring for a few generations. If the person selecting the breeders doesn’t know what they are doing, it doesn’t take many generations for you to have no better than hatchery quality chickens. Breeding to get to show quality chickens is fairly hard depending on what stock you start with. Once you get to show quality chickens and really restrict the genetic diversity, it’s not that hard to stay there if you know what you are doing, but the best breeders rarely hatch out better than 1 in 5 as show quality. The rest are not of high enough show quality. They do have techniques like spiral breeding to help maintain genic diversity. What they do is not always easy.

    All that is with breeders carefully selecting which male is paired with which female. They may even have one line that produces male show birds and a separate line that produces females, or maybe specialize in one or the other. Hatcheries work differently. They generally use the pen breeding system to maintain genetic diversity. That’s where 20 roosters may be in a pen with 200 hens with matings occurring randomly. No matter how well the person selecting the breeders does, you are just not going to get the show quality traits out of this breeding method a breeder breeding for show will. The ability of the person selecting the breeders is going to vary from hatchery to hatchery, as well as they will have different goals. Hatcheries are not out to produce show quality birds. They are out to mass produce chickens for the backyard flock enthusiast. Their prices reflect this.

    What chicken breeds are in the background of your hatchery Delaware? Each hatchery has its own management plan and they are managed by different people, but probably Delaware and nothing else. It’s just through the pen breeding program that they have varied that much from the original Delaware.

    Something else to consider. What were the original Delaware? They were originally developed as a meat bird for the market. The traits they were looking for were traits that enhanced profitability for the carcass. Things like rate of weight gain per pound of feed, conformation, skin color, feather color, takes confinement well, things that made them a better meat bird were important. How important was eye color or the size and shape of the comb? Do they add any value to the carcass at the grocery store?

    Eventually people decided they wanted to compete against each other in breeding and showing Delaware. Somehow they determined what made a perfect Delaware, basing it on the meat birds but adding refinements such as shape of the head, eye color, exactly what the comb and wattles should look like, weight (not rate of growth or efficiency of converting feed to meat, but just weight), exact shade and pattern of the different feathers, things like that. They also put in things that a judge won’t see, like egg color.

    Then you have the difference in breeders. Some are breeding purely for show. The only things they are selecting for are the traits the judge will see. Comb would be important to them but the judge will never see an egg to judge its color.

    Some breed for show but also for the traits the judge won’t see like egg color and personality in the flock. These are often considered the true heritage breed breeders, breeding to the SOP not only for show but for all the traits the breed should have. These are extremely rare.

    In short, don’t expect a show quality bird from a hatchery. They may on rare occasions produce one but it is pure blind luck with the pen breeding method. That’s not the business they are in. And don’t expect true heritage birds from most breeders. They are producing show birds, which are different. You will get real pretty birds but don’t be shocked if some of the traits a judge doesn’t see don’t measure up to your expectations.
  3. fatcatx

    fatcatx Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you very much for the reply. My main curiosity is the dark color of her eggs vs. the big floppy leghorn-like comb she has which seemed to contradict each other. So it seems from your info is that she possibly has plenty of Delaware in her (hence the dark eggs) but since her lineage was not bred to conform to the standard she has the ridiculously big comb. Hope I got that right.

    Despite the fact she looks like a pudgy leghorn with Delaware markings, we enjoy her immensely. She is quite the character and so far is a fantastic layer.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I think she could easily have leghorn in the background, just not in the most recent generation. I don't think it would take many crosses to get the darker color egg, but still keep the large comb.

    Do you have a picture of her?
  5. fatcatx

    fatcatx Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here is what she looks like - there's that flopped over comb that has me wondering if Grandpa was a leghorn. . .

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