Welbars - Breed thread and discussion

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by dheltzel, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    4,161
    702
    261
    Nov 30, 2013
    Pottstown, PA
    Every breed needs it's own message thread, right? Even if it is still rare.

    Welbars were created in the UK in the early 40's as part of the autosexing chicken "craze". They lend themselves very well to that, being one of the easier paths to clearly sexable chicks. Originally intended as a utility breed like Rhodebars and Legbars, they fell out of favor even in the UK, but apparently a small number of breeders have been keeping them from going extinct.

    There are a few pages devoted to Welbars. The best I have found in hours of research is this one: http://www.harislau.info/welbars

    I have spent the last 3 years recreating this breed from the original genetic "recipe". Welbars are often used as an example of how an autosexing breed is created, but they have never been imported to the US (that I have been able to find).

    Here are some pictures from my flock:

    A major concern with any chicken is the eggs they lay. This is a comparison of Welbars, Welsummers and Copper Marans, all gathered directly from my flocks.
    Of these 3 breeds, my Welbars are clearly laying the most eggs per hen.
    [​IMG]
    One of my Welbar pullets
    [​IMG]

    Flock of Welbars, expecting a treat, not a photo op!
    [​IMG]

    Pair of Welbar chicks, showing how easily they are sexed (female on left).
    [​IMG]
     
    worldbiker likes this.
  2. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    The Welbar is unfamiliar to me, but your images look fantastic.

    One question...the egg in the center of the bottom row does not look as appealing as the others. Is it an image issue, or a dirty egg?
     
  3. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    4,161
    702
    261
    Nov 30, 2013
    Pottstown, PA
    [​IMG] It's just dirty. The middle vertical row are Welsummers, the left are Welbars and the right are Copper Marans (you can see an M on one of those). These are just best colored eggs I could find from a single week's collection (before loading them into the incubator). I have never been able to tell the eggs apart from these 3 breeds, so I have to mark them. I can hatch the Marans with either of the others because the chick down is different, but I have to hatch the Welsummers and Welbars in separate baskets and keep them in separate brooders because they look identical for the first couple of weeks.

    I was so pleased to find the Welbar eggs kept the dark color of the Welsummers. I really expected to lose that when I did the initial cross to a Barred Rock hen.
     
  4. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just spent the last few hours reading and re-reading that website. Yeah, you weren't kidding, awesome information, really inspiring.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
  5. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    When did you start your Welbar project?
     
  6. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    4,161
    702
    261
    Nov 30, 2013
    Pottstown, PA
    I bought some Welsummer eggs in March of 2014 and the guy I got them from had a barred rock hen in the flock, so I hatched some of those black sexlinks. I kept a roo and bred him to a Welsummer pullet that fall. Those chicks grew out and I selected the brown barred offspring to breed together in the spring of 2015. I also bred back to Welsummer pullets in that generation and kept the barred pullets from that and a double barred cockeral. Those are my main breeders now, but the first of their offspring at POL now as well, so I have 2 breeding groups.

    The original barred rock was hatchery stock and the progeny seem more productive as a result of using her instead of heritage BR stock. I only cared about the barring, not the rock "type" anyway. As a side effect, some silver birds have popped up since the BR is silver based (normal Welsummers are gold of course). The silver being completely dominant is harder to fix, but that is my next project - Silver Welbars. The one silver Welbar hen I had was quite pretty, but never laid an egg as far as I could tell, so I sold her as a pet. I have another one or 2 growing out now, hoping for more success with that this time.
     
  7. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    That is so fricken cool

    So after a few years now...how is their (Welbars) rate of lay compared to the Welsummer?

    And how is the Welbars temperament compared to both the Barred Rock and the Welsummer?

    I hope I'm not being a bother...but this is pretty interesting to me.

    I have never ever heard of a breed/strain of poultry that can be created in a few short generations. That totally enthralls my imagination. Couple that with the fact that the Welbars have such eye appeal...yeah, very cool.

    Edited: What are the parent stock and genetics to create the Silver Welbar?

    Wow...what a fun research project this has become....
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2016
  8. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    4,161
    702
    261
    Nov 30, 2013
    Pottstown, PA
    I believe my flock of Welsummers are perhaps inbred and not representative if the breed as a whole, but I often get more eggs from my pen of 7 Welbars than my pen of 18 Welsummers. My Welsummers are pretty "chill" overall (because I give them treats, they see my appearance as a potential positive experience), the Welbars are at least as calm, if anything a little better. I don't keep any rocks, but I think their demeanor can vary a lot between strains. They are heavier birds than Welsummers and I expect a mean rock could hurt you more than a mean Welsummer (never had a mean one, but have heard stories from others). Not surprisingly, Welbars are between rocks and Welsummers in their weight (and probably their rate of lay). My long term goal with the Welbars is to get them more like a Welsummer in size by crossing them to any strains of high quality Welsummers I can obtain ("high quality" meaning highly productive layers of dark eggs).

    I love the classic "pheasant look" of a Welsummer hen, and a well groomed Welsummer cock is the prettiest chicken ever, but that is the only thing that I see as an advantage of Welsummers over Welbars. In every other way, I like my Welbars better than the Welsummers. I think Welbars are quite pretty of course, especially the pullets. I describe them as patterned like a Welsummer, but messier because the white barring breaks up the crisp pattern of a Welsummer.
     
  9. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yes the coloring of the Welsummer appeals to me as well. I have a small flock of 6 Welsummer pullets. They are much more active than my Barred Rocks.

    You have really struck a nerve with me on this subject...all the breeds involved are breeds that appeal to me. I really like the Welsummer, and I enjoy my Barred Rocks...one of my favorites.
     
  10. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps


    It would be fairly strait forward to select for dual purpose with all these breeds, early feathering, weight at 5-8 weeks, date of first lay, apply Hogan system in late October early November for those birds that are your best...more productive layers.

    Another point that is appealing...the Welbars can be used to transfer traits for breed improvement into the Welsummers. A great strain of Barred Rocks could be used to improve the Welbars and eventually improve the Welsummers...what a cool project.


    Right now I'm trying to find the genetic pathways needed to create the Silver Welbar.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by