10 Things You Didn’t Know About Delaware Chickens

Delaware Chicken Featured Image
Delaware chickens are good layers and produce 200-250 eggs per year. They are a heritage chicken breed that is low maintenance, are very friendly and curious, have few health issues, and are usually only found in North America. 

They can be a great choice for a backyard flock and do well with families as a friendly backyard chicken.

Delaware Chickens are a predominantly white bird with pure white feathers over the majority of their body but they have speckled black hackles, wings, and tail feathers. Delaware chickens have a single comb with five points, and red wattles and earlobes.

While standard Delaware Chickens are a larger bird, they do come in bantam varieties as well.

Delaware chickens are a new breed and there are many things that people don’t know about them – read on to discover our top ten must-know facts about Delaware chickens.

1. Delaware Chickens were Originally Called Indian River Chickens

George Ellis developed this breed in the 1940s by crossing a New Hampshire hen with a Barred Plymouth Rock rooster and he initially named the breed Indian River chickens.

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In 1952 it was recognized by the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection and they were responsible for changing the name of the bird, to reflect where it came from: Delaware.

2. Delaware Chickens Were Nearly Extinct

While incredibly popular in the 1940s and 1950s, Delaware chickens were soon replaced with the Cornish Cross as the top broiler breed by the poultry industry. The birds weren’t well-known by backyard chicken owners and as they weren‘t being bred by large-scale factory farms, nearly became extinct.

Fortunately, there were a few dedicated breeders and fans of the breed, and with the help of the Livestock Conservancy, the breed still exists today.

3. Delaware Chickens are a Curious Breed

Delaware chickens are incredibly curious, excitable birds that love exploring their surroundings. They will often follow you to see what you are doing if you spend time outside, and leave no stone unturned in the exploration of their chicken run area and chicken coop.

Delaware Chickens in snow
Even in the coldest winters, Delawares still love exploring!

If you appreciate an inquisitive bird, Delaware chickens are one of the best breeds available.

4. Delaware Chickens are at the Top of the Pecking Order in Mixed Flocks

Both Delaware hens and roosters are assertive birds that typically won’t be picked on by other breeds. Their assertive nature and intelligence usually land them the top spot in the pecking order in mixed chicken flocks.

This isn’t to say that they bully other breeds. In general, they tend to get along with other chickens and do well in mixed flocks.

5. You Can Create Sex Linked Chicks with Delaware Hens

If you cross a Delaware Rooster with a Rhode Island Red hen, you can get sex-link Delaware chicks! Sex-link chicks are ones that you can separate by sex according to their coloring which can be quite useful.

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If you do decide to breed your hens, you should know that this breed rarely goes broody – they don’t enjoy sitting on their eggs so you may need an incubator. They also will require a standard size nesting box.

6. Delaware Chickens Love to Talk

Delaware chickens make excellent conversationalists. They are known to be highly vocal and chatter at one another and their human keepers regularly.

Luckily, the volume of their chatter is not excessive, so you can keep them safely in your backyard flock without neighbors complaining.

7. Delaware Chickens Love Gardens

Delaware chickens enjoy foraging and prefer a free-range lifestyle. They are larger birds and need a larger territory to be happy – especially if they have access to a garden!

Delaware Chicken in garden
This is where your Delaware chicken would prefer to be!

Delaware chickens are known to help their keepers with gardening chores, following them into the garden and sampling the low-hanging berries and vegetables. Delaware chickens are excellent taste testers and luckily almost always approve of what you’ve grown.

8. The Delaware Chicken was Bred to be a Broiler Breed

The Delaware chicken was originally created as a meat bird. As a broiler chicken in the 1940s and 50s, the poultry industry used them as the number one choice for meat production.

However, once Perdue (yes, the chicken company), created the Cornish Rock breed, the Delaware lost popularity as the Cornish Crosses produced a larger amount of meat in a quicker timeframe, which led to the Delaware being abandoned as a broiler.

9. Delaware Chickens are Dual-Purpose Birds

Even though Delaware chickens were bred for meat production, they are in fact a dual-purpose bird and an egg-laying breed that produces large brown eggs. Delaware pullets are decent egg layers and will produce 4 jumbo brown eggs per week on average, and over the course of a year, will produce 200-250 eggs.

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They are not typically used in egg production because there are other breeds that produce more eggs, but they still are useful in backyard chicken coops.

10. Delaware Roosters can be Overly Protective

Delaware roosters are incredibly strong and assertive, especially during the breeding season. Children should not handle cockerels or roosters during this time without supervision.

As Delaware roosters are protective over their flocks you will rarely lose a chicken to predators. You can count on the Delaware rooster to do his job, and do it well.

Delaware chickens are one of the better poultry breeds for families interested in raising chickens. Their friendly, docile temperament and being a dual-purpose breed make them ideal for beginners and experts alike.

Christina

A longtime resident of Southern California, Christina recently moved across the globe to Austria, where she bought land specifically to build a small house with room for a backyard chicken coop. Christina spent her childhood summers on a farm, raising and caring for a flock of hens owned by her grandparents, which prompted a lifelong love of chickens, and other farm animals. Christina is passionate about writing, having written hundreds of articles for well-known websites, and uses her English degree in service of her love for animal welfare, most recently taking on a writing position at Chicken Care Taker in 2022.

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