Hurricane Florence blew over a tree on the chicken run, which allowed an entire family of raccoons to bypass the electric fence and quickly wipe out our flock of chickens. So now we have none, but may get some in the future, but we are in no hurry…
Our breeds were Blue Andalusians and Delawares.
As a little history lesson, Andalusian’s are an ancient and rugged breed of fowl, and while the Andalusian chicken’s history is not known, it is likely rooted in the Castilian chicken breed. In type, it resembles the Spanish chicken, but a pound lighter in weight. Like the other breeds of Mediterranean original it has white ear-lobes and lays a large number of white eggs.
Andalusian chickens stand high in productivity. It is one of the best layers of eggs, an excellent winter egg producer, has white flesh with plenty of breast meat – though the carcass is not very plump, it is an active forager, rugged and hardy. The chicks feather and mature quickly; cockerels will often begin crowing at seven weeks of age. The body type, more coarse than a Leghorn, is easy to produce and maintain.
The chief distinction on the Andalusian chicken breed is the blue color of its plumage. Each feather should be a clear bluish slate, distinctly laced with a dark blue or black. Blue colored fowls are produced as a result of crossing black fowls with white fowls. When two Blue Andalusians chickens are mated together 25% of the chicks will come black in plumage, 50% blue, and the remaining 25% white or splash (white with blue or black splashes).
5.5 – 7 lbs
Source: The Livestock Conservancy
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.
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.
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. They have moderately large combs and medium sized head and neck. Their body is moderately long, broad, and deep. The keel is also long, extending well to front at the breast and rear of the legs. The legs are well set apart and are large and muscular.
Large to Jumbo
5.5 – 7.5 lbs
Fast growth, can be eaten at any age
Source: The Livestock Conservancy