Delaware Chicken: From Broiler To Backyard Favorite

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The Delaware chicken is a delightful fusion of beauty and utility. This relatively new breed looks amazing with its striking white plumage adorned with black feathers. These calm and friendly birds offer both prolific egg production and meat value. Join us as we explore the fascinating characteristics of the Delaware chicken breed.

  • Delaware hens lay around 4 eggs weekly
  • Heritage breed with snowy white plumage
  • Known for their rapid growth
  • Originating in Delaware in the 1940’s
  • Great foragers
Eggs200 eggs yearly
Egg ColorBrown
Egg SizeLarge to jumbo
Weight5.5 – 7.5 lbs
HardinessCold & heat hardy
ColorWhite with black feathering


The Delaware chicken exhibits a distinctive appearance. These medium-sized birds have deep and broad bodies, giving them a robust and well-proportioned look. When viewed from the side, their bodies resemble an inverted triangle, with a noticeable “U” indentation in the back.

One of the defining features of the Delaware is its lovely white plumage, which serves as the base color. They also have black feathers around the neck and the tip of the tail, adding an elegant touch. Some black striations can also be seen on their backs, creating a visually appealing pattern.

Delaware chickens are known for their rapid growth and fast feathering. The breed matures relatively quickly, with cockerels filling out by 16 weeks of age. On the other hand, the hens excel as reliable egg layers, typically commencing production around 6 months.

a delaware chicken
Credits: @sugartopfarmllc (IG)

They have yellow skin with big yellow feet. You will find that they have a big single comb with 5 points standing upright. Bright red wattles, ear lobes, and comb contrast with their snow-white plumage. Delaware chickens have reddish bay eyes and yellow or red horn beaks. 

Egg Production

The Delaware chicken is known for its reliable egg production. While they are considered a dual-purpose breed, excelling in meat and egg production, their egg-laying capabilities are highly regarded.

On average, Delaware hens lay approximately around 200 eggs per year. This translates to an average of about 4 eggs per week. The eggs produced by Delawares are brown and large to jumbo in size. Their consistent egg production makes them a valuable asset for those seeking a reliable source of fresh eggs.

They are not particularly broody, however, opinions may differ on this subject. It’s not that likely for a Delaware to sit on eggs, but they are proven to be reliable mothers if they do.

a brown chicken egg

The combination of good egg production and desirable meat qualities makes the Delaware breed an attractive choice. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a steady supply of fresh eggs or aiming to raise chickens for both meat and eggs, the Delaware is sure to meet your needs.

Meat Production

One of the primary goals in developing the Delaware breed was to combine the meat value of Barred Plymouth Rocks with the egg-laying abilities of New Hampshire Reds. This crossbreeding aimed to create a chicken that excelled in both aspects, making Delawares a valuable dual-purpose breed.

While they may not grow as rapidly as some specialized broiler breeds, Delaware chickens still grow relatively fast and can be raised for meat with satisfying results.

It’s worth noting that the Delaware breed’s popularity in the broiler industry declined over time as the faster-growing Cornish Rock cross eventually replaced it. However, Delaware chickens continue to be popular for their meat value among small farmers and homesteaders.


Delaware Chicken is a calm and friendly bird, though it is not considered a they-would-jump-onto-your-lap kind of chicken. They love to follow their owners around and are good foragers.

They are communicative and are often heard chattering. They may engage in soft clucking or gentle vocalizations to express themselves. This verbal interaction adds to their endearing nature.

Despite their striking white plumage, Delaware chickens have an instinct for self-preservation. They possess an intrinsic awareness of predators and can be alert when necessary. This attribute contributes to their survival instincts and makes them suited for free-range environments.

They are not flighty birds, so high fences are not required to keep them inside the run. Being confined doesn’t bother them, though they enjoy exploring around.

Delaware Breed History

The Delaware has a fascinating history tracing back to its development in the 1940s. They were created by a poultry farmer named George Ellis in Delaware, United States. Ellis embarked on a breeding program to combine the desirable traits of two popular breeds: the New Hampshire Red and the Barred Plymouth Rock.

Ellis initially crossed Barred Plymouth Rock roosters with New Hampshire hens, resulting in a few off-colored “sports.” These sports were white chickens with black barring on their hackles, primary and secondary feathers, and tail. After that, Ellis focused on refining them.

He continued stabilizing the white and black birds’ characteristics through selective breeding. Over time, this effort led to the establishment of what eventually became known as the Delaware chicken breed. The breed was initially called the “Indian River” chicken, named after the region where Ellis resided.

The Delaware breed gained popularity in the poultry industry during the 1940s and 1950s and was primarily bred for the broiler industry.

For about two decades, the Delaware and Delaware/New Hampshire crosses were the preferred choice for broiler chickens. Their popularity, however, began to decline in the late 1950s with the emergence of the Cornish/Plymouth Rock crosses, which grew even faster.

In recent years, the Delaware breed has experienced a revival in interest. Modern farmers, particularly those who appreciate heritage and dual-purpose breeds, have rediscovered the Delaware chicken.

Today, the Delaware chicken continues to captivate poultry enthusiasts with its historical significance, striking appearance, sociable temperament, and balanced production qualities. But the breed remains on the ‘critical’ list and is quite uncommon.


The Delaware chicken is a dual-purpose breed developed in the 1940s in Delaware, USA. They have white plumage with black barring and are known for their friendly temperament.

Delawares are reliable egg layers that produce up to 200 brown eggs annually and offer satisfactory meat yields. Despite declining popularity, they are now gaining recognition among modern farmers. With their historical significance and versatile qualities, Delaware chickens are a fascinating choice for poultry enthusiasts.

Credits Featured Image: @valrayfarm (IG)

Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of 3rd generation chicken owners Kat, journalist, editor-in-chief, and Nick, working with illustrators and specialists in the field.