Lily is starting to develop her adult Delaware markings. She was buttercup yellow as a chick, and remains the daintiest of the four ladies. The Delaware breed is considered to be “critically endangered” , not because they are exotic, but because they fell by the commercial broiler production wayside. George Ellis developed the breed in 1940,  in, guess where – you got it.  He crossed Barred Plymouth Rocks with New Hampshires to culminate in a predominantly white chicken and initially gave the breed the name of Indian River. These chickens were prized by the broiler industry because white feathers do not leave marks on the skin when growing in, resulting in a more attractive appearance in a meat chicken.
Delaware hen

Delaware hen

By the late 1950s, the faster-growing Cornish x  Rock Cross replaced the Delaware as the preferred broiler breed, and the Delaware breed fell out of favor. According to an article on, there are fewer than 500 Delaware chickens remaining, qualifying them as “critically threatened”. I’m just a bit dubious about that, as it was no great challenge to acquire Lily – I just added her to my feed store order, so I’m not sure just how critical the threat really is. A North Carolina-based group called the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is focused on preserving 66 different breeds of old-fashioned chickens that face extinction due to the 90% market share of factory chickens. Their criteria for certified heritage chickens is that they “must breed naturally, be able to live and forage outdoors and not be genetically modified to grow abnormally large breasts”. Yes, this does bring Pamela Anderson to mind, but “genetically modified” does make me wonder if we should make the switch to outrageously expensive organic chicken for our table.

I didn’t realize that Lily was actually intended to be a meat chicken. No wonder she’s the most agitated of the group when we handle her! Fortunately, she will also lay what are described boutique farmers as “rich, nut-brown” eggs whose customers tell them “are the best they’ve eaten”. Four months and counting until we get the chance to find out…

Delaware eggs

Delaware eggs

Lily at 5 weeks

Lily at 5 weeks

Now I understand why people call their chickens "Fluffy Butts"!

Now I understand why people call their chickens "Fluffy Butts"!

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
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One Response to Lily

  1. Duke says:

    Enjoyed PPs up to the minute coverage of the girl’s adventures. Last night was their first in the coop, so we look forward to favorable reviews as they awake and pass judgement on their new home. There will be hell to pay if someone forgot to do the turndown service, did not fold the toilet paper properly (see Ref. Pamela Gilbert), or did not place two chocolates on each pillow. There are lifestyle maintenance issues to uphold, after all.

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