There is a lack of Welsummers in the realm of backyard hens. This is unfortunate because, as you will see, they have many useful qualities for the suburban farmer.
Less than a century ago, in the Netherlands, a new breed of chicken was conceived and given birth to: the Orpington.
Surprisingly for an advertising “superstar,” they have more of a following in the UK and Australia than they do in the US.
You must surely recall Cornelius, the Kellogg’s rooster. To put it simply, he is a Welsummer rooster.
You may also want to read about the best chicken feed.
History of Welsummers
The Origins of the Welsummer Festival. Welsummers are a relatively new breed, having appeared on the scene a little less than a century ago.
It was developed as a multipurpose bird in the aftermath of World War 1 near the Dutch village of Welsum.
The Welsummer breed evolved from a cross between the standard Cochin, Wyandotte, Leghorn, Barnevelder, and Rhode Island Red chickens and a number of local Dutch landrace varieties.
However, opinions vary as to which populations contributed the most genetically; some point to the Croad Langshan, others to the Brahma, and still others to the Malay. Whether or not this was intentional, the resulting bird is quite hardy.
At its debut in 1921 at the Hagues’ World Poultry Congress, it was warmly received by the Dutch and other European poultry enthusiasts.
The first specimens were brought back to England in 1927 and then shipped to the United States in 1928.
As a means of furthering the development of the Dutch Welsummer breed, the Dutch Welsummer Breeders’ club was established that same year (1927).
As a tribute to the creation of this beautiful bird, the town of Welsum built a statue of it.
Appearance of Welsummers
It does the bird no justice to say that its feathers are patterned like a partridge. The pattern may be partridge, but it has an understated elegance that makes it very appealing.
The bulk of its body is a dark brown, and light brown/white feather shafts punctuate the otherwise uniform hue.
The feathers around the neck and nape are a rich golden brown, with darker brown shading that makes it look like a golden mantle. The rooster stands out from the flock because of how unique he is and how good-looking he is. His chestnut brown saddle and hackle feathers are unruly.
Shiny beetle green paints his sickles, under feathers, and chest. The Welsummer, which has only one comb, should have five points visible. Red coloring is preferred for the comb, wattles, and earlobes.
Their beak is short and horn- or black-colored. The bird’s skin is yellow, and its legs and feet are bare. Each foot has four individual toes.
The color of the eyes is a deep reddish bay. It has a broad chest, a long, flat back, and an erect posture; it is a strong bird. Each bird is about the same size, with the hen coming in at around 6 pounds and the rooster at 7 pounds.
Egg Laying and Broodiness
The average annual egg production can range from 160 to 250 eggs, depending on the source. An increased number of eggs laid per year is usually indicative of a less “pure” bird.
Their output typically decreases or ceases entirely during the winter months before resuming in the spring.
Through their productive years, my Welsummers have averaged about four eggs per week. The beauty of the eggs lies not in their abundance but in their exquisite design.
The ideal color for the eggs is a deep, earthy terra cotta brown, perhaps with a few black specks. If you aren’t careful when cleaning the eggs, you’ll end up with finger prints instead of the beautiful egg color.
As far as anyone can tell, they aren’t particularly caring mothers or even broody. Use your most capable broody if you really want to hatch some.
They are autosexing, which means you can tell the sexes of the chicks immediately after they hatch.
What Do You Think of the Welsummer?
If you’re looking for speckled terra cotta eggs, the Welsummer is the chicken for you. It was originally bred as a multi-purpose hen, so it matures to a healthy weight.
If given the chance, they will supplement their feed with tasty garden morsels, placing them among the top ten best foragers.
They can handle being caged for a while, but would rather be free. When given the chance to forage on their own, these birds become extremely self-sufficient.
Friendly, but not a lap chicken; they’ll still tolerate being picked up. If they think you have treats, they will follow you everywhere you go.