UPDATE ON 6/14/22: We no longer carry this breed due to problems with their legs caused by generations of systemic inbreeding since their importation to the US. With such a small gene pool to work with, this breed, in my personal opinion, is not healthy and should be crossed with a similar breed then bred back to SOP. This is not a project I’m willing nor interested in undertaking. Instead, we have selected three autosexing breeds with an ultimate goal of comparing them via hard data to offer a clear picture of each breed. This will allow us to inform our customers of which autosexing breed is right for their flock type. Many of our customers keep small, backyard flocks, whereas others purchase birds for egg production. Over the years we have been asked if we sell dual purpose and meat breeds, which we have not. But we will be offering them in spring 2023.
Our new breed for 2022 is growing out and I’m obsessed!
I can’t wait to see this cockerel grow into a regal rooster when his iridescent green-checked tail plumage comes in. Deathlayer chickens are easy to sex relatively young given the rooster’s brilliant red distinctive spiked rose type comb and the pullets’ complete lack of comb. Instead of a comb, the pullets have a teeny point coming off the top of their adorable heads which is a very pale peach.
As I have researched, Deathlayer chickens’ intriguing and mysterious name stems from the hen’s seemingly magical ability to consistently lay an incredible amount of pure white eggs. From everything I’ve read, a Deathlayer hen will lay an egg a day until they die. This is amazing considering most chicken breeds will lay eggs consistently for three to four years then taper off with age.
This will be our first production-based breed offered here on our farm. We have focused on fancy breeds and colorful egg layers until now.
Of course, there is a more boring originating breed name: Westfalische Totleger. WAY less fun to say than Deathlayer chickens though. If you can say it at all that is. I hope no one ever asks me to in person…
If you haven’t heard of them, it’s because Deathlayer chickens are extremely rare which can make finding them difficult. They have only recently landed in the US. In their native country of Germany, according to Greenfire Farms, the originating US importer of this breed, “[a] recent census in Germany put the total registered population at about 1,500 birds”. There are two colors of Deathlayer chickens, golden and silver. I like the looks of the silvers much better so decided to go with them.
deathlayer chicks are the most lovely mix of rusty brown, tan, cream and black with chipmunk-like striped markings. This breed tends to be more wild than most which makes them easily startled and less friendly if not handled often when young. Treats, consistent handling and making slower movements around them is key while raising these beauties to adulthood.
Now up here in the Maine climate I’m putting the deathlayer chickens prolific egg-laying abilities to the ultimate test. Our other breeds, especially our polish, have stopped laying for weeks at a time around the coldest part of winter in Jan-Feb.
Deathlayer Chickens Have Special Diet Needs for High Egg Production Especially in Cold Climates:
Given the amount of protein that goes into making an egg everyday and the stress on their body to stay worm in cold conditions, a high protein diet with ample amount of fat should be considered specifically in cooler climates. Mealworms and black oil sunflower seeds are great supplements for daily treats or even mixed in with their feed. I have kept lard from processing pigs and mixed it with scratch grain for homemade suet in the past. It worked great, was easy to mix when the lard was melted down and stored in 5-gallon buckets over the winter. Most grocery stores and local butchers toss their scraps and could be easily acquired.
With the amount of calcium that goes into shell production, be sure to add oyster shell to their feed regularly. For the winter here, I plan to use game bird high protein grower crumble mixed with layer crumble half and half.