Golden Deathlayer Chicken – Breed Profile & Facts
If you ask any ten chicken owners about their favorite breeds, you will probably get different answers. Chicken owners look for factors like egg color, temperament, hardiness, foraging ability, and egg production, among other factors, when picking breeds, so their preferences are sure to be diverse.
However, you will still hear a few familiar names like the Rhode Island Red, Brahma, Wyandotte, and Deathlayer, among the popular breeds for those looking for egg-laying birds.
You might wonder why the deathlayer is so-named. It is not because the bird dies after laying eggs but rather because of its ability to produce eggs until its death. This is undoubtedly great news for anyone looking for an endless supply of eggs.
There are two types of deathlayer chickens, including silver and golden. Before heading out to get a golden deathlayer chicken, here are some facts to help you avoid unpleasant surprises by making the right choice.
Where Do Golden Deathlayer Chickens Come From?
Deathlayer chickens are landrace varieties originating from Germany. This means that the breed is not specifically bred but developed genetic traits according to its environment. Initially, the breed was called Alltagsleger, meaning ‘every-day layer.’ This name did not entirely reflect the bird’s production, so it was changed to Totleger.
The current official name of deathlayer chickens is ‘Westfalische Totleger .’The name Totleger combines the German words Tot meaning dead, and Leger meaning layer. Westaflische means ‘from Westphalia’, a German region.
Nobody can ascertain how long golden deathlayer chickens have been around because they just ‘’appeared’’ like most landrace breeds. Nonetheless, they are estimated to be about 400 years old.
Deathlayers have been in the U.S since 2016, when the silver variety was imported from Greenfire Farms. Golden deathlayers were first imported into the U.S in 2019. Since then, their popularity has steadily grown owing to their stunning looks and high egg production.
How to Recognize a Deathlayer Chicken?
There are two deathlayer varieties, including the silver penciled and golden penciled. Both colors are stunning and will make eye-catching additions to your flock. Their eyes are black, while their rose combs are red to match the colors of their wattles. Owing to their origin in cold climates, the chickens have small tight combs that lower the risk of getting frostbites.
The black tail feathers of deathlayers also feature iridescent purples and greens that make the birds one of the most beautiful breeds around. The black feathers make a perfect contrast with its white cape feathers.
The breed has an erect stature that gives it a regal look. The legs of a deathlayer are blue-grey or slate, with each foot having four toes. Unlike silkies and Marans, deathlayers are clean-legged.
If you are on the market for a show chicken, a deathlayer might be an excellent place to start because of its stunning appearance. Since this chicken has not yet been seriously bred in the U.S as yet, you have a good chance of winning a few shows.
How Big Will Golden Deathlayer Chickens Grow?
Deathlayer roosters will grow to weights of five pounds (2.2kg) while the hens reach about four pounds (1.8kg). To ensure your chickens attain their mature weight, maintain their coop by ensuring it is safe from predators and has adequate lighting.
Furthermore, invest in quality feeds and vaccinate your flock against deadly diseases that will affect their weight gain. Experts recommend keeping a rooster to hen ratio of 1:12. Too many roosters mean that your hens will be mated too often and thus not gain weight as they should.
Are Golden Deathlayer Chickens Easy To Care For?
Deathlayers are quite hardy because of the adaptations they have undergone to survive in their natural environments. They are thus easy to care for. Owing to their high activity levels, you need enough room in your coop to ensure they can comfortably exercise.
You don’t need to do much except ensure your coop is draft-free in winter. The small comb of a deathlayer ensures it handles cold well.
Deathlayers tend to run away when someone they perceive as a threat gets too close. As such, it is advisable to socialize with them as soon as they hatch. If you do not, your deathlayer will find it challenging to trust humans and lower its egg production or fight back when anyone gets too close.
What to Feed Golden Deathlayer Chickens?
The best way to feed deathlayer chickens for the highest egg production is using a complete feed purchased from feed stores. This commercial feed will contain all nutrients needed for making healthy eggs.
The daily consumption of your chicken will depend on its activity level. Since deathlayer chickens are pretty active, you can expect them to feed more than other egg-laying breeds.
In cold weather, a deathlayer’s feed intake will increase to supply the energy it needs for the maintenance of an optimal body temperature. When your chickens start laying eggs, switch them to a layer feed that contains high amounts of calcium to facilitate the development of strong eggshells.
Your deathlayer’s diet should also include not less than 14% protein to guarantee sustained egg production.
Remember to include treats in your chickens’ diets to keep them happy. Some treats that will also boost egg production in deathlayers include cracked corn, scratch grains, scrambled eggs, watermelons, sunflower seeds, Japanese beetles, and mealworms.
What Kind Of Coop Do Golden Deathlayers Need?
Since deathlayers are very active, you need a floor space of at least four square feet per chicken to accommodate your flock comfortably. A good coop is one that is safe from adverse weather conditions and predators.
This means you should have spaces that are tight enough to keep out predators while allowing free air circulation in the summer and preventing cold drafts in the winter.
Ensure your deathlayer’s coop has a place for your chickens to sleep on and roost. A broken ladder or a broom handle can make a simple roosting place. Your chickens will lay the highest number of eggs when their coop is clean and comfortable.
For this, you can use straw or wood shavings to make bedding and litter on which your hens can lay eggs. These are also easy to clean and inexpensive to replace when they get soiled.
Deathlayers do not like enclosed spaces. As such, even if you have an indoor coop, have an open space in which your chicken can roam to ensure they are happy to maintain a consistent and decent rate of egg production.
What Health Problems Do Golden Deathlayers Have?
Though golden deathlayers are hardy, they are prone to most of the diseases that affect egg-laying birds. The common health issues you should be on the lookout for include egg peritonitis, rickets, egg drop syndrome, fatty liver syndrome, and caged layer fatigue. Taking optimal care of your chickens and investing in quality feeds will prevent these health issues.
All poultry diseases have been shown to directly affect egg production by affecting the reproductive system or indirectly by impacting your bird’s health. Bacterial conditions like salmonella, Escherichia coli, and mycoplasma have been shown to have a considerable effect on the egg production of deathlayers.
How Many Eggs Do Golden Deathlayers Lay?
Unlike most chicken breeds that lay eggs for 3-4 years, deathlayers will only stop laying eggs when they are almost dying. The chickens live for about ten years and start laying eggs at about eighteen weeks old. This means you will have an almost endless supply of eggs with this bird.
Golden deathlayers lay about 2-3 eggs weekly, and you can expect no less than 250 eggs from your bird annually. The eggs from these birds weigh 50-60g. Unlike other breeds, the egg quality of your birds will not fall as they age. This is why deathlayers are rarely slaughtered because of advancing age.
Can You Eat Golden Deathlayer Chicken Eggs?
One of the main questions you will have when rearing chickens is whether you can eat the eggs you harvest. After all, eggs are excellent sources of vitamin D, high-quality protein, good cholesterol, choline, and omega-three fats.
Thankfully, you can eat golden deathlayer eggs since they are highly nutritious and safe. They can also fetch you a tidy profit because they are of high quality and will thus attract clients. Owing to the high number of eggs produced by deathlayers, you can only keep a few chickens, and rest assured of enough eggs for your family.
Are Golden Deathlayer Chickens Good For Meat?
The golden deathlayer will often not be among your top choices when looking for broiler chicken. Though the breed can be used for meat, this rarely happens because of its high egg production, making slaughtering the bird a waste.
In most instances, the only deathlayers used for meat are roosters that have outlived their usefulness for breeding. The roosters grow to weights of five pounds that can be a decent size for your table.
How Long Do Golden Deathlayers Live?
When looking for egg-laying chickens, you want a breed that will live for a long time to assure you of as many eggs as possible. The golden deathlayer lives for around ten years.
Though this is almost the same lifespan as other layer chickens, this breed will lay quality eggs throughout its life, unlike most breeds. If you want the highest returns on investment in egg-laying chicken, the golden deathlayer should be among your first choices.
Are Golden Deathlayers Chickens Friendly?
When keeping chicken for egg production, you would want a friendly breed that does not chase or peck you when you come to pick the eggs. Unfortunately, deathlayers are shy chickens. This might be because they have not been domesticated for a long time and are not very used to interaction with humans.
Thankfully, deathlayers are not aggressive. You can slowly accustom them to human interaction starting when they hatch or are introduced into your flock. While they might not be as friendly as other chicken breeds, the slow adaptation to human interaction will reduce their shyness around you.
Can Golden Deathlayer Chickens Get Wet?
Yes, the feathers of golden deathlayers can get wet in the rain, but their bodies will often remain dry and warm under the feathers. Like all chickens, this breed will do fine in the rain though they are not waterfowls.
Before their domestication, chickens in the wild had to endure rainy days, so they developed instincts that would keep them safe. These instincts have endured in domestication. Nonetheless, in too much rain or excess cold, golden deathlayers are smart enough to seek shelter so that they do not get hypothermia.
How Much Do Golden Deathlayers Cost?
Deathlayer chickens are still rare breeds, having been introduced into the U.S recently. In 2013, their recorded population was 1353 hens and 301 cocks. This dropped to 798 hens and 176 cocks in 2016. Besides their rarity, you are assured of high returns with the many quality eggs you will get from deathlayers.
These elements make golden deathlayers more expensive than other egg-laying breeds. Though prices vary among countries, you will pay $25-$100 for a day-old chick. If you choose to buy a hatching egg, this will cost you about $15, depending on its source.
Thankfully, if you get a good breeding pair of golden deathlayers for your flock, you can get a large flock for years.
You can no longer be sure about the quality of the eggs you buy at stores. With the above information to guide you, you can confidently invest in a golden deathlayer for an almost endless supply of eggs for your table.
The eggs can also generate some much-needed extra income for your household and chicken meat when the deathlayers get to their end of life. Moreover, with a deathlayer flock, you will be contributing to the preservation of this egg-laying breed that was classified as ‘endangered’ in 2016.
Be sure to get your golden deathlayer from a reputable breeder to guarantee its optimal health.