Scroll Down for information on the Welsummer
Recognised by The Poultry Club in 1948
Mr H R S Humphrey
Gold & Silver Duckwing Welsumer male
Barred Plymouth Rock hens
Soft Feather Light Breed
Cock - 20mm (PCGB F20)
Hen - 18mm (PCGB E18)
160 - 200
Terracotta to Chocolate - matt preferred
The Welbar is now a very rare and largely forgotten breed: it is one of a group of breeds known as 'Autosexing Breeds' created in Great Britain shortly before, and during the early years of, World War II. During the late 1920's Professor Reg Punnett had studied sex linkage in poultry and realised the practical use that could be made of the knowledge he obtained. Punnett and his team at Cambridge created several Autosexing breeds and elsewhere in Britain, and indeed in the rest of the World, other universities and individual breeders worked on the creation of other autosexing breeds.
In 1943 the Autosexing Breeds Association was formed demonstrating the interest in, and commercial importance of, the breeds. However in less than 25 years the ABA was disbanded when interest in the breeds plummeted as modern commercial hybrids replaced the use of pure breeds . The commercial hybrids were designed for the intensive farming methods which had became the norm; the traditional breeds and the Autosexing breeds were ill suited to intensive farming methods being more suited to the free range conditions and outdoor life for which they had been bred.
In poultry the 'barred' pattern is sex-linked, the cockerels have two sex chromosomes and the pullets only one, chicks of a barred breed have a light patch on the top of the head when they hatch, and in chicks with black down both sexes are very similar. When the barring is combined with brown colouring however the light spot on the head of the pullets is either very small and well defined or non-existant, and in addition there is a very clearly defined darker 'stripe' down the body. In the cockerels the light patch covers most of the head, the down is much paler and there is only a very blurred indistinct body stripe.
Showing dark head and dorsal stripe
Showing white headspot & absence of defined dark stripe
The Welbar was created near Lustleigh in Devon by Mr H R S Humphrey, an independent breeder, who in 1942 mated Welsummer cocks to Barred Rock hens and set out to create autosexing Welsummers. He used both Gold (the typical colour in the breed) and Silver Duckwing Welsummers and by 1946 had achieved his aim to such a degree that he was able to exhibit both birds and eggs of his new breed. In 1948, just 6 years after the initial cross, the Poultry Club of Great Britain recognised the breed and approved a Breed Standard for both the Gold and the Silver Welbar. At the same time as developing the Welbar Mr Humphrey was also working on the creation of an autosexing duck and was responsible for the development of the Dark Campbell, standardised in 1954, which when mated to White Campbell resulted in sex-linked ducklings.
The creation of the Welbar is outlined in the following chart:
The Welbar was created purely as a utility variety and Mr Humphrey would have preferred them to be a 'variety' of the Welsummer rather than a separate breed: they were bred as a commercially viable autosexing Welsummer, capable of laying large quantities of large dark brown eggs. The Gold Welbar is usually referred to simply as the 'Welbar', the Silver Welbar no longer seems to exist.
The Welbar is defined by the Poultry Club of Great Britain as being a Soft Feather Light Breed and is classified as a Rare Breed. The average mature cock weighing 7½lb and the hen 6lb. They are upright, active birds with the typical deep, wide abdomen of the laying breeds. The cock is a handsome bird with cream and grey barred feathers. It is an upright bird, the tail is large, full and held high. They have a medium sized single comb which is firm and upright. The cock has a cape of abundant hackles and a long, slender neck.
Welbar Pullets - 2001
In colour the cock is predominantly pale gold with black barring, however there is rich gold colouring in the neck and saddle hackles, and some degree of hot chestnut in the back and wing coverts; all told he is a very attractive chap, though not quite as 'flashy' as his richly coloured Welsummer cousin.
The hens are very similar to the Welsummer hen, but overall just a little paler in colour with a lovely salmon coloured breast. The Welbar is capable of laying a deep rich brown egg equivalent to those of the Welsummer.It is a known fact that the Welsummers laying the darkest eggs are not the most prolific layers, and because productivity is such an important factor in the Welbar a balance between depth of colour and productivity has to be reached. The best Welbars should lay 200+ eggs per year.
Welbar Eggs - 2001
The Welbar was created solely as a free range, commercially viable, utility breed and selection should be primarily for egg colour, size and productivity; with feather quality, colour, comb, type and carriage being of secondary importance. It cannot be overstressed that the Welbar is a Utility breed and it is of the utmost importance that the productive qualities are preserved and enhanced - otherwise these is little purpose keeping the breed. It is not known whether the Welbars available today are descended from the 'Lustleigh' strain, or are the result of another cross, HOWEVER due to the lack of interest in the breed more recent crosses seem unlikely. The 'Lustleigh' strain was bred until the early 1960's and therefore it is highly likely that the present day birds are direct descendants of Mr Humphrey's initial cross in 1942 - I like to think this is the case!
When I first tried to obtain some Welbars I had great difficulty sourcing any stock, they were as scarce as hen's teeth! Over a period of several years I managed to obtain stock from 4 different sources - the majority from very small breeding pens. After three years one strain was eliminated because it was rife with vices (serious cannibalism and egg eating), the eggs were small and shaped like 'bullets', additionally they were a very poor colour! Another strain was eliminated at the same time because it laid very small quantities of very small pale eggs.
Of the other two strains I had obtained one had very poor fertility, but the hens laid eggs of very good size and shape and in good numbers, though the eggs were a matt milk coffee colour with small dark spots. I crossed these with the Welsummers I had and produced birds of excellent fertility which laid a good size egg of much better colour. The other strain were much heavier in type and were good layers of a reasonable coloured egg.
These two strains were then crossed and the outcome was highly satisfactory - large eggs of much improved colour size and shape, excellent autosexing, and generally well worth their keep. I then bought some Welsummer pullets from Geoffrey Johnson whose strain was noted for laying large dark brown eggs; and though the Welbar pullets from this cross laid much better coloured eggs, their productivity was reduced .... after several generations the productivity increased but colour declined so time to back cross to the Welsummer!
For this purpose I travelled to Scotland to collect 40 hatching eggs from the Rev.Edward Lobb's outstanding strain, which he describes as "Exhibition/Utility" and look forward to seeing an improvement in my Welbars over the next few years. The Rev.Lobb's Welsummers have been consistent winners, both birds and eggs, for many years and have been selected for productivity as well as show qualities, it is interesting to note that his father bred and showed Welsummer eggs back in the early 1930's and was one of the pioneer breeders of the Welsummer in the UK.
The originator of the Welbar had wanted his 'Lustleigh' birds to be classified as a division of the Welsummer and not a separate breed, he considered that they were only a Welsummer with the addition on one gene to enable autosexing for commercial purposes. The Welbar and Welsummer differ from one another by just the one gene and are therefore perfect partners. All pullets from the mating of a Welbar cock and Welsummer hens inherit ONE gene for B from their father and therefore are genetically Welbars - making a backcross so easy!
Mating a Welsummer cock to Welbar hens is also possible, but in this instance the first generation will produce no Welbars, however by selecting a male heterozygote (B/b+) from amongst the offspring and mating him to Welbar hens Welbars of both sexes will be produced.
It is therefore much easier to mate out to Welsummer hens than to use a Welsummer cock, additionally you have the advantage of knowing the egg quality of the Welsummer hens used in the cross. From experience I believe that outcrossing to Welsummer hens is essential every two or three generations in order to increase vitality and to maintain the same body type and characteristics as the Welsummer: only in this way can egg colour, size and shape be maintained, or improved.
The Welsummer is a popular breed and so there is no difficulty obtaining stock, however the problem is sourcing Utility Welsummers which have high productivity AND lay an excellent dark matt egg - there is little point crossing to a strain of Welsummers which has poor productivity! The whole aim of backcrossing to the Welsummer is to improve the egg colour, I have made several backcrosses to various strains of Welsummer but have produced only a few hens laying matt brown eggs and have to date never bred one with egg quality to equal the Welsummer ... but one day ........
The Poultry Club of Great Britain
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Carriage : Upright, alert and active.
Type : Body well built on good constitutional lines. Back broad and long. Breast full,well rounded and broad. Wings moderately long, carried close to the side. Tail fairly large and full, carried high, but not squirrel. Abdomen long, deep and wide.
Head : Refined. Beak strong, short and deep. Eyes large, bright. Comb single, medium size, firm and upright, free from any twists or excess, clear of the nostrils, fine texture, five to seven broad and even serrations, the back following closely, but not touching line of the skull and neck. Face smooth and without overhanging eyebrows. Ear-lobes small and almond shaped. Wattles of medium size, fine texture, close together.
Neck : Fairly long, slender at the top, finishing with abundant hackle
Legs and feet : Thighs to show clear of the body. Shanks of medium length and bone, well set apart, free from feathers with soft sinews and free from coarseness.
Plumage : Tight, silky, free from excess or coarseness and free from bagginess at the thighs.
Handling : Compact, firm and neat in bone throughout.
The general characteristics are similar to those of the male, allowing for the natural sexual differences.
Male plumage : Head silver. Hackles silver, black ticking permissible. Back, shoulders, covers and wing bow silver. Wings coverts (or bar) black barred; primaries and secondaries, inner web black barred, outer web silver. Tail black barred. Breast black barred with silver mottling.
Female plumage : Head and hackle silver with black striping barred with white. Breast salmon. Back and wing bow and bar, light grey, faintly barred, free from salmon smudges. Primaries and secondaries, outer web silver, coarsely stippled with dark grey, inner web dark and faintly barred. Tail dark grey and faintly barred.
Male plumage : Head gold. Hackles gold, black ticking permissible. Back, shoulder coverts and wing bow gold. Wing coverts (or bar) black barred,; primaries and secondaries, inner web black barred, outer web gold. Tail black barred. Breast black barred with gold mottling.
Female plumage : Head and hackle gold with black striping barred with white. Breast rich salmon. Back and wing bow and bar mid-grey, faintly barred, free from salmon smudges. Primaries and secondaries, outer web gold coarsely stippled with dark browny grey, inner web brown-grey and faintly barred. Tail brown-grey and faintly barred.
In both sexes : Beak yellow. Eyes red. Comb, face,ear-lobes and wattles bright red. Legs and feet yellow.
Standard Weights : Cock : 7½lb; Cockerel 6½lb
Hen : 6lb; Pullet 4 ½ to 5lb
SCALE OF POINTS
Serious Defects : Side sprigs to comb. White in lobe. Feathers on the legs, hocks or between the toes. Comb other than single. Other than four toes. Legs other than yellow. Badly crooked or duck toes. Any bodily deformity. Coarseness, beefiness, and anything that interferes with productiveness and the general utility of the breed.
The locality of Welsum in the Netherlands
Standardised in 1922
Imported to UK in 1928
Standardised by PCGB in 1930
Cochin, Wyandotte Leghorn, Barnevelder and Rhode Island Red
Soft Feather Light Breed
Cock - 20mm (PCGB F20)
Hen - 18mm (PCGB E18)
80 - 160
Terracotta to Chocolate matt preferred
The Welsummer (or is it more correctly 'Welsumer' as used in Europe?) was created at the beginning of the twentieth century in the countryside around the village of Welsum in the Netherlands, it's ancestors included the Malay, Partridge Cochin, Partridge Wyandotte, and Partridge Leghorn, plus the Barnvelder and the Rhode Island Red. The small farmers around the River Ysel had long been known for the production of large very dark brown eggs.
In the first decade of the twentieth century a young teacher from Welsum set out to develop a strain of hens, of consistent appearance that laid the darkest of eggs; he was very successful and before long local farmers and smallholders were buying stock from him. With the outbreak of war in 1914 he had to reduce the number of birds he could keep and throughout the war maintained a pen of 12 hens and I cock. In 1921 he took birds to the World Poultry Congress exhibition in 1921; the following year a standard was established for the Welsummer, and in 1927 an association was formed to improve the Welsummer Breed both in respect of appearance and egg colour and also utility performance.
The Welsummer was first brought into the United Kingdom in 1928 as a commercial laying breed. In 1930 the Welsummer Club was formed in Britain. The Welsummer was regarded as a utility bird and it's main purpose was the production of large dark brown eggs weighing 70g or more which commanded a premium in the markets. In the 1930's strains capable of producing in excess of 200 eggs a year were well known, and results at the Harper Adams College laying trials in 1931 show that 9 pens of the 14 pens of Welsummers entered laid in excess of 200neggs.but unfortunately today the best strains seem to have difficulty achieving 150 a year, and many only half that. The birds I have had in the past have not gone broody and though they laid for long periods failed to lay on a daily basis!
Welsummer Pullets - 1981
The Breed Standard approved by the Poultry Club of Great Britain classifies the Welsummer as a Soft Feather Light Breed, however it is Holland it as classified as 'Medium' and in the UK the present day birds are nearer to a Heavy breed rather than a Light Breed. The black red partridge colouring has not been highly developed and retains much of its natural form, the Cock is a very bright, colourful bird and seems to be everyone's idea of a 'Kelloggs Cornflakes' or what a 'farmyard cock' should be. He is a bit of a dandy with a brilliant golden cape, rich chestnut back, chestnut & black chest and high curving iridescent black tail. The hen is a pretty partridge coloured bird, though far removed from the highly developed partridge colouring of many other breeds. However whilst she may be somewhat drab in comparison to the cock it is the hen that has made the breed famous, laying the most wonderful large matt eggs in richest flower-pot red brown colour, with or without some chocolate spots!
It is a straight forward, no nonsense breed being well suited to free-range and loves grubbing around in the undergrowth! They are very inquisitive birds, and generally placid breed, but unfortunately they become easily bored and some strains are prone to vices such as feather pecking ...... and unless they are kept busy foraging they will quickly become bored making them unsuited to confinement!
Because of the importance of the egg qualities of the breed the Welsummer Club has an Egg Standard to be used when judging eggs of the breed. The ideal sized egg for showing is about 70gr; it therefore follows that eggs for hatching are also not less than this weight and have the same excellent shape and pigmentation as those for the show-bench. The first few eggs laid by a pullet will be about 1½ oz which will increases with each successive egg and after about a month she should be laying a good sized deeply coloured egg.
Whilst the largest eggs will be laid by mature old hens in many instances they will lack the intensity of colour of those laid by the younger hen. It is noticeable that as the Welsummer grow older the depth of colour of the eggs she lays become paler, with the eggs at the beginning of the first laying season being the best coloured. Older breeders will advise that stock cocks should always be from hens laying the most deeply pigmented eggs, and especially from older birds still laying eggs of excellent colour; the cock will greatly influence the egg colour of his daughters.
If egg production is the primary objective in keeping the breed then it is essential that a utility strain is obtained rather than one specifically bred for the show pen. Equally it must be born in mind that the hens laying the darkest, or best coloured, eggs are likey to be the poorest layers; so a compromise has to be reached! For utility birds always select breeding stock from the hens which are the most productive and lay the best egg colour - but never breed from birds which lay unaceptably pale eggs no matter how productive they may be!
The Poultry Club of Great Britain
Classification: Light: Soft feather
Egg Colour: Deep red-brown
Named after the village of Welsum, this Dutch breed has in its make-up such breeds as the Partridge Cochin, Partridge Wyandotte and Partridge Leghorn and still later the Barnevelder and the Rhode Island Red. In 1928, stock was imported into this country from Holland, in particular for its large brown egg, which remains its special feature, some products being mottled with brown spots. It has distinctive markings and colour, and comes into the light breed category, although it has good body-size. It enters the medium class in the country of its origin. Judges and breeders work to a Standard that values indications of productiveness, so that laying merits can be combined with beauty.
CARRIAGE: Upright, alert and active.
TYPE: Body well built on good constitutional lines. Back broad and long. Breast full, well rounded and broad. Wings moderately long, carried closely to the sides. Tail fairly large and full, carried high, but not squirrel. Abdomen long, deep and wide.
HEAD: Symmetrical, well balanced, of fine quality without coarseness, excess or exaggeration. Skull refined, especially at back. Beak strong, short and deep. Eyes keen in expression, bold, full, highly placed in skull and standing out prominently when viewed from front or back; pupils large and free from defective shape. Comb single, of medium size, firm upright, free from any twists or excess around nostrils, clear of nostrils and of fine, silky texture, five to seven broad and even serrations, the back following closely but not touching the line of the skull and neck. Face smooth, open and of silky texture, free from wrinkles or surfeit of flesh and without overhanging eyebrows. Ear lobes small and almond shaped. Wattles of medium size, fine and silky texture and close together.
NECK: Fairly long, slender at top but finishing with abundant hackle.
LEGS AND FEET: Thighs to show clear of body without loss of breast. Shanks of medium length, medium bone and well set apart, free from feathers and with soft pliable sinews, free from coarseness. Toes, four, long, straight and well spread out, back toe to follow in straight line, free from feathers between toes.
PLUMAGE: Tight, silky and waxy, free from excess or coarseness, silky at abdomen and free from bagginess at thighs.
HANDLING: Compact, firm and neat bone throughout.
The general characteristics are similar to those of the male, allowing for the natural sexual differences.
HANDLING : Pelvic bones fine and pliable; abdomen pliable; flesh and skin of fine texture and free from coarseness; plumage sleek; abdomen capacious, but well supported by long breast bone and not drooping; general handling of a fit, keen and active layer.
Head and neck, rich golden brown. Hackles rich golden brown as uniform as possible, free from black striping. Back, shoulder coverts and wing bow bright red-brown. Wing coverts black with green sheen forming a broad bar; primaries (out of sight when wing is closed), inner web black, outer web brown; secondaries, outer web brown, inner web black with brown peppering. Tail (main) black with a beetle green sheen; coverts, upper black, lower black edged with brown. Breast black with red mottling. Abdominal and thigh fluff black and red mottled.
Head golden brown. Hackle golden brown or copper, the lower feathers with black striping and golden shaft. Breast rich chestnut red going well down to lower parts. Back and wing bow reddish brown, each feather stippled or peppered with black specks (i.e. partridge marking), shaft of feather showing lighter and very distinct. Wing bar chestnut brown; primaries,
inner web black, outer brown; secondaries, outer web brown, coarsely stippled with black; inner web black, slightly peppered with brown. Abdomen and thighs brown with grey shading. Tail black, outer feathers pencilled with brown.
SILVER DUCKWING: MALE
Head, neck and hackles white. Breast, black with white mottling. Back, shoulder coverts and wing bow white. Wing primaries, flight feathers (out of sight as wings closed), inner web black, outer web white; secondaries, outer web white, inner web black, with white peppering, coverts black with green sheen forming a broad bar across primaries. Main black with beetle green sheen; coverts, upper black, lower black, edged with white. Abdominal and thigh fluff, black with white mottling.
SILVER DUCKWING: FEMALE
Head and skull, silvery white. Hackle, silvery white and lower feathers with black striping and white shaft. Breast, salmon red or robin red. Back and wing bow, silvery grey, each feather stippled or peppered with black specks (i.e. partridge marking), shaft of feather showing light and very distinct. Wing bar, silvery grey; primaries, inner web black, outer web white; secondaries, outer web white, coarsely stippled with black, inner web, black, slightly peppered with white. Abdomen and thighs silvery grey. Tail black, outer feathers pencilled with white.
IN BOTH SEXES AND COLOURS
Beak yellow or horn. Eyes red. Comb, face, ear lobes and
wattles bright red. Legs and feet yellow. Undercolour dark slate grey.
STANDARD WEIGHTS, LARGE FOWL
Cock 7lb, Cockerel 6lb,
Hen 6lb, Pullet 4½ to 51b.
These weights should be taken as minimum Standards.
Comb other than single or with side sprigs.
White in lobe, excessive white in plumage.
Feather on legs, hocks or between toes.
Other than four toes.
Striping in neck hackle or saddle of male.
Absolutely black or whole red breast in the male.
Salmon breast in the female.
Legs other than yellow.
Badly crooked or duck toes.
Any body deformity.
Coarseness, beefiness and anything which interferes with the productiveness and general utility of the breed.
SCALE OF POINTS
General Type : 20
Handling, Size & Productiveness 30
Legs and Feet 10
WELSUMMER CLUB EGG STANDARD
The brown egg preceded the Welsummer breed. Various farmers’ fowl around the village of Welsum laid large dark brown eggs. It was from these mongrels that the Welsummer was developed and standardised. The Club’s aim is to perpetuate the laying qualities and brown egg capabilities of the breed. Relative to their size, Welsummers lay large eggs. It is not uncommon for Large Fowl to lay eggs exceeding 85g (3 oz) and for Bantams to lay eggs over 55g (2 oz) in weight.
Colour : A rich deep red-brown, as dark as possible. The pigment to be evenly distributed over the whole surface. Some products are speckled, mottled and occasionally blotched.
Shape : Egg shaped; the top, containing the airspace, domed, the bottom less so and more pointed, with ample girth.
Size: Exhibition eggs should be of good size. Ideally, Large Fowl eggs should be not less than 70g (2½ oz), and Bantam eggs should not be more than 50g (1¾ oz) in weight.
Shell texture : Matt, smooth and free from ridges, pimples or porosity. Glossy eggs can be produced but the matt egg is the preferred.
Appearance and bloom : Exhibition eggs should be fresh, clean, with new laid bloom and with minimal nest marks and scratches.
SCALE OF POINTS
Shell texture 20
Appearance and bloom 10
Poor shape: spherical, narrow, or equally domed at both ends.
Uneven shell texture: ridges, calcareous pimples, at roughness at either end.
Very glossy or thin and porous shell.
Excessive nest marks or scratches.
Dirty or stained.
Anything interfering with hatchability.
When more than one egg forms a single exhibit they should match and be similar in all respects; failure to do so constitutes a serious defect.
© John S Harrison