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Welsummer Chicken: All You Need To Know

Welsummer Chicken: All You Need To Know

These beautiful birds are under-represented in the backyard world of chickens.

This is a great shame as they have many outstanding attributes for the small homesteader as we shall see.

They are a fairly recent addition to chicken breeds, being ‘born’ less than one hundred years ago in the Netherlands.

They are popular in the UK and Australia but have yet to have a huge following here in the US, which is surprising since they are an advertising ‘superstar’.

Remember Cornelius (The Kellogg’s rooster)? He is a Welsummer rooster!

Keep reading to learn all you need to know about Welsummers including their temperament, egg-laying ability, broodiness, and more…

Welsummer Chicken

History of the Welsummer

The breed of chicken known as the Welsummer has only been in existence a little less than 100 years.

It was created around the village of Welsum near Deventer, the Netherlands as a dual-purpose bird in the post-World War 1 era.

The Netherlands was home to many landrace varieties and some of these varieties were bred with standard chickens such as the partridge Cochin, partridge Wyandotte, partridge Leghorn, Barnevelder, and Rhode Island Red to become the Welsummer breed.

Of course, there is some disagreement over the true original breeds with some people believing that the Croad Langshan, Brahma, and possibly the Malay having made a genetic contribution too.

We will never know for sure, but the resulting bird is very durable.

The year of its debut was 1921 at the Hagues’ World Poultry Congress where it was eagerly greeted by Dutch and other European poultry enthusiasts.

Early specimens made their way back to England in 1927 and from there were eventually exported to the US around 1928.

The Dutch Welsummer Breeders’ club was also formed in 1927 to continue to improve and refine the breed.

The town of Welsum erected a statue of the bird that brought them fame and a small fortune as a memorial to the creation of this lovely bird.

Appearance of Welsummers

To say that the bird has an overall partridge feather pattern does a disservice to the bird. While the pattern is partridge, it is quite beautiful in an understated way.

Over most of the body, the coloring is dark brown with light brown/white feather shafts noticeable throughout.

The neck and nape feathers are a golden brown color with darker brown shading giving the appearance of a golden mantle.

The rooster is very different – and so handsome! His hackles and saddle feathers are chestnut brown and free-flowing.

His sickles, under feathers, and chest are a lustrous beetle green coloring.

The Welsummer is a single comb bird; it should show five points. The comb, wattles, and earlobes should all be red.

They have a short, horn/black colored beak. The bird has yellow skin and shanks that are clean of feathers. There are four toes on each foot.

Eyes are reddish bay in color.

It is a robust bird that sports a full breast, a long flat back, and an upright stance. The hen weighs in around 6lb and the rooster at around 7lb.

Breed Standard

Welsummer Rooster

The Dutch standard for this breed was set in 1924.

They were admitted to the Poultry Club of Great Britain in 1930. They are classified as soft feathered, light. In 1935 they won the British ‘Best Utility Breed’ award over all comers.

They were finally admitted to the American Poultry Association in 1991 where they are classified as Continental.

The recognized variety is partridge, but there are also silver duckwing and gold duckwing varieties out there.

Some of the disqualifying factors can be white earlobes, feathers on the shanks, and irregular points on the comb.

The American Bantam Association classifies them as a single comb, clean-legged.

The bantam variety of Welsummers was created back in the 1930s in both England and Germany. It lays a lighter colored egg than its standard counterpart.

The temperament of a Welsummer Chicken

They are intelligent birds, also calm, friendly, and docile. My rooster will eat from my hand and I have never had any territorial problems with him.

Despite the fact that they are sturdy birds, they are not overly pushy with other breeds. I would place them somewhere between the middle and top of the pecking order.

On the negative side, these birds can be noisy! They are the ones who shout the loudest when they feel the mood upon them or something is upsetting them.

They love to forage in the yard and are not great flyers, so they can be confined to an area with minimal fencing if desired.

Welsummers prefer the cooler weather, so are good for chilly Northern climates, but they will tolerate heat as long as they have somewhere cool to go to.

Egg Laying and Broodiness of the Welsummer Chicken

Different sources have a huge variation in egg production numbers, anywhere from 160-250 eggs per year. Generally speaking, the higher the egg output, the less ‘pure’ the bird is.

They do tend to drop or stop production over the winter months but pick right up again during the spring.

My Welsummers have put out around 4 eggs per week during their prime years. However, it’s not the quantity but the visual quality of the eggs that are stunning.

The eggs should be a dark, rich terra cotta brown sometimes with dark speckles. The pigmentation of the egg is so rich that you can wipe it off with your fingers when cleaning the eggs if you aren’t careful.

They are not known to be broody and they are rotten mothers by all accounts anyway. If you desire to hatch some, use your best broody for the job.

The very nice thing about the chicks is that they are autosexing, meaning you can tell the sexes right after hatching!

Autosexing and Welsummers

Welsummer ChickenAutosexing in chickens was first studied by Dr. R. Punnett in the 1920s in Cambridge, England.

He theorized that the gene which controlled the expression of barred color patterns was different in the male and female chickens.

The male would receive 2 barred genes, whereas females only get 1. This would mean that the male chicks were lighter than the females.

His theory was proven correct and he was later able to create autosexing breeds such as the Cream Legbar.

With Welsummers, girls will show a darker more distinct pattern and a darker head, while the boys will tend to have broken, fuzzier patterning.

It is estimated that there are around two dozen autosexing breeds around the world currently.

What’s The Difference between Autosex and Sex Link?

Autosexed chicks come from parents of the same breed. Examples include:

  • Welsummers
  • Barred Plymouth Rocks
  • California Greys

Sex link chicks are made from parents of two separate breeds. Examples include:

  • Golden Comet – Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire rooster x White Rock hen
  • Black Rocks – Rhode Island Red rooster x barred Rock hen.

The single most important difference between autosexing breeds and sex links is that autosexed are the same breed, so will therefore breed true.

Sex links are a combination of two different breeds, so the sex link chicks will not breed true.

Known Health Issues

The roosters have large combs and wattles which can be prone to frostbite, so keep a careful eye on them during the colder days of winter.

Welsummers are usually robust and healthy with no unusual health concerns or issues. Other than the usual parasites that bother poultry, they are a sturdy breed.

Under normal circumstances, Welsummers live to be around 9 years of age.

Is the Welsummer For You?

The Welsummer is a good addition to the flock if you want spotted terra cotta eggs! It was also bred originally as a dual purpose hen so it does dress out at a respectable weight.

They are in the Top Ten of foragers and will supplement their feed well with tasty garden morsels if you allow them to.

They will tolerate confinement but prefer to wander. If they are allowed to forage they are a very self-sufficient birds and their coloring helps to camouflage them from predators.

They are friendly, but not necessarily a lap chicken but will tolerate being picked up. They will follow you around if they think you have treats for them.



If these beauties are good enough for Prince Charles they must be special! He has kept a flock of these birds for many years now and he is the Royal Patron of the British Welsummer Club.

I have enjoyed my small flock of ‘Wellies’. They are very personable although they are now getting to be ‘old ladies’.

The area where they ‘fall down’ is the diminished egg production in winter. However, if you prefer to let your ladies rest over the winter months, they will serve you well laying steadily for around 3 years.

They are generally quiet, steady, and dependable birds.

Let us know in the comments section below if you keep any Welsummers…

Welsummer Chicken- All You Need To Know

30 thoughts on “Welsummer Chicken: All You Need To Know

  1. We have a delightful Welsummer hen named Tulip. She is an April 2018 chick so is nearing her time to lay. Tulip is friendly, has beautiful feathers, and gets along well with our other 3 hens, all different breeds. She can be loud when she wants out of the run to free range! So funny! Every evening Tulup is the first to go to bed. She then calls and calls for her sisters to join her!

  2. I have a mixed breed flock with two Welsummers. Right now they are all molting, but, the Welsummers are molting LIKE CRAZY!!! I’m worried that they won’t be able to maintain their body temperature because they’re feathers are so thin. Is this common for the breed?

    1. Yes – they can look a mess when molting! Give them 20% protein and a few treats to help regrow feathers faster. Make sure they can stay dry and out of the weather,

  3. I’ve got some from 1 week old, now they are happy to jump up on my knee if they think I’ve got food.
    Can’t wait until they are a little bigger and I can let them free range (currently in a run).

    1. I came here to see if I could get help on how high welsummer hens can hop.
      I have an enclosed run attached to a coop. We did let them roam the whole garden during the day but their droppings are overwhelming.
      We have enclosed them in one half of our garden. A four foot fence is not enough. How much higher should we go?
      Our rooster Hansel is content inside with our two Maran hens. It’s the four welsummer girls that are the escape artists.

  4. We have a wonderful Welsummer named Sparkles. She is my boys’ favorite and tolerates sitting in their laps ( and getting treats). She was a sole survivor in a recent raccoon attack so we are in the process of getting her some new friends. She can be loud but she has different songs for everything…we all like to sing back to her. Also love her beautiful eggs.

  5. Welsummers have been great backyard hens for us. We now have a dedicated flock after having a mixed flock. They are accomplished at foraging and seem to be survivors. Great with the kids. I think they should be more popular.

  6. I currently have my first flock of Welsummer chicks at 6 weeks old. Probably have 10 roos and 15 girls. Can’t wait for eggs! Already have a favorite roo named Gustav!!!

  7. I had 2 welsummers , one died shortly after getting her. They were introduced slowly in a separate pen inside the main run. The remaining chicken was released after several weeks but was bullied again. We have now put her back in the separate pen but she looks injured from the constant pecking.what did we do wrong. We have been keeping chickens for 9 years.

    1. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about bullying and the pecking order is a natural process. If it does bother you, many people separate them. Still make sure you are introducing new chickens in the proper way.
      See a few articles that may help:

  8. I have 22 hens and 2 cockerels.
    4 of the hens are quite young and still cheep like little chicks. Only just learner they are welsummers. They are bold and very funny to watch.

  9. I currently have Welsummers. You describe them very well. My only gripe, I wish they lay a few more eggs. They lay about 150 eggs a year. All colored terracotta brown with spots, medium size. Calm, gentle approachable but not in your lap like an Orpington.

    1. Something to know, when it comes to production, the more a hen lays the greater chance they have of getting ovarian cancer and dying. High production breeds often die by the time they’re 3 years old. Prior to human intervention, chickens in the wild laid around 15 eggs a year, solely for reproduction. Now, up to 40% of hens get ovarian cancer by the time they are 5 years old. Laying that many eggs takes a huge toll on the birds.

  10. I have found my well summers to be excellent grazers not damaging the turf by digging like some other breeds I have kept.They enjoy a dust bath like any other breed but in a designated area.

  11. I have 20 pullets that , are 6 weeks old. I have 2 welsummers and love both of them .They are so sweet and calm ,but my favorite is a lot tinier than the rest. We tried feeding her separately ,and no one is pecking her so I really don’t know what to do ,and I can’t lose her.

  12. Hi, At what age will the Welsummers start laying? We have 6 and I don’t want to miss opening their nest in time! Thanks!

  13. We have 4 Welsummers in our flock that we raised from chicks last July. Three of the 4 have gone broody, with 2 raising chicks. Both were good mothers for young hens. One raised her first batch and is broody again! Have enjoyed all of them. Very friendly.

  14. I havev3 Welsummer’s they are over 10 years old (hatched April 2010) . They did stop laying but recently the girls had laid a clutch of 15 eggs. I have a cockerill so they were fertilised and Beatrice has successfully hatched 6 living chicks. They are now 4 weeks old. I know I have 2 pullets. I think one is a young silver duckwing (like daddy) eager to know about the other 3!

  15. I have two Welsummers. One of them is definitely at the top of the pecking order and she is a merciless bully to my Plymouth rock! If anyone knows how to curb that behaviour please let me know. Otherwise they are lovely birds and easy to pick up. Their eggs are beautiful and they are prolific layers. The eggs are richer than those of my other birds. These birds are tough! We get temps of -30F here!

  16. Funny about them being noisy. I named one of mine Squawk because if you pick her up she sounds like I am killing her. However, she is also the only one that flies over the fence, so I had to clip her wings. They also tolerate heat better than any of my other chickens and they lay eggs pretty consistently.

  17. We bought 13 Welsummer chicks early this past spring. We allow them to forage in our small orchard and this is the first year my apples have not been ravaged by plum curculio. They have already begun laying fewer eggs. I was getting 5 dozen eggs per week and now am getting 2 dozen each week. However, their ability to rid my orchard of curculio makes it worth keeping them.

  18. We have a mixed flock, have had several different (5) types of roosters 🐓 but we have kept
    Our Welsumer rooster (Cornelius) HE is the BEST we will keep him he veryold man! He takes good care of his hens! Feeds them, keeps the peace between his girls. Cornelius took up for my husband when another young rooster came after him. LOVE the breed.

  19. We have a mixed flock, have had several different (5) types of roosters 🐓 but we have kept Our Welsumer rooster (Cornelius). HE is the BEST we will keep him he veryold man! He takes good care of his hens! Feeds them, keeps the peace between his girls. Cornelius took up for my husband when another young rooster came after him. LOVE the breed.

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