Deathlayers (Westfälische Totleger)

Pet Hens

The Westfälische Totleger, roughly translates as Westphalian deathlayer, is a striking chicken from Germany and quite an old breed. The name ‘death layer’ is thought to be a mutation of ‘everyday’ or ‘daylayer’, daudtleijer.

They are beautiful, have wise expressions with calm black eyes, although in nature they are flighty. Mine are tame but are startled easily. They are good flyers and will roost in trees if they can. They are very hardy and good foragers.

These days it is a very rare breed, just 1500 counted in Germany in 2016. Consequently it is not without its share of genetic issues which can make chicks hard to raise, but healthy chooks do grow to adulthood and will lay their medium white eggs for most of their lives.

A group has been imported into the US some time ago which seem to have some serious genetic development faults, much worse than those seen in Europe, probably due to a very small parent stock there.

Before buying hatching eggs please do a little research, such as joining a Deathlayer group such as the one on Facebook (even if it is a US group) for more information. I will most likely be posting any spare hatching eggs on eBay. Please note I have seen the odd genetic fault arise in chicks that are related to mine.

My trios consist of healthy birds that I have raised from eggs, all from Germany. I have both colours – silver pencilled and gold pencilled. I will raise a few chicks per year but my main aim for these is to outcross to a suitable breed such as campine or silver pencilled hamburg, then cross back to add genetic variation to the breed. When I have found silver campines or silver pencilled hamburgs!