Mr Norman Lawton in a pen of Silver Plymouth Rocks (reproduced with permission of Norman Lawton)

A. C. Lawton & Sons (Production Bred Baby Chicks) was a small breeding company based in Foxboro, Massachusetts that finished operating about 1990. It was latterly run by Norman and Roger Lawton, the two sons of the Mr A. C. Lawton. The business was selling day-old purebred and crossbred layers and a Meat Cross. He developed a very good line of White Plymouth Rocks that carried the Silver gene and some progeny of which was purchased by Don Shaver; thus the record of his business is quite significant in the history of poultry breeding companies. The flocks that the Lawton’s established were closed around 1930. The business at its peak sold around 250,000 chicks a year of which the most sales were from the Buff Sex-link.

Norman Lawton graduated from a two-year agriculture course at the University of Massachusetts. During a course in genetics his professor, who knew of the Lawton’s breeding business asked if they had ever crossed the White Plymouth Rock females with a Rhode Island male. The white birds are able to cover up plumage colours of silver, gold and black. In a Rhode Island Red x White Plymouth Rock test cross they found several females with the silver gene (the males were light coloured and females were brown). The white males were backcrossed to RIR females; two male progeny had the silver gene. A white male and a white female were then chosen to start a strain of silver White Rocks. When the females reached a flock of about 50 they were then crossed with their RIR males and produced the “Lawton Buff Sex-Link”. The hens laid very well and produced large eggs with a uniform brown solid shell. Sales of the chicks started in 1942 and the business prospered with the U.S. and abroad. The business continued for 40 years but other breeders soon began producing a sex-link layer and gradually the sales declined and the breeding stock was sold in the late 1980’s.