The Plymouth White Rock Chicken
The History of the Plymouth White Rock Chicken
The Plymouth White Rock chicken is in the same group of chickens as the Barred Rock Chicken. The Plymouth group of chickens originated in the United States ironically enough in the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The breed was developed in the late nineteenth century by careful breeding and selection.
The white variety has an especially interesting history because over the years it has become one of the go to varieties for commercial brown egg production. Next to the Rhode Island Red, the Plymouth White Rock hen is the most common variety to live their lives in cages as egg producers for the masses in commercial egg production.
The White Rock was also bred to be an excellent back yard or farm chicken. They were developed as dual purpose chickens. The roosters make excellent meat birds, especially as fryers for Sunday dinner because they can dress out at just under 8 pounds each. The hens also make great fryers and are larger than a lot of breeds at 7 1/2 pounds each, but the hens are valued more for their egg laying ability than for their meat.
The Plymouth White Rock Chicken and Cold Climates
This chicken breed does VERY well in colder northern climates. When the weather starts to get cold in the fall, you will notice that the chicken will start growing a downy like undercoat of feathers. These down like feathers are close to the skin and will help keep the White Rock Chicken warm through the cold winter months.
If these chickens are kept in a warmer environment, such as a heated chicken coop, they will not grow the protective undercoat of downy feathers. If this happens, the chickens can unfortunately succumb to the colder weather if the temperature drops and their heat source is lost for any reason. This is why it is important to allow nature to take over in the winter with this breed of chicken and allow the hen to grow the downy undercoat and not heat the chicken coop in any way, shape or form.
The Plymouth White Rock chicken does not slow down on egg production during cold weather like a lot of breeds do. It doesn't matter if there is only 7 hours of sunlight per day, in the colder winter months, you can almost always count on one egg every 24 hours from each hen in your flock of Plymouth White Rocks.
Physical Characteristics of the Plymouth White Rock
- Hens weigh around 7 1/2 pounds, Roosters usually weigh around 8 pounds.
- They have a single comb which is red once the chicken is mature.
- Their legs are a beautiful bright yellow.
- They are "fluffy" in the winter months from their downy undercoat of feathers.
- They are all snow white with no coloring in their feathers.
Egg Production of the Plymouth White Rock
These hens have been developed and bred to be egg producing machines. This is one of the most common varieties of chickens used in commercial egg production. Each hen will lay one large size brown egg every 24 hours unless there is something that has disturbed her cycle such as stress.
The Plymouth White Rock hen will start laying eggs at approximately 20 weeks, or 5 months of age. You will know that the time is drawing near for your first egg from your hens when you start to notice these simple things from them:
- Combs and waddles start to turn from yellow to red.
- They start squatting on occasion as if something is stuck "in there."
- They are more attentive and accepting of any rooster that you may have.
- They start spending time checking out the nesting boxes inside the coop.
Once you start seeing any of these signs, you will know that it will not be long before your hens start laying eggs.
In my experience with this breed, egg production will not start to slow down at a noticeable rate until the hen reaches about 4 years of age. Until that time, you can expect the eggs to come every 24 hours like clockwork as long as the hen is happy.
Plymouth White Rock Chicken Eggs
Plymouth White Rock Pullets in a Flock of Chickens
The White Rock Personality and Behavior Traits
This breed of chicken generally loves people. They are usually very gentle and do not mind being picked up and held. It is rare to hear of a Plymouth White Rock hen that is mean to humans or has an issue with pecking at people when they approach the coop.
Of course the chicken's tolerance to being picked up and held will also depend on how often it was handled as a chick. If you are raising a flock of these beautiful snow white birds, you will want to handle them as much as possible while they are growing up. They will grow attached to the person that handles them and this breed is actually quite trainable for things like coming when called.
They are a nice addition to backyard flocks because they do like people so much. In combination with their egg laying ability, they are in my opinion one of the best chickens for beginners as well as people that have owned chickens in the past. This breed will give you many years of eggs along with companionship and entertainment. You definitely can't go wrong with the Plymouth White Rock chicken.
Plymouth White Rock Chick
Where Can I Find Plymouth White Rock Chicks for Sale?
Where you get your chicks can really depend on a few things like how many you really want and where you live. If you are looking to start a large flock of 15 or more hens, I would suggest ordering them from a hatchery and having them mailed to you.
This is not an uncommon occurrence. Day old chicks are quite resilient and can actually handle being put through the postal system. You will generally have to order a minimum of 15 chicks so they stay warm during transit but if you are looking for a large flock, this may be the best and most economical option for you.
If you are looking for just a few chickens, you may want to try your local feed store. These stores usually carry chicks in the spring. The breeds will vary so you will want to call ahead and see if they have any Plymouth White Rock pullets available.
Another option is a local farmer or on CraigsList or any other local trading site. You can usually find someone posting on those sites that has chickens or pullets for sale. You may even be able to find young hens that are already laying eggs.
Tell your friends that you are looking for Plymouth White Rocks chicks. Most people who have never been around live chickens will find it interesting and will also ask anyone that they know who may have a clue where to find your chicks. This can possible lead to your next flock of White Rock chickens so don't be shy, ask around and see what comes your way!
© 2014 Helena Ricketts
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