The Rhode Island Red Chicken
Physical Characteristics of the Rhode Island Red Chicken
- Hens weigh an average of 7 pounds when full grown.
- Roosters weigh an average of 9 pounds when full grown.
- Dark, mahogany red color feathers.
- Hens and roosters have single combs.
- Beak color is a red tinged brown.
- Leg color is yellow.
- Eye color is orange.
Rhode Island Red Chickens
The History of the Rhode Island Red Chicken Breed
The Rode Island Red is a dual purpose chicken meaning that it is raised for eggs in addition to meat. This chicken was recognized at its own breed in1904 for the single combed and in 1905 for the type with rose colored combs. This chicken breed currently holds the Conservation Status of recovering. These chickens were developed in the state of Rhode Island and is the current bird of its namesake state.
There are two types of RIR chickens that are available for the backyard flock. One strain of the breed was selectively bred to lay a large number of eggs. This strain of birds will normally have lighter reddish colored feathers, the hens rarely go broody and was developed to lay an egg on an almost daily basis. These are the birds that are generally raised by hatcheries for back yard flocks.
The original strain of the breed will not lay as often. They can be distinguished from the other type by their feather color. This older type of Rhode Island Chicken will be a darker shade of brown. The hens in this group do tend to go broody more often and are good mothers to their chicks. These birds are harder to find and are more likely located on farms and from breeders for purchase.
Tolerance to Cold Climates
The Rhode Island Red is an excellent breed of chicken for colder climates. They will continue their regular pattern of laying eggs until the outside temperature drops below zero. As long as they are able to roost with their feet completely covered by their breast feathers, frostbite of the feet will not become an issue. The comb is the only area that is prone to frostbite in extreme cold so it will need to be checked on each chicken regularly. Keeping the moisture level to a minimum inside the chicken coop is especially important in the wintertime to help prevent frostbite on the feet and combs.
The Rhode Island Red Chicken Handbook
Rhode Island Red hens begin to lay eggs at approximately six months of age. This chicken breed is a brown egg laying breed meaning every egg will have a brown colored shell. The hen’s peak laying time is the first year after she lays her first egg although contrary to popular belief, a hen of any breed can continue to lay eggs for many years, not just in the first three years of their lives. If the chickens are properly cared for, owners of this breed can expect to see five to seven eggs per week from each hen during their peak laying years if the hen is the commercial RIR. After that first and second year, egg production will usually start to decline but the hen will more than likely produce erratically for many years after the peak laying time.
Proper nutrition and husbandry practices will ensure that the Rhode Island Red hen lays eggs to her full potential. Egg laying problems can usually be tracked back to poor quality feed and nutritional deficiencies. Overcrowding will also cause laying problems in addition to health problems in all chicken breeds so it is important to provide enough space for each chicken. The space requirements per chicken are different depending on who you talk to.
Personality and Behavior
The Rhode Island Red has a great personality and will greet their caretaker warmly. They are good with children, especially if the child is familiar to them. Strangers will receive the cold shoulder from the hen and may be challenged by the rooster if he sees them as a threat to the flock. They do well with other chicken breeds unless the area is too small for the number of chickens present.
This chicken breed is good for beginners and backyard flocks. They are easy to care for, disease resistant and pasture very well. Rhode Island Red chickens are a good choice for meat in addition to eggs because of their size and growth rate. It is an all around useful, productive breed that with proper care will serve their owner well.