The Rhode Island Red is by far the award-wining chicken breed globally. They are one of our favorite in our backyard flock. This truly American chicken breed is a versatile bird that is great for egg-laying and meat purposes. In fact, they have very delicious meat.
If you are looking for a backyard chicken breed with a laid-back personality to add to your flock, the Rhode Island Red is your go-to bird. These birds are hardy which makes them survive in any kind of environment. You can choose between the heritage and industrial types, depending on why you want to raise the Rhode Island Red.
These birds are exceptionally healthy and have very low care needs which makes them a good addition to any type of family. The Rhode Island Red has existed for approximately a decade but is the most popular chicken breed globally. Their hardiness and resilience are what make them a great choice for beginners as well as experienced keepers.
In this article, we have included all you need to know about the Rhode Island Red chicken breed. From their personality to appearance, how to care for these birds, lifespan, and price among other important factors.
Continue reading to find out more about this adorable chicken breed.
Rhode Island Red Chicken Breed History
Created in the 19th century (1854) in Massachusetts, the Rhode Island Red origin is in America, specifically Rhode Island. To this day, the chicken breed stands out as the state bird of Rhode Island since 1954. These hardy chickens were bred using birds of Oriental origin including Italy’s brown Leghorn and the Malay.
The Rhode Island Red was developed as a dual-purpose bird for meat and eggs. These cute birds inherit the Malay’s deep red plumage. The first breed standard was created in 1898 but was accepted by the American Rhode Island Red Club in 1901 in Boston. The single-comb type was acknowledged to the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1904. The rose-comb variety, on the other hand, was admitted in 1906.
This chicken breed was, however, value-added and refined using additional birds such as Java, Cochin, Shanghai, Light Brahma, and Plymouth Rocks. Two statues have been erected where the chicken breed was developed in England in honor of the Rhode Island Red.
A table for the Rhode Island Red Chicken Breed
|Good for Beginners?||Yes|
|Weight||Hen (6.5 lbs.), Rooster (8.5 lbs.)|
|Temperament||Friendly & Curious|
|Lifespan||5 to 8 years|
|Egg Production||5 to 6 weekly|
|Egg Color||Light Brown|
|Color Variety||Blue or Lavender|
|Good with kids||Yes|
|Are they Broody?||No|
|Price||$3 to $5 per chick|
Typically, the Rhode Island Red chicken breed is a stunning bird with a somewhat rectangular and solid build. Expect them to have hard feathers like their Java and Malay parents with a perfect color that ranges from mahogany to dark rust. It is also possible to see a Rhode Island Red with some black feathers in the wings and tails.
This chicken breed has orange or red eyes while its wattles, ear lobes, and comb are red in color. Expect to see yellow legs and feet as well as a yellowish or horn-colored beak. Each foot of the Rhode Island Red has four toes.
These birds have a single erect comb. And while the rose-combed Rhode Island Red is a possibility, they tend to be somewhat uncommon and so is the Bantam variety.
Size & Weight
The Rhode Island Red weight depends on the sex of the chicken. Roosters are approx. 8.5 lbs. in weight while hens weigh 6.5 lbs. The Bantam Rhode Island Red chicken variety weighs 2.1 lbs. for roosters while hens weigh 1.9 lbs.
Keep in mind that the rose comb variety tends to weigh less than the Rhode Island Red single comb variety.
Rhode Island Red Growth Chart
Check out the growth charts below for the Rhode Island Red chicken breed from a study conducted by The College Of Agriculture at the University of Missouri.
Pullets from time of hatching to 40 weeks
Expected gains of Rhode Island Red pullets in each of the 4-week periods
Cockerel vs Pullet
You will also find this PDF on the growth of Rhode Island Reds from the National Agricultural Library Digital Collections very helpful.
Rhode Island Red Chicks
Rhode Island Red day-old baby chicks are a rusty red color but this changes to a range of mahogany red. These adorable chicks should remain with their mothers after hatching.
When they are at least 6 weeks old, the chicks can be transferred to the coop and do not need supplemental heat. Make sure that the temperature outside is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rhode Island Red Rooster
Rhode Island Red roosters are hard to handle and have a reputation for being pushy and tend to be assertive to people. Since each rooster has an individual personality, it is possible that some will be gentle and calm while others will be bullies. If you, however, show them that you are the alpha, owners say that these birds tend to backpedal.
These roosters understand and recognize predators and will stand to face them as they are great at defending themselves. Before you take a Rhode Island Red rooster home, however, you should know that they are not suitable choices for homes with small kids or small pets. The main reason why these roosters are aggressive may be the innate protective nature or boredom. It is possible that mating behavior could lead to this attitude.
Do you have a Rhode Island Red cock that shows an aggressive streak? The best way to deal with this is by showing no fear so they do not push you. Providing these roosters mental stimulation and clipping the spurs is an option. If this does not work, solitary confinement is the last resort. In addition, make sure that you wear the right clothes when you are approaching that will protect you from their spurs and beaks.
Expect a Rhode Island Red rooster to weigh approx. 8.5 lbs.
Rhode Island Red Hen
Unlike their male roosters, Rhode Island Red hen is known to be non-aggressive, affectionate, and friendly. This often makes these girls excellent pets even for small kids. Overall, hens get along with other chicken breeds. However, they can be pushy, especially when kept with more gentle chicken breeds or smaller ones.
These birds are good layers as they can give you between 250 and 300 medium to large-sized light brown eggs per year. In fact, Rhode Island Red hens will continue to lay eggs even when there is extreme weather.
Rhode Island Red hens weigh around 6.5 lbs.
Rhode Island Red Bantam
The Rhode Island Red Bantam is a large bird with a broad chest with a brick-like body and tends to have a flat back. These birds have dark feathers (mahogany red) and a single comb that is red in color although some might come with a rose comb. They are known for their great disposition and are docile which makes them good for families.
Like the full-size variety, the Rhode Island Red variety is also popular with poultry enthusiasts as well as backyard pets. They were also bred for eggs and meat purposes. These birds tend to get along with other chickens in your flock.
Rhode Island Red Bantams are 1 kg while hens are 850 grams.
Rhode Island Red Rooster vs Hen
Are you wondering how to tell the difference between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a hen?
When they are young, these birds have no wattles or combs. Here are the features that distinguish these two sexes when they are mature:
Size & Body
Roosters tend to be bigger and stouter, features that help them ward off predators and protect their flock. They stand approx. 20 to 22 inches with a weight of above 8.5 lbs.
Hens, on the other hand, are smaller and stand around 15 to 16 inches with a weight of about 6.5 lbs.
Wattle & Comb
Wattles and combs in Rhode Island Red roosters tend to grow faster when they are about 6 to 8 weeks old. In hens, this takes some months. When they are fully grown, the comb and wattle are up to 3 or 4 times bigger in roosters than in hens.
The color plumage is one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a hen. In hens, the feathers tend to have a light reddish-brown color which provides them with a natural camouflage when they sit on their eggs while avoiding being visible to predators.
Rhode Island Red roosters have a much darker, deeper shade of red (similar to burgundy). It is also possible for these roosters to have tail feathers with a bluish tinge or white. Also, they can have darker mahogany red or brown plumage with dark green tail feathers.
Rhode Island Red roosters tend to have an aggressive streak like most other chicken breeds. They are also very protective of their flock, always watching over them as they roam or eat. These birds will send away the hens and chicks and stand to face the predator. Roosters are also extremely bossy and start crowing at around 16 weeks.
Hens, on the other hand, are docile and friendly although they can be protective of their chicks. Unlike roosters, they are willing to cuddle and are good with kids which makes them great pets.
Rhode Island Red Chicken Colors
The Rhode Island Red chicken breed is said to have a rust color that can vary from light, dark maroon, or black. Some people also refer to this color as a shiny chestnut red.
Black feathers dominate on the wings and tails, and this deducts points when they are in a competition.
What is it like owning a Rhode Island Red chicken?
If you think you have met a peculiar chicken breed, you have not come across a Rhode Island Red! These birds are fascinating and will make you want to watch them longer and spend time outside foraging.
Personality: Rhode Island Red Characteristics
Those persons and families with this chicken breed define the Rhode Island Red temperament as cheerful. These birds want to be in the first line to want to know what is happening in the compound or find out whether there are treats in place for them.
Typically, hens are friendly and tend to get along with other chicken breeds that have a nature like theirs. However, they are considered to have a middle to high levels pecking order. As such, they can be mean and unkind to chicken breeds that are nervous or quiet.
Roosters, on the other hand, are reputable for being intolerable as they tend to be aggressive. And while this is good for protecting their flocks, they are not the type to keep around young children.
Rhode Island Red Egg Production
The Rhode Island Red egg production age is between 18 and 20 weeks. That is when they start laying eggs. These birdies will give you 5 to 6 eggs every week. This means that your Rhode Island Red eggs per year are somewhere between 250 and 300.
|Eggs per week||5 to 6 eggs|
|Size||Medium to Large|
Expect these heritage prolific layers to lay eggs consistently for 3 to 4 years, although some will slow as this time nears.
If you have heritage strains, they will lay 3 to 4 eggs per week or 150 to 250 eggs per year.
Rhode Island Red Eggs
The Rhode Island Red egg color is light brown and comes in a medium to large size.
Rhode Island Red Egg for Sale
You can get Rhode Island Red eggs for sale in hatcheries that are dedicated to raising chickens for utility purposes. Some examples here in the US include
While the Rhode Island Red chicken breed is considered a quiet breed, it can be noisy sometimes after laying eggs. Roosters can be noisier than hens but not all the time. However, these birds tend to be chatty which might not be a good choice if you live with neighbors that like silence.
Facts about the Rhode Island Red Chicken
Here are Rhode Island Red interesting facts:
- These birds are named after the state they were developed, Rhode Island, in the US. The breed is the state bird of Rhode Island.
- Rhode Island Reds are excellent layers that bless you with 5 to 6 eggs weekly. They are also good for meat.
- Since around 1940, the Rhode Island Red has been selectively bred mainly for egg-laying qualities.
- In 1954 the state of Rhode Island celebrated the anniversary of the chicken breed by launching the Rhode Island Red Monument at the William Tripp farm, Little Crompton.
- Rhode Island Reds tend to be mean towards docile and quiet birds.
- These birds come in striking red color with either single or rose comb as well as red wattles and earlobes.
- Rhode Island Red chickens love treats but not as much as they enjoy free range in search of bugs and other things for themselves.
- Roosters are known for an aggressive streak that they can express towards humans thus not a good choice for families with small kids.
Rhode Island Red Chicken Care Guide
Proper care of your Rhode Island Red chicken goes a long way to helping them live a happy and secure life. Generally, they are hardy birds that will survive in any kind of environment.
So, do Rhode Island Reds have many health problems? What should they eat? how much space do they need inside the coop and outside?
The Rhode Island Red chicken breed are resilient birds that have no specific health issues.
Like all birds, however, they are susceptible to internal parasites such as worms as well as external parasites like lice and mites.
Unlike other chicken breeds, the Rhode Island Red loves to find its food if you allow them to free-range. They are terrific foragers.
When they are at the chick stage, these birds should consume a diet that has 20% protein content. As they mature, hens should eat a diet with 16% layers of feed.
Coop Setup and Roaming
Rhode Island Red chickens are considered standard-size birds but still require ample space both inside the coop and outside the roaming space.
Inside the Coop
Make sure that each Red should have at least 4 square feet. This will allow them to stretch their wings and feathers. As for the perches, ensure that they are thick enough to support their weight. Rhode Island Reds will cuddle together during winter to help keep each other warm. 8 inches of perch space is enough.
These birds need nesting boxes that are neither too small nor too large so that they can nest together inside. Therefore, a 12 by 12 inches nesting box is ideal.
While the Rhode Island Red tolerates confinement just fine, they also love free-range. As such, you should give them access to at least 15 square feet for each bird.
Rhode Island Red Lifespan
The Rhode Island Red chicken is a healthy breed with no health issues apart from parasite infestation. These hardy birds have a life expectancy of 5 to 8 years.
Rhode Island Red Price
The Rhode Island Red is a pricey bird, but it will depend on the breeder and the quantity you are buying. The cost can be lower if you are purchasing in large quantities.
Expect to pay anywhere between $3 and $5 for a Rhode Island Red chick. Adults are costlier.
Rhode Island Red Chickens for Sale
We checked with the Murray McMurray Hatchery, and they are offering these birds at a very friendly cost. The price clusters depend on the number of Rhode Island Reds you are buying. Check their pricing table below:
If you are asking yourself where to buy the Rhode Island Red chicken, you can search breeders and hatcheries in your local area. Make sure they are reliable and responsible breeders that will not give you aggressive birds.
Should you keep this breed?
If you need a chicken breed that will bless you with many eggs, the Rhode Island Red is an ideal breed for you. They are also low-maintenance birds that mostly depend on free-range food.
Also, make sure that you have ample space for them.
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