Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science
Poultry Breeds - Plymouth Rock Chickens
Skin Color: Yellow.
Egg Shell Color: Brown.
Use: Meat and eggs.
Origin: Developed in America in the middle of the 19th century and was first exhibited as a breed in 1869. Several individuals claimed its invention, using crosses of Dominique, Java, Cochin, and perhaps Malay and Dorking. The first Plymouth Rock was barred and other varieties developed later. The Breed became popular very rapidly, and in fact, until World War II, no breed was ever kept and bred as extensively as the Barred Plymouth Rock. Its popularity came from its qualities as an outstanding farm chicken: hardiness, docility, broodiness, and excellent production of both eggs and meat. Most of the other varieties were developed from crosses containing some of the same ancestral background as the barred variety. Early in its development, the name Plymouth Rock implied a barred bird, but as more varieties were developed, it became the designation for the breed. The Barred Plymouth Rock was one of the foundation breeds for the broiler industry in the 1920's, and the White Rock continues to be used as the female side of the commercial broiler cross.
Characteristics: Plymouth Rocks are a good general farm chicken. They are docile; normally will show broodiness; possess a long, broad back; a moderately deep, full breast and a single comb of moderate size. Some strains are good layers while others are bred principally for meat. They usually make good mothers. Their feathers are fairly loosely held but not so long as to easily tangle. Generally, Plymouth Rocks are not extremely aggressive, and tame quite easily. Some males and hens are big and active enough to be quite a problem if they become aggressive. Breeders should be aware of the standard weights and not select small or narrow birds for the breeding pen. Common faults include shallow breast, high tails, narrow bodies and small size.
Status: Watch. The Barred Plymouth Rock is still a popular farm chicken but, as a dual-purpose bird, is still far less common than its more specialized White Rock cousin.
Chicken Breeds and Varieties (A2880), John L. Skinner, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, Box 477, Pittsboro, N.C. 27312