Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science
Poultry Breeds - Rhode Island Red Chickens
Rhode Island Red
- Single Comb
- Rose Comb
Standard Weights: Cock-8-1/2 pounds; hen-6-1/2 pounds; cockerel-7-1/2 pounds; pullet-5-1/2 pounds.
Skin Color: Yellow.
Egg Shell Color: Brown
Use: A dual purpose medium heavy fowl; used more for egg production than meat production because of its dark colored pin feathers and its good rate of lay.
Origin: Developed in the New England states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, early flocks often had both single and rose combed individuals because of the influence of Malay blood. It was from the Malay that the Rhode Island Red got its deep color, strong constitution and relatively hard feathers.
Characteristics: Rhode Island Reds are a good choice for the small flock owner. Relatively hardy, they are probably the best egg layers of the dual purpose breeds. Reds handle marginal diets and poor housing conditions better than other breeds and still continue to produce eggs. They are one of the breeds where exhibition qualities and production ability can be successfully combined in a single strain. Some "Red" males may be quite aggressive. They have rectangular, relatively long bodies, typically dark red in color. Avoid using medium or brick red females for breeding because this is not in keeping with the characteristics of the breed. Also, don't breed from undersized individuals or birds with black in their body feathers (called "smutt"). Black in the main tail and wing feathers is normal, however. Most Reds show broodiness, but this characteristic has been partially eliminated in some of the best egg production strains. The Rose Comb variety tends to be smaller but should be the same size as the Single Combed variety. The red color fades after long exposure to the sun.
Chicken Breeds and Varieties (A2880), John L. Skinner, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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