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The Rhode Island Red is one of the most popular breeds among backyard hobbyists. Although they can also be raised and eaten for meat, these rust-feathered fowl have earned their popularity mostly due to their prolific egg laying ability, calm temperament, and their ability to adapt to nearly any environment.
Rhode Island Reds were developed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the 1830s by poultry farmers looking for a meaty bird that also had excellent egg-laying abilities. One of the foundation sires of the breed was a black-breasted red Malay cock imported from England. (This cock is actually still kept on display at the Smithsonian Museum). It is from its Malay heritage that Rhode Island Reds get their deep color, hardy constitution, and relatively hard feathers. The breed was first admitted to the APA in 1904, and was held in such high esteem that it garnered the unusual honor of being named Rhode Islands state bird in 1954, the only breed in the APA Standard of Perfection to receive such an award.
Rhode Island Reds, along with the Sussex breed, have been used to develop many modern hybrid breeds due to their prolific egg-laying ability. Exported to countries around the world, the Rhode Island Red is one of the most widely distributed breeds of chicken on the planet.
The Rhode Island Red is a wonderful dual-purpose breed for the small flock owner. The hens are prolific egg layers, and although they are not considered meat specialists, their size and confirmation do make for good eating. Not only are they good free-range foragers, but they also tolerate confinement and have the ability to adapt to a less-than-ideal diet while continuing to produce eggs. The hens are reported to be calm and loving, although they are likely to be the more chatty and dominant chickens in your coop. Those that go broody, which seldom happens among the well-developed egg-laying strains, act as caring mothers to their chicks. Many of the Rhode Island Red males (not all) may be quite aggressive at times. Overall, Reds are hardy to extreme temperatures and considered a healthy, long-lived breed.
Egg Production: The Rhode Island Red is noted for their large brown eggs. They have earned their reputation as one of the best egg-layers of the dual-purpose breeds by laying in the range of 250 to 275 eggs or more per year an average of 5 to 6 eggs per week depending on the quality of their care. When allowed to range freely, eggs produced the first year may be too large to fit standard or medium egg cartons. The hens seldom show broodiness, especially in the strains heavily developed to egg production.
No matter which breed of chicken you choose for your backyard flock, each will have its own unique characteristics. If youre looking for a reliable all-around bird, one that marries outstanding egg production with a meaty frame, then the Rhode Island Red definitely deserves a spot near the top of your list.
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Whitey and Lucky are 3 days old in this picture. They are Rhode Island Red Mix. Imagine the surprise of going to feed the chickens on January 2, 2010 when my grandson yells "babies." These baby chicks were hatched out on January 1st and they have become my grandson's pets. He held them when they were small and, now that they are older, they play tag together.
The chicks just love to chase my grandson around the yard and they love being chased back. What a wonderful New Year's gift to have. When the mother began sitting on eggs, we thought they were duds since it was so bitterly cold out. She kept them warm and hatched them out and took care of them through the winter storms.
We named them Lucky and Whitey because they are lucky to be alive and Whitey is just that, completely white. My grandson has a ball with them when he comes here.
By gem from VA