If you want to know all about Rhode Island Red Chickens AND the best hatcheries to buy them from, you’ve come to the right place!
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Fast Facts About Rhode Island Red Chickens
- Rhode Island might be the smallest state in the USA, but hasn’t stopped it from making a big name for itself in the world of chickens. Rhode Island Reds are the state bird of Rhode Island. It certainly makes sense.
- They first got started as a breed in 1830.
- These amazing birds are one of the foundations for sex-link chickens, which are not a breed of chicken, but rather, a type of chicken whose gender is immediately identifiable upon their birth.
- This breed was developed in (you guessed it) Rhode Island… and Massachusetts.
- Rhode Island Reds are great at egg-laying. In fact, they are known for their egg production (four or five eggs per week) and are also excellent meat birds (with each bird dressing out to a 5-7 lb carcass).
- These dual purpose birds are one of many breeds of chickens that are known as heritage breeds, with other popular options including Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes, and more.
- Tolerant of just about any climate, they are a hardy breed that are known for their adaptability.
- Rhode Island Reds are family friendly and they do well as pets as well as around children.
Fast Facts About Rhode Island Red Appearance
Rhode Island Red hens come in a range of red colors (surprise!). The color will sometimes include a rust shade. Often times they will have some dark (green and black) tail feathers. They weigh around 6 to 6.5 pounds. Their feet and legs are a cheery yellow color.
Roosters are usually a darker red than the ladies. They exhibit the dark green and black tail feathers. Males are big fellas and weigh around 8.5 pounds.
Rhode Island Red chickens usually a have single comb, but due to a recessive gene some of them end up with a rose comb. Both males and females usually have a horn colored beak (which is sort of a dull gray).
Fast Facts About Raising Rhode Island Red Chickens
Ready to start your own flock of Rhode Island Red chickens? Whether you’re adding these chicks to an existing flock or starting from scratch, make sure you stock up on all the essentials before you bring your little guys and gals home.
What to Feed Them
To start with, you’re going to need a high-quality chick starter, like this one. It will provide your feathered friends with all the protein and other nutrients they need to get off to a good start.
Make sure your coop has plenty of room for your birds – ideally, at least three square feet of space apiece, ideally more if they won’t be free ranging.
You will need at least one nest box for every four birds, too. We recommend filling your nesting boxes with great smelling nesting herbs to boost your birds’ production!
How to Get Good Egg Production
Your Rhode Island Reds won’t start laying eggs right away – you will have to wait a few months for that. But once they do, you can look forward to around four or five large brown eggs each week.
10 Best Hatcheries to Buy Rhode Island Red Chickens
With such widespread value, RIRs (short for Rhode Island Red) are often sought after. If you are in the market for one, then you are in luck, my friend! Here is our list of TEN of the most prominent locations to buy these popular fluffy butts.
Meyer Hatchery is based in Polk, Ohio, and boasts itself as the “Premier Poultry Source.” Priding itself on customer service and availability, Meyer Hatchery provides a variety of chicken breeds to meet customer demands for color and diversity. They welcome mixing and matching of breeds of the same poultry type to meet minimum order requirement for safe shipping. To help with orders, they have a calendar of hatchings.
Meyer has a variety of means of communication, including multiple phone numbers, fax, and email. They also run a blog that covers everything from breeds to plant pairing with chickens, feed, cooking recipes, fowl entertainment, and survival tips.
Check out prices from Meyer Hatchery here.
- Website is up-to-date in real time.
- Accepts checks and credit cards.
- Guarantees gender of chicks either through refund or store credit.
- Optional vaccination.
- Member of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), and provide NPIP VS Form 9-3 free of charge.
- Offer orders of over 100 chicks.
- Limited store hours that change with the season.
Cackle Hatchery proudly boasts that they have been hatching and shipping since 1936. A third-generation hatchery based in Missouri, their mission is to provide customers with quality poultry for showing, meat, enjoyment, and eggs. They ship throughout the USA, including Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. They offer nearly 200 different types of chickens at all stages.
Cackle also offers many other kinds of poultry including ducks, game birds, turkeys, water fowl, and other fowl. They are also a good source for supplies and books.
Check out prices from Cackle Hatchery here.
- Discounts if you buy male chicks.
- Vaccinations available.
- Only need 3 birds to ship (or just one for male birds).
- Offer both Standard and Bantam RIRs!
- Limited availability (February through September).
- Sold as baby chicks only.
Murray McMurray started his chicken business in 1917. As a banker, he sold his chicks to locals through the bank and by 1919, he had developed his own stock of chickens. During the Great Depression, he devoted himself to chickens full time. Since then, Murray McMurray Hatchery has developed into one of the largest chick hatcheries in the country. They sell more than just chickens, with ducks, geese, guineas, turkeys, other fowl and game birds all in the catalogue.
Sexed male chicks tend to be the cheapest, meaning you can get some serious savings if you’re planning on raising these birds primarily for meat. You can also buy pullets or mix and match your order with chicks of other breeds, too.
Check out prices from Murray McMurray Hatchery here.
- Males are extremely inexpensive.
- Bulk discounts available.
- Excellent breed availability.
- Minimum order of six birds at a time.
Another established brand if you’re looking for chicks is Hoover’s Hatchery. Hoover’s supplies many farm and garden supply stores in the United States with their chicks, making them a smart choice if you want to skip the middleman and order from the hatchery directly.
Plus, Hoover’s offers free shipping on practically everything you order. You’ll have to buy at least 15 chicks; so Hoover’s might not be the best option if you live in a city with chicken restrictions. However, as long as you’re willing to buy in bulk, it’s a smart choice. You can even mix and match your order by adding other birds of other chicken breeds along with poultry species like pheasants, turkeys, guineas, ducks, and more.
Another benefit of ordering from Hoover’s Hatchery? Despite the fact that this hatchery is located in Iowa, not necessarily a warm-weather state, it hatches chicks all throughout the year – a must-know feature if you plan on buying chicks around Christmastime.
Check out prices from Hoover Hatchery here.
- Excellent guarantee and refund policy in case of shipping problems.
- Hatches chicks during the winter, one of the few hatcheries to do so.
- Sells other kinds of poultry too.
- Large minimum order.
Valley Farms Hatchery is located in Alabama and is one of the few large commercial chick hatcheries located in the southern United States. If you live in the south, that’s one good reason to give Valley Farms a try – you won’t have to ship your new Rhode Island Red chickens long distances, which can cut down dramatically on shipping stress.
You can buy fertile hatching eggs along with Rhode Island Red chicks from this hatchery. You’ll find some of the lowest price, here, too, with a minimum order of just three chicks. If you buy males, interestingly, the order minimum is just one bird. Buying in bulk poses several advantages though, especially if you can buy more than 50 birds at once – you’ll get significant savings.
Check out prices from Valley Farms Hatchery here.
- Each order is backed by a 100% live delivery guarantee, no matter where you live.
- One chick minimum order if you’re buying males.
- Optional Marek’s vaccination.
- Limited shipping dates.
As a family-owned business, Purely Poultry was started in a college dorm room as a one-stop source for all poultry need. They pride themselves on their knowledge of their products, selection, and how-to details related to everything they offer, including ducks, chickens, geese, and lots of other birds! With their dedication to their products and customers, Purely Poultry has some of the best customer service around.
Located in Durand, WI, they guarantee live birds with every order, which is a good promise, indeed!
Check out prices from Purely Poultry here.
- Each order backed by live arrival guarantee.
- Small order minimum on chicks.
- Other kinds of poultry offered, too.
- Not huge advantages to buying multiple chicks – discounts are minimal.
The Chick hatchery is Michigan’s “premier source for superior quality poultry.” With a creed that revolves around the sharing and joy of raising chickens, they operate in no-kill facilities. They raise their chickens humanely, with any unsold chicks going to Amish farms. Much of the experience of raising chickens is the awareness of the individual chicken and the relationship between food and our own health.
Their Rhode Island Red 8-12 week Pullets are available throughout the year! Shipped out on Tuesdays and arrive between one and two days.
Check out prices from The Chick Hatchery here.
- All poultry guaranteed live delivery.
- Offers discounts on orders of larger quantities of birds, which helps significantly cut down on rates.
- Bantam varieties are available from February through August.
- Ships a maximum of 12 total pullets.
- Relatively expensive for pullets.
- Does not ship to Hawaii or outside the USA.
Chickens for Backyards is an online poultry store that ships orders from Phillipsburg, MO. It sells over 100 breeds of day-old chicks, ducks, geese, turkeys, and guineas with orders as low as three fowl. They have a mix and match option for all breeds, which can be shipped all in the same order.
Shipping schedules run from February through October. On their website, they offer a comprehensive FAQ page and Chick Care information. On the Rhode Island Red product page, there is a breakdown of the bird and information on the live chick guarantee.
Check out prices from Chickens for Backyards here.
- Orders can be cancelled up to 24 hours before shipping.
- Free shipping on supplies.
- Comprehensive FAQ that covers a range of questions from care, feed, shipping, sexing, local laws relating to chicken farming, and terms.
- Losses must be reported within 3 days of arrival.
- Limited availability.
Townline Hatchery, out of Zeeland, MI, prides itself on its hands-on approach that its entire experienced staff observes. In fact, they have an entire series of how to raise birds! Their FAQ section is already quite comprehensive, and they encourage customers to contact them with any questions not already covered. They provide customers with 26 different breed of bird.
The only disadvantage to ordering from Townline is that you’ll have to buy in bulk. The hatchery has a minimum order of fifteen chicks, which can be a challenge if you live in a city that has restrictions on how many birds you can raise (most towns cap it at six hens). However, if you’re planning on shopping for a large flock anyway, Townline is the way to go – the hatchery offers a discount of several dollars per bird when you buy more than 100 chicks.
Check out prices from Townline Hatchery here.
- Superior customer service
- Excellent reputation as one of the longest-standing hatcheries
- Great for buying chicks in large quantities
- Not many hatching dates available for fall, winter, or early spring shipping
10. Heritage Pullets
Heritage Pullets is run entirely by family, with each member contributing his part to the daily operations. They are located in beautiful Montana.
A few of their practices that truly set them apart from others include but are not limited to, complete access to pasture of all pullets after one month of age, they are not raised on wire or in cages and they treat them with table scraps regularly. They also supplement the chicks with fodder in this early stage to set a healthy foundation for a long and productive life.
Check out prices from Heritage Farms here.
- There is no minimum order.
- For shipments of live poultry, they guarantee live delivery and 48-hour survivability and will issue a refund for losses.
- Member of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP).
- Flocks are tested for Pullorum-Typhoid and Avian Influenza (AI)
- If the order is canceled more than 14 days before the shipment date, the only fee charged is what the credit card company charges them.
- They do NOT guarantee one-day delivery. If your birds take more than one day to arrive, they will not refund the shipping cost.
- They are a bit expensive.
- Since they ship on Tuesdays, they are very busy and not able to answer the phones on that day.
Rhode Island Reds are an amazing family backyard bird. They are lovely, friendly, dual purpose, great egg layers, and more. We are sure you will love raising this breed. And now, you have a list of 10 hatcheries you can trust to order your new family friends from.
So…what are you waiting for?
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Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.