Plymouth Rock Chickens: Buyer’s Guide

Plymouth Rock Chickens: Buyer’s Guide

I gotta give my love to Plymouth Rock chickens – they’re a true American breed.

 

Chickens come in all shapes and sizes, and the numerous breeds around the world have long found key roles in our backyards, our farms, and sometimes, even in our houses (silkies especially)!

 

Yet there has long been a misconception among chicken lovers: The Plymouth Rock and the Barred Rock are two different types of chickens.

 

In reality, the Barred Rock is just one Plymouth Rock chicken recognized variety; in other words, it is a variation of the standard breed.

 

While it is unlikely that these chickens have purposefully been pulling the wool – or the proverbial feathers – over our eyes, we are nonetheless presenting you with a great opportunity to learn about this wonderful chicken – before you decide to make a better backyard flock with its inclusion.

 

In this article, we will bring you characteristics, origin, weight, and we will even show off the wonderful plumage that help us distinguish true Plymouth Rock chicken varieties from one another.

 

5 Amazing Plymouth Rock Chicken Facts

 

  • With popularity stretching back to before the Wild West was tamed, these fluffy butts are one of America’s oldest breeds.
  • One of their greatest appeals is their long-lived hardiness. Not only are they rugged and can weather some of the worst storms that Mother Nature throws at them, but their large size makes for more satisfying hugs.
  • Gossip in the hen house is spread in relative contentment, as mothers bear confinement well, and can make a home even in limited space.
  • Forget the Apple Pie! Until World War II, it could have been said that nothing was as American as the Plymouth Rock Chicken, as no other breed was kept and bred as extensively as the Plymouth Rock Chicken.
  • Considering that it took a little while for the name “Plymouth Rock” to stick, it makes sense that the original Plymouth Rock Chicken was actually of the Barred Rock variety.

barred rock rooster vs. hen comparison

Where To Buy Plymouth Rock Chickens

You can buy these chicks at most major hatcheries and farm stores (such as Rural King or Tractor Supply.) Some hatcheries include:

  • My Pet Chicken (based in Connecticut)
  • Cackle Hatchery (based in Missouri. Read our review of Cackle here)
  • Meyer Hatchery (located in Ohio)
  • Stromberg’s Chicks (located in Minnesota)
  • Ideal Poultry (located in Texas)
  • Metzer Farms (located in California)
  • Murray McMurray (located in Iowa)

The most important thing is to choose a high quality hatchery that’s also close to you, so your new pets don’t spend forever in the mail.

 

You might have difficulty finding colors other than the barred variety, so it’s best to check with qualified breeders if you want any variation besides a barred Plymouth Rock.

 

Most Plymouth Rock chicks should cost under $5 (although some breeders who raise heritage chickens might charge more, but you’ll likely be getting a show quality bird.)

 

Raising Plymouth Rocks As Pets

Do Plymouth Rocks Make Good Pets?

Absolutely! Plymouth Rocks are one of the best chicken breeds for mixed flock because they’re easy-going and friendly. The rooster temperament is calm, and they take great care of their hens. The Plymouth Rock Chicken recognized variety, the Columbian, is especially good, with their striking white coloring and their heavy (up to 6 pounds for females) weight.

 

Are Plymouth Rock Chickens Friendly?

Yes, especially if hand raised, and given lots of treats. The roosters have temperaments that are generally peaceable with other animal species. They are usually calm and docile and often enjoy happy lives with people and other animals. Barred Rock chicks handle confinement well, and mother hens, like their male counterparts, have spread untold contentment to their human handlers.

 

What Is The History Of The Breed?

It is fitting that the Barred Rock chicken has taken the more popular name of “Plymouth Rock Chicken.” Like the United States, itself, the Plymouth Rock chicken origin is in Massachusetts. Unlike the USA, which became official in the 1700’s, this breed got its official start in the nineteenth century. For much of the early twentieth century, it was the most popular breed in the United States.

 

Plymouth Rock Breed Characteristics

What Do Plymouth Rocks Look Like?

It’s a sturdy looking bird, with white skin and yellow legs. Two of the most striking features is the yellow beak and the bright red single comb. The roosters have long, beautiful tail feathers, while the hens have a squarish body. Plymouth rock chicken weight varies between the hens and roosters: The roosters tend to be larger, weighing in at around 8 pounds, while the hens are around 5 pounds.

What Colors Do Plymouth Rocks Come In?

Plymouth Rock chickens don’t just come with barred feathers (although in my opinion, they’re the most beautiful!) Another popular option is the White Plymouth Rock Chicken, although it’s lesser known than the barred variety.

Plymouth Rock chicken colors include:

  • Barred
  • Blue
  • Buff
  • Colombian
  • Partridge
  • Silver Penciled
  • White

What Is The Plymouth Rock Chicken Used For?

It’s an excellent dual-purpose bird. Their large size Is ideal for meat production. It also boasts fine egg laying capabilities, and a single hen can produce 200 eggs per year. These days, they’re also kept as pets, and in breeding programs that want to raise sex-linked chickens..

barred plymouth rock chicken hen

Are Plymouth Rock Chickens Noisy?

Not compared to other breeds. The Plymouth Rock Chicken is usually a quiet bird, and you might notice the roosters don’t crow as much as other breeds (Buff Orpington or Brahmas, for example). They make for quite good neighbors. Those rare times when they DO make a commotion is a good sign that something sinister is afoot, like a raccoon, or a potentially bad weather (usually it’s a predator though).

 

How Long Do Plymouth Rock Chickens Live?

The standard life expectancy of these fluffy butts is usually 6 to 8 years but some have been known to live until 10 to 12 years. Like any other breed, your chickens’ lifespan depends on factors such as genetics, feed, and housing (a well built predator-proof coop with good quality chicken wire is one place to start). You can read more about how long chickens live here.

 

Are Plymouth Rock Chickens Cold Hardy?

Yes! Considering the heavy snowfall and occasional negative temperatures of their home state of Massachusetts, yes, Plymouth Rock Chickens are quite cold-hardy. Because of this, large numbers are not required for survival; they are ideal for small individual farms with low chicken populations.

 

Can Plymouth Rock Chickens Fly?

Although the Plymouth Rock Chicken is not considered a strong flier compared to other birds, they are capable of limited flight. They can fly up into roosts, but not really much more than that. You can read more about whether chickens can fly here.

 

Are Barred Rock And Plymouth Rock Chickens The Same?

Yes, the Barred Rock is just a color variation of Plymouth Rock Chickens. You can read more about Barred Rocks here.

 

Coops For Plymouth Rock Chickens

What Kind Of Coop Does This Breed Need?

Plymouth Rocks do best with plenty of room inside the coop (about 10 square feet of space per chicken) so that they can move around. It should also be predator proof, include roosts, and space for a feeder and waterer. In this article, I show you 55 different coops you can build yourself.

 

What Kind Of Predators Attack These Chickens?

Considering how valuable they are as food to humans, it is not surprising that predators like raccoons, wolves, and other fierce animals also prey on these birds. You can learn more about how to spot chicken predators here (based on their footprints).

 

Plymouth Rock Chicken Eggs

Are Plymouth Rock Chickens Good Layers?

Yes! They’re one of the champion egg layers of the coop! You’ll find your Plymouth Rock heb lays 280 eggs per year, which amounts to about 5 eggs a week.

 

What Color Eggs Do Plymouth Rock Chickens Lay?

The Plymouth rock chicken egg color is a light brown (some say it’s the color of a latte). The actual shade will vary from bird to bird. Stresses like extreme heat can also effect egg shell color. You can learn more about abnormal eggs you might find here.

brown plymouth rock chicken eggs

At What Age Do Plymouth Rocks Lay Eggs?

Plymouth Rock hens begin laying their eggs at around 6 months. However, several factors can effect when your chickens lay eggs (and how often), such as diet, time of year, environmental stresses, etc. You can learn more about how often chickens lay eggs here and reasons why chickens stop laying here.

 

To prompt your hens to lay (assuming they’re the correct age), you should offer clean nesting boxes in a quiet place. You can learn more about nesting boxes here.

 

How Long Do Plymouth Rock Chickens Lay Eggs?

Like other chickens, Plymouth Rock hens will lay eggs consistently for the first 2-3 years. After that, you’ll likely see a decrease in the amount of egg laid each week, until she stops laying altogether (there will be some champion layers who lay until they’re a ripe old age, so these numbers are just generalizations).

 

Common Health Issues

As with any other chicken, Plymouth Rock chickens are susceptible to lice, mites, worms, and other parasites. To help boost their immune systems and beat the bugs, feed apple cider vinegar and crushed garlic daily. You can learn more about my favorite herbs for deterring mites here.

In summary, the Plymouth Rock chicken has been one of the leading chicken breeds for well over a century, and not by coincidence. These rugged fowls put little stress on their handlers, while putting lots of yummy eggs in their bellies. With enough color varieties to satisfy owner whimsy, these are good-looking birds that certainly are among the best chickens for a backyard flock!

Cream Legbars: Hatchery Reviews & More

Cream Legbars: Hatchery Reviews & More

Pet birds don’t get much better than Cream Legbar chickens. They lay blue eggs and you can tell which are males and which are females seconds after they hatch – what’s not to love?

 

This fascinating breed of chicken is a relative newcomer to the backyard flock scene, but because of their good looks, excellent egg laying ability, docile personality, and sky-colored eggs, they’ve become extremely popular.

 

However, you might not be sure where to find these wonderful colored egg layers

– or which breeders are the best.

 

In this article, you’ll discover everything there is to know about Cream Legbar chickens, where to buy them, what to look for, and how to care for these feathered beauties.

 

5 Amazing Cream Legbar Chicken Facts

  • They’re an unusual crested chicken breed.
  • The chicks are autosexing
  • They lay blue or blue/green eggs
  • The breed almost went extinct in the 70s because nobody wanted blue eggs (surprising since powder blue suits were all the rage).
  • It took several decades of study for the breed to form.

 

Where to Buy Cream Legbar Chickens

There are several major hatcheries and a few recommended breeders where you can buy your Cream Legbar chicks from.

 

With a breed like this – very popular and not very well publicized – it’s easy to head to the wrong place and purchase chickens that LOOK like Cream Legbars, but won’t lay blue eggs or are unhealthy.

 

(One popular cross I’ve seen is a Cream Legbar and a Welsummer chicken – they look like the real deal, but likely won’t lay blue eggs.)

 

Or, you might find the breeder doesn’t know the difference between Cream Legbars, Ameraucanas, Easter Eggers, or Araucanas and accidentally sells you the wrong breed. You can learn the difference between these super blue egg layers here.

 

Because of their popularity, they tend to be much more expensive than other chicken breeds, which makes it tempting for people to pass off hybrids for purebred Cream Legbars.

 

When it comes to this breed, make sure you’re prepared to spend a bit more at a reliable hatchery. While most chicken breeds tend to cost between $2 – $5, Cream Legbar pullets start at approximately $25, while the young roosters are less.

 

Recommended Hatcheries

The top hatcheries to purchase Cream Legbars are:

  1. My Pet Chicken
  2. Meyer Hatchery
  3. Cackle Hatchery
  4. Murray McMurray

 

My Pet Chicken

Located in Connecticut. If you live on the East Coast, you’ll want to use this hatchery so your chicks don’t travel too far.

 

This has been one of the top hatcheries for decades in the United States. They carry day old chicks that you can have shipped right to your door. The Cream Legbars on their site have gotten many 5 star reviews, and owners seem happy with their purchase.

 

Meyer Hatchery

Located in Ohio. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic or Northern Midwest, this is a good hatchery to order from. Your chicks won’t travel too far.

 

Meyer has a good reputation, and on their website, they show photos of beautiful sky blue eggs that’ll be perfect in any morning egg basket. Their reviews aren’t quite as good as My Pet Chicken’s, although it seems there are more reviews (which is a good thing). The prices of the Cream Legbars are the same as other hatcheries.

 

Cackle Hatchery

Located in Missouri. A good hatchery to order from if you live in the Midwest, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, the Dakotas, etc. This is the hatchery I have the most experience with. Every time I’ve ordered from them, the chicks arrived ASAP and in good shape.

 

Their prices for Cream Legbar chicks are competitive. Note that as of the time of press, they only shipped these chicks through June, so get your orders in early.

 

The roosters in particular look very beautiful. You can read our review of Cackle Hatchery here.

 

Murray McMurray

Located in Iowa. A good place to order from if you live in the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota, etc. I’ve ordered from this hatchery before (although not Cream Legbar chickens), and had a good experience.

 

Their prices are very competitive, and the photos on their website show pretty blue/green eggs, and hens with very impressive crest feathers!

 

There’s only 1 review on their site for this chicken breed.

 

Recommended Cream Legbar Breeders

Greenfire Farms

One of the top breeders (if not THE top breeder) in the United States, Greenfire Farms, also has Cream Legbar chickens for sale. As one of the first importers of these chickens, they’ve helped establish solid flocks for other breeders, and only raise healthy birds you’ll be proud to have in your flock. You can expect to make more of an investment in your birds, but you’ll have beautiful parent stock from which you can establish your own flocks.

 

Willow Croft Farm

These breeders are based in Washington state, and might be a good option for those living on the West Coast. They only offer a limited number each year, so it’s best to check with them directly. According to buyers, their Cream Legbar chickens come from Greenfire stock, are very healthy, and lay every day.

 

Cream Legbar Chicken Hatching Eggs

If you want to purchase hatching eggs, Purely Poultry seems to have them in stock. Bear in mind that while this can seem like an easy way to save some money, the phrase “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” rings true for a reason – there’s no guarantee you’ll have any chicks. The USPS is notoriously bad for shipping eggs.

 

Other Ways To Purchase Cream Legbar Chickens

 

  1. You can join the Cream Legbar Club to connect with other enthusiasts (and possibly breeders).
  2. Join Facebook groups and ask for breeder recommendations. Here’s a popular group called Cream Legbar Breeders of America.

 

Cream Legbar Eggs

What Color Eggs Do Cream Legbars Lay?

Because of their Araucana heritage (and selective breeding), the crested Cream Legbar egg color is blue or blue/green. If your Cream Legbar hen doesn’t lay blue eggs, then it’s likely a hybrid (you can find out about other colored egg layers here.).

 

How Many Eggs Does A Cream Legbar Lay?

Cream Legbars lay about 280 eggs each year, and are noted for being very prolific egg layers. So, don’t be surprised if you find lovely blue eggs in your nesting boxes 5 times a week!

 

You can learn more about which nesting boxes chickens prefer here.

 

What Age Do Cream Legbars Start Laying?

Like most chickens, Cream Legbars start laying their eggs at about 6 months of age. This will depend on different factors, however, such as her diet and the time of year. It’s always best to feed your hens a high quality layer feed that’s at least 16% protein. You can also supplement with extra treats, such as black soldier fly larvae and oyster shells for extra calcium.

 

Many readers ask “When do cream legbars start laying?” because their chickens are 7 months old, with no eggs in sight. Remember that if your hen turns 6 months old during winter, she is less likely to start laying. In fact, she might wait until spring before beginning egg production. You can find out more about how often hens lay eggs here.

 

If your Cream Legbar hen stops laying eggs, you can troubleshoot egg laying problems here.

 

Cream Legbar Vs. Ameraucana: Which Is Better?

When it comes to laying eggs, many owners report that Cream Legbars are more prolific layers. However the Ameraucana is more likely to be friendlier and cuddlier. Ameraucana roosters are also usually pretty mellow.

 

Cream Legbar Breed Standard

History Of The Cream Legbar Breed

Established in the United Kingdom, Cream Legbars are getting more popular, but are still considered to be a fairly rare breed in the USA.

 

It was developed by Reginald Crundall Punnett and Michael Pease, researchers at Cambridge University, who wanted to create a breed that could easily be sexed at hatching (you can read more about how to sex a baby chick here).

 

These gentlemen crossed a Gold Legbar chicken (a hybrid of Barred Rocks and Brown Leghorns) with white Leghorns and Aracauna chickens.

 

While this gets a bit technical about chicken genetics, the Araucanas brought the dilute creme gene to the mixture, which inhibits the gold gene from being expressed in the chicks (which is why Cream Legbars are a light grey or cream color).

 

It’s also from the Araucanas that the Cream Legbar gets its crest and blue egg laying genes.

 

Thanks to this mixture, the chicks can be sexed after they hatch by examining their down. Like other autosexing chicken breeds, Cream Legbars have specific markings when they’re born. The pullets have a dark brown stripe extending over the head, neck and tail, and barring around the eye. They also have a head spot. Roosters have paler down, and less pronounced barring.

 

Breed Standard

According to breeding clubs, these are the required markings of Cream Legbar hens and roosters:

 

Roosters: Cream neck hackles, sparsely barred. Crests are cream and grey colored. Saddle hackle feathers are long and cream barred. The wings are also faintly barred.

 

Hens: The breast is salmon colored and the rest of the body is silver-grey with soft barring. The neck hackles and tail are covered with cream feathers with grey barring. Like the roosters, the crest should be cream and grey. The hens should lay blue or blue/green eggs, and should lay prolifically.

 

Unlike their Araucana ancestors, these chickens don’t have the tufts.

 

You can read detailed breed standards here.

 

What Color Legs Do Cream Legbars Have?

Cream Legbars have yellow legs and feet.

 

Feeding Cream Legbar Chickens

Like most chickens, the best Cream Legbar diet includes a lot of protein. Chicks need a high protein diet to grow correctly- 18% protein chick starter is best.

 

Layers need it also so they can provide you with yummy eggs. The ideal diet for a hen includes a 16% protein layer feed and fresh, clean water every day.

 

Most commercial feeds are perfectly adequate. If you want to save some money and keep rodents away from your hens, use a no-waste feeder like these. You can also build your own with these tutorials.

 

This is especially important since Cream Legbars (thanks to the Leghorn genes) have a very good feed to egg ratio, so they won’t eat as much as bigger chickens. You want that feed to last as long as possible!

 

Keeping the feed out 24 hours a day will attract pests and predators. Since your Cream Legbars are smaller chickens, they’re more susceptible to being attacked. Keep their feed locked up at night when they’re not going to eat it anyway.

 

For nicely colored yolks, you can add herbs high in beta carotenes, such as calendula.

 

Your flock should have 24 hour access to water (although they probably won’t drink at night). An automatic waterer makes this easy. You can find recommended waterers here.

 

If you want to build your own, you can get my tutorial for a $12 gravity waterer here.

 

Keeping Cream Legbar Chickens as Pets

Are Cream Legbar Chickens Friendly?

The cream legbar temperament is usually docile, but it depends on how they’re raised. Because they have Leghorn genetics, they can be a bit flighty (Leghorns are notorious for their flightiness). However, many owners report that if the Cream Legbar chicks are hand raised, they’re very friendly and will take treats from your hand.

 

According to the breed standard, having a docile Cream Legbar is ideal.

 

Cream Legbars also have a bantam variety, and on the whole, bantams tend to be friendlier than full sized chickens. You can read more about bantams here.

 

Are Cream Legbar Roosters Aggressive?

Some breeders report that Cream Legbar roosters tend to be more aggressive than other chicken breeds, and are good protectors. So, if you’re looking for a pet chicken for your children, then this breed might not be the best available (Silkies and Cochins are two options.)

 

Cream Legbar Chicken Lifespan

Cream Legbars tend to be healthy birds, and on a general basis, you can expect yours to live between 5-10 years. Note that the exact lifespan depends on lots of different factors, such as diet, shelter, and veterinary care. You can learn more about the factors that can effect how long your chickens live here.

 

Coops For Cream Legbar Chickens

The perfect Cream Legbar chicken habitat should be:

  1. Safe from predators
  2. Well ventilated
  3. Draft-free
  4. Easy to clean
  5. 10 square feet of space per chicken
  6. Full of environmental interest, such as branches and toys

 

While Cream Legbars are not very large, they can be flighty and nervous. It’s best to stick to the 10 square feet of space per chicken rule of thumb.

 

These are also smaller birds, and easily picked off by predators, including dogs, raccoons, opossums, and larger predators like bears. Make sure your coop is 100% predator proof, and use a run or tractor to allow your flock some outdoors time.

 

You can learn how to build a predator proof coop here and figure out the best chicken wire here for your particular coop. If you want to know how to identify common chicken predators, you can read this article.

 

Cream Legbars are both cold hardy and heat hardy, but remember that they’re still fairly small birds. So, your coop should keep them dry and warm in the winter so they don’t freeze.

 

In the summer, your coop should have good cross breezes so they don’t overheat. A few windows are always a good idea – just be sure to use screens or hardware cloth so no predators can eat your flock.

 

You can also offer frozen treats like these Beef Tallow Treats. Your flock will love you for it.

 

Known Health Issues

When Greenfire Farms first imported Cream Legbar chickens, Marek’s seemed to be a big issue. The breeder reported that this was partly due to the imported birds having no resistance to the strains of the virus we have in the USA. Subsequent generations seem more immune. However, it’s not a bad idea to have your Cream Legbar chicks vaccinated for Mareks to be on the safe side.

 

Because Cream Legbar hens are such prolific layers, there’s a chance she might end up with a prolapsed vent. However, this seems unlikely, and reports are few and far between.

Top 10 Largest Chicken Breeds That Are Also Great Pets

Top 10 Largest Chicken Breeds That Are Also Great Pets

You might be surprised at the largest chicken breed, or you might already have an idea of the winner.

 

Giant chicken breeds are a great addition to any backyard flock! They have presence, they’re usually very beautiful, they definitely resemble tiny dinosaurs, and you’ll enjoy watching them!

 

With each of the breeds in this article, you’ll have the finest selection of dual purpose kings or egg-cellent egg layers.

 

If you’re considering adding some gentle but big chicken breeds to your flock, then this article is for you. You’ll discover the largest chicken breeds that are also great egg layers – and despite their size, they’ll easily fit into any backyard flock!

 

Top 10 Largest Chicken Breeds

  • Jersey Giant
  • Cochin
  • Brahma
  • Cornish
  • Buff Orpington
  • Malines
  • Maylay
  • Langshan
  • Barred Rock
  • Dong Tao

 

Jersey Giant

The Jersey Giant chicken is one of the biggest chicken breeds out there. However, they are more than just their size: Docile and mellow, they’re also great pet breeds! Jersey Giants are a heritage chicken breed that was developed in New Jersey in the 19th century as an alternative to turkeys. They’re good layers at 150 to 200 large eggs per year. The Jersey Giant egg color is brown.

 

How Much Does A Jersey Giant Chicken Weigh?

What Is The Heaviest Chicken Breed? The Jersey Giant! The roosters can weigh up to 15 pounds (they’re called Jersey GIANTS for a reason), with the black variety usually just a pound heavier than the white.

 

How Big Is A Jersey Giant Chicken?This huge chicken breed is usually between 16 to 26 inches tall.

 

Cochin

Cochin chickens are fluffy giants who are also one of the most popular chicken breeds. They’re friendly, cold hardy, and lay eggs consistently. If you add one to your flock, you can choose between a full-sized Cochin or the bantam variety (or get both. Definitely get both).

 

Standard sized Cochins are about 5 pounds, and are well-loved for their fluffy, soft feathers. They do have feathers on their feet, giving them a fun and unique appearance. They do like to be handled, especially the bantam variety (which weighs about 2 pounds – perfect for children.)

 

All Cochins love treats, and you can expect about 160 eggs per year. You can learn more about Cochins here.

 

Brahma

How Big Can A Chicken Get? Brahmas are well known because of a video of a giant rooster that went viral (owned by a man named Fitim Sejfijaj, based near Kosovo) and boasts the title of “Biggest Chicken In The World” (Guinness Book of World Records). Suddenly, everyone wanted Brahmas!

 

There’s several different varieties of this chicken breed, including:

  • Light
  • Dark
  • Buff
  • Bantam

 

In terms of their size, there’s no difference between a light and dark Brahma, although the bantam version won’t get very big.

 

When it comes to a Brahma vs. Jersey Giant, the Jersey Giant is usually bigger than a Brahma. However, both types of chickens make great pets.

 

The full size Brahmas are an old breed that can be as tall as 30 inches (although this is rare and depends largely on the breeder). Many people love that Brahmas are feather footed. They’re also great egg layers, and lay up to 300 eggs per year.


You can learn more about Brahmas here.

 

How Big Can A Brahma Chicken Get? How Big Is A Brahma Chicken?

Some can grow to around 30 inches tall, however, this will vary from chicken to chicken and breeder to breeder. Because of its size, it’s sometimes called the “King of Chickens.”

 

Cornish

Developed in the UK during the 19th century, the Cornish chicken as a squat, square body and weighs in at around 10 pounds. They come in several varieties including:

  • Dark
  • White
  • White-Laced Red
  • Buff
  • Black

 

They’re also the parent stock of modern Cornish Rock chickens, which are bred to grow extremely quickly for their meat (Cornish Rock chickens also make docile pets, if you can keep them alive long enough. They tend to have heart issues).

 

Orpingtons

The Orpington chicken breed is a heritage strain of dual-purpose chicken that was developed in the town of Orpington, in the UK. This type of chicken comes in several varieties, including:

  • Buff
  • Black
  • White
  • Blue
  • Chocolate Cuckoo (unrecognized)
  • Jubilee (unrecognized)
  • Lavender Columbian (unrecognized)
  • Columbian (unrecognized)
  • Lavender (unrecognized)
  • Chocolate (unrecognized)
  • Splash (unrecognized)

 

This docile and friendly breed is great for families because they’re calm around children and is laid back with confinement. They’re large, topping out at about 10 pounds. The hens tend to go broody, so they’re great for families that want to hatch chicks (if your hen doesn’t go broody, you can see the incubators we recommend here.)

 

As some of the best egg layers out there, you can expect about 280 eggs per year. You can read more about Orpingtons here.

 

Malines

Originating in Belgium in the 19th century, this chicken breed is one of the largest in the world (rivalling Jersey Giants for heft). The roosters can reach 12 pounds, and both male and females sport cuckoo-patterned feathers. These chickens have a calm temperament, and don’t mind being picked up. They’re fair layers that produce 150 eggs per year. While there is a bantam variety, they’re not readily available.

 

Malay

What Is The Tallest Chicken Breed? The Maylay! While not as hefty as the Jersey Giant, the Malay chicken IS considered the tallest chicken breed in the world, reaching 30 inches in height. (Although the current “Tallest rooster in the world” record is held by a Brahma). Developed in Europe from local chickens and birds from India and the Malay peninsula, they became popular because of their height. Maylay roosters weigh about 9 pounds, and the hens are fair layers. You can expect about 100 eggs per year. Today, they’re mostly kept for ornamental purposes.

 

Langshan

Langshan chickens originated in China, and made their way Westward in the 19th century. They’re feather footed, and lay dark brown eggs. They’re a hardy black chicken breed that’s heat tolerant, and is friendly towards humans. They can weigh up to 9 pounds, and lay about 180 eggs per year.

 

Barred Rock

With sharply defined barred black and white feathers, Barred Rocks are an old American breed that’s been popular since the 1700s. The roosters weigh about 7 pounds, with friendly personalities. As great egg layers, you can expect about 280 eggs a year.

 

Dong Tao

Also known as the “dragon chicken,” Dong Taos have a very unique appearance. Weighing in at about 12 pounds, members of this breed sport enlarged legs and feet. They originated in Vietnam, where they’re prized for their meat. Their big legs make it difficult to lay eggs and move around, so they’re not kept for their eggs.

 

Other Large Chicken Breeds

Rhode Island Reds

Rhode Island Red chickens are one of the most popular and well known breeds available. Although they’re fallen in popularity the past few years in favor of ornamental breeds, they’re very cold hardy, and aside from regular feed, water, vet care, and housing, they require little care. Roosters weigh approximately 9 pounds.

 

Note: There’s two types of Rhode Island Red breeds: Industrial strains, which are bred for high egg production, and heritage strains, which trace their roots back to the first Europeans in America. The heritage strains tend to be bigger, while the industrial strains are bred with only egg production in mind.

 

Delaware

Delaware chickens are also popular, and are very easy going. They’re not the heaviest birds out there, topping out at about 6 to 8 pounds. They’re great egg layers, and you can expect about 280 eggs per year.

 

Australorp

Australorps are gaining popularity (especially black Australorp chickens) because they’re excellent layers. Originating in Australia, they’re parent stock are Orpingtons, Its name is a mixture of “Australia” and “Orpington.” Males weigh up to 10 pounds, making them fairly heavy. The average hen will lay about 300 eggs per year.

 

What Is The Most Aggressive Chicken Breed?

While you will likely hear different opinions from different owners, the Silver Laced Serama rooster is fairly aggressive, and not recommended for children. Hens can become aggressive when they’re broody and their nest is disturbed. Roosters can become aggressive in the first year of their lives (when hormones kick in) and in early spring. However, most roosters chill out as they age.

 

What Chicken Lays Largest Eggs?

Breeds that lay large eggs include:

  • Rhode Island Red
  • Barred Rock
  • Jersey Giants
  • Orpingtons
  • Langshan
  • Marans
  • Welsummer

 

What Are The Largest Chicken Breeds?

  • Jersey Giant
  • Cochin
  • Brahma
  • Cornish
  • Buff Orpington
  • Malines
  • Maylay
  • Langshan
  • Barred Rock
  • Dong Tao

 

What Chicken Breeds Lay Extra Large Eggs?

  • Rhode Island Red
  • Barred Rock
  • Jersey Giants
  • Orpingtons
  • Langshan
  • Marans
  • Welsummer
Naughty Ducks! Confessions from the Coop (TM)

Naughty Ducks! Confessions from the Coop (TM)

Yesterday, I noticed my ducks aimlessly wandering around the yard, which isn’t supposed to happen – I shut their run door.

 

Yet, there they were, happy as clams, playing in the horse waterers.

 

When I checked the coop, the door was open. Don’t ask me how.

 

But here’s what’s funny: NONE of the chickens bothered to escape! LOL! They must be happy in their coop, if they don’t want the sweet taste of freedom when it’s offered!

 

They got extra black soldier fly larvae as a treat!

 

I think this year, every chicken on the farm has decided to molt. There’s feathers EVERYWHERE.

 

I’ve been putting out the Fluffiest Feathers Ever! like mad because while the warm weather usually lasts through October here, it’s been such a weird year, that I don’t want them to get cold if it suddenly decides to snow!

 

We’re having a lot of fun picking up feathers.

 

One of the roosters is a barred rock, and very beautiful. I have no idea what we’ll do with all these feathers, but I’ll think of something!

Eggs/Ducks

I got my hatching eggs in, and the incubator has been fired up! And I couldn’t resist….I stuck some duck eggs in there.

 

The ducklings have feathered out, and they’re very beautiful. I couldn’t resist trying for more!

 

We definitely have a mix of male and female, so next spring, I’m going to have to bring in a couple new drakes and hens to keep the gene pool diverse.

 

In the incubator, we have a GREAT mixture. Some are my barnyard mix (it’s always fun to see what those chicks look like) and some purebred lavender orpingtons, silver laced polish bantams, russian orloffs, and a couple others.

 

I’m probably going to build additional runs and coops for the pure bred chickens, and possibly bring in some outside blood from a second breeder.

5 Heritage Chicken Breeds Our Grandparents Kept

5 Heritage Chicken Breeds Our Grandparents Kept

Heritage chicken breeds play an important part on our homestead.

 

Did you know humans have raised poultry for meat and eggs for almost 10,000 years?

 

While I’m a big fan of industrial breeds such as production reds, who lay an egg every day like clockwork, I’m turning more towards keeping pure blooded heritage chicken breeds on our homestead, in part to preserve a piece of American history that might otherwise be lost.

 

We also use them in our breeding program, to improve the chicken breeds we’re developing, and so we can start hatching sex links to bring some income to our farm.

 

This year, we added several heritage chicken breeds to our flock – both hens and roosters so we can continue the terrific bloodlines of these breeds.

 

Now, according to the Livestock Conservancy:

A heritage chicken “can only be produced by a Standard-bred Chicken admitted by the American Poultry Association. A Heritage Chicken is hatched from a Heritage Egg sired by an American Poultry Association Standard-bred Chicken, whose breed was established prior to the mid-20th century, is slow growing, naturally mated with a long productive outdoor life.

 

Why bother with heritage chicken breeds?

 

One advantage to heritage breeds is, when it comes to hatching them, you know what you’re going to get.

 

After all, the purpose to breeding pure bloods is the genetic traits are predictable. Generation after generation of heritage chicken breeds show the same traits, whether it’s a certain color egg, a specific size, or plumage.

 

Centuries ago, when heritage chicken breeds were first developed in America or otherwise introduced to our country, for the most part they were developed as dual purpose breeds.

 

Buff orpingtons, for example, were specifically bred so they would consistently produce eggs but were also white skinned, making butchering easier, and were a hefty weight.

 

So, which heritage chicken breeds are good for a homestead?

 

I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a look.

 

In this article, we’ll look at 5 heritage chicken breeds and why they’re great for any homestead.

 

Orpingtons

 

The first of the heritage chicken breeds we’ll look at are Orpingtons. We personally keep several Buff Orpingtons on our homestead, and they lay wonderful brown eggs regularly.

 

They’re a great dual purpose chicken, bred for both meat and eggs. If you’re off grid, they’re particularly advantageous because the hens like to sit on eggs, making them ideal for a sustainable flock of heritage chicken breeds.

 

Orpingtons come in several colors, including black, white, buff, blue and splash, and the buff color is the most commonly seen.

 

Orpingtons have a wonderful history, and were developed in 1886 by an English man named William Cook, who was a professional coach man.

 

To meet the need for a dark chicken that could be exhibited in London at shows without soot showing (London was a dirty place in those days!) and to meet market demand for a chicken that was large, white skinned, and good for the table, he developed Black Orpingtons.

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken
These heritage chickens are named after the town they were developed in, Orpington, and were produced by crossing Minorcas, Langshans and Plymouth Rocks heritage breeds.

 

Later, the buff color was developed, and only the original colors are accepted by the American Poultry Association. 

 

As a heritage chicken, Orpingtons are perfect for any homestead because they grow to good harvestable weight, lay large brown eggs regularly, and are attractively colored birds.

 

Rhode Island Reds

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

Photo by Livestock Conservancy

 

Rhode Island Reds (RIR) is one of the oldest heritage chicken breeds in America. When it comes to RIR, there’s industrial strains, bred for egg production as well as the heritage strains.

 

For this article, we’re talking about the heritage breeds, which look different from an industrial chicken strain.

 

According to the Livestock Conservancy, heritage Rhode Island Reds are listed as “recovering”, thanks to efforts by breeders and homesteaders who want to preserve this piece of Americana.

 

Directly descended from the heritage chicken breeds our ancestors developed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Rhode Island Reds originated in Adamsville, which is a village in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

 

They are larger than industrial strains, and perfect for either the table or for their eggs. They’re also the foundation for more modern “breeds”, such as Production Reds and Sex Links.

 

If you want to raise heritage Rhode Island Reds, do your homework to make sure the bloodlines are indeed true to this heritage chicken breed.

 

These heritage chickens are hearty birds that weather winter well, and are great with children. 

 

the better egg ad final

 

Delawares

 

Delawares are next on our list of heritage chicken breeds. They’re beautiful, striking birds that make a gorgeous addition to any backyard flock.

 

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

 

This heritage chicken originated in Delaware in the 1940s by crossing  Barred Plymouth Rock roosters and New Hampshire hens. They’ve been important in creating modern broiler breeds, and for a while were the most popular meat chickens in the Mid-Atlantic area largely because of their color.

 

Delawares are critically endangered according to the Livestock Conservancy because their usefulness as broilers has been surpassed by Cornish Crosses, but they still make a wonderful dual purpose bird for any homestead.

 

We have a couple Delaware roosters on our farm and they’re friendly, hearty birds that grow well.

 

Plymouth Rocks (Barred Rocks)

 

The fourth on our list of heritage chicken breeds are Plymouth Rocks, also popularly known as Barred Rocks.

 

I talk in depth on this heritage chicken breed in one of my podcast episodes, so I’ll just briefly recap here.

 

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

 

The Plymouth Rock originated in America in the middle of the 19th century, and is one of the most popular heritage breeds in part because the barred birds are very showy and beautiful.

 

They’re also excellent egg producers. This type of heritage chicken was first exhibited in Boston, Massachusetts as a breed in 1849 and were developed from hybrid chickens with Spanish, White Cochin, Dominique, Buff Cochin, Black Java, and Brahma bloodlines.

 

And the original Plymouth Rocks were of the barred variety.

 

According to the Livestock Conservancy, the Plymouth Rock seems to have disappeared for 20 or so years until 1869 when this heritage breed appeared at a poultry show in Worchester, Massachusetts.

 

The Plymouth Rocks we know today are heritage offspring of the second set of Plymouth Rocks.

 

This heritage breed was accepted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Excellence in 1874.

 

The Plymouth Rocks we have on our farm are friendly birds that we’re raising to breed both purebloods and black sex links. 

 

I like them because they lay nice brown eggs consistently and they’re a popular meat birds among our neighbors.

Sultans

 

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

 

I’ve never kept Sultans one of the heritage chicken breeds we raise on the homestead, but after learning about them, I would like to!

 

Sultans are one of several heritage chicken breeds that are critically endangered,according to the Livestock Conservancy.

 

They’re natives of Turkey, where they were likely developed as ornamental birds for the gardens of the Sultan.

 

They have been rare since they arrived in England in 1854 when Mrs. Elizabeth Watts of Hampstead, England, the editor of the Poultry Chronicle (a British publication) received heritage chickens from a friend living in Constantinople (now Istanbul).

 

Their actual name is Serai Taook, which in Turkish means Sultan’s Fowl, which is where their name derived.

 

They’re very pretty ornamental birds, possibly the most among the heritage chicken breeds.

 

They don’t lay very well, but if you are not looking for a high efficiency bird and just enjoy having friendly companions, then preserving these heritage chickens might be for you!

 

Helping to save heritage chicken breeds is a wonderful pursuit for any homesteader. These breeds are a piece of American history, and we’re happy to continue preserving them!

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Which heritage chicken breeds most interest you? Email me at [email protected] or comment below!


Sultan photo by “A White Sultan (chicken)” by Eunice. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.