Why Delaware Chickens Are Nearly Extinct

Why Delaware Chickens Are Nearly Extinct

Heard of Delaware chickens? Did you know they’re fast headed for extinction? For a chicken breed that was developed in 1940, the Delaware Chicken has the potential to be one of the shortest-lived breeds out there. So what is this breed, and why are they on the edge of extinction?

History of Delaware Chickens

George Ellis of Ocean View, Delaware is the father of this breed. He was looking to produce a fast-feathering bird that grew quickly – with the goal of promoting them in the competitive broiler market. As he experimented with a number of breeds and breed mixes, he stumbled upon the occasional Columbian pattern. He liked this barred spotting from the crossing of New Hampshire hens and Barred Plymouth Rock roosterse, and focused on developing stock so the color bred true. His “Indian River” chicken was the result. By 1952, when the Standard of Perfection recognized this bird, it changed its name to reflect its state of origin: The Delaware Chicken. 

For a time, this striking mostly white bird was primed for the spot of number-one broiler, but it soon lost any chance it had when Perdue (yes, that Perdue) made the Cornish Rock (and its crosses) the go-to for its industrial warehouses. By popularizing the Cornish Rock, much of the private love and profitability of the Delaware fell to the wayside. Its slow decline has persisted to this day, and in 2009, the American Livestock Breed Conservancy listed it as critical. However, thanks to some serious dedication, breeders have brought them up to the “watched” list.   

delaware chicken hen

By Linda from Chicago, USA

Why Should We Hope to Bring the Delaware Chicken Back?

For those for whom patriotism is important, the Delaware Chicken is distinctly American. Bred and raised in the USA, it never gained the traction needed to find itself imported to other countries. To this day, it can only be found in the USA. Delaware chickens are friendly, large, and excellent dual-purpose breeds. While they were originally not developed for small farms or private flocks, this hardy bird is an excellent egg layer, and a great addition to any backyard farm.

What do Delaware Chickens Look Like?

These are large birds that are mostly the purest of whites – except for their spotted banding of black at the backs of their neck and at the tips of their tails. This coloring is called Columbian, and it’s very pretty.  Roosters may even sometimes have the black barring on their wings. Their comb, wattle, and earflaps are a vivid bright red.

Their legs are equally bright, but yellow rather than red. The legs are clean from feathering. Roosters average around 8.5 lbs, and hens weigh in at 2 pounds lighter: 6.5 lbs. There are also bantam varieties that are 2 lbs(rooster), and 1.75 lbs (hens). Both varieties feather quickly and quick to fill out into a robust body. 

Delawares are friendly and easily handled. They are calm enough to be with children (under supervision, just to be safe). They are reported to be a very sociable chicken, who enjoy babbling to their humans. If you are looking for a super-quiet bird, they might not be ideal. That said, they are not super noisy, either – they are just very sociable. They are also quite curious and intelligent. 

Are Delaware Chickens Good Layers?

They lay between 100 and 150 large brown eggs per year. They might not be as good as championship egg-laying breeds, but they are certainly no slouch when it comes to egg productivity. They also have little interest in sitting on their eggs, and rarely go broody. For people looking to complement their flocks with a chicken that is very much “one of the girls,” Delawares are an excellent selection. 

Do They Require any Special Care or Housing?

Delawares are excellent in all climates, from warm to cold, so they don’t need any special housing – just predator safe coops and runs. These birds thrive in free-range settings, or pens that give them enough space to roam. If you do live in colder climates, spreading Vaseline on their combs could prevent frostbite on the coldest days of the year. 

Where Can I Buy Delaware Chickens?

This breed might be on the “watch” list, but they are still available at a number of retailers. The more people who raise Delawares, the less likely they will go extinct!

  • My Pet Chicken, in Monroe, CT,  has limited availability
  • Meyer Hatchery, in Polk, OH, offers them throughout the year
  • Purely Poultry, offers these fine birds and provides shipping across the nation
  • Murray McMurray Hatchery, in Webster City, IA, offers females, Unsexed, and male Delaware chickens. Murray McMurray also works closely with the Livestock Conservacy to repopulate at-risk breed.

Delaware chicken feature image courtesy of Josh Larios, from Seattle, USA

Raise Golden Comets For Lots Of Eggs!

Raise Golden Comets For Lots Of Eggs!

Golden comet chickens are not something that can be seen streaking through a dark night’s sky. It’s actually a hybrid breed that likely gets its name from its coloring, which ranges from a rich reddish orange to a light golden yellow. Of course, it could be a mix of that and the miniature comets that these hens release nearly every day – and by comets, I mean eggs. The Golden Comet is a chicken that’s one of the most prolific egg layers on earth, and a wonderful choice for anyone wanting to get more “butt nuggets.”

golden comet hen looking at camera

5 Amazing Facts About Golden Comets

  • You can tell right when they’re born whether they’re male or female
  • They’re fantastic layers of brown eggs – you can expect 5-6 eggs per week!
  • They’re very hardy, and do well in cold AND heat
  • They’re friendly chickens who will jump for treats!
  • Because they’re a mix between a New Hampshire rooster and a White Rock hen, each individual chick can look slightly different.

Appearance

So, what do Golden Comet chickens look like? When they hatch, the females are a dark yellow, while the males are such a pale yellow as to be almost white. As adults, the hens are golden red in color with white highlights on their necks and backs. Roosters are white to white with light to dark red feathers on their shoulders. The red of their feathers is sometimes described as a cinnamon, and there is a bit of variety in their coloring. They have single combs. Their legs are yellow, and their beaks are a yellow brown. Mature females weigh four to five pounds. Mature Golden Comet roosters weigh six pounds. 

Golden Comets are Red Sex Link chickens, created by mixing a New Hampshire rooster and a White Rock hen. There are no other variants of Golden Comet chickens, but there are a number of other Red Sex Link chickens, including the Red Star, Golden Buff, Gold Sex Link, and Cinnamon Queen. 

new hampshire rooster in grass

New Hampshire rooster – the male line in Golden Comets.

Red Sex Link Chickens Vs. Other Breeds

Like other great laying hybrids, such as Black Sex Links, Golden Comets are sex linked chickens, meaning you can tell whether a chick is male or female as soon as they hatch. Chickens are notorious for their sexing problems – figuring out whether a chick is a rooster or a pullet is a hassle. It usually requires either vent sexing or waiting a few months (there ARE some tell tale signs earlier, but they’re not 100% surefire). When feathers start replacing the chick’s down, the job becomes a bit easier, but precious time is likely lost by this point. 

Breeding sex link chickens help to speed up this process. When they’re born, the males have different down than the females – so you can immediately tell who is a rooster, and who will lay eggs. Typically, these are hybrid birds that are a mix between two different chicken breeds – usually heritage breeds that have very consistent bloodlines. The most popular type of sex-link chickens are Black Sex-link chickens and Red Sex-Link chickens. 

Golden Comet Personalities

A lot of potential owners wonder “Are golden comet chickens friendly?” Golden Comets are very docile, as long as you’ve raised them to be people friendly. They don’t put up much of a challenge to owners and enjoy spending time with their humans. Sweet and gentle so accurately describe them, that they are even good with children. These birds are among the best layers on the planet, but they are not very broody. This actually works well – it’s pretty hard to collect eggs from a broody hen. 

Do Golden Comet Chickens Breed True?

It is impossible for Golden Comets to breed true. They are a hybrid chicken, which means that the traits bred into them through their two parent breeds might show in different ways – maybe with more white feathers, maybe a lighter golden chest, among other features. If they have offspring with another Golden Comet, their offspring will be as varied as the parents, and the result might even look nothing like either parent.

Are Golden Comet Chickens Good Layers?

Golden Comets lay brown eggs, and they’re so prolific (they drop between 250 and 320 eggs per year), that you can expect to have a fresh egg in your coop for every hen you have – almost every day. If you’re not planning on eating all these eggs immediately, having a suitable storage unit for them all is a must. Unlike other breeds, Golden Comet chickens are cold hardy (in fact, they do great with extremes of both heat and cold) and you’ll likely have eggs year round. 

What age do golden comets start laying eggs? Keep an eye on them, because when they hit 16 weeks, they just might surprise you with your first egg! (This article will tell you some tell tale signs your hen is laying).

How Long Do Golden Comet Chickens Live?

Like other chicken breeds, their life expectancy depends on the individual bird, and how well you care for them. If they have a good diet with a high protein layer feed, you can expect them to live quite long. However, some people have reported that their Golden Comets tend to die young – at only 4-5 years. This might be due to their prolific egg laying. It’s something to keep in mind when choosing this breed. 

Where Can I Buy Golden Comet Chickens?

  • Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, MO, offers them from early February through the end of September. You can read our review of Cackle here.
  • Purely Poultry in Fremont, WI, also has seasonal batches of Golden Comets: 
  • Tractor Supply Co offers them
  • The Chick Hatchery of Lansing, MI, offers Golden Comets
  • The Chicken Outfitter offers Golden Comets in batches

If you’re looking for a hen that can bring in the proverbial bacon – as long as that bacon is really eggs – you will find no better chicken than Golden Comet chickens! 

What Color Eggs Will My Chickens Lay?

What Color Eggs Will My Chickens Lay?

Chicken eggs come in a variety of colors, and since we are looking at the whole process of a chick’s life, we may as well look at that awkward transition between the alpha state and the omega state, too. One of the biggest questions people have is “What color eggs will my chicken lay?” This is a big question, one that I’ve decided to answer today.

 

For me, the thrill of having chickens begins before they are even hatched, as chickens will need care and attention even from when they are still in their eggs. I don’t know about you, but I love eggs. Sure, they are incredibly useful in the kitchen, but if we’re hatching them, we’re not thinking food, are we? No, what I’m talking about is egg color. 

 

    1. The Surefire Way
    2. Disclaimer!
    3. Earlobe Color
    4. Easter Eggers
    5. Ayam Cemanis
    6. Silkies
    7. Summary

 

 

 

The Surefire Way Of Knowing What Color Eggs Your Chicken Will Lay

There are a few different ways you can sort of predict what color eggs your chicken will lay, but really? The only surefire way to know what color eggs your chickens will lay is by waiting until the egg is actually laid. Beyond that, there are some other ways that can probably help you figure out what color egg your hen will lay. 

 

Disclaimer!

Before we get started with this, I must say that there are always exceptions to everything I say here. Don’t message me or leave a comment below about how I’m wrong because a specific breed might not follow the conventions mentioned in this video. There are always going to be exceptions, and I will touch upon some of them. Please keep in mind that the information in this video is very generalized advice. 

 

Will Ear Lobe Color Tell You Egg Color?

From a conventional standpoint, if your chicken has white ear lobes, it will lay white eggs. If your chicken has red earlobes, it will lay brown eggs

 

Some very obvious exceptions to this, notably, are Easter Eggers, Silkies, and Ayam Cemanis – or any sort of chicken that is completely black. Silkies and Polish Bantams have blue ear lobes, but they can lay like a white egg or a cream-colored egg. Easter Eggers have red ear lobes and they can lay any sort of color eggs, from brown to cream to pink to blue to green to teal.

 

Exceptions To Ear Lobe Color

Easter Eggers

Easter Eggers aren’t a breed, exactly, and the colors of their eggs do have something to do with that chicken’s particular genetics. Because they are more like a hybrid, their eggs can be one of a massive variety of colors. With Easter Eggers, the idea that red ear lobes mean brown eggs doesn’t work in reality. 

 

An Easter Egger can lay brown, white, cream, blue, green, or even pink eggs. There’s no way to know until she actually starts laying.

 

One thing to note is that each Easter Egger hen can only lay one color throughout that hen’s lifetime. If you want a different color egg from your Easter Egger, you need to have another hen. 

 

Ayam Cemanis

Ayam Cemanis and chickens that have purely all black skin are another exception. Even though they’re completely black in color, and they have black ear lobes, Ayam Cemanis don’t lay black eggs; their eggs are cream-colored.

 

Silkies

Silkies also have black skin, but they’re not purely black because they do have the blue ear lobes. They also do not lay black eggs, but rather cream-colored eggs

 

There is to the best of my knowledge, while no chicken lays a black egg, emus do lay black eggs.

 

Summary

There you have it! While most chicken breeds are at least mostly predictable, there are the exceptions. Easter Eggers, especially, are tricky: the only way you are guaranteed to know what color egg will come out of your chicken is by seeing the egg that comes out of its vent. But this unexpected fluke of genetics is one of the exciting parts of raising your own chickens! When your chicks are ready to start laying, the anticipation of seeing the eggs will keep you on your toes. 

 

Got questions? Got comments? Got suggestions? Leave a comment below

 

Additional reading:

How often do chickens lay eggs?

When chickens stop laying eggs

Chicken breeds that lay colored eggs

Chicken Breeds Guide

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!

Barred Rock Chickens: Buyer’s Guide

Barred Rock Chickens: Buyer’s Guide

When we first started keeping hens, we first started with Barred Rock chickens. With their beautiful black and white feathers, what wasn’t there to love about this striking breed?

 

Barred Rock chickens are one of the most well known breeds out there – and subsequently, one of the most popular.

 

Once upon a time, our ancestors raised them as a dual purpose bird with a combination of some of the best farm chicken qualities: docility, hardiness, and broodiness.

 

These days, this breed is best known for its egg laying ability and gorgeous plumage.

 

In this article, you’ll discover facts about these cluckers, recommendations for reliable breeders and hatcheries, whether Barred Rock chickens make great pets, and more!

 

barred rock chicken hen with stripes

 

5 Amazing Barred Rock Chicken Facts

  • One of the oldest breeds in America
  • First exhibited as a breed in 1869
  • “Barred” refers to their feather coloring
  • They lay brownish pink eggs.
  • The barred color pattern is a dominant sex-linked gene

 

Where to Buy Barred Rock Chickens

Most major hatcheries and farm stores carry these chickens – you might also see them called “Plymouth Rock” chickens – this is because Barred Rocks are actually a color variation of Plymouth Rocks.

 

You can usually find Barred Rocks for under $3 (less, if you find them at the farm store and they’re more than a week old. That’s how I got mine for $0.99. Best investment ever.)

 

All the hatcheries on this list are good places to buy this breed – it’s probably best to choose a hatchery close to you, so your new chicks don’t have to travel too far before landing on your doorstep.

 

Always look for healthy, active chicks! If the photos of the babies don’t look great, or they look unhappy or sick, then don’t purchase them.

 

You’ll want to look for parent stock that are full bodied and sport fluffy, healthy looking feathers. If you’re looking for pet type chickens, then make sure the parents are friendly, too!

 

Recommended Hatcheries

The top hatcheries to purchase Barred Rock chickens are:

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

 

My Pet Chicken

If you live in the Northeast or Mid Atlantic, then this hatchery is a great option (note they do ship nationwide). They’re located in Connecticut.

 

My Pet Chicken sells day old chicks and 6 week olds that you can have shipped right to your door. The Barred Rock chickens on their site have gotten many 5 star reviews, with some owners saying their Barred Rock hens were the first to lay eggs.

 

They also look very full bodied with soft feathers, which is great. I imagine this is what the Barred Rocks our ancestors raised looked like (rather than some of the scraggly breeds you see today that are bred for egg production only, rather than an overall healthy bird).

 

Meyer Hatchery

There’s 37 (nearly) 5 reviews for the Barred Rock chicks on this website – so it looks like past customers love their chicks! Meyer is located in Ohio, so if you live in the Mid-Atlantic. Northern Midwest, or Kentucky area, this is a good hatchery to order from since your chicks won’t travel too far.

 

Owners say their babies arrived healthy and have now grown into active layers. The prices at this hatchery are competitive.

 

Cackle Hatchery

Cackle is located in Lebanon, Missouri, so it’s a good hatchery to buy chicks from if your farm is in the Midwest, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, the Dakotas, etc. I personally usually order from this hatchery (they’re about 4 hours from my farm). Every time I’ve ordered from them, the chicks arrived ASAP and in good shape.

 

Their prices for Barred Rock chicks are reasonable, and they have good customer service. You can read our review of Cackle Hatchery here.

 

Murray McMurray

Murray McMurray has been around for a while, and they’re located in Iowa. If you live in the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota, etc, then this is a good hatchery to order from. I’ve ordered chicks through them once, and it was a good experience. Their Barred Rocks have many 5 star reviews. Their prices are a bit more expensive than the other hatcheries on this list.

 

Stromberg Chickens

Stromberg is located in Minnesota, so it’s a good option for our Northern friends (sorry, Canada, I don’t know if they ship to you). Their prices are a little more expensive than other options on this list. On their site, there’s an option to have your chickens vaccinated for Marek’s disease.

 

There’s not a whole ton of information and photos on their site of the chickens (no photos of the chicks themselves), but this hatchery has a good reputation.

 

Other Ways To Purchase Barred Rock Chickens

Join Facebook groups and ask for breeder recommendations. Here’s a popular group dedicated to this breed.

 

Feeding Barred Rock Chickens

Chicks

As baby chicks, you’ll want to provide your flock with an 18% protein chick starter like this one. The protein is necessary to help them grow correctly. Without it, they might not be healthy adults.

 

You can also feed them treats such as dried shrimp, black soldier fly larvae, or mealworms.

 

Layers

Once your chickens start producing eggs, you’ll want to give them a layer feed and a calcium supplement like oyster shells. Layers need it so they can provide you with yummy eggs. The best diet for any hen starts with a 16% protein layer feed and fresh, clean water every day.

 

Roosters can also eat layer feed, although they will probably leave the oyster shells alone.

 

Most commercial feeds have all the nutrients your flock will need. Consider using a no-waste feeder like these to reduce the amount of spilled grain, to make it easier on your wallet, and to keep rodents away from your hens.

 

Barred Rocks are a large chicken breed, but have a very good feed to egg conversion ratio – so they don’t need a TON of feed.

 

You’ll want the bags you purchase to last as long as possible, rather than feeding every rat within a 10 mile radius. So, it’s best to not keep feed out 24 hours a day, lest it attract predators.

 

It’s best to make their feed inaccessible at night when they’re not going to eat it anyway.

 

You can also feed your hens lots of treats like mealworms. You can discover what chickens eat here, and what they can eat from your garden here.

 

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

 

Always give 24 hour access to water. Using an automatic waterer makes this easy. You can find recommended waterers here.

 

You can also learn how to build your own DIY gravity waterer here. 

 

Keeping Barred Rock Chickens as Pets

Are Barred Rock Chickens Friendly?

Yes, Barred Rock chickens are generally friendly, which makes them ideal for families as pets. The roosters especially are calm with both people and other animals. If you want to raise Barred Rocks as pets, it’s best to feed them lots of treats, and handle them daily.

 

You might notice that your hens won’t be as friendly if they’ve “gone broody’ and want to hatch eggs. This is normal, and she will return to being friendly if you help her stop her broodiness or after she’s successfully hatched chicks.

 

You can learn more about raising people friendly chickens here.

 

Are Barred Rock Chickens Aggressive?

Generally, no they aren’t. Barred Rock chickens are friendly and docile birds towards humans and other animals. However, if your chickens don’t have enough space (10 square feet per hen) or you have too many roosters, they might become aggressive towards each other. It’s always best to have 1 rooster for every 10 hens, and to make sure everyone has enough space and food to eat.barred rock chicken rooster

 

barred rock chicken rooster

 

Are Barred Rocks Noisy?

No, the roosters might crow when they see a predator, but are not noisier than other chicken breeds. The hens are very quiet.

 

Barred Rock Egg Laying Ability

Are Barred Rock Hens Good Egg Layers?

Yes! Barred Rock hens lay about 280 eggs per year. They’re actually considered one of the champion egg laying chicken breeds!

 

How Long Do Barred Rock Hens Lay Eggs?

Like most hens, Barred Rock chickens will lay the most eggs during 9 months of age until they’re about 3 years old. Most chickens will slow down or stop laying after they turn 3. There will be exceptions; some readers have emailed me with stories about their 7 year old hen who still puts out eggs 3 times a week. However, most chickens won’t lay eggs consistently when they’re that old.

 

You should decide what you plan to do with your hens when they stop laying. We personally keep ours and let them live out their lives naturally since they’re pets.

 

To ensure your hens are in peak condition for egg laying, it’s best to feed them a layer feed with 16% protein and supplement with oyster shells for extra calcium. Research shows that this diet helps them from becoming nutrient deficient (which can cause hens to stop laying eggs).

 

What Color Eggs Do Barred Rocks Lay?

Barred Rock chickens lay brown eggs.

 

How Many Eggs Per Year Do Barred Rocks Lay?

About 280 eggs per year, although the actual amount will vary from bird to bird. To ensure your chickens produce lots of eggs, you should feed them a healthy diet, including a 16% protein layer feed.

 

Do Barred Plymouth Rocks Go Broody?

Yes. Because Barred Rock chickens are a heritage breed, they tend to go broody. When the breed was first developed, modern incubators didn’t exist, so to hatch chicks, a broody hen was required. You can learn more about hatching chicks here. You can find the best incubators here.

 

Barred Rock Chicken Breed Characteristics

Breed History

According to the Livestock Conservancy, which promotes heritage livestock breeds, the Barred Rock was developed in America in the middle of the 19th century. It’s not clear exactly who developed the breed, however, it seems these chickens are the product of crossing Spanish, White Cochin, Dominique, Buff Cochin, Black Java, and Brahma chickens.

 

From the barred version, other types of Plymouth Rock chickens were developed (including white, buff, Columbian, and other combinations). You can read more about Plymouth Rock chickens here for the full list.

 

They were very popular as an all purpose breed around the turn of the 20th century, and were admitted into the American Poultry Standard of Perfection in 1874.

 

Barred Rock Chicken Coloring

These birds have beautiful black and white feathers that give them the trademark “barred” appearance. They have a single comb with red wattles and ear lobes that show off their health and vigor. They have yellow beaks and feet that give them a friendly, approachable expression.

 

The roosters have long, black and white striped tail feathers that they lose during fall molting (but they grow back even more beautiful). They’re nearly impossible to mistake for another breed, and they’re very beautiful!

 

Are Barred Rock and Plymouth Rock Chickens the Same?

Yes, Barred Rock chickens are a variation of the Plymouth Rock chicken. The barred feathers were the first coloring of the Plymouth Rock, and from the Barred Rock, other variations were developing, including:

  • White
  • Buff
  • Silver Penciled
  • Partridge
  • Columbian
  • Blue

 

How Big Do Barred Rock Chickens Get?

Pretty big – about 7 pounds for the roosters and 5 for the hens. While there’s not much you can do to influence the size of your chickens, feeding them a high quality diet will ensure their growth doesn’t get stunted.

 

Breeding Barred Rock Chickens & Genetics

Since the barring genes are common in a lot of chicken breeds, you probably aren’t surprised to learn that breeding Barred Rocks to create other, new hybrids is pretty common. It’s also popular genetics when trying to create sex linked chicks.

 

While we won’t dive too deep into genetics (it’s such a tricky topic!), here’s some interesting information about breeding Barred Rocks!

 

The barring gene is dominant.

 

A Barred Rock rooster will pass the barring gene to his offspring, however the Barred Rock hen will only pass the barring gene onto males (which is why you can tell the sex of Sex Linked chicks right after they hatch)

 

A barred rooster paired with a non-barred hen won’t produce sex-linked chicks. To create sex linked chicks, you must pair a rooster who doesn’t carry the barring gene with a purebred barred hen.

 

You can learn more about how chickens mate here and learn all you ever wanted to know about barring here.

 

Common Health Issues

Like other chickens, Barred Rocks are susceptible to lice, chicken mites, worms, and other parasites. Bumblefoot is another ailment Barred Rocks can get. To keep your chickens healthy, you can add herbs to their feed, such as oregano, garlic, and lemon balm. (In the store, we carry a product that helps support healthy immune systems with all natural herbs – you can learn more right here.)

 

Coops For Barred Rock Chickens

What Kind Of Coop Do Barred Rocks Need?

Like all chickens, this breed does better with space to forage and run. There should be plenty of room inside the coop and run. You should also make sure it has the basic essentials like a roost, waterers, and feeders.

 

The ideal chicken coop 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. Enriched with environmental interest, such as branches and toys

 

Barred Rocks are fairly large chickens, so to ensure they’re healthy and don’t develop bad habits, make sure their coop has 10 square feet of space per chicken.

 

Like other chickens, Barred Rocks are susceptible to predators, especially pullets and young roosters, since they’re more likely to wander off from the coop or roost on the ground at night.

 

To keep them safe from dogs, raccoons, opossums, and larger predators like bear, make sure your coop is safe. You should also let them free range in a run or tractor to keep them safe.

 

If you want to build your own coop, there’s plans for a predator proof chicken house here. Make sure you’re using the best chicken wire here for your particular coop, as well (generally, ¼ inch hardware cloth is best).

 

If you want to know how to identify common chicken predators, you can read this article.

 

Barred Rock chickens are very cold hardy, but their coop still needs to keep them dry and warm in the winter.

 

In the summer, they should have access to a well-ventilated coop that’s clean and free of ammonia (so clean it weekly). Your coop should have good cross breezes so they don’t overheat.

 

Do you think Barred Rock chickens are for you? Do you raise Barred Rock chickens? Leave a comment below!