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!

Polish Chickens: Eggs, Colors, & More

Polish Chickens: Eggs, Colors, & More

The Polish chicken is a cute, quirky poultry friend that is a true delight to have in your flock.

 

With a natural talent to shine in the coop or shows, the Polish chicken has many qualities that can make it a good addition to your flock.

 

They’re also adorable, friendly, full of personality, and make great companions. In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the Polish chicken.

 

Polish Chicken Personalities

What Are Polish Chickens Like?

Polish chickens are quirky, funny creatures that are full of personality and love to be held.

 

They’re best known for the tufts of feathers on their head, lovingly referred to by chicken owners as their “pom pom.”

 

This chicken breed is a stunning mix of white, brown, and black making it a real head turner. The silver laced polish varieties are black and white chickens.

 

They’re great for children since they’re not aggressive, like being held, and are friendly. Because of their size and the crest of feathers (which can cover their eyes and make it hard for them to see), they can be a little skittish around very fast movement.

 

But with consistent handling and treats like black soldier fly larvae, your Polish chickens will welcome your visits!

 

What Are Polish Chickens Used For? (What Is The Use Of The Polish Breed?)

Polish chickens are largely kept for ornamental reasons – because they’re pretty and friendly. They’re also great for children because they like to be held and enjoy human companionship. Polish chickens are fair egg layers, and you can expect 2-3 eggs per week (assuming the hen’s diet is adequate. You can learn more about what chickens eat here and high quality alternative feeds here.)

 

Quick Facts about Polish Chickens:

Appearance Varieties Eggs Personality
Feather crest on head White Crested Black White Friendly
4 toes Golden laced Lay 2-3x per week Quiet in coop
~6 pounds Buff laced ~100 eggs per year Good for children
V-comb, small wattles Silver laced Medium sized Likes treats & toys

Appearance

Polish chickens have 4 toes, a crest of feathers on their head that often covers their eyes, and have a calm appearance. The hens do not have prominent wattles or combs, and both sexes have a v-shaped comb.

 

Polish chicken breed and color varieties:

  • Non-Bearded White Crested Black
  • Non-Bearded Golden
  • Non-Bearded Silver
  • Non-Bearded White
  • Bearded Golden
  • Bearded Silver
  • Bearded White
  • Bearded Buff Laced
  • Non-Bearded Buff Laced
  • Non-Bearded White Crested Blue

 

At most major hatcheries, you’ll find most of these types. The most popular Polish chicken varieties are:

  • Silver laced
  • Buff laced
  • White crested black
  • Golden laced

 

The laced chickens are popular because their feathers are very beautiful, and they’re a colorful addition to any flock. The white crested black variety are prized because they’re black chickens with a contrasting white crest – a real head turner!

 

You can also find “frizzled” variants (the feathers look messy and turn upward, instead of lay neatly against their bodies.). You can learn more about frizzles here.

 

It’s important to note that Polish chickens aren’t very cold hardy, but they’re heat tolerant. So, if you live in a cold area, you will need to pay special attention to them during the cold days. In the summer, it’s also important to note they could get heat stroke – so providing cool, fresh water at all times is critical.

 

Is A Polish Chicken A Bantam?

While there’s full size Polish chickens, there’s also Polish bantams available (you can read more about how to raise bantams here – because of their size, they have some special needs to keep them safe from chicken predators.

 

Full size Polish roosters weigh about 6 lbs and hens weigh 4.5 lbs. The bantam varieties weigh about 2-3 pounds.

 

They’re relatively good fliers, although they’re unlikely to “fly the coop” and wander off. Because of their crest of feathers, they can’t see very well, so they usually stick close to home.

 

Do Polish Chickens Have 5 Toes?

Polish chickens have only 4 toes. Only:

chickens have 5 toes. You can learn about these chicken breeds here.

 

Are Polish Chickens Aggressive?

Not usually. Polish chickens are easy going, and due to their friendly natures, they enjoy human company.

 

What Age Do Polish Roosters Crow?

The age a rooster will first crow varies on the breed, but in general they typically will begin crowing at about four or five months of age, some late bloomers even at 8 months.

 

Eggs

Do Polish Chickens Lay Eggs?

The Polish chicken is not reliable egg layers although they do lay a good number of around 200 medium to large sized eggs/year. Although it does take them a while to get into the swing of laying, but once they do it comes consistently.

 

Despite popular myth, you don’t need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs, although it’s not a bad idea to keep one to protect your hens.

 

How Many Eggs Do Polish Chickens Lay?

Polish chicken hens aren’t great layers – you can expect 2-3 eggs per week. This also depends on her diet (a poor diet can cause chickens to stop laying eggs. It’s best to stick with a 16% layer feed and always offer a calcium supplement. You can learn more about egg laying, including how often chickens lay eggs, here.

 

What Color Eggs Do Polish Chickens Lay?

Polish chickens lay white eggs.

 

Are Polish Chickens Good Layers?

Since this chicken is often used for ornamental purposes their egg laying ability varies on the breed. Polish are sweet natured and beautiful exhibition birds but not reliable egg layers.

 

How Many Eggs Does A Polish Chicken Lay?

Polish chickens lay around 200 white eggs per year.

 

What Age Do Polish Chickens Lay Eggs?

Most Polish hens start laying eggs at about 5 months of age, which is a bit earlier than other popular breeds like Cochins, Speckled Sussex, or Buff Orpingtons. This will depend on her diet and the season – if she turns 6 months old during the winter, she might not lay until spring. Most chickens need 12-14 hours of light a day to lay eggs.

 

Hatching Chicks

Are Polish Chickens Broody?

While any chicken can go broody (even roosters, oddly enough), Polish chickens aren’t bred for their mothering abilities. So, they don’t tend to go broody.

 

How Long Do Polish Chickens Take To Hatch?

Like other breeds, you should expect it to take 21 days for your chicks to hatch. You can learn more about hatching chicks here and discover the incubators I recommend here.

 

Once the chicks hatch, offer a high-quality 18% protein chick starter feed.

Caring For Your Polish Chicken

Full size chickens and the bantam versions have similar needs:

  • A safe coop (you can learn how to build a predator-safe coop here)
  • A high-quality feed (here’s the feed I recommend)
  • Clean water (get my waterer recommendations here)
  • Entertainment, such as a chicken swing

 

To keep predators and pests out of your coop, it’s best to use a chicken feeder that’s easy to clean and/or will automatically close. You can check out the chicken feeders I recommend here. 

 

For all chicken breeds, hardware cloth is a good option to keep them safe – you can learn more about chicken wire here and discover which option is best for your situation here.

 

Do Polish Hens Have Spurs?

No, they don’t. Only the roosters have spurs.

 

Where Are Polish Chickens From?

The origins of this breed is a bit unclear, however,  there are several anecdotes saying that the bird came from Europe. The most notable story is that in 1736, the King of Poland was dethroned and fled to France bringing with him his beloved Polish chickens.

 

They were well loved by the French aristocracy and from then on their future was assured. The Polish chicken traveled from Continental Europe to England (1700’s) and eventually finding its way to the USA in 1830-1840.


Where To Buy Polish Chickens?

Most major hatcheries carry Polish chicks, including:

  • Cackle Hatchery (You can read our review of Cackle Hatchery here.)
  • Meyer Hatchery
  • Murray McMurray
  • Ideal Poultry
  • Stromberg Chickens

 

You might also be able to find Polish chickens at farm stores or local breeders.