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!

Black Chicken Breeds: Ultimate List

Black Chicken Breeds: Ultimate List

Just like how every woman needs a little black dress, every backyard flock needs black chicken breeds. Why? Because it’s a beautiful and elegant color!

 

Luckily, black chicken breeds can be found easily in hatcheries and private sellers. If you’re interested in getting to know the various kinds of breeds with dark feathers (including black and white speckled chicken breeds!), you’re in for a treat!

 

You’ll discover your options in this ultimate list of black chicken breeds!

 

Ultimate List of Black Chicken Breeds

  • Ayam Cemani
  • Black Sex Link Chickens
  • Black Australorp Chicken
  • Silkie Chickens
  • Black Star Chickens
  • Marans Chicken
  • Black Jersey Giant Chicken
  • Cochin Chickens
  • Orpington Chicken
  • Black Polish Chicken
  • Sumatra Chicken
  • White Crested Black Polish Chicken
  • Black Rock Chicken
  • Bantam Cochin Chickens
  • Frizzle Chickens
  • Minorca Chicken
  • White Faced Black Spanish
  • Langshan
  • Svarthöna
  • Castellana Negra

Ayam Cemani

In addition to being an all black chicken breed, Ayam Cemani also have the distinction of being the most EXPENSIVE chicken breed in the world! On average, a breeding pair goes for $5,000!

 

This type of chicken originally hails from Indonesia, where it’s prized for its mystical abilities. Ayam Cemani chickens are completely black (both inside and out), and have a heart as black as its feathers.

 

Their blood is also said to be quite thick, and a darker red than normal (although this theory hasn’t been proven).

 

In Indonesia, this black chicken is said to be a good luck charm, and some people believe it can communicate with the beyond. In some cultures, the Ayam Cemani is used in ceremonies before big events.

 

However, you might be disappointed to learn that even though the Ayam Cemani is the only true 100% black chicken breed, they don’t lay black chicken eggs. They lay cream colored eggs of medium size.

 

If you do buy this breed, please do your homework and make sure your supplier is honest – there’s many people who try to pass off hybrid chickens as purebred Ayam Cemani.

 

Some hatcheries that offer Ayam Cemani are Featherloverfarms, Cackle Hatchery, and Greenfire Farms Hatchery. You can read our review of Cackle Hatchery here.

 

Black Sex Link Chickens

This breed isn’t really a black chicken breed (it’s a hybrid) but they’re still very beautiful birds that are also super friendly (and the roosters tend to be calm).

 

Black sex link chickens are the result of crossing two purebred heritage chicken breeds – a Rhode Island Red rooster with a barred rock hen. The term “sex link” means that the coloring of the chicks depends on the sex of the chick.

 

When black sex link chicks are born, the male chicks have a white spot on their heads – the females don’t (they’re all black). This unique trait only consistently occurs when the Rhode Island Red rooster is crossed with a Barred Rock hen – in other words, black sex link chickens don’t breed true.

 

This chicken breed is very healthy and make great layers and pets. Many prefer this breed to raise free range chickens eggs and organic free range chickens.

 

You can purchase black sex link chicks at Cackle Hatchery, Purely Poultry, and McMurray Hatchery.

 

Black Australorp Chicken

Black Australorps are wonderful chickens to have in your flock! This clean-legged breed originated in Australia from the Orpington chicken. They got a lot of attention in the 1920s when they broke several world records for the most eggs laid! You can find them now in any farm store in the US.

 

Their black feathers also have shades of green, and the hens are great layers and very friendly. This big black chicken will tolerate confinement well, and is an egg laying machine of over 250 eggs per year.

 

You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery, Purely Poultry, and Meyer Hatchery.

 

Silkie Chickens

Silkie chickens are another black chicken breed.. They are cute and cuddly, so they are easily loved as family pets. They’re calm, and are patient with being held. The hens are well-known for their brooding ability and their extra toes! They lay 2-3 cream colored eggs per week, and are generally friendly. Kids just love them!

 

Their feathers are more like down, and you’ll fall in love with their feathered feet! They lay around 250 brown large to extra large eggs per year. In addition to black, Silkies also come in a variety of other colors, including white and buff.

 

You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery, Chickens for Backyards, and Meyer Hatchery.

 

Black Star Chickens

A relatively new edition to the backyard chicken world, this breed is medium sized and weighs in at around 7 to 8 lbs, with hens at 5 lbs. This bird is very docile, hardy, and low maintenance since they can adapt to local conditions.

 

You can purchase this breed at Chickens for Backyards and Meyer Hatchery.

 

Marans Chicken

This breed is called “chocolate eggers” because they’re well known for their dark colored eggs. Marans originated in the town of Marans, in France, and their eggs are said to be the best in the world. Not all hens will lay the deep chocolate brown eggs, although all females will lay brown eggs.

 

You’ll love their feathered feet and hardy natures. While black Marans chickens are said to have the best eggs, this breed also comes in other varieties, including Wheaton, Cuckoo, Blue Copper, and more. They are a rarity, and have wonderful personalities.

 

You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery and Purely Poultry

 

Black Jersey Giant Chicken

This black giant chicken breed is the largest purebred chicken in the US, and possibly the world. This heritage chicken breed originated in the United States as a meat bird and an alternative to turkeys.

 

This black chicken breed weighs in at around 11 to 15 pounds. They are docile and mellow, and the roosters have even temperaments. The roosters are good protectors, and are hardy.

 

The hens aren’t as large as the roosters, but are consistent egg layers with friendly, even cuddly, temperaments.

 

You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery, My Pet Chicken, and Purely Poultry.

 

Cochin Chickens

Cochins are also larger birds (although there is a bantam variety) that come in many colors including black! The name refers to the fact that the bird is a Chinese Shanghai Fowl, and among the many reasons you would want one is that they get along well with children. They’re also gentle, and great for raising chicks. They lay small to medium sized brown eggs, and this particular variety is known for its dark black coloring.

 

You can purchase this black chicken breed at Cackle Hatchery, Purely Poultry, and Strombergs Chickens.

 

Orpington Chicken

This particular breed is well known for its historical significance – they’ve been around for a long time! The original Orpingtons were white, but they also come in buff and black colors. They’re also one of the most gentle and docile breeds, and it makes them great pets.

 

The roosters are hardy, friendly, and great protectors. They love finding food for the hens, and will “round” their hens up at night to make sure everyone is in the coop!

 

Although they were originally bred for both eggs and meat, they’re better as egg layers. Their eggs are a tinted pink to brown color, and they lay about 300 eggs per year. This breed is a good forager and greatly desired for their looks and easy going nature.

 

You can purchase Orpington chickens at most major hatcheries and farm stores.

 

Black Polish Chicken

Polish chickens are an adorable ornamental breed! They’re best known for the tufts of feathers on their head, lovingly referred to by chicken owners as their “pom pom.”

 

This 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 aloof birds, although they can be friendly if you interact a lot with them. They’re also moderate egg layers – but their beautiful feathers and personalities make up for whatever they lack in the egg laying department!

 

You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery and Meyer Hatchery.

 

Sumatra Chicken

While a bit more difficult to find, this black chicken breed is worth it! With their long tail feathers, they’re a gorgeous addition to any flock. They’re named after their place of origin: The island of Sumatra, in Indonesia. The hens lay white eggs, but don’t lay that often – maybe twice a week. However, if you want to hatch chicken eggs naturally, then this might be the breed for you – like Silkies, Sumatras tend to “go broody.” In addition to black, you might find the blue and white varieties for sale.

 

You can purchase this ornamental breed at My Pet Chicken, mypetchicken, Cackle Hatchery, and Purely Poultry

 

White Crested Black Polish Chicken

You’ll fall in love with these birds! They’re adorable! Originally from the Netherlands, the White Crested Black Polish chicken has a striking contrast in color between it’s dark body feathers and it’s poofy white crest. They’re friendly, although the crest does sometimes make it hard for them to see. If you spend a lot of time with them, though, they’re more likely to trust you. The hens lay white eggs, although not every hen will lay consistently. This breed is mainly kept for ornamental purposes.

 

You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery and Strombergs Chickens.

 

Black Rock Chicken

This particular breed was developed in Scotland, and isn’t well-known in the United States. It’s a hybrid cross from selected strains of Rhode Island Red and Barred Plymouth Rock.They’re good foragers, and excellent layers: you can expect to get about 250 brown eggs per year.

 

You can purchase this breed at Farmfowl if you live in the UK.

 

Bantam Cochin Chickens

Bantam cochins make a wonderful addition to any flock – and you’ll love how the black variety has feathered legs! This breed is perfect for anyone who is looking for a docile and kid-friendly chicken. The hens lay small brown eggs (because the chicken itself is small), and the roosters enjoy human companionship. They love to be cuddled by their humans! In addition to black, bantam cochins come in white and buff varieties.

 

You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery and Welp Hatchery.

 

Frizzle Chickens

A frizzle chicken is fun and lovable with a very unusual look – their feathers “frizzle” and curl upwards. They’re not a separate breed, but a variety of many different types of breeds. Some cochins have a frizzle variety. Children love them because they look so cuddly. Frizzles tend to be smaller, and they have friendly and docile dispositions. They will lay around 120 to 150 light brown colored eggs per year. Be sure to keep an eye on your frizzle over the winter – because their feathers don’t lay against their bodies, they might have a harder time in colder weather.

 

You can purchase this breed at Meyer Hatchery and Strombergs Chickens.

 

Minorca Chicken

Minorca chickens look unusual – they’re mostly black, but with a white spot near the ears. They’re an old breed, and have grey legs. Minorcas are named after its place of origin: Island of Minorca, off the coast of Spain. They lay about 200 white eggs per year, and the hens don’t tend to go broody. This hardy breed does well in warmer climates, so it’s a good option if you live in a warm area.

 

You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery and Strombergs Chickens.

 

White Faced Black Spanish

These chickens look odd – they’re black, except for their face, which is white. While English speakers call this ancient breed “white faced black Spanish,” in their native Spain, they’re referred to as “Española Cara Blanca.” Their white faces give them a look similar to a mime. They are prolific egg layers of white eggs.

 

You can purchase this breed at Purely Poultry, McMurray Hatchery, and Cackle Hatchery.

 

Langshan

This black breed originates from China and is named after it’s place of origin: a district along the Yangtszekiang River. It’s a unique looking breed of bird – like cochins, it has feathered legs! They’re hardy birds that lay large brown eggs – some say they’re as dark as Marans eggs. The hens don’t tend to go broody. They’re also large, and with bright, intelligent eyes, they’re a great addition to any flock.

 

You can purchase this breed at McMurray Hatchery and Tangled Wood Farm Miniatures

 

Svarthöna

This breed has a unique trait – their very dark red combs that almost look black! They have black skin and are said to have descended from chickens from Mozambique and brought to Scandinavia in the 1700s. They are hardy and good foragers, even though they’re not great layers. You can expect 2 to 3 cream-colored eggs per week.

 

You can purchase this breed at Purely Poultry and My Pet Chicken.

 

Castellana Negra

This breed is a Mediterranean type from Spain and is one of the oldest strains of poultry in Europe. Currently, it’s status is threatened, and the breed is on the verge of extinction. It is also believed that it is the ancestor of many European black breeds such as Minorcas and Black Spanish chicken breeds. They have decent laying abilities – you can expect about 250 eggs per year.

 

Black Chicken Breeds with Feathered Feet

 

Which black chicken breed is your favorite? Leave a comment below!