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The Rhode Island Red

April 17, 2013

By Hollie Cradock


evil chicken


Previously, we took a tour of the Leghorn, the quintessential white-egg laying chicken. Of course, we know that eggs come in many colors (We’ve seen those cartons at Wild Ramp, yes?) . After white, the next most abundant egg color is brown. We even see those in Wal-mart, although while researching for this blog, I did find the question “Are brown chicken eggs edible?” Interesting…


Anyway, one of the most popular brown-egg layers is the Rhode Island Red. Reds have a benefit beyond the Leghorn in that they are a “heavy-bottomed” breed that can and has been used for many years as a source of both eggs and meat. There eggs are considered ‘large’ and usually have thick shells that help prevent the shells from cracking due to low temperatures. The chicks are also considered a very hardy lot that grows at a decent rate, although they are also what I refer to as “escapey,” but not as much as Leghorns. The Red is also an inquisitive bird, and surprisingly intelligent.


3 chicks


If given quality feed, a Red hen can lay approximately 5-6 eggs per week. Each Red hen’s egg color may be a little different, varying from a light buff brown, to darker with a reddish cast. The two Reds we had laid nice sort of hot-cocoa colored eggs.


rhode island red egg color


Hens usually grow to approximately 6.5 pounds and the roosters to 8.5. By the time they are dressed out, they are small, but still certainly big enough to feed a family.


The Rhode Island Red was originally developed in Adamsville, Rhode Island. It is said that the “father” of the Rhode Island Red (a Red Malay rooster from England) is on display at the Smithsonian. Try as I might, sadly, I could not find his picture to verify this.


New Englanders, chiefly in Rhode Island, of course, are crazy about RIRs. The breed is not only plenteous there, but is also the state bird and mascot at many schools, colleges and universities.



The Rhode Island Red is so popular it’s even made its back across the pond. Here’s a fun little video of some English folks showing you how to sex 2 week old Rhode Island Reds. Enjoy!


Hollie Craddock is a single mom, a linguist, a potter and a farmless farmer in Appalachia. You can contact Hollie via her Facebook page, Farmless Farmer, or  via her blog at  Farmless Farmer.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. stkappleto permalink*
    April 17, 2013 11:14 am

    Love my Rhode Island hens. The roosters however, look out! They have a well earned reputation for being mean.

  2. April 18, 2013 12:06 am

    I love RIR’s too, and my current rooster is that breed; fortunately, he’s respectful of us humans, or he’d be in the freezer. I’ve definitely had issues with other RIR roosters in the past. When I was a kid, we had New Hampshires as well as RIR’s – the Hampshires looked a lot like ISA Browns look nowadays; lighter brown than an RIR, slightly smaller bird, but just as many brown eggs.

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