Rhode Island Red Chicken
The Rhode Island Red is a breed of chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus). They are a utility bird, raised for meat and eggs, and also as show birds. They are a popular choice for backyard flocks because of their egg laying abilities and hardiness. Non-industrial strains of the Rhode Island Red are listed as recovering by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Their feathers are rust-colored, but darker shades are known, including maroon bordering on black. Their eyes are red-orange and they have yellow feet, with reddish-brown beaks. Chicks are a light red to tan color with two dark brown bars running down their backs. They are generally good pets to keep and safe around children, though they have been known to attack toddlers when provoked. They will happily be kept in a run.
Developed in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, early flocks often had both single and rose combed individuals because of the influence of Malay blood. It was from the Malay that the Rhode Island Red got its deep color, strong constitution and relatively hard feathers.
The Rhode Island Red was originally bred in Adamsville, a village which is part of Little Compton, Rhode Island. One of the foundation sires of the breed was a black-breasted red Malay cock which was imported from England. This cock is on display at the Smithsonian Institution as the father of the Rhode Island Red breed. In 1925 the Rhode Island Red Club of America donated funds for an elegant monument to the Rhode Island Red in Adamsville, near the baseball field and across the street from what used to be Abraham Manchester's restaurant. (The monument is now on the National Register of Historic Places.) A competing monument to the Rhode Island Red, claiming its creation not for the poultry fanciers, but for the farmers who grew them commercially in great numbers in Little Compton, was erected by the state in 1954 a mile or so south of Adamsville.
Rhode Island Reds are tough birds, resistant to illness, good at foraging and free ranging, and are typically docile, quiet and friendly. Although they are widely known as good layers through cold periods, if the coop temperature drops below freezing their output drops considerably and the tips of their combs become very susceptible to frostbite.
Although usually friendly, Rhode Island Red roosters, and sometimes hens, can be quite aggressive towards young children and adults. Most roosters will also attack strangers (humans or animals) if they feel nervous or have never seen the intruder. They are usually friendlier with familiar people, such as those responsible for feeding. Both hens and roosters are known to be aggressive with other chickens, especially in confinement
Rhode Island Reds are excellent egg layers. Although they can sometimes be stubborn, they can end up producing up to 250 to 300 large, light to dark brown eggs per year. When free ranged, their first year eggs can be too large to fit comfortably in a standard or medium egg carton. 9 hens can lay up to 6-7 eggs per day depending on their conditions of care and treatment.
Rhode Island Reds are also bred for meat, with Roosters weighing in at 8 1/2 pounds, the Hens slightly less at 6 1/2 pounds; cockerel at 7 1/2 pounds; pullets at 5 1/2 pounds.