The Rhode Island Red chicken was deliberately created for high egg production, high-quality meat production and resistance to some diseases, with development beginning around the mid-1800’s. It was named the Rhode Island Red, after the state of it’s origination. The American Poultry Association admitted the single comb variety in 1904, and the rose comb variety in 1905. During the 1940’s, when commercial egg production exploded, the production variety was created. In 1954, the Rhode Island Red became the State bird of Rhode Island, making it the only breed the American Poultry Association recognizes to have such an honor.
QUALITIES and ATTRIBUTES
Many experts consider the Rhode Island Red to be the most popular variety of chicken in the United States, and possibly the world. The feathers on the body, hackle (collective group of feathers along neck) and saddle (cock’s long pointed feathers on the rear of the back) are a lustrous dark, rich red color, with the undercolor (fluff underneath the feathers) a rich intense red. The wings are black, outlined with red and tail feathers are a lustrous greenish black, giving this bird its striking appearance.
The single comb variety should be moderately large and have five, well defined points. The Rose comb should be moderately large and close on head, oval shaped and the surface covered with small, rounded points. Both varieties have red combs and medium sized wattles (two flaps that dangle under the beak). Mature cocks should weigh about 8 1/2 pounds, and hens about 6 1/2, making them a nice table bird. Hens lay more than 200 large brown eggs, annually, and hens (heritage breeds) that brood make nice mothers. Due to their calm, docile personalities, they do well in confinement as well as a backyard chicken. Fencing for containment need not be high, the Rhode Island Red does not display strong flying skills. However, they also do well in a free range environment. Rhode Island Reds tolerate heat well, making them an excellent breed for warmer areas.
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Special thanks to the American Standard of Perfection by the American Poultry Association, The Chicken Encyclopedia by Gail Damerow, Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds by Carol Ekarius, for helpful information and contributions from David Matthews, of Barnesville, Georgia in preparation of this article. Photo credits to Wikipedia.