Uses: Utility – eggs. Sex-linked hybrids
Origin: Rhode Island State, USA.
Eggs: 250+ light brown eggs per year in good utility strains.
Weight: Cock: 3.85 Kg. Hen: 2.95 Kg.
Bantam Cock: 790 – 910 g. Hen: 680 – 790g.
Colours: Dark Red almost Mahogany. A Rhode Island White does exist but is not well-known.
Useful to Know: Rhode Island Reds are a prolific layer of light brown eggs. Males of some strains can be aggressive during the breeding season. The Rhode Island Red has been used extensively over the years to create many of the commercial hybrid layers we see today.
Photo: Rhode Island Red Bantam Male at the Federation show 2012. Owned by Jim Benson.
Rhode Island Red chickens (or RIR as they are often called for short) were developed in the early 1890s and have often been described as ‘bricks’ due to their rectangular shape. Rhode Island Red chickens reached the UK in 1903 when Sidney Risdon brought some eggs back to Somerset. They are one of the most well-known around the world due to their use in hybrid hen production.
Originally, the Rhode Island Red was created as a dual-purpose utility bird, but their use in hybrid layer production far outweighs their popularity as a meat bird.
Rhode Island Red hens will lay a good number of large light brown eggs, making them the most popular choice in the UK and Europe to use in hybrid crosses for commercial egg production.
North American consumers favour white eggs, so most of their hybrid hens are Leghorn based.
Rhode Island Red hens are generally very placid and easily tamed, but some male strains can be quite aggressive. If more than one cockerel is kept, they are better in a free-range environment with plenty of space.
The Rhode Island Red entered the American Standard of perfection in 1904 and the British Poultry Standards in 1909.
The following books are available. Links take you to the Amazon or other sellers’ pages for the books.
- Popular Poultry Breeds – D. Scrivener – P.211
- Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds – C. Ekarius P.70
- British Poultry Standards – P.104
- American Standard of Perfection – P. 50
These are the breed clubs for Rhode Island Red chickens:
- UK: The Rhode Island Red Club – Contact Mr N. Steer. Tel 01364 72394
- US: The Rhode Island Red Club of America