Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Red chickens, prized for their red feathers, hardiness, and egg-laying, are popular with both backyard and commercial farmers.


A US breed from the 1800s, combine Malay, Java, and Leghorn ancestry for a dual-purpose chicken: good for eggs and meat. Recognised in 1904, this breed aimed to be a reliable bird for both small farms and backyards.

Physical Characteristics
  • rich, dark red to mahogany plumage
  • weigh around 6.5 pounds
  • medium to large-sized birds
  • beaks are reddish-brown
  • yellow legs and feet
  • robust build and attractive feathering

BREED & ORIGIN

Rhode Island Red
&
United States (Rhode Island and Massachusetts)

LIFE EXPECTANCY

6-8 years

HEIGHT & WEIGHT

Height: 9.8”-14.6” (25-37 cm)
&
Weight: Roosters: 8.5 lbs (3.9 kg) Hens: 6.5 lbs (2.9 kg)


Egg-cellent in cold weather! They keep laying through winter while others take a break.
Life stages of a chicken

Chicks (7 days old)

Growers (6 Weeks old)

Layers (26 Weeks old)

Breed Traits and Characteristics

LOW

MEDIUM

HIGH

Temperament

Hardy, vigorous, somewhat aggressive roosters, friendly and docile hens

Activity Level

Active foragers, adapt well to both 
free-range and confinement

Climate Tolerance

Adaptable to wide range of climates, protection needed in extreme weather

Genetic Traits

Hardiness, good egg production

Egg Laying Capacity

High; 250-300 eggs per year

Broodiness

Moderate tendency, effective mothers

What Are the Care and Maintenance Needs of Rhode Island Reds?

Feeding

Rhode Island Reds thrive on 
store-bought feed, grit, and oyster shells. Let them roam free to add bugs and plants to their diet.

Housing

Rhode Island Reds need a spacious coop (4 sq ft per bird) with good ventilation and a run (10 sq ft per bird) for exercise. Provide nesting boxes (1 for every 3-4 hens) for egg-laying.

Health

Rhode Island Reds are healthy birds, but watch for common chicken problems like mites and keep their coop clean.

How to Breed and Raise
Rhode Island Reds?

Breeding Practices
When breeding Rhode Island Reds, it is important to select healthy, vigorous birds with good conformation and egg-laying traits. The incubation period for their eggs is about 21 days.

Raising Chicks
Chicks should be kept in a brooder with a heat source, such as a heat lamp, until they are fully feathered at around 6 weeks. They need access to fresh water, chick starter feed, and a clean, dry environment. As they grow, gradually introduce them to the rest of the flock to ensure smooth integration.

Nutritional Needs


Chicken requires a balanced diet. Flygrubs complement their diet well, it contains 36–42% protein, 25–30% healthy fat, 2–5% calcium and phosphorus, fiber, lysine, and dietary fat. It also have an optimal calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.

Flygrubs offers a variety of insect-based feeds that can be a good source of protein for Rhode Island Reds. It can be given dried or rehydrated.

What is the Economic and Cultural Impact of Rhode Island Reds?

Rhode Island Reds are reliable egg layers that thrive in various settings, making them popular for both farms and backyards. 
They're even the official bird of Rhode Island, showcasing their importance to American agriculture and culture.

Category

Details

Breed

Rhode Island Red

Origin

United States (Rhode Island and Massachusetts)

Temperature

Ideal temperature range: 55-75°F (13-24°C)

Common Health Issues

Prone to coccidiosis and Marek's disease, preventive measures recommended

Commercial Use

Significant in both egg and meat production for small farms and backyard setups

Backyard Use

Popular for high egg production and manageable size

Breed Standards

Admitted to American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection in 1904

Exhibition

Judged based on breed standards including feather color, comb shape, body condition

Role in Culture

Official state bird of Rhode Island, symbol of American farm chicken

Population Status

Common, though pure strains less frequent; not endangered

Conservation Efforts

The traditional non-industrial strains of the Rhode Island Red are listed as "watch" (medium conservation priority, between "recovering" and "threatened") by The Livestock Conservancy

Breeding Practices

Breeders focus on selecting birds with desirable dual-purpose characteristics, such as good egg production, meat quality, and hardy constitution. Feather color and comb type are also important selection criteria. Inbreeding is minimized to maintain genetic diversity. Pedigree records and performance data are used to make informed breeding decisions.

Fertility Rates

According to a study, Rhode Island Red (RIR) chickens have a fertility rate of 94.5%. The study also found that RIR chickens have a mean hatchability of 64% and that 76.8% of their fertile eggs produce healthy chicks

Parasite Control

Best practices for managing internal and external parasites

Market Value

Approximately $3.5-$5.5 per chick

Cost of Raising

Approximately $30-$40 per chicken per year, including feed, housing, and healthcare costs

Rhode Island Reds typically start laying eggs at around 18-24 weeks of age.

Hen
Additional Resources

For those looking to dive deeper into the care and breeding of Rhode Island Red chickens, consider the following resources: