Why we like this breed: If consuming delicious extra-large eggs are your thing, this is your lady. Rhode Islands are used in commercial hatcheries due to their strong egg production capabilities. Rhode Islands are known for being the hardiest in any type of environment. Rain, shine, snow, sun, they will still be seen foraging on any of your unwanted bugs. Maturing around 6lbs, they are considered dual purpose .They are rarely "broody," meaning they aren't disposed to keep sitting on their eggs until they hatch. Additionally, today's mature Rhode Island Reds make decent-sized roasters, with the roosters weighing in at around eight pounds, and the hens coming in a pound or two lighter. In the 1880’s Isaac Wilbur labeled each case of Rhode Island Red eggs with a PPP logo, an acronym for how he described the birds' positive attributes: Practical, Prolific, Profitable.
Feathers: The heritage Rhode Island Red’s feathers can vary from a fawny-red to a deep chocolate red, red single comb and yellow skin. Since the 1940s, hatcheries sacrificed bulk in favor of enhanced egg laying capabilities. As a result they have shrunk by a half-pound to a pound, and the color has faded from a red that is almost black to an orangey red. Male chicks have lighter shade on their down over the web of the wing, but female chicks do not. After the chick's down is shed, it will no longer be visible. The size of the spot varies greatly, leading to some inaccuracy.
Egg Color/ Frequency: Gifts 5-6 Extra Large brown eggs a week. Strong winter layers.
Personality: Rhode Island Reds are as iconic as Lucille Ball. In fact, on level 5 of the Denver International Airport, you will find the Rhode Island Red Commemorative Monument featured on a mural by Gary Sweeney entitled America, Why I Love Her. The hens are calm and are among the best layers. Rhode Islands like to forage and produce eggs. Those interested in permaculture and homesteading are typically attracted to the Rhode Islands. If you obtain as chicks they will get use you holding them, however, they prefer to forage independently and will come running for treats.
History: The Rhode Island was developed in and is the state’s official bird. This famous dual-purpose breed has been supplying chicken lovers with drumsticks and omelets for over a century. In 1854, Captain William Tripp of Little Compton visited New Bedford and spotted a sailor with an exotic Red Malaysian cock. Tripp purchased the bird and added it to his own flock of dunghill fowl. The offspring proved to be better egg layers and larger than their ancestors. Tripp partnered with poultry farmer, John Macomber of Westport, Massachusetts, and the two traded birds back and forth, further improving the breed. Light Brahmas, Plymouth Rocks, and Brown Leghorns were added into the mix. The resulting offspring were a sort of proto-Rhode Island Red, prized for their high egg yield. Once 2.5- 3 years of age the ratio of feed cost to egg profit declines, and the Rhode Islands are considered large enough for meat.
In the 1880s, Isaac Wilbour, crossed "Tripp's fowl" with his own hens, further improving the breed. Wilbur gave them the name Rhode Island Red and was recognized for excellence by the Rhode Island Agricultural Experiment Station in Kingston. Back then, a large poultry operation averaged only 500 laying hens. With the use of this new breed, Wilbur designed "The Biggest Poultry Farm on Earth," a 200 acre spread with 5,000 laying hens.
The Rhode Island Red was recognized as a legitimate breed at the Providence poultry show in 1895, and was first advertised in poultry journals in 1896. The single-combed and rose-combed varieties were admitted to the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection in 1904.