Rhode Island Red is a breed of chicken from America. The bird was developed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in 1854. It is raised commercially and non-commercially primarily for laying eggs, and occasionally also for its meat. The bird is also kept as a pet by some people because of its friendly and affectionate nature. It is further divided into two categories, namely the heritage breed and the industrial breed.
Rhode Island Red was developed by cross breeding a variety of other chicken breeds such as Malay, Java, Cochin and Shanghai with brown Leghorn birds from Italy.
Previously in its early days these chickens were also known as John Macomber fowls or Tripp Fowls. John Macomber and William Tripp were the first people to breed the Rhode Island Red.
Its current name, The Rhode Island Red, was given to it by Isaac Wilbour, a poultry owner who had bought some birds from Macomber and Tripp and performed his own cross breeding of the bird with other chicken fowls to improve the breed.
Rhode Island Reds are red colored with hard feathers(inherited from Malay and Java breeds). The bird’s color is usually Mahogany Red but sometimes the tail is dark red to almost black in some breeds. This chicken’s red color fades over time due to sun exposure.
Eye color is orange-red. Its comb, wattles and ear-lobes are also red. The skin color is yellow.
Roosters weigh around 3.9kg while hens weigh about 3kg. Bantam males weigh about 0.96kg while females weigh around 0.85kg. Bantam breeds are miniature breeds developed from the original breed.
Rhode Island Reds were initially developed for their eggs and meat, but nowadays the breed is usually raised only for eggs. This Is because the bird has remarkable egg laying capabilities and can lay around 200-300+ eggs an year.
They can start laying eggs at about 16-24 weeks of age. Heritage Rhode Island Reds lay fewer eggs then industrial strains of the chicken.
Eggs are brown in color. The size of the eggs increases over the years as with other chicken breeds.
Because of its high egg production, the Rhode Island Red has been cross bred with many breeds to create more modern hybrid breeds.
The breed is considered healthy and adaptable. It can survive in any kind of weather and this is one of the reasons this chicken is found all over the world.
These chickens are considered very energetic, curious, friendly and affectionate in general. They make good family pets because of their friendly nature. Roosters can sometimes be a bit aggressive though.
Rhode Island Red is also the state bird of Rhode Island. In honor of the bird the state has two statues of the bird, one in Adamsville and the other in Little Compton. Both these statues are located at places where the bird was first bred and developed in the nineteenth century.
Most of the Rhode Island Red breeds we see today are modified breeds of the heritage(original) breed. The heritage Rhode Island Red is vanishing. It is estimated that globally only 10000 heritage breeds are left and 25% of these fowls are in USA.