Plymouth Rock chicken is an American breed that became a darling g to many in the First World War. They are calm, hardy and do well on free ranging.
These chickens are amiable and can do well on a family setting with kids. They are faithful layers of those tasty brown eggs you need for breakfast.
So do you want to know more about Plymouth Rock chickens? In this article, I am going to take you through everything you need to know about them.
This will help you find out whether they are the right chickens for you to keep or not.
Plymouth Rock Chicken History
These chickens were first seen in Massachusetts in the 19th century. By 20th century, they were the favorite bird in the United States and were widely kept.
They were cold tolerant, could forage and look for their own treats and provided much meat and eggs that chicken farmers wanted.
In the year 1869 in the town of Worcester, one chicken breeder Mr. D. A. Upharm crossed some Black Java hens with a cock with barring plumage.
His main focus was more interested in the barred plumage and clean legs but not their meat or egg production.
Some sources say that these chickens were developed after Java chickens were mated with Dominique chickens.
The Plymouth Rock chicken enjoys recognition by the APA as well as by other Poultry Associations across the globe.
They were admitted on the APA in 1874 only as barred but later, other color varieties followed. These Plymouth Rock color varieties include:
- Silver penciled
These chickens were back then mistaken to be Dominique because they share a very close resemblance. However judges at a poultry show ruled out that those with rose combs remain as Dominique and the single combed birds be shown as Barred Rocks.
Characteristics of Plymouth Rock chickens
The Barred Plymouth Rock chicken is a large bird where the rooster weighs about 9.5lbs and the hen weighs 7.5lbs.
There are bantam varieties and the males weigh 3lbs while the females weigh 2.5lbs.
In both versions, the combs, wattles and earlobes are red in color. The combs are single, small and have five well-marked peaks on them.
These chickens black and white have full breasts and strong rectangular bodies. Breast feathers are soft and have a fluffy feel upon touch.
Their legs are clean and have no feathers on them. Legs are yellow colored so is the body skin. On each foot, there are four well-spaced toes and short claws on them.
Eye color should be reddish bay while the beaks are of a horn color. The back should be long and broad while the tail is held not high but at an angle.
Temperament and Hardiness
The Barred rock is a calm, gentle and friendly breed. These chickens are cool and are the type that you can keep as pets.
They exhibit friendliness where even the Plymouth Rock roosters are not aggressive or rowdy towards children.
Plymouth Rock chicken is a strong and hardy breed. It will do well in both cold and hot areas as long as it gets the right care.
These chickens prefer to free range where they will roam and collect seeds grubs, tasty insects and enjoy a wide variety of weeds and grass.
Free ranging is good and economical because the cost of feeding them will be much lower. In addition to this, the roosters are predator savvy and will always be on the lookout for potential predators like possums and chicken hawks.
Egg laying and Uses
The good thing with Plymouth Rocks is that they reach maturity early. At 18-20 weeks, the pullets are sexually mature to lay and the roosters start to crow.
At this age, females will start to hang around nesting boxes scouting for a spot to lay her eggs. They from time to time mate with the roosters and you will hear them sing the egg song.
In a good year, Plymouth Rock hens will lay an average of 200 eggs per year translating this to about 4 eggs per week.
The eggs are large and have a brown egg shell color. These eggs are white in the inside with a single yellow egg yolk.
Plymouth Rock chickens are large, full breasted and heavy. They are large enough to offer enough meat for a big family.
These chickens are fast maturing and you will not have to wait for long before they are big enough for market as broilers.
Although these chickens are not very broody, when they happen to sett, they do it with passion and make sweet mothers to their chicks.
Barred Rock chicks and chickens for sale can be bought from reputable chicken hatcheries. Eggs for sale can be found with dedicated breeders and bird hobbyists.
Plymouth Rock Chicken Lifespan
A normal chicken has a lifespan of 5-8 years. However these chooks can live even for more than 10 years when given the right care.
There is no specific period of time that a particular chicken can live. In most cases, male chicks are not lucky if they are from an egg laying breed and are culled right after hatching.
Free ranging chickens have a lot to face when roaming. There are predators; diseases and hunger that they face which can reduce the number of years they live.
Chicken pets are lucky and will live for very long succumbing to old age. These birds receive quality care which gives them a longer lifespan.
These chickens are strong, healthy and robust. They are very hardy and can do well on both hot and cold climate areas.
However, common chicken lice and scaly mites will not spare them. These parasites live inside their body feathers, under roost bars and on chicken bedding.
Lice and mites will suck blood, bruise the skin and damage the developing feathers. To control them, add small amounts of diatomaceous earth in the chicken dirt bath.
Diatomaceous earth can also be dusted directly on the chicken’s body. This powder works by removing body oils and moisture from the parasites dehydrating them to death.
Chicken worms like gape and thread worms are another health threat. To control them, seek advice from a qualified bird vet on the right chicken wormer to administer.
Since they do not have those large combs, they are not likely going to suffer from frostbites in winter. However a sweeter heater will help heat their coop to keep them warm.
A heated waterer will do a good job and keep them hydrated. This chicken equipment will keep your Plymouth Rocks water from freezing in winter.
Tips for raising Plymouth Rock Chicken
1 Collect male to female ratio
A single rooster is supposed to mate with 10 hens. Having more than one rooster in a coop can lead to chaos which can cause death.
If the number of roosters exceeds that of females, the males will mate with the ladies more than it is recommended.
This can cause back injuries, joint problems and loss of feathers in hens.
Food is very important to chickens just like it is to you and me. A well-balanced diet will provide them with all the nutrients they require for healthy growth.
Laying hens will need a protein rich course for them to lay eggs with strong egg shells. Do not forget that chicken grit is important too.
Starter feeds are rich in protein which is very important for the growing baby chicks. Treats are good but not for chicks.
Always make sure that your chicken feeders have enough food for your birds. Any bad and moldy foods should be removed because they will cause ill health when eaten.
Water plays a key role in the health of your hens. It will keep their bodies well hydrated and keep them from dehydrating.
Are you wondering how long can chickens go without water? Well, not more than 48 hours and longer than this can cause death.
Give them plenty of clean drinking water. Elevate your chicken waterers several inches from the ground to keep the water fresh and free from chicken poop and litter.
Water will help cool keep your chicken’s cold in summer. Do not forget that it helps in food digestion and will prevent impacted crops.
A good chicken coop will keep predators and bad weather away from your chickens. It is inside the coop where chickens will roost to spend the night, lay eggs and hatch chicks.
The chicken run should be well ventilated to allow free air movement. Use good and dry bedding material like sand, pine shavings and chopped straw to avoid dampness.
In the evening, latch the coop properly to make sure they are safe during the night. An automatic chicken coop door will help you keep them safe even when you are away.
The Plymouth Rock chicken is a good bird for both meat and eggs. This breed is calm and friendly making a good pet for your kids.
These chickens are faithful egg layers. In a week, they will make sure you get a minimum of 4 large brown eggs for breakfast.
They are predator savvy and adept foragers that know how to look for their own food. Foraging will help bring down the cost of feeding them.