Rhode Island Reds are a favorite for experienced chicken farmers and hobbyists. They are hardy birds, and can be used for egg and meat production. They are considered to be a large breed. They have a signature red color, as befitting their namesake.
How Big do Rhode Island Reds Get?
A fully grown hen will weigh about 6.5-7.5 pounds. They have yellow legs and feet. Their eyes will be red or orange, and their beak will be red or brown. Some hens are a dark red/brown, while lighter colored birds are a lighter rust color. Some hens have black or green tail feathers.
The roosters are about 2 pounds larger than the hens, at 8.5-9.5 pounds. They are darker than the females, with mahogany or red/brown plumage and dark green tail feathers. Both sexes have a single comb. They will grow to an average height of 27.6 inches.
Heritage Breed vs. Industrial
There is a size difference between the heritage and industrial Rhode Island Reds. Heritage birds will be larger, and can weigh 10 pounds or more. Heritage Rhode Island Reds are currently listed as recovering by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Most Rhode Island Reds found at hatcheries and feed stores are the industrial version. If you want a heritage bird, check with small breeders in your area. These breeders are passionate about preserving the original breed.
Temperament and production are similar, but there are some differences. However, heritage birds are better for meat production. Industrial Rhode Island Reds have been bred for egg laying, instead of meat production. Their meat is not considered to be the same quality as the heritage Reds. Industrial Reds will provide more eggs. Heritage birds lay 200-250 eggs each year, while industrial Rhode Island Reds can reach 300 eggs per year.
The easiest way to differentiate between the two birds is their plumage. Heritage Rhode Island Reds have a deep, rich, mahogany colored plumage. Industrial Rhode Island Reds typically have lighter plumage, the color of rust.
Both types are beautiful, and most farmers are happy with either a heritage or industrial bird. However, if egg production is very important to you, an industrial Red is the better option. If you want to use your Reds for meat as well as eggs, you’ll need the heritage red.
You’ll also need Heritage Rhode Island Reds if you plan to show competitively. Lastly, if you have a passion for the breed, and want to preserve it’s original form, consider raising heritage birds.
Rhode Island Red Growth and Maturity
It can be helpful to know what to expect as your Rhode Island Reds grow. They begin as chicks, weighing about .1 pounds.
At 8 weeks, they’ve grown to a little over 1 pound. Cockareels, or young roosters, grow a bit more quickly than pullets, or young hens. Expect cockareels to weigh 1.16 pounds, while pullets should weigh 1.07 pounds.
By 16 weeks, the growth gap has widened significantly. Cockareels weigh 2.26 pounds, while pullets weigh 1.94 pounds. At 20 weeks, cockareels weigh nearly a pound more than pullets. Cockareels weigh about 4 pounds, while pullets weigh 3.25 pounds.
Pullets should begin egg laying at 18-20 weeks.
Growth rates vary based on when the chicks were born, but this comes down to the temperature and humidity. For example, if your chicks are hatched in February, they will grow more quickly than chicks hatched in April.
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