Rhode Island Reds are a popular choice for beginner chicken-raisers, as well as experienced farmers. They can be used for meat and egg production, and they do well in both cold and hot climates. They are even the state bird of Rhode Island. Despite their easy-going nature, however, there are some things you need to know in order to properly care for these chickens.
Rhode Island Red Temperament
One of the most important things to consider before raising Rhode Island Reds is their temperament. Rhode Island Red hens are typically even tempered, and it is not uncommon for them to follow you around. The Rhode Island Red rooster, however, is a different story. They have a well-known reputation as aggressive birds. While a rooster does provide many benefits to your flock, they are not required in order to raise Rhode Island Reds unless you want the eggs fertilized.
Rhode Island Red Housing
Rhode Island Reds are adaptable chickens that can happily live in a chicken coop or free-range on your property. Even though they are adaptable birds, you will still need to provide them with adequate shelter, such as a chicken coop.
Required Space for Rhode Island Reds
Chickens that will spend most of their time free roaming need a coop that has no less than 4 square feet per chicken. If, however, your chickens will be spending the majority of their time indoors, you will need at least 10 square feet per bird. It is also generally recommended to have one nesting box per every five chickens. You will also want to provide them with at least 15 square feet of roaming space per bird.
Bedding for the Chicken Coop
The chicken coop will also need proper bedding, which will require changing once a week or once a month (depending on how deep the bedding is). Wood shavings are the most commonly used bedding for chicken coops, but they are not the only option. Straw, sand, and recycled paper can also be used as bedding in the coop.
Protecting Rhode Island Reds From Predators
Predators are another thing to consider before taking the leap into raising chickens. The Rhode Island Reds will need to be protected from predators both on the ground and in the sky.
Foxes, hawks, and even dogs can kill your flock. One of the best ways to protect your chickens is by putting chicken fence around the entire coop and run. Make sure to bury the fence 12 inches deep to protect the birds from burrowing predators.
Enclosing their coop and run will prevent predators, such as hawks, from swooping down and killing the chickens. Another option is to get a rooster or guard animal, such as dogs, donkeys, or alpacas, to help protect the flock from predators.
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Water and Feeding Requirements for Rhode Island Reds
Caring for any breed of chicken will require proper water and food to help keep them healthy and happy.
How Much Water Do Rhode Island Reds Need?
Fresh, clean water is always a must for chickens, and Rhode Island Reds are no different. A good general rule of thumb is about 1 pint of water per day per adult chicken. This can vary, however, depending on the size of the bird, outdoor temperature, and the season.
If you live in an area where temperatures get below freezing, you will still need to make sure your flock has access to water that isn’t frozen. Using a large, black rubber tub that sits in direct sunlight is one of the easiest ways to help prevent the chicken’s water from freezing.
What Can I Feed Rhode Island Reds?
Good quality poultry feed is commonly used to feed Rhode Island Reds, but they also like to forge and scavenge for themselves if allowed to free range. It is not uncommon for Rhode Island Reds to consume frogs and even mice that get too close to them.
Fresh vegetables and fruits are a treat that you can give your flock whenever available. Typically, these birds will consume about 1/4 pound of poultry feed a day if they are eating commercial chicken feed only and not scavenging for food.
Rhode Island Red Health Issues
While the Rhode Island Red is known for being a hardy bird, it is still prone to common bird problems, such as mites. The good news is that with dust baths and regular inspections, you can keep bites at bay. Another issue to consider is that the Rhode Island Red’s comb can become frostbitten in colder temperatures. Placing a little petroleum jelly on their comb can help prevent this from occurring.
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