Rhode Island Reds are among the best backyard chicken varieties! Here’s my list of reasons why Rhode Island Reds make such good backyard chickens! For more detailed info on Rhode Island Reds, read my article, Rhode Island Red-Guide and Breed Profile
Why Rhode Island Reds Are a Good Backyard Chicken Breed
Rhode Island Reds are some of the most lively chickens and usually have big, bright personalities. Everyone agrees that their chickens are great entertainment, and Rhode Island Reds are extra talkative and funny.
The hallmark of a good backyard chicken variety is being a good multi-tasker. Rhode Island Reds shine as fun, friendly farm companions, egg layers, and meat producers. They also keep insect pests at bay if allowed to forage.
Good Brown Egg Layers
Rhode Island Reds can be expected to lay an egg almost daily during their laying season, which varies from spring months through autumn. For production strains, this is 250-350 eggs per year, and 150-250 eggs per year for heritage strains. Their eggs are creamy brown and large. Rhode Island Reds are noted for consistent egg laying and are less likely to stop and start laying unless stressed.
Very Respectable Meat Birds
Rhode Island Reds are good meat birds as well. The hens mature to about 6.5 pounds, and roosters mature to about 8.5 pounds. This is not as heavy as single-purpose meat birds, but they are plump and delicious meat birds.
Many backyard chicken farmers raise a straight run (both male and female chicks) of Rhode Island Reds, and keep all the hens for egg laying, and process excess roosters for meat production.
Read More: Raising Rhode Island Red Chickens For Meat
If you plan to hatch baby chicks with your hens, you’ll find Rhode Island Reds to be excellent mothers. They are more protective than most, and fuss over their brood night and day, seeing that not one chick is lost or hungry or attacked by cats or predators. These traits are ideal for chicken mothers!
Backyard chickens must be easy keepers because most backyard hobby farmers are not prepared to use the methods of large factory farms. Several factors combine to determine which varieties are easy to keep, and Rhode Island Reds excel in most of them.
Solid Feed Conversion
Feed conversion refers to how many pounds of feed chickens must eat to produce one pound of meat or eggs. Rhode Island Reds are considered to have very good feed conversion, meaning they eat less than Cornish Cross or Red Rangers, for example, per pound of meat produced. This is great news for backyard farmers on a limited budget!
Read More: How Much To Feed Chickens Per Day
Rhode Island Reds are among the best foragers. This variety may be responsible for the belief that red hens are more aggressive and better foragers than other varieties. While they are not the only red variety, they are very popular for these traits. Rhode Island Reds eat ticks, insects, spiders, meal worms and sometimes even mice if allowed to free range. Always be sure to protect your flock from predators while they forage and free range!
While all birds need shelter to protect them from extreme temperatures, Rhode Island Reds are a cold-hardy variety. They do want plenty of fresh dry bedding indoors (in the coop) in rainy or snowy weather, but they often venture out for a walk even with snow on the ground. Backyard farmers always appreciate lower maintenance chicken varieties that can stand lower temperatures with less intervention.
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