Plymouth barred rock chicken

Barred Rock Chickens: Breed Profile

Learn about the characteristics of Barred Rock Chickens, also known as Barred Plymouth Rock, what makes the breed, and if they are the right fit for your homestead or backyard coop.


Plymouth barred rock chicken

The Plymouth Barred Rock Chicken is the first breed of chickens I had when I was just starting out. I knew absolutely nothing about chickens (remember, I am a fisherman’s daughter) and my mother-in-law helped me get started. She was correct in recommending the Barred Rock Chicken as a starter breed.

Easy to have around, they seemed to make having chickens effortless. They were eager to going foraging, but always returned to the coop to lay and rooster. It was fun watching them around the yard chasing bugs and scratching under fallen leaves.

In my second year of having chickens, a few of my now 1 year old hens, started getting broody. I gave each one a few eggs to hatch. First, it’s amazon how a broody hen will sit on her eggs for 21 days, seldom getting up to eat, drink or poop. Her concern is her eggs and she does everything she can to hatch healthy chicks.

It is fascinating watching a mother hen care for her brood. She will scratch a the dirt, then call for her chicks who quickly run over to see what she found to eat. When they get cold, she spreads her wings a bit and crouches down to let the chicks cuddle up against her warm body until they are warm again. Then it’s back out and about.

Background of Barred Rock Chickens

Considered to be one of The US’s oldest heritage breed. One of all time popular favorites in US. This is a heritage breed.  Developed in New England, in Plymouth, MA in the 1800’s.  Cross between a barred chicken: Cochin, Brahma, or Dominique  roosters and Black Javas.  This breed is referred to as the Plymouth Rock with Several varieties: Black (bantam only) Barred, Blue, Buff, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Columbian, and White.

Characteristics of Barred Plymouth Rock Chickens

These are the characteristics of the Barred Plymouth Rock Chicken. It is how you can identify them as well as decide if you want to add them to your flock.

barred rock chicken close up

Appearance

They have black and white barred feathers. Barred refers to the pattern of their feathers. This makes for a very distinct and interesting pattern. Their fluffy feathers give them a full curvy shape.

A large single red comb can usually flop to one side. In other breeds, a flopping comb can be a sign of illness, however in the Barred Rock chicken, it is normal in healthy birds.

Though they are similar to Cuckoo Marans, with their black and white feathers, the differences are more pronounced white feathers on the Barred Rock chicken and a floppy comb.

Barred Rock Chickens also sport medium to large bright red wattles, bright red earlobes, and yellow legs.

Purpose

Barred Plymouth Rock Chickens are considered a dual purpose bird. This means the breed lays lots of eggs and are be big enough to produce meat. They do have more dark meat than other chicken breeds.

Size

Barred Rock chickens is a larger breed. Roosters, on average, weigh around 9 to 10 pounds and hens can average 7.5 lbs.

Lifespan

In the care and safety of backyard confinement, Barred rocks can live up to 6-8 years, with the average lifespan being 3-7 years.

Thought they can naturally live up to 8 years, being a dual purpose bird, the lifespan tends to be shorter. Egg production drops as the hen ages so they are often converted for meat at that point.

Production

They mature and start laying around 18 to 20 weeks of age and produce around 200 medium, brown eggs per year. As noted earlier, egg production decrease after 2 to 3 years of age, typically after the first molt.

Hardiness

With the large comb and wattles of the Barred Rock chicken, there is a risk of frostbite. However, overall they are a very cold hardy breed. Their fluffy feathers help insulate and keep them warm. They can forage outside in extreme cold as long as they have good shelter from them to return to away from the elements.

They handle heat just as good as cold, although they do need shade from the hot sun.

Temperament

Easy going temperaments make them a joy to have around. They all have their own personalities, but they are friendly and don’t mind you being around, especially when you have treats. If you feed them regularly, instead of having an auto feeder, they can even be trained to come when you call them.

Broodiness

The Barred Rock chicken breed often goes broody. Broodiness is their instinct to commit to sit on a nest of eggs for the 21 days required for them to hatch. Ounce their brood hatches, they are great mothers and attentively care for the chicks.

Confinement

With a coop and a chicken run, this breed will happily stay put. When given the chance, they love to be out foraging and chasing bugs. With both as options, this makes them a good breed for beginners.

Foraging Ability

When allowed to free range, Barred Plymouth Rock chickens are good foragers. They will run for cover when a predator approaches, but they still seem to be easy to be caught. Perhaps they get too distracted by the search of snacks??

Noise

This is a talkative breed, but not loud. When nearby, you can hear them happily clucking to each other, but it is not loud or obnoxious. However, if you walk away, you won’t hear them anymore. Because of this, they make a good breed to have in you live in town.

Barred Rock Chicken Breed Summary

PurposeDual
AppearanceBarred black and white feathers
Sizeroosters 9.5lbs, hens 7.5 lbs
Lifespan3 to 7 years
Maturity20 weeks
Estimate Annual Production200 eggs
Egg ColorBrown
Egg SizeMedium
BroodinessCan be broody
TemperamentDocile and friendly
Hardinessboth cold and heat
Foraginggood, but easily captured by predators

Final Thoughts

The Barred Rock Chicken breed is a great starter chicken breed for beginners. Their docile temperament, happiness either in confinement or free ranging, hardiness, and good egg production make them an all around good chicken for your flock.

Have you raised Barred Rock chickens? What is your experience?

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