Rhode Island Red chickens are an American-made breed, established in Rhode Island and Massachusetts during the mid 1800’s. Since then, they’ve proven themselves a hardy stock that beautifully serves the purposes of egg layer and meat bird. Plus, they’re gorgeous. Read on to learn why Rhode Island Red Chickens are some of the best chicken breeds available, and how to add some to your flock.
What Makes Rhode Island Red Chickens Great?
- They’re bred for rough environments. The New England winters are nothing to take lightly, and these birds were born to withstand the force of nature. Their thick feathers help keep them insulated, their long talons make them capable of severe self-defense and they have a keen instinct to forage sufficiently for their diet. This means that they’ll happily tolerate an amateur-built chicken coop and novice care.
- They’re great egg producers, and also make a nice main course. Adult male (roosters) Rhode Island Red chickens can grow to at least eight pounds, and female Reds can grow to at least six pounds. Rhode Island Red laying hens produce large to extra-large eggs regularly, even through some winters. The eggs are a beautiful brown color, and have a golden yolk. Hens do not have a strong tendency to brood, which means you’ll typically have an easy time collecting eggs from calm birds.
- They have beautiful plumage. Their feathers are the color of wet clay tinged with rust, but can also range to a deep red that is almost as black as ink. Their feet are yellow like lemons, long and perfectly match their beaks that are yellow with a red stain unique to each bird. Rhode Island Reds stand tall, and will quickly travel to the top of the pecking order when introduced into an established flock.
Where are Rhode Island Reds for Sale?
- Community Bulletin Boards- Many places, like your library, laundry mat, grocery store, hardware store, park district, etc., offer bulletin boards to the public. If you keep your eyes open, you could get lucky and stumble upon a flier for a local breeder offering birds for sale, trade or even free. Making contact with local people also helps build your chicken support group, should you need any hands-on help or advice along the way.
- Breeders- There are many reputable chicken breeders who offer you an opportunity to purchase Rhode Island Red chickens from their established flocks through their website, catalogue or other online market place. Once you find a breeder that suits your standards, you can order as many birds as you like. Keep in mind, chicken breeding companies typically sell baby chicks. Unfortunately, some of them do not always survive shipping. Those that do require care immediately upon receipt.
- Online Communities- Places like your local Craigslist, or similar sites, often offer home and garden or farming classifieds sections. Browse the listings regularly and keep an eye out for people thinning their flocks. Sometimes Rhode Island Red chickens are listed for sale, or even free. In most cases, a chicken keeper who is thinning their flock will allow you to choose the birds you’d like to take. If they offer specific birds for adoption, closely inspect their health and temperament. There might be a negative reason why the owner chose that individual chicken for rehoming. Politely ask why.
- Local Farmers’ Markets- The lifestyle that includes raising chickens is pretty popular. It shouldn’t prove difficult to find a local farmers’ market in your area. Once you find one, spend time talking to the individual vendors. Chances are, they have chickens available or know someone who does. A sense of cooperation is big within this society, and you’re sure to find a multitude of people willing to help you begin, or enhance, your journey in raising Rhode Island Reds. It’s also a great start to building a network of people who are more than happy to help you unload any extra eggs your hens might lay in the future.
- Farm and Field Stores- Popular in more rural areas, large department stores that cater to farmers, ranchers and other rural lifestyles almost always carry Rhode Island Red hens for sale. They also carry other types of chickens, and even ducks. There are typically media announcements for the impending arrival of the baby chicks, and you can normally see all of them out on display. This, by far, offers the greatest sense of instant gratification. At the right store, you can find a pre-manufactured chicken coops or chicken tractors, chicken feed and feeders, chicken-friendly plants and, of course, the Rhode Island Red chickens themselves.