Best Chicken Breeds for Egg Laying [In depth analysis]

2. Rhode Island Red

The Rhode Island Red is an American breed of domestic chicken. It is the state bird of Rhode Island. 

It was developed there and in Massachusetts in the late nineteenth century, by cross-breeding birds of Oriental origin such as the Malay with brown Leghorn birds from Italy.

It is a dual-purpose breed, for meat and for eggs; modern strains have been bred for their egg-laying abilities.

Male Rhode island red weighs about 3.9 Kg while female weigh around 3.0 Kg.

What does Rhode Island Red looks like?

Their body is somewhat rectangular and solid looking.

Rhode Island Reds are well proportioned, with a head held high and the tail at a 45 degree angle. Their feathers are tight which means they sit together compactly – a trait of the Malay breed used to create this breed.

What surprises a lot of people is the fact that Reds can have either a single or rose comb. The single comb is upright with well-defined points, and the rose comb has a rear facing leader spike.

Wattles and ear lobes are red (like their comb), eyes are orange/red in color and the beak is a horn color.

Their skin, shanks and feet are yellow.

Color Varieties

The primary color of the feathers is a beautiful shiny chestnut red.

Occasional black feathers can be found in the tail and wings – this is called ‘smutty’ by judges and points will be taken from the overall score of a competition bird.

There are Rhode Island Whites but they are considered a separate breed.

Rhode Island Red Egg Production

The Rhode Island Red is very good at laying eggs – it is hard to surpass them in output and continuity.

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Rhode Island Red

The original flocks of Rhode Islands were bred to be dual-purpose hens. However, in the 1940s’ following the War, keepers again refined the breed to produce more eggs.

This was when the breed was essentially split into Rhode Island ‘heritage’ and Rhode Island ‘industrial.’

Those that were bred for better egg-laying are the hens that we generally see today. The Rhode Island hen will usually start to lay around 18-20 weeks, although some will start as early as 16 weeks old.

A good hen can lay 200-300 eggs each year, although other people put the egg-laying at a more modest 150-250 eggs.

In general, a Rhode Island hen will lay around 5-6 eggs/week. These eggs are medium to large and light brown in color. Eggs will increase in size over the years, as with all hens.

The ‘heritage’ type hen is not too far behind this number in egg-laying, but the major difference is table quality, taste, and texture of the meat.

Common Health Issues

Rhode Island Reds are renowned for being hardy and healthy. To keep your birds healthy, maintain a clean coop, prevent overcrowding, and create good dust bathing areas.

As with all birds, mites and other ectoparasites can be a problem. Keep bugs away by offering a dust spot and checking your birds regularly for bugs.

Since Rhode Island Red chickens are prolific egg layers, they can be prone to egg production issues, such as egg binding or yolk peritonitis. Both are treatable if caught early. If not treated, the bird will die.

There are some diseases, such as Marek’s, that most baby chicks should be vaccinated for. Keep an eye out for contagious diseases such as fowl cholera, avian influenza, fowl pox, coccidiosis, salmonellosis, and Newcastle disease.

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Cockfighting is common in flocks of Rhode Island Reds, particularly when there is more than one rooster per roost. Watch out for hens picking on smaller flock members.