Plymouth Rock is one of the most popular breeds of chicken in the United States. In the past during World War 2, this breed was the nation’s main source of chicken and eggs. And ever since, it has grown in numbers all over the country.
As a dual-purpose breed, it has earned its popularity as a backyard chicken. If you are considering keeping some and looking for insights on how to keep, this article can be resourceful. You will find out how to raise, in terms of housing, food, etc.
The History of Plymouth Rock Chicken
The first Plymouth Rock chicken was found in Massachusetts, United States back in 1849. Later on, for about 20 years these chickens went dark, and there were no records about what happened to the birds between 1849 and 1869.
In 1869, the Plymouth Rocks reappeared suddenly. They were then brood as a result of barred males and Java hens. The aim was to achieve that barred plumage, clean legs, and incredible meat and egg production.
The Plymouth Rock chicken became popular during World War II, and keeping them was encouraged. This us because they were a good source of eggs and meat. They would provide adequate food supply to troops fighting overseas and families back home.
After the war, however, the breed slowly fell out and was out of favor in most parts of America. This is because, like everything else at the time, chicken and egg production because mechanized, causing the fall out of many breeds.
Later on, the Plymouth Rock was crossed with other breeds to create hybrids that were impressive at meat production. This is where the broiler industry spouted with cross-breeding. For years after, it was difficult to find a purely bred Plymouth Rock.
The good thing is they are gradually making a comeback in the United States and other countries around the world. This is partly attributed to the Livestock Conservancy’s recognition of the Plymouth Rock as a rare breed.
The Plymouth Rock is a sturdy, heavy breed and features a large full breast. The legs and the beak are usually a vivid yellow color while the lobes and the single comb are red. The eyes are also red. The feathers come in a loose texture, soft to the tough but do not tangle at all. The coat comes in different beautiful colors; one of the popular ones being the barred black and the white feathering.
There are some differences in appearance between the male and the female Plymouth Rock. The male comes with black and white barring with equal amounts of both. Each feather ends with a distinct black tip.
Females, on the other hand, have black bars that appear slightly wider than the white. The distinction can be difficult to see from afar, but it appears as though Plymouth Rock hens have dark grey color.
The barred rocks are some of the larger breeds and are prized for their size. On average a hen will weigh about 7.5 pounds while a rooster will weigh close to 10 pounds.
The white and black barred Plymouth rock is not the only one but certainly the most popular in this chicken breed. Other types include Blue, Buff, Partridge, White, Silver Penciled, and Colombian.
Behavior and Personality
One of the outstanding qualities of the Plymouth Rock chicken breed is its mellow personality. They are the kind that would bully other chicken in your coop or show a nasty attitude. This chicken will get along with every other breed in your flock. They are docile, calm, and sweet, making them one of the best addition you can have in your flock.
The calm personality spreads through to the roosters as well. They are not prone to aggression and will get along with other roosters, pets, and children. As calm as they are, these chickens are quite curious and always on the move. On this note, they will enjoy freedom or free-ranging and will happily follow you around the yard. They aren’t shy and will always want to see if you have treats to offer.
Even with their curiosity, this chicken can stand confinement. As long as there is adequate space for every bird, you should not expect any issues keeping them in a coop. The Plymouth Rock is a great family bird, and in most cases, will get along with your dog. So, if you are considering multiple pets in your backyard, you might want to get a Plymouth Rock.
How good are Plymouth Rocks with meat and egg production? It is not just about the beauty and sweet personality but also about how productive they can be in your flock.
Most people raise Plymouth rocks for eggs. They average about 200 brown eggs each year, which comes down to four eggs in a week. They lay large brown eggs and remain quite consistent in the first years.
Although they are quite decent with egg production, their laying tendencies can be unpredictable as they grow older. The first few years are reasonable, and your Plymouth Rock will lay well. Towards year three, you will start to notice a decline in the number of eggs.
While you can prevent this decline by avoiding light in your coop during winter, keep in mind that the genetics significantly determine the laying ability. Some Plymouths will lay consistently up to 10 years so it would only be fair not to dismiss yours.
These chickens feather out and mature rapidly. That means by eight weeks of age; you can butcher your Plymouth Rock. But, you can keep them for longer obviously for a heavier carcass and more meat. The Plymouth chicken is excellent for meat production thanks to its full breast and super meaty body. It is, therefore, a great option to fill your freezer and enjoy a few portions of one chicken.
Benefits of Raising Plymouth Rock Chicken
One of the benefits of keeping a Plymouth Rock chicken in your coop is that it is pretty easy to raise. These chicken do well with other members and are suitable for families with other pets in the backyard. In fact, they are amazing lap chicken, making them some of the most popular as pet chickens.
As mentioned, these dual-purpose barred rocks are a breeze to keep. They are terrible flyers owing to their large body. Therefore, you will not need to worry about building a huge enclosure to keep them contained. In fact, if you have a proper fence in your backyard, you can leave them to roam freely without worrying about them flying away.
This chicken breed is not the loudest bird there is. Although not entirely quiet, Plymouth Rocks are less likely to annoy your neighbors. You will hear their morning egg songs and crows, but they do so at a low volume.
Plymouths do not need lots of attention to raise. They are easygoing and can be a great choice for beginners. This breed can be very forgiving, so you do not have to worry about making mistakes here and there.
These chickens will stand out in your backyard; thanks to the beautiful plumage. They have a bold look and will definitely add such an aesthetic to your garden. And, remember they are sweet and calm so together with their beauty, you can keep some for an exhibition.
Challenges of Raising Plymouth Rock Chicken
Every breed comes with challenges of raising, and Barred Rocks are no exception. Most of the challenges have to do with the weather as they are not the best to adapt to all conditions.
Although you can keep them in just about any climate, you have to keep an eye and prepare for temperature extremes. If the weather gets too cold, your birds can suffer from frostbite. When it gets too warm, they can easily suffer from overheating.
Therefore, you want to make sure your Plymouth Chickens have access to a coop that is warm enough and draft-free in the winter. When summer comes, ensure the coop is well ventilated to control indoor air and prevent overheating. Also, ensure you provide plenty of shade and fresh, clean water.
As heavier birds, Plymouths can easily push chickens around to reach what they want. This only happens during feeding, and some smaller birds might find it difficult to access food. The idea is to provide multiple feeders and ensure they are enough for the number of chickens you have in your coop.
Health Issues of Plymouth Rock Chicken
This chicken breed does not present a particular health concern known to them. They are generally healthy and sturdy and aren’t bothered by any ailments in particular. But, like other birds, you can expect to deal with a few issues here and there.
The most common issue is external and internal parasites. External parasites are expected owing to their loose, full plumage, but with proper inspection, you should not worry about this. Take time to comb through the fluffy feathering to make sure bugs are not hiding in there. Also, provide a dust bath where your chickens can easily access to help control lice and mites.
Internal parasites are not common, but you can treat and prevent them by providing clean, fresh water and food. Also, you can use natural dewormers such as apple cider vinegar, garlic, or pumpkin seeds to prevent them from popping up.
Barred Plymouth Rock chickens have large wattles and a single comb. Like other single-combed birds, these ones are more prone to frostbite in extremely cold conditions. Ensure the coop is draft-free but also well-ventilated to prevent moisture build-up.
Other than that, you should not have many issues raising them. They have great genetics and can live for at least ten years with proper care. Some can even stretch to twelve or thirteen years.
How to Raise Plymouth Rock Chickens
Every chicken needs attention to ensure they remain healthy, happy, and productive. With the Plymouth Rock, there is not much that is required from you for it to thrive. They do not need any special grooming practices, diets, or maintenance, making them some of the best for all chicken keepers.
Plymouth barred Rock chickens do not need special cleaning and grooming; just the usual that every chicken needs. Inspect them for parasites such as ticks, mites, and lice. Also, provide a dust bath where they can roll and do their grooming.
Plymouth barred Rock chickens do not need a special diet, but you need to ensure it is balanced and wholesome. You can feed them regular feed from your local mill as long as it is recommended for all chickens. You will need to start with a chicken starter for barred rock chicken the first ten weeks and advance to a standard feed after that.
However, if you are keeping Plymouth Rocks chickens for their large brown eggs, it is necessary to provide a calcium boost. You can do this by incorporating a shell-grit into their diet or crush eggshells into their food.
Like other chickens, Plymouth Rock chicks need a safe and secure coop to live. Remember they are good layers and so adequate, private nest boxes are necessary. You want to ensure they have a comfortable area to lay eggs.
They also need decent-sized perches where they can roost and sleep at night. Build enough for the number of chickens you have and leave room for expansion; especially if you are a beginner. Ensure the coop has adequate ventilation opening to keep your chickens cool in the summer and comfortable in the winter.
Remember Plymouth Rocks are playful and love to spread their wings as they run. On this note, ensure the coop is large enough to accommodate them and other chickens in your coop. With a well-fenced backyard, you can leave them to run around and play outside.
The Bottom Line
The Plymouth Rock chicken can be the best for you. It is not only a great addition to any flock but also a great start for beginners. These dual-purpose chickens are sweet, playful, productive, and beautiful. And, the fact that they do well with other chickens, pets and kids, makes them a great choice for a family.