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Plymouth Rock chicken

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Plymouth Rock
two grey hens with black-and-white barred plumage
Hens, barred plumage
Conservation statusrecovering
Other names
  • Rock
  • Barred Rock
Country of originUnited States
StandardAmerican Poultry Association
Usedual-purpose breed
  • Male:
    • Standard: minimum 3.4 kg (7.5 lb)[1]: 241 
    • Bantam: maximum 1.4 kg (3 lb)[1]: 242 
  • Female:
    • Standard: minimum 2.9 kg (6.5 lb)[1]: 241 
    • Bantam: maximum 1.1 kg (2.5 lb)[1]: 242 
Skin coloryellow
Egg colorbrown[2]
Comb typesingle
ABASingle comb clean legged
PCGBSoft feather: heavy[5]
APSheavy breed softfeather
Barred cock and hen, illustration from Jean Bungartz, Geflügel-Album, 1885

The Plymouth Rock is an American breed of domestic chicken. It was first seen in Massachusetts in the nineteenth century and for much of the early twentieth century was the most widely kept chicken breed in the United States. It is a dual-purpose bird, raised both for its meat and for its brown eggs. It is resistant to cold, easy to manage, and a good sitter.[2][6]: 68 


The Plymouth Rock was first shown in Boston in 1849, but was then not seen for another twenty years.[2] In 1869, in Worcester, Massachusetts, one D.A. Upham cross-bred some Black Java hens with a cock with barred plumage and a single comb; he selectively bred for barred plumage and clean (featherless) legs.[6]: 68  His birds were shown in Worcester in 1869; the modern Plymouth Rock is thought to derive from them.[2] Other people have been associated with the development of the Plymouth Rock, as have other chicken breeds including the Brahma, the Cochin (both white and buff), the Dominique and the White-faced Black Spanish.[2] According to the Livestock Conservancy, it may have originated from cross-breeding of Java birds with single-combed Dominiques;[7] or, based on genomic analysis, principally from the Dominique, with substantial contribution from the Java and Cochin and some input from other breeds.[8][9]

The Plymouth Rock was included in the first edition of the American Standard of Perfection of the new American Poultry Association in 1874.[2] The barred plumage pattern was the original one; other colors were later added.[2]

It became the most widespread chicken breed in the United States and remained so until about the time of World War II.[2] With the advent of industrial chicken farming, it was much used in the development of broiler hybrids but began to fall in popularity as a domestic fowl.[6]: 68 

In 2023 the Plymouth Rock was listed by the Livestock Conservancy as 'recovering', meaning that there were at least 2500 new registrations per year.[10] Worldwide, numbers for the Plymouth Rock are reported at almost 33000;[11] about 24000 are reported for the Barred Plymouth Rock[12] and over 970000 for the White variety.[13]


The Plymouth Rock is easy to manage, is early-feathering, has good resistance to cold and is a good sitter.[2] It has a single comb with five points; the comb, wattles and ear-lobes are bright red. The legs are yellow and unfeathered. The beak is yellow or horn-colored.[6]: 69  The back is long and broad, and the breast fairly deep.[14]

In the United States, seven color varieties of the Plymouth Rock are recognized: barred, blue, buff, Columbian, partridge, silver-penciled and white.[3] Ten plumage varieties are listed by the Entente Européenne d'Aviculture et de Cuniculture, of which five – the barred, black, buff, Columbian and white – are recognized by the Poultry Club of Great Britain.[4] In Australia, the barred variant is split into two separate colors, dark barred and light barred.[15]


The Plymouth Rock is a dual-purpose breed and is kept both for its meat and for its large brown eggs, of which it lays about 200 per year.[2] The eggs weigh about 55 g (2 oz).[16]

In industrial agriculture, crosses of suitable strains of white Plymouth Rock with industrial strains of white Cornish constitute the principal stock of American broiler production.[14]: 415 


  1. ^ a b c d Victoria Roberts (2008). British poultry standards: complete specifications and judging points of all standardized breeds and varieties of poultry as compiled by the specialist breed clubs and recognised by the Poultry Club of Great Britain. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 9781405156424.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Plymouth Rock Chicken The Livestock Conservancy. Archived 10 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b APA Recognized Breeds and Varieties: As of January 1, 2012. American Poultry Association. Archived 4 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b Liste des races et variétés homologuée dans les pays EE (28.04.2013). Entente Européenne d’Aviculture et de Cuniculture. Archived 16 June 2013.
  5. ^ Breed Classification. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Archived 12 June 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Carol Ekarius (2007). Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Publishing. ISBN 9781580176675.
  7. ^ Dominique Chicken. Pittsboro, North Carolina: The Livestock Conservancy. Archived 26 January 2021.
  8. ^ New Study Determines Ancestry for White Plymouth Rock Chickens. Pittsboro, North Carolina: The Livestock Conservancy. Archived 29 September 2020.
  9. ^ Y. Guo, M. Lillie, Y. Zan, J. Beranger, A. Martin, C. F. Honaker, P. B. Siegel, Ö. Carlborg (2019). A genomic inference of the White Plymouth Rock genealogy. Poultry Science. 98 (11): 5272–5280. doi:10.3382/ps/pez411.
  10. ^ Plymouth Rock Chicken. Pittsboro, North Carolina: The Livestock Conservancy. Archived 2 April 2023.
  11. ^ Transboundary breed: Plymouth Rock. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed October 2016.
  12. ^ Transboundary breed: Plymouth Rock Barred. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed October 2016.
  13. ^ Transboundary breed: Plymouth Rock White. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed October 2016.
  14. ^ a b Janet Vorwald Dohner (2001). The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds. New Haven, Connecticut; London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300088809.
  15. ^ James Bishop (1998). Australian Poultry Standard, first edition. Linton, Victoria: Victorian Poultry Fanciers' Association. ISBN 9780646362311.
  16. ^ Rassetafeln: Hühner (in German). Reichenbach, Haselbachtal: Bund Deutscher Rassegeflügelzüchter. Accessed January 2022.