Rhode Island Red

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Not to be confused with Rhode Island White.
Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Red cock, cropped.jpg
Rhode Island Red rooster
Conservation status Livestock Conservancy: recovering[1]
Other names Rhode Islands
Nicknames RIR
Country of origin United States
Use Dual purpose layer breed
  • Male: 8.7 pounds (3.9 kg)
  • Female: 6.5 pounds (2.9 kg)
Skin color Yellow
Egg color Brown
Comb type Single
APA American
PCGB Soft Feather: Heavy[2]

The Rhode Island Red is an American breed of chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus). It is a utility bird, raised for meat and eggs, and also as a show bird. It is a popular choice for backyard flocks because of its egg laying abilities and hardiness. Non-industrial strains of the Rhode Island Red are listed as "recovering" by The Livestock Conservancy.[1] The Rhode Island Red is the state bird of Rhode Island.[3][4] It is one of only three state birds that is not a species native to the United States.



Developed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, early flocks often had both single and rose combed individuals. It was from the Malay that the Rhode Island Red got its deep color, strong constitution, and relatively hard feathers.[5]

The name "Rhode Island Red" is ascribed to Isaac Champlin Wilbour (1831–1899) of Little Compton, Rhode Island at an unknown date, or to a Mr. Jenny of the Southern Massachusetts Poultry Association in 1879 or 1880. The poultry expert Nathaniel Borden Aldrich (1866–1908) of Fall River, Massachusetts suggested the name "Golden Buffs" around 1890, but by 1895 they were being exhibited under the name "Rhode Island Red." Before this they were known as "John Macomber fowls" or "Tripp fowls."[6]

The Rhode Island Red were originally bred in Adamsville, a village which is part of Little Compton, Rhode Island. One of the foundation sires of the breed was a black-breasted red Malay cock which was imported from England. This cock is on display at the Smithsonian Institution as the father of the Rhode Island Red breed.[citation needed]

In 1925, the Rhode Island Red Club of America donated funds for an elegant monument to the Rhode Island Red in Adamsville. (The monument is now on the National Register of Historic Places.) A competing monument to the Rhode Island Red, claiming its creation not for the poultry fanciers, but for the farmers who grew them commercially in great numbers in Little Compton, was erected by the state in 1988 a mile or so (about two kilometers) south of Adamsville.[clarification needed][7]

Rhode Island Reds are used in the creation of many modern hybrid breeds, mainly due to the prolific egg laying abilities of the Rhode Island Red.{Citation needed|date=October 2009}


The bird's feathers are rust-colored, however darker shades are known, including maroon bordering on black. Rhode Island Reds have red-orange eyes, reddish-brown beaks, and yellow feet and legs, often with a bit of reddish hue on the toes and sides of the shanks. Chicks are a light red to tan color. The roosters usually weigh in at about 8.7 pounds (3.9 kg), the hens average slightly less at 6.5 pounds (2.9 kg).[5]


Rhode Island Reds are good layers of brown eggs. Hens lay 5–7 eggs per week.[citation needed] The hens lay approximately 312 eggs in their first laying season and 223 in the second.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Conservation Priority List. The Livestock Conservancy. Accessed August 2014.
  2. ^ Breed Classification. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Accessed August 2014.
  3. ^ "Rhode Island State Bird - Rhode Island Red". 50states.com. 1954-05-03. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  4. ^ "Rhode Island Red's Success". The Sydney Morning Herald. April 1, 1938. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Poultry Breeds - Rhode Island Red Chickens". Ansi.okstate.edu. 1997-06-26. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  6. ^ Hale, Dwight Edward. 1911. Standard-Bred Rhode Island Reds, Rose and Single Comb: Their Practical Qualities; the Standard Requirements; How to Judge Them; How to Mate and Breed for Best Results. Quincy, IL: Reliable Poultry Journal Publishing Company, p. 11.
  7. ^ "Statues Honor Doughnuts, Chickens". Toledo Blade. Feb 25, 1666. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 
  8. ^ Mallia Azzopardi, 2014.[full citation needed]

Further reading[edit]

Media related to Rhode Island Red at Wikimedia Commons