Saturday, March 21, 2020

Heritage Rhode Island Red - New Breed On The Farm

Hello chicken loving friends, it's been awhile since I've sat down and wrote up a blog but with all that is going on in the world with the Covid-19 virus I just wanted to sit and reach out to whoever might be searching for poultry in this uncertain time we're all experiencing .  I can't begin to tell you how many calls I've received from frantic people searching for information and advice.  Almost every phone call begins with I'm look for hens that are laying eggs now.  Most of the people calling at this time know nothing about chickens but they're feeling the need to be more self sufficient.   Anyone can raise chickens, they aren't difficult but you need to know that it's a commitment just like any other animal.   If your looking for a heavy egg producer we have, new to the farm this year, the Heritage Rhode Island Red.
This breed has been a nice addition and fitting into the farm very well.  If you don't know much about the Heritage Reds Here's a little background.  The first Rhode Island Reds were created back in the second half of the 19th century, not by poultry fanciers but by farmers needing a dual purpose chicken.  They used selective breeding from breeds such as Cochin, Java, Malay, Shanghai and Brown Leghorn from Italy. 
The first breed standard was drawn up in 1898 and was approved by the American Rhode Island Red Club in Boston in 1901.  The Single-comb variety was admitted to the Standard Of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1904.
The color of the Rhode Island Red is a lustrous deep mahogany red and the tail is mostly black.  The comb may be single or rose comb (we are breeding single comb) it is vivid red and earlobes and wattles are also red.  They have red-orange eyes and yellow feet and legs.

The body shape of the Heritage Rhode Island Red is much like a brick :)  They have a long, flat, wide back and broad rounded chest.  Hens can weigh 6 pounds and rooster 8 to 9 pounds. 
I have found the hens to be very calm, not afraid to be touched, easily handled very friendly not flighty even though I've not really hand raised them.  The roosters have not been aggressive and are well mannered while I'm gathering eggs (so far so good).
Did you happen to know that the Heritage Rhode Island Red is on the Livestock Conservancy watch list?  The large hatcheries have basically bred them out of existence.   The  hatcheries today are producing a Rhode Island Red that is aggressive, smaller, wrong color and no longer resemble the true breed.     

The Heritage Red hens are very good layers of large brown eggs, they still have their chicken instincts, that means they can go broody and hatch chicks, production Rhode Island Reds can not do this.  The Heritage Reds are very hearty, robust gals and produce large, lively chicks.  I've read that they can turn meager amounts of feed into lots of eggs.  Everyone gets fed really well here and they're producing tons of eggs :)  My hens began laying at 5 months of age and each hen will lay one egg per day.

We're just beginning with the Heritage Rhode Island Red, I'm going to be working with two different bloodlines and see what each has to offer.  Let's all work together to help this breed it would be a shame to let Americans chicken become lost forever.  Breeders of the Heritage Rhode Island Red are difficult to find but there are a few out there.
If your considering having a couple of hens in your backyard and your looking for one that's a good egg producer I recommend giving this breed a try.  We sell them as day old chicks and started young pullets.

Have a great day and stay safe.