Chicken Breeds: Plymouth Rock or Barred Rock

Barred Rock Chicken
Thomas Kriese/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 2.0v

Plymouth Rock chickens include the Barred Rock and several other varieties. Barred Rocks are recognizable by their black and white stripes that make them stand out in the flock. Plymouth Rocks are large, hardy dual-purpose birds that have long been preferred for small farms and homesteads, due to their size, productivity, and gentle personalities. They can be an excellent choice for both meat and eggs in moderate to cold climates.

Breed Name

Plymouth Rock

Size and Appearance

Plymouth Rocks are large, heavy birds, weighing about 7 to 8 pounds. They are single-comb and do not have feathered legs. They have four toes and are not crested. Cocks have stripping or barring, of equal width, while hens have slightly wider dark bars than white bars, giving them comparatively darker look.

Recognized Varieties

Recognized varieties include Barred, White Buff, Silver, Penciled, Partridge, Columbian, Blue, and Black. These varieties are typically called by their name followed by "Rock," so a Barred Rock is actually a black-and-white Plymouth Rock chicken, and its entire proper breed name is Barred Plymouth Rock.

Rarity

Barred Rocks and White Rocks are common. All other varieties are rare, but online hatcheries may carry such varieties as Penciled, Partridge, and Silver Rocks.

Purpose

These are classic dual-purpose chickens, meaning they are suitable for both meat and eggs.

They put on weight well for meat, and they are also good egg producers.

About the Breed

The Plymouth Rock chicken has a long history in the United States. Barred Plymouth Rocks were first shown at a poultry show in Boston in 1849. They have been nicknamed "America's favorite breed" as well as "the Hereford of the poultry world." Barred Rocks, as they're often called, have long been a favorite breed of small family farms and for backyard and homestead operations.

Plymouth Rocks are the most common variety, followed by White Rocks.

Temperament/Behavior

Plymouth Rocks have a docile, friendly nature and do well even when confined, although they will be happier if they can freely roam. They have also been described as smart, sweet, laid-back, good-natured, active, and plucky. Of course, as with all breeds, there is individual variation, and some chicken-keepers have said that Rock roosters can be bullies, even while the hens are sweet.

Climate Hardiness

These are winter-hardy birds; they will make it through the harshest of winters quite well. They might need extra cooling in warm climates.

Broodiness

They are good mothers, but not often broody. This is good if you want consistent egg-layers.

Egg Production and Type

The egg production of Plymouth Rocks is very good, at around four eggs per week. The eggs are typically brown and large. They lay eggs year-round.

This Breed May Be Right for You If…

You are a homesteader or small-scale diversified farm, you have small children and want a friendly and docile breed, and/or you live somewhere with cold winters. If you want a basic, solid, backyard or small-farm dual-purpose breed for meat and eggs, Plymouth Rocks will serve you well.