The Barred Rock chicken, a striking variety of the Plymouth Rock, is a popular fowl among poultry lovers. This black and white banded chicken is admired for its hardiness, substantial size, and consistency in laying eggs.
What’s more, it’s been noted as one of the oldest breeds in the United States, which can be traced back to more than 100 years ago. This makes it among the most established chickens on the market today.
In this article, you’ll learn everything about the Barred Rock chicken. From its history and appearance to its care requirements and personality traits, this guide will help you decide if this fowl suits your needs.
Barred Rock Chicken Overview
|6–9.5 pounds (2.7–4.3 kg)
|Black and white barring
|Estimated Coop Size:
|10 square feet per chicken
|Meat and egg
|Known for Broodiness:
|4–5 eggs per week; 200–280 eggs per year
|Suitable for Beginners:
Barred Rock Chicken Origin and History
The Barred Rock chicken, a heritage breed, is an original version of the Plymouth Rock that came into existence in the mid-1800s. Its origins are in the United States, contributing to America’s rich poultry history.
To be specific, the creation of the Barred Rock chicken was a mix of several breeds. Principally, breeders used the traits of Cochins, Brahmas, Javas, and Dominiques to produce this iconic fowl.
This intermixing of characteristics led to a breed that possessed qualities suitable for egg production and meat purposes.
Making their public debut in 1829, Barred Rock chickens were first exhibited at the inaugural poultry show in Boston. This public display established the breed’s popularity and secured its place in the chicken world.
Note, though, that it was not until 1914 that the American Poultry Association (APA) officially recognized this fowl.
Fast forward to the present day: The Barred Rock chicken is now seen as a color variety of the Plymouth Rock breed. Nonetheless, it remains the traditional and most recognized type of this species in the country today.
Barred Rock Chicken Appearance and Standards
The Barred Rock chicken is instantly recognizable due to its distinctive black and white barred plumage. This striking pattern, resembling the crisscrossing of stripes, contributes to its classic look.
However, you should anticipate that color and patterning are the only things that make this variant unique. In reality, all Plymouth Rocks, regardless of markings and hues, adhere to similar standards in terms of looks.
Specifically, one of the defining features of the Barred Rock chicken is its single, five-pointed comb. It is also deep-chested and sports a long, triangular-shaped, yellow body, both bulky and muscular.
These characteristics are uniform across all versions of this breed, whether it’s a buff, Colombian, partridge, blue, or silver-penciled Plymouth Rock.
In addition to the above features, the Barred Rock chicken has clean legs ending in four toes. This feature reflects the breed’s overall neat and sturdy appearance.
As for the tail, expect that it varies between genders; Barred Rock roosters sport tails angled at 45°, while females feature 40°-angled ones.
See a flock of Barred Rock chickens strutting around in this video:
Barred Rock Chicken Varieties
The Barred or Plymouth Rock chicken breed features several fascinating varieties. Each one boasts distinct colors, with some even sporting intricate patterns that make them stand out from the rest.
Below is a list of seven Plymouth or Barred Rock varieties you should know about:
1. Barred Plymouth Rock
The Barred Rock, the pioneer of the Plymouth Rock breed, flaunts black and white stripes reminiscent of zebra patterns. This pattern is similar to some other types of black and white chickens, such as the Dominique.
This unique look also sets them apart from other Barred Rocks, yet they’re not officially recognized by the APA.
2. Blue Barred Rock
The blue Barred Rock is recognized for its stunning feathering. They flaunt a blend of blue-gray and lavender shades, providing a captivating contrast to the usual chicken colors.
3. Columbian Barred Rock
The Columbian Barred Rock variety parades white feathers adorned with black spots. These markings concentrate around the neck, saddle, wings, and tail, granting these chickens an attractive mottled appearance.
5. Buff Barred Rock
The buff Barred Rock variety shows off a straw-colored plumage. Still, bear in mind that their shade of buff can vary from one chicken to another, ranging from a subdued brownish-yellow to a vibrant golden yellow.
6. White Barred Rock
The white Barred Rock displays feathers as pure as cotton. In fact, their red wattles and comb are emphasized against their crisp white plumage. Yet, despite their distinctive coloration, they are not officially accepted by the APA.
7. Silver Penciled Barred Rock
The silver-penciled Barred Rock presents a visual feast of white feathers gracefully ornamented with black penciling. Penciling refers to the detailed, double black lines that can be seen on each feather of these types of chickens.
8. Partridge Barred Rock
Lastly, the partridge Barred Rock displays a rich, reddish-brown color. This hue is beautifully set off with black edging down the fowl’s back, chest, and body, creating a striking visual that is sure to catch anyone’s eye.
Barred Rock Chicken Size and Weight
The Barred Rock chicken is generally known for its impressive size, aligning with other varieties of the Plymouth Rock breed.
In particular, it is considered large, a trait that adds to its overall appeal and usefulness in various farming scenarios.
When it comes to weight, female Barred Rocks usually tip the scales at around 6 to 7 pounds. Meanwhile, their male counterparts are slightly heavier, weighing approximately 7 to 9.5 pounds.
Yet, one should note that the height and weight of Barred Rock chickens can be influenced by several factors. These include genetics, health, nutrition, and environment.
All these elements interplay to determine the final measurements of the chicken, which can vary from one individual to another — but not by much.
Unless, of course, for Barred Rock bantams, which can only grow up to 3 pounds or less.
Barred Rock Chicken Temperament and Behavior
Barred Rock chickens are known for their friendly streak, which is even evident in the roosters of their kind. In fact, their docility makes them an ideal choice for those looking to raise chickens that exhibit gentle behavior.
This amiability also means they are easy to tame, making them perfect companions for any chicken enthusiast, regardless of experience level, age, or family setting.
In addition to its favorable disposition, the Barred Rock is an energetic fowl. So, while they handle confinement well, they prefer to be outdoors, where they can observe their surroundings.
Overall, you will not regret choosing a Barred Rock rooster or hen as your pet; this breed is easy to manage and will provide you with years of companionship and entertainment.
Egg Production and Broodiness of Barred Rock Chickens
Barred Rocks are prominent in the poultry world due to their exceptional egg-laying abilities. Notably, these chickens are one of the best egg-producing breeds you can find.
For one, they start their egg-laying journey when they’re relatively young, typically between 16 and 20 weeks old.
Further, the amount of eggs they produce is genuinely remarkable — contributing around 4 to 5 eggs per week. Doing the math, that’s an average of 200 to 280 eggs annually.
Not only are the numbers high, but the Barred Rock hens’ quality of eggs doesn’t fall short either. The eggs they yield are large and have a rich, earthy brown color, standing out from other types of poultry.
Yet, beyond their egg-laying prowess, Barred Rock chickens exhibit a distinctive behavioral trait — broodiness. This essentially means that they have a strong maternal instinct and are inclined to sit on and hatch their eggs.
Noise Levels of Barred Rock Chickens
Barred Rock chickens are commonly known for their tranquil personality, a trait appreciated by many chicken keepers, especially those residing in urban settings.
As a matter of fact, while roosters of this breed do crow, their vocalizations are not as loud as those from other chicken breeds. This softer crowing is often attributed to the Barred Rock’s naturally docile disposition.
I recall visiting a friend’s backyard coop, which was situated in an urban neighborhood. He owned a variety of chicken breeds, but his Barred Rocks caught my attention, mainly due to their relatively low-key nature.
Even with his male fowls, the early morning crowing was significantly softer than I expected. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that despite living near his neighbors, his Barred Rock chickens caused no noise disturbances.
How to Take Care of Your Barred Rock Chicken
Taking care of your Barred Rock chicken involves attention to several aspects. From maintaining their health to providing a cozy habitat, each factor is critical in ensuring the fowl’s well-being and productivity.
Lifespan and Health Issues
Barred Rock chickens typically live between 8 and 12 years. That said, they can live longer if given a healthy diet, have access to an appropriate environment, and they are receiving regular attention.
Despite their hardiness, they are vulnerable to disorders, including fowl pox, Newcastle disease, and various parasites. They are also prone to respiratory problems such as coccidiosis and bronchitis.
Therefore, regular veterinary checks are critical to keep them in optimal health. After all, you don’t want your chicken to suffer from an illness that could have been easily prevented or treated early on in life.
Typically, Barred Rock chicks require a diet of 18% protein for rapid growth, feather development, and proper muscle maturation. Supplementing this with treats like worms can provide them with an additional protein boost.
As the chicks transition into the laying stage, their nutritional requirements shift slightly. A 16% protein layer feed is all they need to continue producing eggs at a consistent rate.
Finally, Barred Rock roosters should also be given daily meals that amount to 16% protein to support their appetites. These can include barley and soybeans in addition to commercial feeds.
In all life stages, though, providing fresh, clean water every day is non-negotiable. Bear in mind that hydration is critical for digestion, temperature regulation, egg production, and nutrient absorption.
Coop Setup and Roaming
When it comes to coop setup and roaming, Barred Rock chickens are known for their love of exploration. In fact, they need a minimum of 10 square feet of coop space per chicken to roam comfortably.
Meanwhile, for laying hens, nesting boxes measuring approximately 12 inches in every direction are optimal for egg production. This arrangement will help prevent egg binding and increase the number of eggs laid per day.
Equally essential are roosting perches. These should be placed at least 7 inches off the ground and out of harm’s way from predators.
Further, make sure to use adequate lighting and ventilation inside your coop or hen house. Doing so will ensure that your chickens don’t wind up with any health issues due to overcrowding or unsanitary conditions.
When considering temperature preferences, Barred Rocks are robust and adapt well to cold climates. They can even lay eggs during the winter, a characteristic that sets them apart from many other breeds.
However, note that their large combs are susceptible to frostbite, so you may still need to monitor them during freezing conditions.
On the other hand, during the summer, maintaining a cool coop environment is essential for Barred Rock chickens. Thus, install proper ventilation so they do not overheat or become too hot.
In addition, you should provide plenty of shade in order to protect them from excessive sunlight exposure.
Breeding Barred Rock Chickens
Breeding Barred Rock chickens can be a rewarding experience for both new and experienced poultry keepers. They’re a resilient breed, which makes them an ideal pick for those looking to establish or expand their flock.
First, selecting the right pairing for breeding is key. Look for fowls that are healthy, active, and sport traits typical of the Barred Rock breed. Breeding from your best stock helps ensure the quality and health of the offspring.
Second, note that a balanced environment is crucial. For successful breeding, it’s best to provide the chickens with comfy nesting boxes and a calm environment. This will encourage hens to lay eggs consistently.
Moreover, guaranteeing your chickens have a steady supply of proteins, vitamins, and minerals will promote their fertility.
You may also consider adding calcium supplements to their diet to improve egg production.
How Much Does a Barred Rock Chicken Cost?
Is the Barred Rock Breed Right for You?
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Barred Rock Chickens Good Egg Layers?
Are Barred Rocks Good Chickens?
What’s the Difference Between a Plymouth Rock and a Barred Rock?
All in all, the Barred Rock is a commendable fowl. It’s crucial to consider personal circumstances, commitment level, and specific needs before deciding on the breed. If you have experience with these chickens, drop them in the comments!