Barred Rock chickens, also known as Barred Plymouth Rocks, are popular poultry choices known for their excellent egg and meat production. However, the differences between Barred Rock hens and roosters can be hard to spot at first glance.
While Barred or Plymouth Rock hens and roosters can look similar, they have distinct physical dissimilarities. Hens are smaller with rounder breasts, while roosters are taller with pointed chests. Behavior-wise, males are more aggressive and territorial, whereas hens are gentler and more social.
In this article, we’ll learn more about the differences between male and female Barred Rocks. We’ll explore their physical features, temperaments, and roles in egg production and flock dynamics.
Summary of Barred Rock Hen vs. Rooster
|Barred Rock Hens
|Barred Rock Roosters
Smaller, with full, rounded chests
Larger, with triangular-shaped chests
|Size & Weight:
Standard: 7–8 lbs (3.2–3.6 kg)
Bantam: 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg)
|Size & Weight:
Standard: 8–10 lbs (3.6–4.5 kg)
Bantam: 3 lbs (1.4 kg)
Darker in color, with shorter hackles and less striking tail feathers
Lighter in color, with longer hackles and more striking tail feathers
Barred variety exhibits even black-and-white patterning
Barred variety has wider white stripes
Friendlier, gentler, more docile, and very broody
More aggressive and territorial (especially when protecting hens)
200–300 eggs per year
Cannot lay eggs
Slower growth rate; fair feed-to-meat conversion; more tender meat
Faster growth rate; excellent feed-to-meat conversion; firmer meat
Rounder breasts, smaller combs and wattles, and a more subdued stance
Larger combs and wattles, thicker legs, and a more upright posture
Key Differences Between Barred Rock Hens and Roosters
If you are planning to raise Barred Rock chickens, it’s important to know the key differences between hens and roosters. Below are some of the most important characteristics that separate these two sexes.
1. Body Shape
Barred Rock hens and roosters both boast strong, robust frames. Yet, the hens are noticeably smaller. Their chests are also full and rounded, contributing to their more subdued stance.
For your reference, here is a photo of a Barred Rock hen:
In contrast, Barred Rock roosters stand out with their larger size. Their chests are distinctly triangular, which gives them an impressive, upright posture.
The following is an image of a Barred Rock rooster:
Furthermore, while hens present a more reserved appearance, you can see from the photo above that roosters carry themselves with a boldness that’s hard to miss.
Fun Fact: Roosters might recognize their own reflection. Studies show they mainly produce sound alarms for predators when with others but not when seeing themselves in a mirror — evidence of self-awareness in chickens.
2. Size and Weight
Barred Rock hens are generally shorter than their male counterparts. In terms of weight, a standard Barred Rock hen typically ranges between 7 and 8 pounds. For the smaller bantam variety, they usually don’t exceed 2.5 pounds.
On the other hand, Barred Rock roosters are taller, adding to their dominant presence. Weight-wise, a standard rooster weighs between 8 and 10 pounds. Meanwhile, the bantam roosters, smaller in size, max out at about three pounds.
3. Color Patterns
Barred Rock hens typically display a darker shade in their feathering. Their barred pattern, characterized by black-and-white stripes, is more evenly distributed across their bodies, giving them a distinct look.
Conversely, Barred Plymouth Rock roosters tend to be lighter in color. In barred varieties, males also have broader white stripes than females do. This makes the roosters’ appearance more striking.
Fun Fact: The original Plymouth Rock chicken was the barred variety. Today, other colors like buff, Colombian, partridge, blue, and silver-penciled have been developed, but the barred pattern remains a classic.
4. Temperament and Behavior
Barred Rock hens are known for their friendly and gentle nature. They are quite docile, which makes them great for backyard flocks. Further, these hens tend to be very broody, often showing a strong desire to hatch eggs.
While also docile and sociable, Barred Rock roosters exhibit more aggressive and territorial behaviors. This is especially evident when they are protecting hens in their flock.
Raising chickens has taught me that hens and roosters have distinct personalities.
The Barred Rock hens I keep gently cluck while nesting in the coop, turning eggs to warm them. When I collect the eggs, the hens calmly continue their work.
In contrast, I noticed that my Barred Rock roosters are more territorial. They pace the fence, alert to any unfamiliar noises or movements. If an unknown person approaches, they firmly confront the intruder.
Yet, despite their differences, my hens and roosters coexist fine. They each have a role: the hens sit steadily on nests while the vigilant roosters patrol and make sound alarm calls.
This video of a Barred Plymouth Rock rooster protecting four hens is the cutest thing you’ll see all day:
Pro Tip: To keep the peace in your chicken coop, it’s best to have a balanced number of hens for each Plymouth Rock rooster. This helps in reducing aggression and maintaining harmony.
5. Egg and Meat Production
Barred Rock hens are prolific egg layers. They can lay 200 to 300 eggs annually. Yet, they have a slower growth rate compared to roosters and a fair feed-to-meat conversion ratio. That said, it has been noted that their meat is known for being more tender.
In contrast, Barred Rock roosters can’t lay eggs but grow faster. They exhibit an excellent feed-to-meat conversion rate, resulting in firmer meat. This makes them a good choice for meat production.
Fun Fact: Did you know that hens can produce eggs without mating with a rooster? However, a rooster’s presence is crucial for fertilizing eggs if hatching chicks is the goal.
6. Other Differences
When distinguishing between Barred Rock roosters and hens, several notable differences are worth mentioning:
- Tail feathers: Barred Rock roosters have longer, more pronounced tail feathers than hens do.
- Comb and wattle size: Barred Plymouth Rock roosters typically boast larger and more vibrant combs and wattles compared to the smaller, less striking ones of hens.
- Hackles (neck feathers): Barred Rock hens possess shorter and rounder hackle feathers. In contrast, the roosters’ neck feathers are longer and more pointed.
- Leg thickness: Plymouth Rock hens sport slimmer legs, whereas roosters have thicker, more robust legs.
- Tail positioning: Barred Rock roosters sport tails angled at approximately 45°. On the flip side, hens have tails angled closer to 40°.
- Courtship habits: Barred Rock roosters display unique courtship behaviors, such as the tidbitting dance and vocalizations — all of which are not observed in hens.
These differences play a significant role not just in identifying the gender of Plymouth Rocks but also in understanding their behavior and needs.
How to Tell a Barred Rock Hen From a Rooster
To distinguish a Barred Rock hen from a rooster, try to observe their size and body shape first. Hens are smaller with rounded breasts, while roosters are taller with triangular chests and thicker legs.
Next, look at their coloring and feather patterns. Hens have darker, evenly barred feathers, whereas roosters are lighter with wider white stripes. Also, roosters have longer tail feathers and larger combs and wattles.
Behavior is another indicator. Barred Plymouth Rock hens are gentler and more docile. On the other hand, roosters display more aggression and territorial behavior, including unique courtship displays.
Have you spotted any interesting behaviors from your Barred Rock roosters and hens? Feel free to drop your observations in the comments! Likewise, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to share them with us.