Columbian Rock Cross: Breed Profile, Facts & Pictures

Columbian Rock Cross sitting on a blue chair
Image credit: omygardenclementine / Instagram

The Columbian Rock Cross is sought-after by poultry lovers for its toughness and adaptability to various conditions. In other words, these birds are a favorite due to their ability to thrive in different environments.

What exactly sets Columbian Rock Cross chickens apart from other breeds? Do their features extend beyond their resilience? How do they compare to others in terms of egg production, cost, and appearance?

This article offers an in-depth look at Columbian Rock Cross chickens. We will discuss their physical traits, temperament, chick prices, broodiness level, and more. Let’s begin.

Columbian Rock Cross Quick Facts

Origin:Sussex County, England
Breed Purpose:Dual purpose (meat and eggs)
Weight:Roosters: 6–7 lbs (2.7–3.2 kg);
Hens: 5–6 lbs (2.3–2.7 kg)
Temperament:Docile, friendly, intelligent, adaptable, sweet, gentle, calm, and not easily spooked
Color Varieties:Roosters: Overall yellow or golden shade, sometimes appearing light brown, with black markings on their neck, wing, and tail feathers;
Hens: Overall creamy hue with black markings on the neck, tail, and wings, occasionally with hints of red on their shoulders
Egg Production:200–280 eggs per year
Egg Color:Brown
Egg Size:Large
Broodiness:Low to medium
Cold Tolerance:High
Heat Tolerance:High
Lifespan:2–5 years
Unique Features:Columbian-patterned necks, tails, and wings, bright red combs and wattles, yellowish-white beaks and legs, dual-purpose functionality
Beginner Friendly:Yes

What Is a Columbian Rock Cross?

Columbian Rock Cross chicken on grass
Image credit: omygardenclementine / Instagram

The Columbian Rock Cross is a powerhouse chicken created by crossing a Columbian Rock rooster with a Rhode Island Red hen. These chickens, bred for both eggs and meat, excel in extreme heat and cold, making them versatile for any farm.

While the exact origins of Columbian Rock Cross chickens remain somewhat mysterious, it is commonly thought that they originate from Sussex County, England.

Given their hybrid status, you can expect that their appearance can vary widely. But what they lack in uniformity, they make up for in egg production.

Both Columbian Plymouth Rocks and Rhode Island Reds are known for their prolific laying abilities, guaranteeing a steady supply of eggs.

Another highlight of Columbian Rock Cross chickens is their temperament. These birds are known for being docile, friendly, and smart. Further, they adapt easily to different environments.

Note: As hybrids, these chickens’ lifespan tends to be shorter than purebreds. Expect them to live between 2 and 5 years, which is about half the lifespan of their parent breeds.

Why Cross Columbian Rock Chickens?

Columbian Rock Cross chicken with red comb
Image credit: ournestlednook / Instagram

Crossing Columbian Rock chickens serves several key purposes, each aimed at optimizing poultry farming efficiency. The primary goal is to enhance egg production, ensuring a high yield of eggs from each hen.

Basically, this crossbreeding technique is tailored to meet the demands of both commercial and backyard poultry operations.

Another significant benefit is the size and quality of the eggs produced. These chickens are known for laying large, brown eggs, which are highly valued in the market.

The crossbreed’s genetic diversity contributes to the eggs’ improved size and shell strength, making them more appealing to consumers.

Meat production is also one of the crucial factors in the decision to cross Columbian Rock chickens. The offspring of such crosses tend to grow larger and provide more substantial meat yield.

The robust nature of these birds is one more reason for their popularity. By combining the genetics of Columbian Rocks with other breeds, farmers can produce chickens that are hardier and more adaptable to various environmental conditions.

Physical Characteristics

Columbian Rock Cross chicken on wooden planks
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Though they do not breed true, Columbian Rock Cross chickens display a consistent color scheme that makes them easily recognizable. They also carry the Columbian pattern, which is a hallmark of their appearance.

To be specific, the roosters boast an eye-catching yellow or golden shade, sometimes presenting as light brown. Their elegance is further accentuated by black streaks that adorn their neck, wing, and tail feathers.

On the other hand, hens wear an overall creamy hue. This is complemented by black markings in similar areas and occasional red flashes on their shoulders, adding to their visual appeal.

Both genders’ appearances are made more vibrant by bright red combs and wattles, yellowish-white beaks and legs, and reddish-bay eyes.

In terms of size, Columbian Rock Cross chickens present a medium build. Roosters weigh in at around 6 to 7 pounds, while hens range from 5 to 6 pounds.

Check out this video to see what a flock of Columbian Rock Cross chickens look like in action:

Columbian Rock Cross ready-to-lay hens

Note: Columbian Rock Cross chickens aren’t officially recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) since they are hybrids.

Temperament and Behavior

Columbian Rock Cross chickens exhibit a remarkably docile temperament, which makes them a pleasure to raise. Their friendly nature allows for easy handling and integration into diverse flock compositions.

Intelligence and adaptability are key characteristics of these birds as well. In particular, they learn routines and can adjust to changes in their surroundings with no effort.

Their smart nature also makes them exciting pets, capable of interacting with their owners in engaging ways.

When we introduced a pair of Columbian Rock Cross chickens to our backyard flock, their commanding presence was instantly notable.

Despite their newness, they quickly assumed a top position without causing any disruptions. Their ability to mingle and maintain peace was impressive, especially considering the diverse mix of breeds we already own.

On top of that, they were approachable and sweet, allowing even our youngest child to feed and pet them without any signs of distress or aggression.

Clearly, their calmness around human activity was unlike any other breed we’ve had.

Egg Production and Broodiness

Hand holding two Columbian Rock Cross eggs
Image credit: dahliahill_ / Instagram

Generally, Columbian Rock Cross chickens are good layers. In fact, many owners have noted that their hens can produce between 200 and 280 eggs in a year. Further, they begin laying eggs around 16 to 20 weeks old.

The eggs they produce are not only plentiful but also of large size, coming in a desirable brown shade. This trait makes them a top pick among poultry fans who value both quantity and quality in their egg production.

On another note, Columbian Rock Cross hens tend to have a low to moderate tendency towards broodiness.

This means that while not overly prone to sitting on their eggs, there are instances when they may decide to hatch their brood, temporarily pausing their egg-laying duties.

But keep in mind that being broody does not necessarily imply negative traits. According to research, this natural inclination towards broodiness has been linked to positive behavioral traits in chicks, such as reduced feather pecking and aggression.

Pro Tip: If you are into raising Columbian Rock Cross chickens for meat, though, aim to slaughter them at about 10 to 12 weeks. Ideally, note that they should also weigh between 3 and 4 pounds for the best results.

Caring for a Columbian Rock Cross Chicken

Columbian Rock Cross chick with cat in the background
Image credit: henry.neverham / Instagram

Taking care of Columbian Rock Cross chickens involves meeting their specific needs. Below is a handy guide for vital tips on feeding, shelter, and maintaining the perfect environment to keep your birds thriving.

Feeding and Nutrition

When caring for Columbian Rock Cross chicks, providing them with a high-protein starter feed is crucial. Look for options that contain at least 20% protein to support their rapid development during the early weeks.

After the initial phase, transitioning them to a finisher feed ensures continued growth and health. This feed should have a protein content of 18 to 19%, preparing them for their next life stage.

But as adults, note that their dietary needs shift towards upkeep and egg production. So, offer them a layer feed with 15 to 17% protein, and do not forget to incorporate calcium supplements for strong eggshells.

Additionally, including fresh fruits and vegetables can enhance both the variety and nutrition of your chickens’ diet. They love munching on goodies like bell peppers, potato peels, bananas, and apples.

Finally, remember that access to water is essential at all stages of your Columbian Rock Cross chickens’ lives. Make sure water sources are regularly refilled and cleaned to control disease.

Pro tip: Always guarantee your treats don’t exceed 10% of your flock’s daily dietary intake to keep their nutrition balanced. This way, you can indulge their taste buds without compromising their well-being.

Housing and Shelter

For Columbian Rock Cross chickens, spacious housing is key. Aim for a minimum of four square feet of coop floor area per bird. This will ensure they have enough room to move.

Each chicken should also get around 8 to 10 inches of space on the roost. This lets them perch comfortably at night without overcrowding, promoting better sleep and reducing pecking disputes.

Meanwhile, note that the ideal size for their nesting boxes is 12x12x18 inches. After all, proper nesting space helps in maintaining egg cleanliness and minimizes the chances of egg breakage.

Outside the coop, a running area of 8 to 10 square feet per chicken is recommended. To keep their environment engaging, include dust baths, mirrors, and ladders for enrichment.

Pro Tip: Choose a bedding material that’s absorbent, easy to clean, and chicken-friendly. You’ve got eight options: sand, pine shavings, straw, hay, hemp, dried leaves, shredded paper, and grass clippings.

Temperature and Lighting

We recommend starting Columbian Rock Cross chicks at a cozy 95°F on the box floor, then reducing it by five degrees each week for the first six weeks.

This gradual reduction helps them acclimate to a much lower temperature environment without stress.

On the other hand, adult Columbian Rock Cross chickens are great in any weather. However, it should be noted that they are happiest when their coop temp stays between 65°F and 75°F.

Proper lighting is essential for their egg-laying cycle as well. They do best with 14 to 16 hours of light daily, which helps them lay eggs consistently. This can be handled with natural sunlight mixed with artificial lighting.

Pro Tip: Purchase a timer for artificial lights to ensure a constant light schedule. You can also consider using a red light bulb during nighttime, as it doesn’t disrupt their natural rhythms.

To learn more about the optimal temperature for chicks, check out our temperature chart for baby chicks.

How Much Does a Columbian Rock Cross Cost?

Columbian Rock Cross chick standing against tree bark
Image credit: danisehauser / Instagram

Columbian Rock Cross chicks can set you back at about $2 to $6 each. Note, however, that female chicks and pullets usually command higher prices due to their egg-laying capabilities.

The cost of these chickens can also vary based on the seller’s location and reputation. Further, if you are not able to pick up your chicks directly from the breeder, shipping fees can add to the overall expense.

Age plays a crucial role in determining price as well. Older birds, especially those nearing or at egg-laying maturity, may cost more due to the immediate benefit they offer in terms of egg production.

Where to Find Columbian Rock Cross Chickens for Sale

Columbian Rock Cross standing on soil
Image credit: omygardenclementine / Instagram

Locating Columbian Rock Cross chickens for sale is quite straightforward if you know where to look. Basically, your local poultry farms and specialized hatcheries are great starting points.

To be specific, places such as Barnhart’s Poultry and Happy Heart Farms, along with farm supply stores like Tractor Supply Co., offer a variety of chicken breeds, including the Columbian Rock Cross.

But for a broader search, consider joining Facebook groups and online chicken forums. These platforms allow you to connect with other poultry enthusiasts, exchange helpful info, and find trustworthy sellers.

Pro Tip: To protect yourself against scams, thoroughly research your chosen seller’s reputation by looking up reviews. Requesting photos or videos of the chickens you plan to purchase can also ensure a safe buy.

To sum it up, we hope you found our article on Columbian Rock Cross chickens useful. If you have any thoughts or questions about the breed, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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