Rhode Island Blue: Breed Profile, Facts & Pictures

Rhode Island Blue rooster with hens
Image credit: blackoutxestates / Instagram

The Rhode Island Blue chicken steps into the spotlight as a notoriously excellent egg producer, which captures the attention of poultry enthusiasts and farmers alike. However, what exactly makes them such prolific layers?

Are they somehow connected to the famous Rhode Island Red chickens? And if they are, how did they end up with their unique blue hue? Further, what else can these birds offer beyond their egg-laying prowess?

This guide will discuss everything you need to know regarding Rhode Island Blues. We will even throw in some surprising facts about these chickens that you may not be familiar with yet. Let’s begin!

Rhode Island Blue Chicken Quick Facts

Origin:United States
Breed Purpose:Eggs and meat
Weight:Roosters: 8–9 lbs (3.6–4.1 kg);
Hens: 6–7 lbs (2.7–3.2 kg)
Temperament:Calm, friendly, incredibly docile, easy to handle, and quiet
Color Varieties:Usually a mix of bluish-gray, light gray, red, black, and reddish-brown
Egg Production:260–290 eggs per year
Egg Color:Brown
Egg Size:Large
Broodiness:Low to moderate
Cold Tolerance:High
Heat Tolerance:High
Lifespan:5–8 years
Unique Features:Multi-colored plumage, gray legs and feet, rectangular body frame, deep chests, dark-hued beaks, single combs
Beginner Friendly:Yes

What Is a Rhode Island Blue Chicken?

Rhode Island Blue hen on a deck
Image credit: suttonbrookfarms / Instagram

The Rhode Island Blue chicken is a hybrid, combining the excellent egg-laying traits of Rhode Island Reds and Australorps. These chickens sport a colorful plumage mix, including bluish-gray, light gray, red, black, and reddish-brown. They’re ideal for eggs, meat, foraging, and companionship.

Rhode Island Blues serve dual purposes; they excel in both egg-laying and meat farming. With this in mind, it is no surprise that they’re often labeled as “production birds.”

Plus, these chickens are celebrated for their resilience, as they thrive in various weather conditions. This means they adapt well to different environments, from spacious farms to modest backyard setups.

On top of that, Rhode Island Blues are efficient foragers. They are capable of supplementing their diet by controlling pest populations.

Moreover, their generally calm and friendly nature makes them suitable for family settings and hobbyist poultry keepers.

Despite their many strengths, note that as crossbreeds, Rhode Island Blue chickens are not recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA). Still, this does not diminish their value to those seeking hardy birds.

Watch this short video to see what Rhode Island Blue chickens look like in action:

Chicken analysis Rhode Island Blue

Rhode Island Blue Origin and History

Created by crossing a Rhode Island Red (RIR) with an Australorp, the Rhode Island Blue is an American innovation. Basically, this crossbreeding aimed to mix the strengths of both breeds into a single, more productive bird.

However, to really get to know these hybrid chickens, let’s discuss their parent breeds first.

The RIR’s origins trace back to the early 1900s, developed through selective breeding of Oriental birds with brown Leghorns from Italy. This careful selection process produced a breed renowned for its egg-laying prowess.

On the other side, the Australorp, hailing from Australia around 1890, was bred from the English Orpington. It’s another breed celebrated for its exceptional egg production, matching the RIR’s capabilities.

By combining the genetic strengths of these two, you can anticipate that Rhode Island Blues inherited a natural predisposition for prolific egg-laying.

Fun Fact: Six Australorps once set a world record with an average of 309 eggs laid by each hen over a year. This highlights the potential of their Rhode Island Blue descendants.

Rhode Island Blue Appearance

Rhode Island Blue chicken feeding on deck
Image credit: suttonbrookfarms / Instagram

As hybrids, Rhode Island Blue chickens display a diverse range of appearances. This makes each bird somewhat unique.

For one thing, you can expect that their plumage doesn’t stick to a single pattern. Instead, it spans a spectrum of colors and combinations.

In particular, some of these chickens boast a singular, striking bluish-gray color. This trait places them among the beautiful blue-hued chickens admired by many.

Others present a more varied palette, with feathers that meld red, light gray, and blue, or even a more complex mix, including bluish-gray, reddish-brown, and black.

In addition to their colorful plumage, Rhode Island Blues have several other notable physical characteristics.

They possess gray legs and feet, a rectangular body shape, deep chests, dark beaks, and single combs, which all contribute to their robust and attractive build.

Rhode Island Blue Size and Weight

Size-wise, Rhode Island Blue chickens are considered medium birds. In particular, roosters weigh in at 8 to 9 pounds.

In contrast, hens range from 6 to 7 pounds. This contributes to their agility and ease of handling. On the whole, however, you can expect that they fit comfortably into various backyard setups.

Rhode Island Blue Temperament and Behavior

Rhode Island Blue hen pecking on a wooden deck
Image credit: suttonbrookfarms / Instagram

Rhode Island Blue chickens are known for their incredibly docile nature, making them a breeze to handle. This trait alone sets them apart as an ideal choice for those new to poultry keeping.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that these birds aren’t just calm. In fact, they are also extremely friendly, especially the hens. Their amiable personality makes them perfect companions for families with children.

Meanwhile, a 2017 study has identified three traits in male chickens: boldness, exploration, and vigilance. Luckily, I had the chance to see Rhode Island Blues show these in different social situations firsthand.

A couple of years back, I introduced a Rhode Island Blue rooster to my flock. From day one, his boldness was evident; I noticed how he fearlessly roamed around the coop and yard.

His activity level was unmatched as well. Still, it wasn’t just curiosity; he was ensuring the safety and interest of his flock, which is a clear sign of his vigilance.

Observing him, it’s clear these characteristics are not just academic findings but real attributes that define the behavior of roosters, including Rhode Island Blues.

Egg Production and Broodiness of Rhode Island Blues

Generally speaking, Rhode Island Blue hens are prolific layers. They can produce between 260 and 290 large brown eggs each year. They start laying these eggs at around 16 to 24 weeks old.

This high production rate makes these birds an excellent choice for those looking to collect eggs for consumption or personal sale.

As far as maternal instinct is concerned, these chickens have a low to moderate tendency to become broody. This means they are less likely to pause egg production to hatch chicks.

However, note that some may still show this natural behavior, especially in favorable environments.

Fun Fact: Did you know that it takes about 24 to 26 hours for female chickens to lay an egg?

Rhode Island Blue Chicken Care Guide

Two Rhode Island Blue hens looking sideways
Image credit: bluefirefarm / Instagram

If you are planning on raising Rhode Island Blue chickens, you will want to ensure they receive proper care in three important aspects. These include feeding, housing, and temperature/lighting.

To give you a headstart, the following is a handy guide to guarantee that your Rhode Island Blues will thrive:

Feeding and Nutrition

From the start, Rhode Island Blue chicks require a protein-rich diet. A starter feed containing about 20% protein should be enough to support their rapid development.

As they grow, transitioning to a finisher feed with 18 to 19% protein is essential. It is an important step in their dietary progression.

On the other hand, adult Rhode Island Blues need a different balance in their meals. In particular, a layer feed with 15 to 17% protein for them should suffice.

Further, adding mealworms can supplement their diet and sustain their overall well-being.

When I added mealworms to my Rhode Island Blue chickens’ feeds, the difference was definitely evident. My feathered pals not only seemed more active but also showed signs of better health.

Moreover, I noticed that their feathers were shinier during their molting period, highlighting how helpful mealworms are.

I also started mixing crushed oyster shells into their feed. This simple effort led to a pronounced increase in egg production. The eggs also had stronger shells, which is a direct benefit of the added calcium in their diet.

Housing and Shelter

Each Rhode Island Blue chicken needs around four square feet of floor space inside the coop. For roosting, 8 to 10 inches of perch space per bird is necessary.

Outside, a running area of 8 to 10 square feet for every Rhode Island Blue is ideal. This outdoor space lets them exercise and exhibit natural behaviors, which is vital for their health.

In addition, including environmental enrichments like dust baths, ramps, and ladders will surely keep them engaged, mentally stimulated, and happy.

Pro Tip: For happy Rhode Island Blue hens, try to aim for a nesting box that’s 12x12x18 inches — it’s the perfect snug spot for egg-laying.

Temperature and Lighting

If you are taking care of Rhode Island Blue chicks, make sure the temperature at floor level starts at a cozy 95°F. After that, simply decrease it by 5°F every week for the first six weeks.

This gradual reduction helps them adjust to a less controlled environment as they grow.

Meanwhile, note that mature Rhode Island Blues survive in temps between 65°F and 75°F. Despite their resilience in both hot and cold climates, they are particularly sensitive to sudden temperature changes.

In terms of light conditions, Rhode Island Blue hens need 14 to 16 hours of light daily. After all, consistent lighting encourages regular laying patterns, contributing to a productive flock.

Noise Levels of Rhode Island Blue Chickens

Rhode Island Blues are not particularly loud. Most owners find their noise levels manageable. Primarily, these chickens make all the usual sounds you’d expect from poultry, fitting well into a backyard setting.

Roosters, however, start crowing as early as three months old. This crowing is part of their natural behavior, signaling their presence and dominance.

Of course, it is something to consider if you are thinking about adding Rhode Island Blue roosters to your flock.

Pro Tip: To manage this, keep only one male for every ten hens. This reduces crowing by eliminating competition among roosters, making the flock quieter overall.

How Much Does a Rhode Island Blue Cost?

Rhode Island Blue hen with black plumage
Image credit: fivepoints_farm / Instagram

In terms of cost, Rhode Island Blue chicks typically range in price from $3 to $7 each. However, keep in mind that females and pullets often steer higher costs due to their egg-laying capabilities.

Additionally, note that the final price of these young birds can change depending on their location, shipping costs, and the breeder’s reputation. Also, older chickens tend to be pricier.

To purchase these chicks, though, local poultry farms and specialized hatcheries are your go-to places. These establishments often offer a range of options suitable for various needs and preferences.

Pro Tip: Check out social media groups, forums, and online marketplaces geared towards poultry lovers for great deals on baby Rhode Island Blues.

Breeding and Raising Rhode Island Blue Chicks

Breeding Rhode Island Blue chicks starts with choosing healthy parents. This ensures the offspring inherit strong genetics. To be specific, the perfect match involves breeding a Rhode Island Red with an Australorp.

Egg collection and incubation are crucial next steps. Gather eggs daily, placing them in an incubator maintained at about 99.5°F. Humidity should also be kept at 45 to 55%, raising to 65% in the last days before hatching.

Once hatched, note that the chicks require a warm brooder with a consistent heat source. You can use a heat lamp for this purpose since Rhode Island Blue hens aren’t known for being broody.

Begin with the temperature set to 95°F. Then, reduce it by five degrees weekly until the chicks are fully feathered or can regulate their own body temperature.

Health monitoring and timely vaccinations are vital as well. Regularly observe your chicks for any signs of distress or sickness.

When it’s time to integrate the young birds into the flock, however, be careful and make sure to start when they’re around 16 weeks old.

Pro Tip: Turning your Rhode Island Blues’ eggs three times a day promotes constant development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Rhode Island Blue hen walking on wood chips
Image credit: bluefirefarm / Instagram

Are Rhode Island Blue Chickens Friendly?

Rhode Island Blue chickens are friendly, making them a top pick for those new to poultry farming. Their easygoing and docile nature simplifies handling and care, which is ideal for anyone looking to start their flock.

These birds also shine in family-friendly settings, thanks to their calm behavior. Basically, they are a safe choice for backyards where kids play.

Are Rhode Island Blue Chickens Good Layers?

Yes, Rhode Island Blue chickens are good layers. As a matter of fact, the hens of this hybrid can produce between 260 and 290 eggs annually. This remarkable output ensures a steady supply of eggs.

This makes sense as both of their parent breeds, the Rhode Island Red and Australorp, are notable for their prolific egg production, setting high expectations for their offspring.

What Color Eggs Do Rhode Island Blues Lay?

Generally speaking, Rhode Island Blue hens lay eggs that are brown in color. These eggs are not just notable for their shade but also for their large size, which offers more than just a visual appeal.

We are eager to hear your views about Rhode Island Blue chickens! Scroll into the comment section below and share your opinions, thoughts, or questions with us!

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