Plymouth Rock Chicken Breed Characteristics

Docile, gentle, hardy and good sitters, Plymouth Rock Chickens have been one of the most common chickens in America where they were developed using crosses of Java, Brahma, Cochin, and Dominique. 

The dual-purpose chickens are among the sweetest breeds you will come across and are very friendly, where many owners claim they follow them around and enjoy being stroked and held.

The Plymouth Rock chicken first became popular during World War 2 as the government encouraged people to keep them as a source of food for troops fighting across the seas and at the home front. 

Plymouth Rock Chickens Became Popular During the war

The initial Plymouth Rock had barred Plumage. Their initial names was Barred Plymouth Rock, Barred Rock or simply Rock. Other varieties were developed later and the breed name became what we know today, then Plymouth Rock.  

Along with the Cornish Chickens, the Plymouth Rock has left an indelible mark in the broiler industry. White Plymouth Rock Chickens were used in the industrial chicken meat industry because of their high yield of chicken meat.  They were the leading meat chickens in America and Australia, before the rise of the industrial broilers. 

History of the Plymouth Rock Chicken Breed

Plymouth Rock Chicken name comes from the famous landing site of pilgrims when they first landed in America..

The first appearance of Plymouth Rock Chickens was at a show in Boston, Massachusetts in 1849. It was a chicken with barred plumage. It was not to be seen again until 1869, where Upham at a show at Worcester, displayed a chicken similar to the one at 1849 show. It had barred plumage and featherless legs. 

The Plymouth Rock was admitted into the America Poultry Association’s Standard of Excellence in 1874. At the time only the Barred Plymouth Rock was in Existence. 

With the quest of developing a meat bird, the White Plymouth rock was developed in 1888. It yielded more meat than the original Plymouth Rock. 

The Plymouth Rock is listed as recovering by the Livestock Conservancy

Characteristics of the Plymouth Rock Chicken Breed

The Plymouth Rock has bright red earlobes, wattles, and comb.  The single comb has five points. 

It has loose feathers, that can tangle if they grow long. The legs of the Plymouth Rock do not grow feathers. 

Depending on the variety, the beak is either yellow or horn colored. The back is long and broad, with full deep breasts. 

The Plymouth rick lays an average of 200 eggs per year.  The eggs are large and brown in color. 

When it comes to the temperament, the Plymouth Rock is gentle and docile but gets aggressive under stressful conditions. They can handle confinement well but can also do very well under free-range conditions as they make quite good foragers.

Variants of the Plymouth Rock Chicken Breed

  • Barred Plymouth Rock
  • White Plymouth Rock
  • Buff Plymouth Rock
  • Partridge Plymouth Rock
  • Silver Penciled Plymouth Rock
  • Blue Plymouth Rock
  • Columbian Plymouth Rock

The Barred Plymouth Rock chickens stand out in a flock due to their white and black stripes.

They are large and hardy birds weighing between 7 to 8 pounds.

The Barred Plymouth Rock, also known as Barred Rock, is the most common variety, followed by the White Plymouth.

The barring on these color varieties results from a dominant sex-linked gene.

The genes inhibit pigment from forming on colored plumage and create light bars on the dark black feathers.

Rooster Barred Rocks are usually lighter because they have two gene copies while the barred hens have one.

The temperament of Plymouth Rock Chickens.

Plymouth Rocks are friendly and docile.

They enjoy roaming out, but they are pretty happy in confined areas. The only exception is the roosters which can be bullies, but the hens are primarily sweet. Their gentle behavior and temperament make them the best choice for farms with children.

The Plymouth Rocks are not likely to scratch or peck at someone.They are delicate and sweet. They are also likely to get along with most other pets in your home because they are pretty laid back and active

Plymouth Rock chickens as pets.

The Plymouth Rock is a calm, friendly and quiet chicken that is great for an urban setting.

They also become quite trusting with time and practice, and they can become delightful lap chickens if you desire.

Plymouth Rock chickens are intelligent, docile, good with children, and perfect for people new to having a chicken around.

They are sweet and will genuinely enjoy being around your family and your pets. Overall, Plymouth Rocks are a pleasure to own and keep because they seem to enjoy human interaction much more than other breeds.

Feeding Plymouth Rock chickens. 

One of the benefits of Plymouth Rock chicken is that they are relatively easy to feed. T

he general rule of feeding chicken is quality chicken feed and the occasion scraps from the table. However, be careful not to include processed food, meat, avocado, potato skin, and rotten food in your Plymouth Rock chicken feeds.

The Plymouth Rock breed requires at least 16% protein layer feed.

However, you can increase the protein intake to 18-20% during molting to help feather up the birds quicker.

For the hens, a separate source of calcium, such as an oyster shell, is a good choice because it is inexpensive and lasts a while.

You can also have a separate container with insoluble grit to help them grind their food.

Additionally, you should make sure your chickens have access to water all the time. You can use hanging water feeders or platforms to ensure that the chickens’ water is clean.

Housing Plymouth Rock Chickens. 

Plymouth Rock chickens are good little foragers and keep bugs away from your yard.

You will also need to fence off your garden because these chickens sample every vegetable or flower and anything else on the farm.

They don’t like confinement, but you can provide a run space to keep them active.

Plymouth Rock chickens are pretty large, and they require a minimum of 4-square coop space each. Though they are naturally not aggressive, living in small areas can lead to anti-social behaviors such as feather picking. For roosting, they require an 8-10 inch roost.

You may need to add a little more room during the hotter months because they are likely to spread out more, but they like to snuggle together for warmth in the winter.

Remember that Plymouth Rocks thrive in colder temperatures, and as such, you should do your best to keep their coop cool. If you are in a hot environment or during summer, ensure the coop is adequately ventilated and shaded so that it doesn’t get too hot.

Plymouth Rock Chickens and Noise.

Generally, Plymouth Rock is a tranquil bird. You can hear them murmuring slowly, but you are unlikely to witness any noisy outbursts of nervous energy fits.

The calm nature of these chickens makes them ideal for the backyard because they are not likely to disturb your neighbors. The noises they make are more of a “coo” than the loud clucking noise you are likely to hear in other breeds.

Therefore, you can keep them in cities and backyards and other small areas without getting in trouble.

Plymouth Rock chickens are also not known to pick fights with other birds though they generally prefer living in smaller flocks.

Plymouth Rock Chickens and Broodiness.

Though Plymouth Rock Chickens are not known for their exceptional broodiness, they are pretty good mothers.

You have to encourage the breed to reproduce, but the mothers are good sitters. The chicks mature fast, and they only take 8 to 12 weeks before they become broilers.

Plymouth Rock chickens are good mothers but not exceptional at brooding, allowing you to enjoy the best of the worlds. Rock Chickens ensure that you have a great chicken that lays eggs all year round. 

Cost of Plymouth Rock Chickens.

The Plymouth Rock chicken is highly populated.

As a result, they are pretty affordable compared to some other chicken varieties.

The exact cost will depend on where you are located and the hatchery you buy the chicken. However, on average, you can purchase Plymouth Rock Chicken for less than $10.

Note that the price may be higher or lower depending on your location, the age of the chicken, and the quantity you wish to purchase.

Plymouth Rock nest box size

 Plymouth Rocks lay many eggs and need a place to nest. For nestling, they need a private nesting box for roosting.

A 12*12 inch box, will be perfectly lovely. One nestling box can house three to four hens however, be cautious because they tend to find the same favorite box and make it crowded.

Ensure that you have dry bedding in the nesting box for comfort and if possible, bedding should be made from hay.

You can also add soft yellow light to the chicken box during the winter to facilitate your hens’ laying eggs. However, ensure that the lighting is on a timer to go off at night.

Plymouth Rock Chicken Size.

Plymouth Rock chickens are pretty big. They can weigh as much as 8 pounds.

They have a single comb, and they do not have feathers on their legs. Furthermore, they are not crested and have four cute toes.

The striping on the roosters is of equal width. On the other hand, hens will have wider dark bars compared to the white bars that make them look darker than the roosters. 

Plymouth Rock Chicken Eggs. 

The Plymouth chicken is a dependable egg layer. It is one of the main reasons they are popular among many homesteads and small farmyards.

They start laying eggs as early as 20 weeks, and they produce 4 to 5 brown eggs every week. The eggs are pretty large in size and sweet in nature, making them perfect for egg gourmets.

The poultry industry dismissed the bird partly because of its dependability in making eggs. Plymouth Rock hens do well in laying eggs the first three years of their life, after which the egg production decreases slowly.

The poultry industry opted for breeds that lay many white eggs. However, the brown eggs produced from the Plymouth Rock chickens have a niche in the current market and are quite popular.

Plymouth Rock Chickens Meat.

The Plymouth Rock chicken has larger bodies than most other chicken varieties.

They are heavyweight chickens which makes them excellent meat chickens.

A Plymouth Rock rooster weighs a standard weight of about 9.5 pounds, and the hen weighs about 7.5 pounds.

Plymouth Rock Chicken Health Issues.

Plymouth Rock Chicken are some of the hardiest.

They don’t require much attention. With the Plymouth Rock chicken, you only need to feed them and give them enough water.

This is most important if you are rearing chicken for eggs. Make sure you get a quality chicken feed and invest in a secure water feeder. Secondly, the coop should be safe for them to live in.

Remember that chickens are pretty much prey animals, and they are several animals that would like to taste the plump flesh of your precious Plymouth Rock.

The coop needs to be secure, well lit, and with a roosting perch and a nestling box. Also, remember to give your Plymouth Rock more care during the cold winter months.

Regular checks to ensure no parasites, worms, or lice will ensure that your flock stays healthy. Make sure you give them a nice patch to dust, bathe in and groom themselves. 

In addition, try feeding them crushed garlic and apple cider vinegar to boost their immune system while keeping creepy crawlies at bay.

With such care, your Plymouth Rocks are unlikely to face any difficulties, and they can withstand almost anything.

Their lifespan depends on the level of care you give them, but they live for about 6-8 years, and some have been known to reach 10-12 years.

Other illnesses to look out for include:

  • Vent Prolapse
  • Vent Gleet
  • Bumblefoot

These illnesses are all treatable when discovered in time. If your egg-laying hen reduces its egg-laying capacity, be on the watch out to ensure they are healthy.

Are Plymouth Rock Chickens Right for You?

Plymouth Rock chickens are excellent for small-scale diversified farms, or homesteads with small children looking for a friendly and gentle breed, or if you live in areas that experience cold winters.

If you are looking for a basic backyard breed that is solid or if you own a small dual-purpose farm for producing meat and eggs, then the Plymouth Rock breed will serve you perfectly.

However, Plymouth Rock Chicken may not be ideal if you live in a hot area.

They thrive best in the cold and get too hot in a warm environment. If you are determined to get your Plymouth Chicken, you can work around the problem by adding an AC, fans, or other cooling devices to their coop.

Though their origin is unclear, Plymouth Rock chicken is a long and distinguished breed.

They are prevalent for backyard chicken rearing because of their dual purpose and do well in most circumstances.

They tolerate confinement, do not require special treatment, and are friends. Additionally, they are respectable egg producers, and they get to a good weight for meat.

Plymouth Rock Chicken Breed Profile

  • Plymouth Rock Egg Shell Color: Brown
  • Egg size: Large
  • Egg Productivity: 200 eggs per year
  • Skin Color: Yellow
  • Plymouth Rock Chicken Breed Standard Weight.
    • Rooster: 9.5 lbs
    • Hen: 7.5 lbs
    • Cockerel: 8  lbs
    • Pullet: 6  lbs
  • Purpose: Dual Purpose –  Meat and Eggs
  • Temperament: Docile and Calm. Can handle confinement well. Good at foraging for food. 
  • Size: large
  • Broodiness: gets broody and is a good sitter
  • Comb: Single
  • Climatic Tolerance: Hardy. Handles cold temperatures well. 
  • Varieties: Barred, White, Buff, Patridge, Silver Penciled, Blue, Columbian
  • Color Description: Different colors depending on the variety. 
  • Conservation Status: Recovering
  • Country of Origin: The United States of America

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About James Polystead

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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