Named after the state of Rhode Island and produced as a result of crossbreeding the Leghorn and Malay beads, the Rhode Island Red is one of the most recognizable breeds of chicken.
They have that “classic” appearance of a chicken. Brown, plump bodies, large red combs, and wattles, and they forage around doing what chickens do best.
Originally developed as a dual-purpose breed, they’re utilized today primarily for their egg-laying abilities. That and the fact that they’re an easy to raise, fun breed of chicken.
If you’re new to Rhode Island Reds, here are some of the top reasons owners love this iconic breed:
1. They're Exceptional Egg Layers
It’s hard to talk about Rhode Island Reds (RIR) without talking about their egg-laying. They are one of the most prolific egg-laying backyard breeds, producing anywhere from 250-300 medium brown eggs per year.
That means you can expect 5-6 eggs a week; almost one a day. You only need a flock of 5 or so Rhode Island Reds to have more than enough eggs to either supply all your friends, family, and neighbors.
Or, as some people I know do, start a small business selling eggs.
Related - Read this for more on how many eggs Rhode Island Red chickens lay.
2. They're Fun and Easy To Raise
Generally speaking, it’s always fun, rewarding, and pretty easy to raise backyard chickens.
Some are more difficult than others though. Just try handling a feisty Old Game Fowl, or a flock of New Hampshire Reds if you want the challenge of dealing with difficult chickens.
I’m sure you want an easy life though, I know I do. The good news is that Rhode Islands are - generally speaking - friendly, they get on with other breeds, great at foraging for themselves, and they’re cold-weather hardy.
I have heard a few nightmare stories about RIR roosters over the years. Personally, I’ve not had a rooster. I know firsthand how aggressive and difficult some roosters can be though, so I don’t doubt it.
3. They're Active and Chatty
Something I always loved about RIRs is how active and chatty they are. If you’re after a quiet breed, they’re not for you.
Although, their clucking isn’t that loud. It’s just that sometimes it never seems to stop. After a hen lays an egg, you’ll start to expect that “egg song” to announce to her flock mates she’s laid a fresh one.
Personally, I like it. I like having chickens that appreciate human interaction and enjoy interacting with us.
RIRs are a great choice if you have kids and you want to help teach them how to care for chickens. They’re curious, don’t mind a little fuss here and there, and give a lot back.
4. They’re Like Little Pest Control Units
I don’t know about you, but the less creepy crawlies in my yard the better. I’m not a fan of big spiders and things that lay eggs in my yard.
Chickens, on the other hand, love finding creepy crawlies. They’ll gobble up just about anything with 4-8 legs that moves or flies - and I’m more than happy for them to do so.
Rhode Island Reds are exceptional foragers. If they are grubs hiding, wasps flying, or any other pests in your yard, there’s a good chance they’re going to find them.
The best part is that bugs provide some awesome nutritional content for chickens. Bugs are rich in proteins and other important minerals and only help their overall health and complement their diet.
5. They’re Weather-Hardy
Rhode Island Reds classified as being cold-weather hardy. They don’t have the thickest plumage, so at first glance, you might think they’d huddle up rather than go out exploring in the colder months.
I guess their desire to forage, explore, and socialize comes first. I know some owners living in Maine and someone in North Dakota that have RIRs, so I don’t doubt they are able to handle some bitterly cold nights.
You’ll be providing a weather-proof coop that meets all of their needs of course. It doesn’t do any harm to make sure they’re as comfortable as possible.
You can expect a decrease in egg production during the winter. This is normal for most breeds as chickens need around 12 hours of daylight a day to produce eggs at their best.
Wrapping Up - Are Rhode Island Reds Right for You?
Rhode Island Reds are more popular than ever within the backyard chicken and homesteading community.
It’s easy to see why - there are few breeds that can produce as many eggs that are as fun and easy to raise.
With plenty of character and an inquisitive and curious nature, it’s a rewarding experience keeping RIRs.