Rhode Island Reds typically start laying eggs around 18 to 22 weeks of age (about 5 months). Like all chickens, you’ll first spot small eggs appearing. It won’t be long before you get your first full-size brown egg though.
How Many Eggs Do Rhode Island Reds Lay?
Laying eggs is what Rhode Islands (RIR) are famous for. If you’re after a prolific egg-laying backyard breed, RIRs are one the best.
With all the right conditions met, you can expect anywhere up to 250 eggs a year. I’ve even read accounts of owners saying they’ve had 280ish in a good year.
I’m sure you can do the math, that works out at around 5-6 eggs per week - they hardly skip a beat. It does take around 26 hours for a chicken to produce an egg, so you can’t blame them for taking a day off here and there!
What Color Eggs Do Rhode Island Red Lay?
They lay the classic brown color egg. The type and color of egg you commonly see sold in supermarkets. In fact, it’s very likely you’ve bought eggs laid by an RIR at some point.
Contrary to what I’ve heard, Rhode Island Whites also lay brown eggs. If you’re looking for white egg-laying breeds, check out this post.
How Long Do Rhode Island Red Chickens Lay Eggs?
They may be excellent layers when they’re in their prime, but you don’t get a lot of good laying years out of an RIR.
Roughly speaking, you can expect them to hit their prime within months of starting to lay. Don’t be surprised to see smaller eggs for the first few weeks though. These are called “pullet eggs”, as it takes a hen a few weeks to get into her stride and produce full-size eggs.
Chickens tend to taper off the amount they lay around 10% each year for around 5 years or so until they are as good as retired.
Rhode Island Reds have a life expectancy of about 8 years. That’s right in the middle of the average life expectancy of a laying hen.
Some History and Facts About Rhode Island Red Chickens
The Rhode Island Red is one of the most iconic looking breeds of chicken. As you can probably guess, they get their name from the state of Rhode Island due to first being developed there.
They were originally bred as a dual-purpose bird, as so many chicken breeds were in the 19th century to help meet the growing demand for meat and eggs.
Modern backyard strains are raised primarily for their eggs, and because they’re fun and easy to raise.
If you’re considering getting some RIRs or interested to learn more, here are some of the most interesting facts:
Some quick facts:
- Roosters weigh around 8.6 lbs, with bantams around 2 lbs
- Hens weigh around 6.6 lbs, with bantams just under 2 lbs
- They have a single or rose type comb
- Their egg size and color are medium and brown
- Characteristics; Plumage is a distinctive deep red with black tails, red combs, earlobes, and wattles, and yellow feet
Where To Buy Rhode Island Red Chickens, Chicks, and Hatching Eggs
I buy all of my chicks and hatching eggs online at Cackle Hatchery. They’re NPIP registered, have been in business since 1936, and in my experience have awesome customer service.
I took a look at the time of writing this and could see they were selling RIR chickens as low as $1.95/ea. If you want to hatch your own, you can pick up hatching eggs as low as $6.06.
There’s nothing more fun than hatching and watching chicks grow up - at least in my opinion!
Are Rhode Island Reds a Good Choice for a Backyard Breed?
RIRs are one of the best breeds of backyard chicken. I’m not just saying that, they’re one of the most common breeds, so backyard owners across the country think the same.
This is largely due to how easily available they are, the fact that they’re hardy and easy to raise, and of course, all of those eggs they lay!
They’re also popular on homesteads for many of the same reasons. RIRs are perfectly happy being left to roam around during the day. They’re good at foraging and will find plenty to eat in the form of bugs and plants.
I will say, however, that while all the hens I’ve met over the years have been pretty social and fun to interact with. I’ve met a few roosters that looked like they were willing to fight me to the death.
I wouldn’t bring a Rhode Island Red rooster into your flock unless you have experience handling roosters. Just in case.
Image credits - Photo by Carl Schlabach on Unsplash