The Rhode Island or “Rhodie” is quite possibly one of the worlds most well known and greatest of dual-purpose breeds of chicken. Its also perhaps better known as the Rhode Island Red on account of its rich brown/red colouring although it is in fact found with white plumage though rarely seen these days.
Developed towards the end of the 19th Century by poultry breeders in Rhode Island of New England on the east coast of America, it stemmed from a desire to produce a genuine breed that would both lay plenty of eggs but also produce a good sized bird for the table. Despite its American name the breed is constructed from many breeds from around the globe including Leghorns, Malays and a number of indigenous breeds.
As befitting a laying breed the hens can lay on average 250 eggs of a light brown colour each year and will do so for the quite a few years making them a worthwhile investment for both small and large scale keepers.
They are also a heavy breed of bird which means they do tend to be calm around keepers and have little desire to take to the wing. They are happy to be kept in a enclosed run or are equally good as free rangers with excellent foraging skills.
The chicks are fast growers and pullets can be in lay by the age of 20 weeks, they are also very hardy birds perfectly adapted to our climate and this combine with their friendly nature make them a great introduction to chicken keeping for the beginner.