Chicken Breeds: Barred Rock

This large breed keeps laying eggs even in harsh weather, but don't let its tough look deceive you—Barred Rocks love hugs.
Barred Rocks are a great choice for both first-timers and longtime chicken enthusiasts.

Barred Rock Chicken

Barred Rocks are a great choice for both first-timers and longtime chicken enthusiasts.

Barred Rocks are a great choice for both first-timers and longtime chicken enthusiasts.

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Premiering in New England in the mid-1800s, the dual-purpose use of the Barred Rock as both a meat and egg provider made it an instant hit with homesteaders. For many years it was the most commonly bred type of chicken in the United States. Although the Barred Rock chicken began as a breed unto itself, crossbreeding of this popular chickens has yielded a variety of similar types under the name Plymouth Rock.  Although Plymouth Rocks range in plumage including white, buff, partridge and blue, the Barred Rock remains the most common type of Rock and can be found in all climates around the world.

Long-lived, hardy and able to withstand cold weather, the qualities that made these large birds popular with homesteaders also make them a good choice for both starter flocks and established coops. The Barred Rock is easy to care for, provides plenty of eggs and will thrive in mixed flocks whether confined to a run or allowed to free range. Rocks brood only occasionally, keeping egg production up while still allowing appeal for enthusiasts interested in hatching chicks. This chicken-for-all-seasons is an easy choice for any coop, but for those who view chickens as pets or in homes with children, the Barred Rock has special appeal.

While one might expect a chicken of this size and weight to be aggressive, the Rock is a surprisingly docile bird. Not only does this help in a flock including smaller chickens prone to abuse, it is especially attractive when kids are around. Generally happy to be handled and willing to tolerate the affections of young egg collectors, the Barred Rock will earn its keep as an egg producer, but its disposition and personality make it a family-friendly choice for backyard poultry.

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When selecting breeds for the backyard, balance can be challenging. Great layers like the Leghorn may be skittish around people. The cuteness or companionship that come with bantam breeds like Silkies may mean settling for fewer or smaller eggs in the clutch. Attractive, low-maintenance and docile, the Barred Rock may be the perfect choice for first-timers looking for pet-quality poultry without sacrificing hardiness or a consistent supply of eggs.

Striking Features: Large breed with soft black, white and grey barred feathers.

Egg quality: Large brown eggs

Productivity: High

Temperament: Docile and easy to manage.

Hardiness: Long-lived and cold hardy.

Degree of Work: Easy

Aesthetic Appeal: 7 of 10

Envy Rating / Wow Factor: 6 of 10

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