Skip to main content

The Plymouth Barred Rock Chicken

Helena Ricketts is a blogger, freelance writer, artist, gardener, and an animal companion owner.

All about the Plymouth Barred Rock chicken

All about the Plymouth Barred Rock chicken

The History of the Plymouth Barred Rock Chicken

The Plymouth Barred Rock chicken developed over 150 years ago and is a breed that was created in the New England region of the United States. The breed is similar in appearance to the Dominique and sometimes Barred Rocks are misidentified as members of the Dominique breed. This is partially because the Dominique is one of the breeds that were used to develop the Plymouth Barred Rock and they do have similarities in appearance that can be hard to separate without a closer look.

One of the interesting things that set this breed apart from other chicken breeds is its feather coloring. When you first look at a Barred Rock chicken, you see a black and white chicken. If you look at them closer, you will notice that each feather on these chickens is actually striped horizontally from top to bottom and alternates the black and white coloring throughout the feather. It creates an interesting and beautiful look when combined with the dark red combs, orange eyes, and yellow beaks and legs.

This particular chicken breed is considered dual-purpose, meaning that they are raised for both meat and eggs. The cockerels of this breed are also suited for use as Capons because of their large size and personality. The Barred Rock is an all-around useful chicken breed.

Juno and Hera are 9 week old Plymouth Barred Rock Pullets

Juno and Hera are 9 week old Plymouth Barred Rock Pullets

The Physical Characteristics of the Plymouth Barred Rock Chicken

  • The Roosters weigh between 7 1/2 to 9 1/2 pounds.
  • Hens weigh between 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 pounds.
  • The Barred Rock chicken is distinguished by their black and white striped feathers.
  • Hens and roosters have single, dark red combs.
  • Beak color comes in shades of yellow
  • Leg color is yellow
  • Their eyes are orange

The Barred Rock Chicken's Tolerance to Cold Climates

These chickens do very well in any climate. As long as plenty of food and water are available to them in the summertime, they are very heat tolerant. All chickens will require more water than usual in the heat and as long as the Barred Rocks receive adequate water, they will survive.

In the extremely cold winter months, it is important to provide them with plenty of hay or straw to help keep them warm inside their coop. As long as their feet are able to be completely covered when they are roosting, there should be no danger of anything happening to their feet and legs as a result of extreme cold.

For any chicken breeds that are kept in extreme cold, it is important to check them for frostbite. Their combs and waddles are especially susceptible if the humidity is too high in the coop. With good coop ventilation, frostbite should not be a problem but checking the entire flock frequently is a must in extreme cold so any issues with the feet, legs, combs, or waddles can be taken care of immediately.

Egg Production

The Plymouth Barred Rock hen is an extremely good egg layer. She will lay an egg for you at least 5 times per week in the warmer months. The hens will slow down egg production in the shorter days of winter but that is common in any chicken breed.

You can expect large-sized eggs in shades of brown and sometimes they will even have a pink hue to them. Barred Rock hens do go broody more often than other breeds so you can expect the hens to occasionally want to try and hatch a clutch of eggs. They are a successful breed at egg hatching and make very good mothers to their chicks.

Our Barred Rock rooster, Zeus or Zeusie as I like to call him!

Our Barred Rock rooster, Zeus or Zeusie as I like to call him!

Personality and Behavior

This chicken breed definitely has personality! The hens are generally friendly when they aren't broody or in the mothering stage. They tolerate being handled quite well, even by strangers. They are especially pleasant to caretakers or people that they are familiar with and will walk right up to you.

The Barred Rock rooster is definitely a character. My personal experience with our rooster, Zeus is that he reminds me more of a dog than a rooster. He has been a joy as the keeper of our girls and does his job extremely well.

They can actually recognize their name when you call them and will come to you. The Barred Rock rooster is pleasant to people that they know but can be challenging to strangers. They will on occasion try and challenge their caretaker so it is important to set them straight as to who is at the top of the pecking order between the two of you. A flogging from a rooster is not a pleasant experience but once the order is known, the Barred Rock rooster will respect it.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Owlcation

These roosters are very protective of their hens and will not tolerate anything that they see as a threat. They do like to crow, a lot, and it can be very loud at times.

All in all the Plymouth Barred Rock chicken breed is an excellent choice for backyard chicken flocks. The egg production is fantastic, they have great personalities, they are visually stunning, and are an all-around great dual-purpose chicken.


Helena Ricketts (author) from Indiana on August 07, 2012:

Thanks! I have to keep Sophie and Spudward away from them. Spudward almost got a meatie once and has chased Zeus a few times (God help the dog if he catches that rooster because I think the rooster will win!) but so far so good.

Yikes! I'd be careful with multiple roosters. The ratio that I've always known is 1 rooster for every 20 hens or they start fighting unless they are caponized.

Predators are always a worry. We have raccoon and opossum in our area. My coop is double walled and framed in with 1" X 6" every 8 inches so I'm hoping to never deal with a surprise when I go out in the mornings to let them out. Once they know that the chickens are there, they will keep coming back because they see it as a free meal. : / They are probably able to smell them since their noses are tuned into stuff like that.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on August 07, 2012:

What great pictures and handsome dudes~ I always wanted to have chickens but with my malamutes, that probably wouldn't be the best idea I've ever had though they truly don't seem to be "bird" dogs at all.

I have a friend who has been having troubles with her chickens now that she introduced some roosters...more predators. I wonder if that is a coincidence but she seems to think it's because the roosters make so much noise they told everyone where to find them~ I tend to disagree and think it is just coincidence.

Great layout and wonderful pictures as I said!

Helena Ricketts (author) from Indiana on August 07, 2012:

@whowas- You are very welcome! I'm glad I could help. This really is a wonderful breed.

One of my White Rocks, Marsala, was the top hen but she was WAY too aggressive and was pecking excessively. I had to do the same thing. I took her out for a couple of weeks. Once the new pecking order was established, I put her back in and it's been fine since.

We keep a temporary separate flock of Cornish Crosses for the table and those guys don't receive names. We just call them all "Meatie."

whowas on August 07, 2012:

Thanks Helena,

That's really useful. Re-establishing the pecking order can be quite tricky sometimes. One of our leghorns was introduced into the established flock and we thought things had settled down between them when it came clear that she was persecuting most of the other hens, pulling out their tail and neck feathers and pecking at their combs. We isolated her for a couple of weeks and then when she was re-introduced there were no more problems.

We try not to give ours names because of their ultimate culinary destiny (once they stop laying) but giving them names of various chicken dishes seems an ideal compromise! The Barred Rocks interest me because they lay and are good for the table.

Thanks again for your helpful advice and information, I really appreciate it.

Helena Ricketts (author) from Indiana on August 06, 2012:

Hello Whowas,

Yes, they do behave very well in a mixed flock once the pecking order is re-established with the addition of any new birds. My flock currently has White Rocks, Barred Rocks and Golden Comets and I'm planning on adding a few more varieties later this fall once the chick order comes in. There are 5 more Barred Rock pullets in that order. They ARE an excellent breed all the way around. We are actually going to start breeding them ourselves.

We named the Barred Rocks after the Greek deities but the rest of the flock members of other breeds are named after chicken dishes. :) I did that because for some reason I just felt that the Barred Rocks deserved those type of names to go along with their appearance & personalities because they just look so mythical to me for some reason. Zeus definitely rules the coop and naming him didn't take long at all. I got him when he was 4 months old. The previous owner couldn't keep him, he was supposed to be a hen.

whowas on August 06, 2012:

Hi Helena,

That's a great hub! You know it's funny because I just came here after reading a hub about Greek mythology and I find all your birds seem to be named after Greek deities!

It's properly interesting, however, because we have been thinking of expanding our mixed flock of Wellsummers, Black Rocks, Leghorns and Light Sussex to include some table birds that would still get on amicably in a flock of medium-sized breeds.

I've been thinking about Plymouth Barred Rocks after seeing some at the fowl market this spring and this hub has swayed me further in that direction. Especially as they can cope with quite cold weather, as they would be up here in the North.

Do they behave well in a mixed flock, do you know?

Helena Ricketts (author) from Indiana on August 06, 2012:

They do have their own individual personalities. People don't usually know that until they have chickens of their own. Sorry to hear about Miss Stella. I've been a little worried about a few of mine with the heat this year but so far, everything has been OK. They are all younger though so I think that may be why I haven't had many problems this year.

sallieannluvslife from Eastern Shore on August 06, 2012:

We have Buff Orpingtons, Americaunas and Black Australorps but our favorite was Miss Stella, our Silver Laced Wyandotte. She was with us for 7 years, and just passed away due to the excessive heat this summer. We miss her! She traveled with us 1,700 miles from the Midwest to the East Coast and was quite the character.

Related Articles