We decided a while back that we wanted chickens and we began doing research. There are tons of varieties that can be broken down into categories. Those categories are egg layers, meat birds, and dual purpose. Dual purpose breeds are great for producing eggs and they’re a larger breed suitable for meat production.
In addition to this, we knew we needed a hardy bird to survive our tropical summers and cold winters (it has gotten down to fifteen degrees here, but it’s usually forty or better). I wanted a heritage breed like my grandpa raised when I was a little girl. Bonus points if it was pretty.
Plymouth Barred Rock Chickens actually prefer cold weather over hot, much like our family, and they check all the other boxes. Roosters can weigh up to eight pounds and hens have been known to lay 300 eggs in a year. That’s a ton of eggs, but we eat a lot and we know people we can share with.
Another perk is that they’re extremely easy to sex from a young age – no squeezing or blowing required! 99% of the time, the roosters are pretty. They have a lot of white on them while the hens are just black with a white spot. Our chicks were only a few days old when I took the picture below.
As you can see, the roosters have a very nice pattern while the hens don’t have much of a pattern at all. As they get older, it becomes even easier to tell which is which in your flock.
As you can see, the hens are black with white speckles and the roosters appear to be white with black. You can also kind of see this rooster’s comb is slightly larger than the hen’s. They’re both about five weeks old here and are living their best lives out in the coop already. We were brooding thirty-six chicks in our bathroom, which was less than ideal.
We bought thirty-six Plymouth Barred Rock chicks from Purely Poultry after countless hours of research. Everything we read stated that a few would be dead in the box and we would lose a few in the first two weeks. Five weeks later, we have fifteen roosters and twenty-one hens for a grand total of – 36 Plymouth Barred Rocks. That’s right, all of them survived their flight from Wisconsin to Alabama and are thriving. I am grateful, but we’ll be rehoming a few birds soon.
Definitely do your research, but also use some common sense. We read everything we could find about this breed, proper chick care, etc. Everything said to keep them around 95 degrees the first week. They hated that! So we dropped it down to 90. We dropped the temp as their feathers came in and they quickly let us know if they were hot or cold. Happy Barred Rocks sound like songbirds, unhappy ones sound like screech owls!
Spend time getting to know your flock and do your best to keep them happy and healthy. They will let you know if something’s wrong, you just have to figure it out. I definitely recommend Purely Poultry and Plymouth Barred Rocks, I think they’re great if you’re just starting out and don’t really know much about chickens.
Today is the first really cold day for the season, it’s thirty-nine degrees and the sun hasn’t fully set yet. We let the chickens out when it was 44 degrees and they were running around, eating, and a few went back into the coop with the heat lamp. Most of them stayed outside and fluffed their feathers out to keep warm. We decided to put them up when the temperature started dropping, but they didn’t want to go in.