Plymouth Rock {Popular For Good Reason}

The Plymouth Rock is an American heritage breed of old origins. As a dual-purpose bird, it truly excels. Whether you’re a homesteader or backyard chicken keeper, this striking and useful chicken is worth taking a closer look at.

close up of a beautiful plymouth rock chicken in profile

Plymouth Rock Quick Facts

  • Primary use: Dual-Purpose (Meat & Egg-laying)
  • Size (Roosters): 8 lbs
  • Size (Hens): 7.5 lbs
  • Egg production (Annual): 210
  • Egg size: Large
  • Egg colour: Brown
  • Origin: USA

Top Reasons To Choose The Plymouth Rock For Your Flock

That rhymes! Anyways…

  • Calm and Friendly Chicken
  • They lay up to 210 eggs annually
  • Dual-purpose, utilized for both their quality egg and meat production
  • Resilient and cold hardy
  • They begin laying eggs at 18 weeks of age.

There aren’t many cons to the Plymouth Rock chicken; however, before adding one to your flock, consider their size and temperament.

This breed can be quite large, so you need to have enough space for them to roam (as with any medium or large chicken that doesn’t do well with complete confinement).

They are very friendly but note if they are skittish and build trust accordingly.

If you live in a colder climate, the Plymouth Rock chicken is perfect for you as they are quite cold-hardy.

plymouth rock rooster inside his coop

History & Origins

The Plymouth Rock chicken is an American breed first developed in the 1840s in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

They were created by crossing two existing breeds of chickens – barred Rock males and Java hens.

The Plymouth Rock chicken seemed to disappear for a while and resurface in 1869. It is a good all-around farm chicken and certainly lives up to that reputation.

In 1870, three color varieties of the Plymouth Rock chicken were standardized: Barred, Partridge, and White. The Barred Plymouth Rock is the most common variety seen today.

During the Second World War, the Plymouth Rock chicken was one of the most popular poultry breeds in the United States and was used for its meat and eggs more than any other chicken breed.

However, their popularity has diminished somewhat in recent years as more specialized chicken.

Today, Plymouth Rock chickens are still a very popular breed, especially among those looking for good all-around farm chickens.

With the industrialization of farming, these chickens were, at times, deemed unproductive and cast aside, but they are still widely adored by enthusiasts and homesteaders today.

a flock of 6 plymouth rocks in their outdoor run with a golden retriever in the background. It is fall and chilly outside.

Appearance

The Plymouth Rock chicken breed is a medium to large-sized bird, with a Plymouth Rock hen typically weighing in at around 7.5 pounds and the Plymouth Rock rooster around 8 pounds.

They have a rounded body shape with thick, muscular legs.

The Barred Plymouth Rock is the most common variety and is easily recognizable by its black and white striped pattern.

The Partridge Plymouth Rock has a brown and red feathering with some black stripes. The White Plymouth Rock is, as its name suggests, completely white.

All three varieties have yellow skin. Their eyes, earlobes, and wattles are red, and they have a single comb that is upright and relatively large.

Their stature is broad, and their feathers are dense, which helps to protect them from cold weather. Their breasts are deep, and their back is level.

The Plymouth Rock is frequently confused with the Dominique Chicken (America’s OLDEST domesticated chicken breed) but it is easy to tell them apart once you know what you’re looking for.

Personality & Temperament

The  Plymouth Rock chicken is a calm and friendly breed, which makes them great for first-time chicken keepers or those with small children.

Some people even consider them lap chickens.

They are relatively docile and easy to handle but can be a little skittish if they are not used to being around humans; however, they warm up quickly with treats, and once you’ve built trust with your Plymouth Rock chicken, you’re all set for a wonderful friendship!

They are fairly independent and curious birds that love to forage and explore their surroundings.

Plymouths will do okay in moderate confinement (if they have enough space to move around) but do best out in yards and open spaces like on pasture.

In terms of agreeableness (with other breeds of chickens), the Plymouth Rock chicken does fairly well.

They can get along with most other breeds, although there have been reports of them being aggressive towards smaller ones.

Still, they are quite docile and warm up to their surroundings and fellow farm-mates quickly.

plymouth rock pullet next to her nesting box where three eggs have been laid

Large Brown Eggs

The Plymouth Rock chicken is a great egg layer and can lay up to 210 large eggs per year.

Their eggs are large and brown with the average weight being around 2.75 ounces.

Plymouth Rock chickens typically start laying eggs at 18 weeks of age, earlier than many other chicken breeds.

In terms of broodiness, these brown egg layers are quite broody.

They sit in the nesting box and are strong mothers to their Plymouth Rock chicks. They are protective of their young and make great foster mothers to other chicks.

See Also:

21 Best Chicken Breeds For Egg Laying

Meat

As a true heritage dual-purpose chicken breed, the Plymouth Rock is a fantastic choice.

The chicks will mature quickly and some people process their meat birds as early as 12 weeks.

Generally, it is recommended to wait for 3-4 months for heritage breeds like these, with 20 weeks being a decent slaughter age.

Although heritage breeds do take longer to reach market weight, the Plymouth Rock is not as slow to mature as the Orpington or Bresse, both of which I raise, alongside Red Rangers which are an even quicker option.

Cold Hardy

The Plymouth Rock chicken is a cold-hardy breed and can withstand colder temperatures.

They’re a great choice for those who live in cooler climates and want to keep chickens year-round.

In hotter climates, the Plymouth Rock chicken does okay as long as they have access to plenty of water and shade.

They are not as heat tolerant as some other poultry breeds.

See Also:

10 Steps To Winterize Your Chicken Coop

Feeding Free-Range Chickens In Winter

How Cold Is Too Cold For Chickens?

The Deep Litter System For Coop Management

Free Range

The Plymouth Rock chicken is a great free-range bird.

They love to explore and forage and do well when allowed to roam around and stretch their legs.

They can be happily confined as long as they have a suitable amount of space, but overall are happiest when exploring outdoors!

Of course, free-ranging comes with its risks (predators, getting lost, etc.), so take the necessary precautions to keep your chickens safe if you choose to let them free range.

See Also:

How To Safely Free-Range Chickens

25 REAL Ways To Cut Down on Chicken Feed Costs

How & Why To Ferment Your Chicken Feed

5 baby chicks

Where To Find Chicks

I’m a big fan of finding smaller, reputable, breeders that are passionate about their breed of choice.

Your local online chicken groups are great resources for recommendations and reviews.

Care & Feeding of Baby Chicks

Taking care of chicks is easy and can be cheap unless you choose to complicate it.

You may even want to try incubating and hatching your own baby chicks, a fun and fascinating process.

I have several articles that go over this topic in great detail: Incubate & Hatch EggsChick Care & Feeding, and When Can Chicks Go Outside?

Final Thoughts

The Plymouth Rock chicken is a great bird for first-time chicken keepers and experienced enthusiasts alike.

This large brown egg layer is a friendly, docile bird that makes a great pet. In most cases, they warm up to humans and other animals with ease, but if they’re nervous, be sure to show them respect and offer some treats! In many cases, they become ‘lap chickens’ and love interaction.

They are also cold hardy, do well in cooler climates, and enjoy free ranging whenever possible.

If you’re looking for a chicken with American lineage and a sturdy, healthy body to add to your flock, Plymouth Rock may be a great option — they’re popular for a reason.

a flock of chickens on green pasture.

The Ultimate Guide to Homestead & Backyard Chicken Keeping 

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