Are you considering adding Barred Rock chickens to your flock? They are a friendly and more productive breed. Then the Barred Rock chickens could be a good option for you.
The Barred Rock is a famous chicken in the US. It is among the favorites when it comes to a steady and reliable. Since their development, they have won a reputation for themselves because of their productivity rate.
History and Background of Barred Rock
Barred Rock is among the oldest breeds in the US to be domesticated. In 1849, the barred ancestors appeared in Boston, MA, at a breed show. The breed later disappeared for about twenty years and magically reappeared in 1869.
It is believed that the breed was developed by Mr. Upham, a breeder from Massachusetts. He bred Barred Rock roosters and java hens to get the Barred Rock prototype. There have been various claims by several people who take responsibility for developing the prototype. However, Upham is credited by many as the forefather.
At the earlier time of its development, the breed received competition from the Dominique chicken at breed shows. The standards of the breed were lax, thus causing an overlap in the shows.
Breeders were exhibiting Barred Rocks and Dominiques in the two breed varieties and would win both since the comb could be more or single at that time. This made chicken breeders upset.
It forced the New York Poultry Society to set a standard where Barred Rock was to have a single comb and Dominiques a rose comb. As a result, the two chicken varieties were separated from the competition.
The Barred Rock became a favorite in the broiler industry during the Second World War. Most families relied on them for eggs and meat during the food rationing caused by the war.
For many years, the hens retained their popularity because of their productivity and docile nature. The breed was a favorite of breeders and farmers alike by the 1930s.
The coming of the production of chicken breeds that were good in egg production and meat nearly drove the Barred Rock to extinction. The breed has, however, made a resurgence, and the Livestock Conservancy has listed it as recovering.
Breed Standard and Appearance
The Barred Rock breed has a clean, narrow patterning (barring) on its feathers. Generally, the Barred are long and broad. They are also deep-bodied. The birds are bred for vitality as well as strength.
Barred Rock chicks are mainly dark grey or black when they hatch. They also have white patches on their body and on the head.
A mature chicken has a red comb with five points and is usually hearty-looking. Their eyes are alert and bright.
Barred Rock chickens usually have four toes and do not have feathers on their legs. Their skin is yellow.
There are several breed varieties such as Buff, Barred, White, Columbian, Black, Blue, Silver Pencilled, and Partridge. All the varieties are recognized by the American Poultry Association.
Personality and Temperament
Barred Rock is a favorite breed for many chicken keepers because of its docile and friendly nature. It is not known to be a bad-tempered or mean bird.
They suit the backyard life and are suitable both for free-range and for the coop. These chickens love to range and forage. However, they can quickly adapt to confinement if they are provided with enough space.
It is an excellent choice for your children if they love to raise birds for exhibition purposes. They are famous lap chickens that are friendly to children.
Barred Rock chickens love to be cuddled.
Since the birds are not high flyers, you will not have a hard time confining them. They do not require a high fence to be contained. They are also not noisy and are silent most of the time.
You will, therefore, not have a hard time with your neighbors because of the noise of your flock. Unlike other breeds that make noise when laying eggs, Barred Rocks chickens will just whisper.
The breed can do well with other birds in a flock. The great dispositions and mild temperaments make them a great addition to your existing flock. Since they are not aggressive birds, they will live in harmony with other breeds.
However, you must also make sure that the other breeds in your flock are friendly and not aggressive towards the Barred Rock chickens. Generally, it is easy to maintain and handle the Barred Rocks for care.
Barred Rock chickens are well known because of their large eggs, which are usually brown. Under good care, a hen can lay approximately four eggs in a week. This translates to about 200 eggs in a year for an average hen.
Barred Rock hens lay more eggs in the first few years. Their productivity may start declining at the age of three years. They can lay eggs up to the age of 10 years. However, their productivity will not be so prolific.
Broodiness may not be a typical behavior among them. They can, however, be good mothers of their chicks if you train and encourage them.
Barred Rock chicks will mature at an age range of 8 to 12 weeks. They will start laying eggs once they attain maturity. In the beginning, their eggs are more likely to be smaller. However, the size of eggs will increase to large or medium with time as they grow and mature.
Health issues and care
The Barred Rock is a healthy and robust bird with a strong background. You can therefore be sure of encountering very few health issues when keeping this breed. They are hearty enough and can do well in northern climates with cold climates and snowfall.
The breed will thrive in any environment or temperature. However, they will need roomy and clean quarters for them to do well. You will also have to offer them clean water and quality food.
Since Barred Rock chickens are pretty delicious and mild-mannered, they are prone to predators such as wolves, ferrets, raptors, and raccoons. They will need a safe roosting area that is free from predators. You must be aware that most of these predators usually strike at night.
Just like other chicken breeds, Barred Rock are also prone to parasites. If you allow them to free-range, they can get rid of parasites by taking dust baths in sandy areas. You must regularly carry out a parasite inspection and provide medication as well whenever possible.
Raising Barred Rock chicken
When it comes to maintenance, grooming, and diet, the Barred Rock is fairly standard. This makes them a perfect breed for any chicken keeper, be they happy homesteaders or backyard enthusiasts.
A Few Tips
Generally, Barred Rock chickens do not have any special grooming needs. You will, however, have to check for parasites such as mites and lice. You can check the grooming standard for this breed if you are planning to show your birds.
You must provide your birds with a sufficient diet. The birds are good at free-ranging. You can allow them to look for food on their own as you also supply it.
Just like any other chicken that is reared for egg production, your Barred Rock chickens will need an extra supply of calcium. You can give oyster shells alongside their laying feed. You can crush up eggshells and put them into their food as a source of extra calcium.
The chickens will like it even more if you include special treats such as table scraps or mealworms in their diet. You will become their friend if you provide them with tasty snacks. Treats can also help with grooming and catching.
It is important to avoid human food that is toxic to birds. Such foods include onions, garlic, and nightshade family plants.
Generally, Barred Rocks will need a spacious coop. You must therefore ensure that your coop is big enough to accommodate your flock. Besides, you will have to provide a private and comfy nesting box.
You will require a roomy nesting box because of the egg-laying productivity of the Barred Rocks. Make sure the coop is well ventilated and has a decent-sized perch since the birds are fairly large.
Roosters of nearly all breeds of chicken are known to be more aggressive. Barred Rock roosters are an exception to this. They are usually very calm. Roosters will require their own special care, such as trimming talons.
You can trim their talons using a pair of clippers. It is advisable to avoid trimming closer to the leg as this can cause damage or pain.
Since the roosters do not require extra calcium for egg production, they are flexible on feed. They can feed on anything that is in the coup.
Barred Rock chickens are a good addition to your flock. They are a hardy breed that is good for both meat and egg production. They can do well in any climate. For a high productivity level, you will have to maintain and take care of them.