At one point, the Plymouth Rock chicken was the most popular breed of chicken in the United States. This chicken breed has been around for more than 150 years. It finds multiple uses in poultry farming, mostly for its decent egg and meat production.
Apart from the above, there is more to know about the Plymouth Rock chicken breed. In this article, we will share some fun facts about it.
The Plymouth Rock chicken was first sighted in 1849 in Boston, Massachusetts USA. But after the initial discovery, they were not seen again for 20 years.
In 1869, a breeder in Worcester named D.A. Upham cross-bred black Java hens with Dominique males. This effort is understood to be the origin of the modern Plymouth Rock chickens.
2. What the Breed Is Named After
The Plymouth Rock chicken may have been named after the Plymouth Rock, a monumental piece in the history of Massachusetts and the United States. The rock is the spot William Bradford and the pilgrims who established the Plymouth Colony first set foot on land in 1620.
The Plymouth Rock remains in Plymouth, Massachusetts still today.
3. The Difference in Plumage Between the Sexes of Barred Plymouth Rocks
It is generally thought that the plumage of this breed is a combination of black and white bars. However, there is a difference in the plumage pattern of the sexes.
Barred Plymouth Rock roosters have balanced black and white bars, and their feathers typically have a dark tip. The hens, on the other hand, have broader black bars. This may leave them looking dark-grey relative to the roosters.
4. How Well They Fly
The Plymouth Rock chicken is not so flighty. They are not strong fliers, and they can do well in urban areas with low fencing.
5. Number of Varieties Recognized in the US
Currently, 7 varieties of the Plymouth Rock breed are recognized in the US. These varieties are barred, white, blue, Colombian, buff, partridge, and silver. Of these seven, 5 are rare. The barred and white ones are common, with the barred variety being the most common.
While the plumage of these varieties comes in different colors, their skins are all yellow.
6. They Have Bantam Varieties
Plymouth Rocks are medium-sized chickens. But they also have bantam varieties. Standard Plymouth Rock roosters typically have a minimum weight of 7.5 lbs. but can be as heavy as 9.5 lbs. or more. The hens, on the other hand, are relatively lighter.
Standard Plymouth Rock hens can weigh as low as 6.5 lbs. Sometimes, they can be as heavy as 7.5 lbs. or more.
Bantam Plymouth Rocks are, as expected, smaller than the standard varieties. A bantam Plymouth Rock rooster would have a maximum weight of around 3 lbs. The female bantam can weigh up to 2.5 lbs.
7. How Long They Live
Due to their decent genetic pool, Plymouth Rock chickens are sturdy and healthy. They usually live for up to a decade, with the average lifespan being 10-12 years. In some cases, Plymouth Rock chickens live up to 20 years. Some also live for as short as 6-8 years.
8. They Are Not Prone to Diseases
As stated earlier, Plymouth Rock chickens have a decent genetic pool. So, they are not unusually prone to any disease. However, they are susceptible to parasites, particularly intestinal parasites.
9. The Cold Is Not a Problem
Plymouth Rock chickens are typically very cold-hardy. However, since their combs and wattles are a bit large, they could be susceptible to cold in extreme cases.
10. The Structure and Color of Their Combs, Wattles, Beak, Eyes, and Earlobes
Plymouth Rock chickens have bright-red earlobes, combs, and wattles. Their combs are 5-pointed, medium-sized, and single. The beak of a Plymouth Chicken is yellow or horn-colored.
Plymouth Rock chickens have reddish bay eyes.
11. How Many Toes They Have
Like every regular chicken, Plymouth Rocks have 4 toes per foot. Their feet are yellow and without feathers.
12. Egg Production of Plymouth Rock Chickens
Plymouth Rocks produce between 180 and 200 eggs per year; some strains produce as many as 250 in a year. Their weekly average stands at between 3 and 5.
In the first 3 years of laying, Plymouth Rock chickens are very prolific. But they decline gradually after that. Nonetheless, some can keep laying till their 10th year.
13. Eggs as Brown as a Berry?
Plymouth Rock chickens lay large brown eggs.
14. They Are Dual-Purpose
Plymouth Rock chickens are considerably large, and they have a decent rate of egg production. So, they do well as a dual-purpose breed.
15. Chatty Yet Quiet
Plymouth Rock chickens sound like usual chickens. They are talkative. But since they speak in low tones, their chattiness is usually not an issue.
16. What Happened After World War II
In the introduction, we mentioned that Plymouth Rock chickens were the most popular breed in the US. Well, World War II came, and these birds lost their popularity.
Newer chicken breeds were introduced following the mechanization of the chicken industry, and they got more attention.
The Plymouth Rock chicken breed is currently listed on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy list as recovering. Their resurgence might be connected to an increasing interest in backyard chicken breeds.
17. Many Chicken Breeds Were Bred From the Plymouth Rock Chicken Breed
Being as old as they are, it is not surprising that many other breeds of chicken came from the Plymouth Rocks.
Some breeds created with Plymouth Rock chickens include Delaware, Black Stars, California Grey, Iowa Blue, Rhodebar, and Buckeye.
18. Plymouth Rock Chicks Grow Quite Fast
Plymouth Rock chicks reach maturity relatively fast. Within 60 to 90 days, the chicks can become broilers.
Within 18-20 weeks, they can become layers.
19. Curiosity Does Not Kill Plymouth Rock Chickens
Plymouth Rock chickens are touted for their curiosity. But beyond that, they are sweet, docile, and friendly. In most cases, they are calm around humans, especially those they are familiar with.
20. Decent Brooders, Great Mothers
Plymouth Rock Chickens have remarkable maternal instincts. They tend towards being broody, and they do well at it. Most times, they just need some encouragement to become broody.
21. They Look Like Dominiques, but They Are Not Dominiques
The plumage of Barred Plymouth Rocks is similar to that of Dominique chickens. So, sometimes, they are misidentified.
Plymouth Rock chickens differ from Dominiques in their combs and the pattern of their plumage. While Plymouth Rocks have single, pointed combs, Dominiques have rose combs.
The barring in Plymouth Rocks is quite distinct, and the contrast is high. The barring in Dominques is staggered, and the black and white bars have low contrast.
22. They Were Accepted a Few Years After Their Reappearance
Remember we mentioned that Plymouth Rock chickens disappeared for 20 years – reappearing in 1869? Well, 5 years (1874) after their reappearance, they were accepted into the standard of excellence of the American Poultry Association.
23. To Roam or to Be Confined?
While they might prefer to forage, Plymouth Rock chickens will tolerate confinement too. This is especially true when sufficient space is provided.