Searching for the right automatic chicken coop door can be a nuisance, but so can searching for information on the White Rock chicken breed, so here is what we found. This breed is mainly a dual-purpose breed that offers plenty of high-quality meat while being an excellent egg-layer, as well. They even lay eggs in the wintertime.
The White Plymouth Rock breed of chickens is part of the same group as Barred Plymouth Rock. The Plymouth Rock, as a breed, is an all-American breed of medium-sized chickens that was seen for the first time in Massachusetts, in the early nineteenth century. At the beginning of the twentieth century, this chicken breed was one of the most popular ones across the United States.
As it was used for both meat and egg-laying purposes, and it looked very beautiful, Plymouths were a part of almost every American backyard small farm. In the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century, their numbers significantly decreased across the nation, as both small-sized and industrial farms started using hybrids, that were growing much faster.
Faster growing hybrids meant more financial gain for the farmer, thus Plymouth Rocks were soon forgotten, and were only kept as pure-bred show birds. It got to the point where the breed was nearly extinct altogether. Efforts are being made, at the moment, for the breed to be recovered, and more poultry organizations are raising awareness of this breed’s importance.
As both scientists and farmers alike made many crossbreeds, with the purpose of obtaining new hybrids and breeds, that have higher productivity rates and are genetically superior to some traditional chicken breeds, Plymouth Rocks have become a part of many new hybrid genes. They were used in large numbers for crossbreeding because of their dual-purpose use.
A bit of history
The breed was first seen in Boston in 1849 and then left out of sight for the next twenty years. It was in 1869 that D.A. Upham cross-bred a rooster that had barred feathers with Black Java hens. After that, he selectively bred the resulting chickens for barred plumage and legs that had no feathers at all, also called clean legs.
The resulting birds were shown in Worcester, later that same year and are considered to be the ancestors of the modern Plymouth Rocks. In 1874, the breed was added to the Standard of Excellence of the American Poultry Association. The original plumage pattern was the barred one, but later some other colors were added to the Standard.
It was in 1888 that the White Plymouth Rock was created, through a long process of careful selective breeding, with the sole purpose of creating a chicken breed with superior meat production traits and qualities. The newly created breed quickly gained popularity and took over and became the number one broiler in the United States and Australia.
Even today, many industrial broiler farms across the world still use White Plymouth Rocks as their main broiler, due to their excellent traits and high adaptability to various housing and feeding conditions. They grow fast, taste good, and also make great small backyard farm broilers. People enjoy their benefits without even knowing they do.
As a comparison, nowadays, a number of approximately 24,000 Barred Plymouth Rocks are reported worldwide, meaning they were very close to extinction, while the White variety is reported to have over 970,000 birds worldwide. This difference in numbers says a lot about the features of these two varieties, and about what people are looking for in a chicken breed.
Just as the name indicates, White Rocks are white chickens, with bright red combs and faces and yellow legs. They are really beautiful looking birds, especially during the cold season, which they tolerate really well, and when their second layer of feathers becomes fluffy, making them look absolutely stunning, especially if you are a chicken enthusiast.
White Rocks are medium-sized chickens: the roosters weigh about eight pounds, while hens go up to seven and a half pounds. However, the fact that they grow fast and have high-quality meat makes them a number one choice in terms of meat production. Moreover, the quantity of meat per bird is more than satisfying.
They have a single comb, that changes color as the birds get older. Chicks have yellow combs, and as they grow older, their combs start turning red. Adult, healthy birds have beautiful bright red combs, that also indicate their health status. As they grow old, for the ones that get the chance to, their combs start turning a dark pink.
If kept as free-range birds, their snow-white plumage comes as a drawback because it is much easier for predators to spot them, especially during the warm seasons, when chickens do most of their foraging. However, these birds are quite clever and manage quite well to stay out of trouble and away from potential predators.
Since this breed has a single comb and is able to withstand the cold weather and low temperatures, it is prone to comb frostbite. Any responsible owner should be aware of this issue and take all the necessary precautions to prevent this from happening. Roosters, in particular, are the ones most exposed to this potential danger, so extra care should be provided during winter.
What is this breed used for?
White Rocks are used as a dual-purpose breed, as they are good egg-layers and have the right size and meat quality to be great meat producers too. They make a great addition to any flock, especially since they withstand cold weather very well, as they were designed to keep up their usual productivity rates during the cold winters of Massachusetts.
One great thing about this is that hens will not slow down their egg-laying pace during winter, so people can enjoy fresh barn eggs through the entire winter season. Also, chicks hatch from the beginning of February all the way to late November, meaning they are sturdy enough to grow up in cold weather conditions and to do that well.
As meat producers, White Rocks do great, even if they are bred in an industrial farm or the backyard of an average family. They are designed to grow up fast and produce high-quality meat in a short amount of time. Also, their meat is tender and tasty, while the skin is pale white and highly appealing.
As egg-layers, White Rock hens are known to be productive layers, as they may lay up to 220 eggs per year, will not stop doing that over the winter, and will keep on laying many tasty and good-looking, medium to large-sized eggs for the next 4 years. After that, it is possible for the production rate to slow down quite a bit, depending on each particular hen.
And last, but not least, there are some who just love this breed, and they keep them around for their great companionship, besides the tasty eggs. Although White Rocks are not typically kept as show birds, there are many people that choose to keep them in their flock for beauty and egg-laying reasons alone and choose not to consider their meat production traits.
The White Rocks have been bred to produce many eggs per year, that are usually large-sized, depending on the hen’s age and health status, and brown colored. Hens will start producing eggs at the age of five months. Once they are close to laying their first egg, the owner will start noticing some changes in the hens’ behavior.
The first sign you are looking for in a hen is her comb changing color from yellow to red. As this happens, the hen is getting closer to maturity. The second thing you might be looking for is her behavioral changes, such as inspecting the nest boxes, becoming friendly to roosters, and overall becoming more of a hen than a chick.
White Rock eggs are in high demand during the cold seasons, when other egg-laying breeds stop producing, while these hens are still out there doing their thing. As long as they are well-fed, kept safe and healthy, and all their physical, mental, and nutritional requirements are met, you can absolutely count on one egg daily from each hen all winter long.
The light-brown color and large size give these eggs an exquisite look, while they are also high-quality and really tasty. Of course, the quality of the eggs they produce depends on the quality of food they receive, therefore eggs from free-range White Rock hens are in higher demand than those coming from battery farm hens.