Plymouth Rock vs Rhode Island Red – What is the Difference?

Regarding dependability and durability, the Plymouth Rock and the Rhode Island Red are two of America’s best and oldest chicken breeds. Domesticated since WWII, these chickens were favored as a source of protein for the troops.

Most farmers prefer these two breeds due to their ease of maintenance and ability to serve as good sources of meat and eggs. This piece explores both breeds in depth.

What are Plymouth Rock Chickens?

The Plymouth Rock Chicken is a breed of chickens characterized by black-and-white lines, a calm temperament, and excellent behavior. Further details on other characteristics of the chicken are discussed later on.

What are Rhode Island Red Chickens?

The  Rhode Island Red is another breed that is widely known among chicken breeders. It is a chicken breed first domesticated in Rhode Island and has been the state’s official bird since 1954. Its most notable characteristics are its bright red color and large wattles.

Plymouth Rock vs Rhode Island Red

There are many similarities and differences between the two breeds. The section of the article looks at both to make it easier to identify one from the other and see what both breeds have to offer regarding egg and meat production.

– Appearance

The most common appearance of the Plymouth Rock breed is black and white bars. In the males, the black and white barring is equal, and feathers end in a dark tip, while the females have wider back bars than the white ones.

The roosters are also characterized by their large cones and wattles. This breed comes in several varieties, but the ones recognized in the United States are the barred, blue, buff, white, Colombian, silver penciled, and white varieties.

As their name suggests, the Rhode Island Red is bright red, with the chicks having a bright yellow color with streaks of orange. This breed has other color varieties; their tails can be white or black. They are predominantly red, with a few shades of white or black.

– Size & Weight

Due to the dual purpose of both breeds, the chickens are characterized by a large build, which helps them serve the purpose of having large meaty carcasses and laying eggs over their lifetime.

The Plymouth Rock hens and roosters grow to weigh about 6 pounds when they mature, with the roosters being slightly larger. The Rhode Island Red chickens weigh about 6 pounds when mature. They are larger than your average chicken, with the roosters growing to around 8 pounds.

– Temperament

The Plymouth Rock is a mellow breed of chicken known for its calm temperament and good behavior when interacting with other animals, birds, and even humans. They are docile, quiet, and generally curious as they hang around other animals and check them out.

If you have children, this breed is excellent as lap chickens as they do not mind being carried around and can imprint on the young ones and follow them around as they play in the yard.

The Rhode Island Reds are known to have a dominant streak and can bully other poultry, especially around mating season. Their temperament is predominantly calm, and they prefer to be the coop boss; hence it’s better to keep them in seclusion from other poultry.

The breed is loud and gets very noisy when raised in confinement. This is a good option for those whose neighbors are far away. It is best to keep the roosters away from the children, especially during mating season, as they get aggressive and protective of their mates.

– Egg Production

The Plymouth Rock breed averages around 200 yearly, meaning they are an excellent breed for egg-laying purposes. They lay large brown eggs.

Egg laying starts at about 16 weeks and continues diligently for about five years, after which egg production slowly decreases as the chicken ages. This continues to their 10th year, after which egg quality and quantity further reduce.

The Rhode Island Reds average 300 eggs yearly and are better layers than their counterparts. They, however, the egg-laying at a later age, with egg production kicking off at around 19 weeks. They lay big brown eggs.

– Meat Production

The Plymouth Rock is a dual-purpose breed and excellent at meat production. The hens can weigh up to 6.5 pounds with proper nutrition, while the roosters can weigh up to 6.4 pounds. It takes about four months to reach maturity, and they can be slaughtered at any time after attaining this age.

The Rhode Island Reds grow slightly bigger than their counterparts, with the hens averaging 6.6 pounds and the roosters weighing about 8.5 pounds. This makes for an excellent meaty carcass that can adequately feed a family of four. As far as backyard chickens go, this breed is an excellent alternative and grows to maturity in about five months.

– Care & Housing

It is relatively simple to house both breeds of chickens as they require around 4 square feet of floor space per chicken. A secluded laying area is always encouraged. The breeds are winter-hardy and can easily survive below-zero temperatures.

It is, however, encouraged to provide some level of insulation to help protect their cones and wattles. It is also good to increase the feed you offer them, as foraging for themselves becomes a little difficult when the snow falls, and the ground hardens.

These breeds are excellent for backyard faring as they can tolerate both confinement and the free-range lifestyle, with the farmer having little to worry about as they are poor at flying away.


The  Plymouth Rock and the Rhode Island Red are excellent chickens to have on the homestead. They can live well with other poultry and animals thanks to their temperament. They are also excellent at finding food for themselves and avoiding danger.

If you are looking to dig your toes into the world of chicken farming, these two breeds are an excellent choice as they will rabble you to know the ins and outs of caring for a flock as you get better with time. Though not the best for large-scale egg or meat production, they are an excellent alternative to small-scale chicken domestication.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *