P is for Plymouth


At one time these were the most popular birds in America. Like many breeds, it had its start in the 1800s when a poultry fancier had a type in mind, crossed two existing breeds, and continued to select for certain traits. In this case, the desired bird was calm, meaty, laid plenty of eggs, and would go broody (useful in the days before electric incubators.) You might know this chicken as a Barred Rock, and recognize it by its black and white patterning, but not all Plymouth Rocks have barred feathering. Some are white, others are penciled (imagine a chicken in a brown tweed coat) or Columbian (white with a black necklace.)

By the way, the Plymouth in its name comes from a town in Massachusetts on Cape Cod.

plymouth poem

Edwina and Eleanor were two Plymouth Barred Rocks that lived here for many years. They were ornery and stately. They were not hens that blended meekly in with the flock!


  1. We were given one of these among the freebies a few months ago. I rather like her character. Thinking of purchasing a couple more of them and perhaps a couple Orpingtons to mix in my flock: that should calm down the Rhode Island’s aggressive tendencies down the line. I personally have no problem, but I have seen how the Reds are a bit bullish to the other chickens the way you described.

  2. I have two Barred Rocks and I love them…They are now almost 4 and are two of my original flock of hens….One lays so well that she rivals my Leghorn, even though she is almost 4, but the other has slacked off quite alot, I can recognize their eggs by shape and color….The one that lays so well always molts in late October and does it quickly and she just started back up, she has always layed all winter, but less of course…She is my grand dame…the other is mild, quiet and gentle to all the new hens that I have added..

  3. My Barred Rock is also ornery but not particularly stately. She is an awkward looking bird.Julie did not blend well into our flock easily either but is right in the middle of the pecking order now. She is very particular who gets to roost next to her and free with her pecks and rough pushes to those not in favour. She always lays the largest eggs…so big, they look ridiculous next to her sister`s more normal sized ones. But she has had issues with thin shelled eggs on and off, right from the start.Luckily none have broken inside her and hopefully never will.

  4. Barred Rocks are the only chickens I keep any more. They are quite, compared to the Rhode Island Red and Production Red. They are friendly and keep me company when I am out side. They are reliable egg layers in all Midwest weather. 20 degrees and they are out side in the pen, all puffed up. I plan on getting more in spring for meat.

  5. I love my Barred Rock hen “Betty”. She is tame and is the top hen of the flock. She’s still a daily layer at 18 months. She went broody in March 2014 and hatched out 6 chicks. I kept mom and her 4 daughters that make up my flock of 5. I always have at least one Barred Rock in my flock. Just love them for their color pattern, temperament, and egg production!