Rhode Island Reds

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Exhibition Poultry

Breed: Rhode Island Red
Temperament: Hens docile, roosters can be aggressive
Cost: $80
Lifespan: 5 years
Maintenance: Medium
Recommended for: Enthusiasts, backyarders

Rhode Island Reds emerged in the 1890s in the Boston-Massachusetts-Rhode Island area of the USA, mainly to fill a need for a dual-purpose fowl – a good layer as well as good on the table. Its popularity probably peaked between the wars. Local breeders believe we have among the best exhibition Rhode Island Reds in the world. These of course are ornamental fowls, as distinct from the egg and meat production type of Rhode Island Red.


Rhode Island Reds appear large but are classed as a medium-sized bird with rich dark red-brown plumage and some green-black tones. They should have yellow skin.


Roosters can be aggressive, although more responsible breeders are selecting to improve temperament. Hens generally are docile and make good sitters.

Egg laying

Owners say the Rhode Island Red would lay about 280 eggs a year compared to a good commercial fowl which would lay about 300 eggs. They say about two thirds of the eggs are brown.


These birds have a reputation of being one of the hardiest breeds and are good doers. While they live around five years, hens lay well for only three. Regular worming and vaccinations required.


Breeders recommend a good commercial crumble (processed feed) supplemented by mulled oats, sunflower seeds, grits and greens.

Space and local government

Before buying your birds, it’s important to check with your local council about the rules regarding the keeping of poultry. Poultry need a secure pen and a weatherproof and predator-proof shed.

Ideal owner

Rhode Island Reds can be difficult to breed to exhibition standard, and as a result, many are kept by specialist breeders. Backyarders seeking a high-egg producer will often buy a Rhode Island Red-cross.

Further information

Rhode Island Club of Australia
Secretary: Kim George
13 Cowper Street
Crookwell, NSW, 2583
Phone: (02) 4832 1070 John List
Publicity Officer
Phone: (02) 4677 1331