You may be looking into new chicken breeds for a number of reasons. Maybe you need more eggs to support your family, or maybe you want to add some variety to your flock. Whatever the reason, there’s plenty to consider when looking at the Red Star.
Modern hybrids like the Red Star chicken may not have centuries of history, but they’re a valuable addition to any fleet. While they’re primarily regarded for high egg production, they’re also great human companions and can make do as a table bird if needed.
Red Star chickens have reliable production, but specialized care is key to a happy, healthy bird. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Red Star chickens.
Red Star Chicken Origin
Like many other sex-link hybrids, Red Stars were the answer to the rising demand for eggs that boomed as society returned to normal after World War II. Heritage breeds had a difficult time meeting these new needs, and selective breeding began to shine.
As a hybrid, the Red Star chicken also goes by many names. These include:
Likewise, there are a number of pure chicken breeds that can create a Red Star chicken. Today, breeders mostly rely on a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Rhode Island White hen, but some may utilize New Hampshire roosters and White Plymouth Rock or Delaware hens.
While it’s not a sure thing, these breeds are most likely to produce the desirable characteristics seen in a Red Star chicken.
Because of the sex-link, you can determine the path of the chickens soon after they hatch. They’re fantastic egg layers and double dip nicely into meat production, making them a popular choice for any backyard farm.
Red Star Chicken Appearance
A major selling point of sex link chickens is how easily you can tell males and females apart right after they hatch. Baby Red Stars are yellow, but males have a lighter color and female chicks bear a reddish or light brown tint.
Red Star hens keep their reddish-brown feathers, while the roosters remain a lighter color with buff accents and a darker tail. Their color as adults varies depending on their sex as well as their parent breeds.
Red Stars do not have a standard for the physical characteristics of the breed, but they seem to check the same boxes. Ultimately, they end up as medium-sized birds (around 6 pounds for hens and 8 pounds for roosters) and keep their light coloring with rusty accents.
Red Star Chicken Temperament
While some chicken breeds have a predictable personality, Red Star chickens can fall anywhere on the spectrum.
In most cases, the temperament of the birds depends on their parents. Hatcheries can have a bit of control over the clutch by being selective with their breeding stock.
Red Star chickens are often territorial, and they actually do better with flock mates of different breeds than they do with other Red Stars. When it comes to humans, all that aggression goes out the window.
Their headstrong nature means that Red Star chickens are great foragers. They can hold their own while roaming free-range, and low fences are just a small obstacle for their strong wings.
Red Star chickens aren’t a great choice for anyone with neighbors sensitive to noise. While some quiet Red Stars exist, they can be pretty chatty and love to cause problems.
Red Star Chicken Egg and Meat Production
A Red Star hen will lay 280 to 360 eggs in a single year, with most sticking close to 300 eggs per year in their prime. Like other hybrids, they start laying their large brown eggs around 18 to 22 weeks.
Most Red Stars live about 5 to 8 years, but production slows significantly during the second or third year. They don’t slow down for cold weather or waste time on broodiness, and they will lay eggs consistently until they reach this point.
While they’re not the biggest bird out there, Red Star chickens are large enough to serve most families. They won’t replace a Thanksgiving turkey, but they’re a good choice for chicken keepers that double dip.
Red Star Chicken Care Requirements
Caring for a chicken boils down to providing the right nutrition and a home well-suited to their personality. For Red Star chickens, this means you’ll need plenty of nutrient rich food and a secure environment for them to roam around.
Keeping them well-fed and happy is essential for limiting the health problems common in Red Star chickens.
Feeding Red Star Chickens
Red Stars have an appetite to rival that of larger chickens, and you should be ready to keep them satisfied.
The first step in this is providing a high-quality commercial feed appropriate for their current stage in life. Red Star chicks need a high-protein starter designed to give them the best start, while pullets and cockerels can grow steadily with a grower formula.
Once they reach maturity, Red Star hens need a layer formula with higher calcium to support their new egg laying processes.
As long as their feed accounts for 90 percent of their daily diet, Red Stars will appreciate any treats and scraps sent their way. Some favorites include:
If offered anything other than an easily digested commercial feed, Red Stars will need grit to help them break down their food. They may pick some up while foraging, but offering a straightforward source is best for peace of mind.
Sheltering Red Star Chickens
Red Stars need at least 4 square feet of space in the coop per bird. Roosts should have 1 foot of space for each chicken to spread out on, and 1 nesting box for every 4 birds is a safe number to start with.
Red Stars aren’t terribly adventurous, but they’re happiest with space to roam and plenty of entertainment.
Because they’re better flyers than other chicken breeds, some prefer to keep them in a covered chicken run. In this situation, the run should be big enough that each Red Star could have at least 10 square feet to itself.
Red Stars confined to a run also need plenty of enrichment to keep them sane. They’ll spend their time playing with puzzles or toys you may find, while introducing fresh fruits and vegetables and live insects can easily enrich their lives.
The best-case scenario would see the chickens roaming free with high fences to keep them safe. Clipping their wings is another option for those with fences easily cleared.
Free-roaming Red Stars are much easier to manage when put in the right environment. They will entertain themselves by exploring and foraging, and the extra space minimizes the opportunity for disputes.
Health Concerns for Red Star Chickens
While Red Stars may miss out on the common genetic issues of their parents, they’re likely to develop problems as a side-effect of their egg-laying capabilities.
The most common issues involve prolapse, peritonitis, and egg binding, but any number of problems can pop up. Providing the correct diet for Red Star chickens will minimize risks, but nothing can eliminate them outright.
Prolapse in Red Star Chickens
Because they’re a high-production breed, Red Star chickens run a higher risk of turning their oviduct inside out. While it’s treatable, the initial instance of prolapse automatically increases the chance of recurrence.
Milder cases may allow you to return the tissue at home, but a veterinarian is needed to prescribe the necessary medication. Surgery can solve more severe prolapse and possibly prevent it from recurring, but euthanasia may be the only option for some.
Peritonitis in Red Star Chickens
Sometimes a chicken may drop a yolk into the oviduct prematurely, introducing loose material to the region. This is irritating to start, but it also skyrockets the chance of infection in the area.
When caught early and treated properly, egg yolk peritonitis is not fatal. Red Star chickens will not hide their discomfort, and owners should respond by boosting hydration and seeking veterinary care.
Egg Binding in Red Star Chickens
Egg binding can happen to any breed, but the high quantity of eggs they lay increases the risk for Red Star chickens. One of these eggs may get stuck in their oviduct without warning, but the risk climbs when Red Stars eat an imbalanced diet or over-consume.
An egg-bound Red Star will not run around like normal, and they may show signs of discomfort as they try to work around the stuck egg. A warm bath is helpful in relaxing the bird and helping them pass the egg, but surgery may be the only option for some.
Red Star chickens are one of the highest egg producing breeds available, and they’re a nice addition to any flock. As long as they’re given the proper care, these hybrids will serve dutifully as long as they live.
If you’re considering a Red Star chicken, remember:
- Their temperament is mostly dictated by their parents
- They can fly better than other breeds
- Proper nutrition is key in keeping them healthy
Do you need help to decide whether Red Stars are right for your flock? Let us know any questions or concerns you may have, and we’ll point you in the right direction.