When you picture white farm chickens with bright red combs and yellow beaks happily running amok on a country farm, you are likely imagining something like the White Rock Chicken.
This dual-purpose breed has been a favorite among American farm owners for over a century not just to add extra life and beauty to their barnyard, but also for their excellent egg-laying capabilities and as a source of yummy chicken meat.
Today, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of this popular chicken breed, what kind of commercial poultry products they can make, and their temperament and personality traits. Who knows—maybe by the end of this guide, you’ll want to get your own White Rock Chicken flock!
Historic Origins of the White Rock Chicken
White Rocks are a variety of Plymouth Rock chicken that was first bred in New England in the late nineteenth century. The Plymouth Rock chicken family was so named after the Massachusetts rock where the pilgrim colonies first set foot in the United States in the 1600s.
There are many types of Plymouth Rock chickens. These include Columbian, silver-penciled, barred, blue, and so many more varieties. But one of the most popular kinds of Plymouth Rock birds is the White Rock chicken.
For a while, this chicken breed found itself on the Livestock Conservatory’s Conservation Priority List as a “threatened” species. Thankfully, captive breeding by chicken raisers who loved these white chickens helped bring their population back up. Today, the breed is listed as “recovering.”
One of the biggest legacies of the White Rock chicken is that it’s the ancestor of the Cornish Cross, better known as the quintessential broiler chicken from which we get most of our commercial chicken meat today. Cornish Cross chickens are a hybrid between a Cornish and a White Rock chicken.
How Does a White Rock Chicken Look Like?
When baby White Rock chicks are born, they will have creamy white fuzz and maybe a gray, smoky tinge. Their combs are yellow at first, but later in adulthood, they will turn bright red. Usually, the single comb turning red is a sign that the chicken is ready for egg production.
One of the defining physical attributes of the White Rock chicken is that it has white feathers that have a blindingly pure and bright appearance. This makes their red comb and yellow beak stand out even more.
Their features are simple, but trust us when we say they’re very beautiful to look at. They look pretty much like a traditional model chicken. There’s nothing like watching the picture-perfect view of White Rock chickens frolicking on a happy farm.
Since their feathers are thick and soft, these chickens tend to look fluffier than other chicken breeds. Their undercoat of fluffy feathers protects them from cold temperatures so that they are still active during the winter months.
One downside of having feathers that are white as snow is that they are more easily seen by predators, like cats or hawks. Fortunately, White Rock chickens are quite intelligent and always keep an eye out for predators when they explore free-range.
Check out what a White Plymouth Rock chicken looks like and learn a few more fun facts about this lovely chicken breed through this video:
Poultry Products They Can Produce
Large brown eggs
White Rock chickens are the queens of laying eggs in commercial chicken production. If you buy large brown eggs from your supermarket, there’s a huge chance that they come from White Rocks.
These hens can pop out 4-6 large brown eggs a week. A healthy hen might lay as many as 280-300 eggs per year. You’ll know that your White Rock hens are laying an egg if you see them in a squatting position in their nesting boxes.
White Rock females can start laying eggs at around 5-6 months. After this, they lay eggs for several years, stopping only when they are about four or five years old. Note that as these hens get older, their egg production might decline. Nonetheless, they will still be high-quality and delicious.
Tender, delicious chicken meat
Although White Rocks are most known for egg-laying, these chickens are also terrific as a meat source. Due to their plump and large size, the yield of chicken meat makes for significant portions at dinner—especially the males.
If you butcher your own meat, you’ll be happy to know that White Rock chickens are not at all temperamental and are easy to handle. Because they’re so friendly, they’re an awesome chicken to work with for first-time meat butchers.
White Rock Chicken: Personality and Temperament
1. Docile and easy to handle
White Rock chickens make handling incredibly easy for chicken raisers because of their amiable, docile personality. They don’t mind being picked up and transported by their caregivers, which is a far cry from other chickens that might get nervous and try to fly away if you touch them.
With a White Rock chicken, you don’t have to worry about being pecked at. Those that are handled and cared for from a very young age will be especially trusting and receptive to their human owners. At times, they might even become emotionally attached to their chicken raisers.
That makes this breed an excellent place to start for first-time chicken owners. Children living on a farm will also love having White Rocks as pets.
2. Friendly to other animals
These chickens are also very friendly to other animals on the farm, whether they’re birds or farm dogs. They have a laidback personality that isn’t interested in fighting with other breeds in the flock.
However, sometimes, these chickens can be too friendly—to the point that they get bullied by other chickens. More aggressive breeds might start to pick on them and attack them.
So, always keep an eye on your White Rock chickens. Make sure they only have flock-mates with docile personalities like theirs.
3. Cold-hardy and loves chilly climates
Some chickens are heat-tolerant, and others are cold-hardy. If you like in a cold, chilly city, you’ll be happy to know that White Rock chickens have a very strong hardiness against the cold.
These chickens are bred to be strong enough to withstand cold weather. That way, you don’t have to worry about a decline in egg production even in the winter months.
That said, White Rocks only have a single comb. This makes them more susceptible to frostbite. So, don’t be complacent with these birds just because they’re cold-hardy. Make sure they are still comfortable in their coops in the winter months so that you don’t risk a lack of eggs on the farm.
4. Excellent mothers to their eggs and chicks
White Rock hens make for excellent mothers at the homestead. They’re generally laidback as mothers but may go broody and attentively sit on their eggs once in a while.
Thankfully, these hens’ broodiness doesn’t get overwhelming or violent. They just tend to be protective of their babies sometimes.
How to Get White Rock Chickens
You can get day-old White Rock chicks from any of your trusted hatcheries. Because this chicken is quite common and is a favorite on many farms across the country, it will likely be easy to find.
Contact the hatchery of your choice and ask them about how you can order some chicks. Some hatcheries will have a minimum order you must meet. After checkout, they will give you a ship date so you know when your chicks are on their way to their new home at your farm.
Before the chicks get there, make sure you have set up a brooder for them. You can create this heated box with some cardboard and a lamp. Make sure to line the box with some clean paper towels to keep their environment hygienic and comfortable as they grow.
White Rock chickens make for an awesome backyard flock for any chicken farmer looking for a docile, friendly companion on the farm that can produce delicious eggs and meat. They’re also amazing at staying productive in cold climates and are a breeze to handle, even for beginners.
This superstar chicken breed is a favorite in America today, and we won’t be surprised if it stays a favorite forever. If it is your first time raising chickens, you can start with White Rocks.
Got any more questions about how to care for your White Rock chickens? Leave a comment down below and let’s get the conversation going!