Barred Rock vs Plymouth Rock

Barred Rock vs Plymouth Rock: Which Chicken is Right for You?



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Today I’ll be comparing the Barred Rock and Plymouth Rock chicken breeds.

These dual-purpose birds are two of the most popular options for backyard flocks, but which one is the best fit for your homestead?

Well let me tell ya, after years of raising both breeds I’ve really come to understand their differences.

Read on and I’ll break it all down in detail so you can make the right choice!


Barred Rock vs Plymouth Rock

When it comes to looks, these chickens have some clear distinctions that make them easy to spot. Barred Rocks have those clean, bold black and white stripes running horizontally across their bodies. The bars are neat and tidy, kind of like a professional business suit.

Their tails are short and stout too. Plymouth Rocks on the other hand have a scrappier mix of black and white splotches all over the place. They look a bit disheveled, like they just rolled out of bed! Their tail feathers are longer and fluffier too.

Up close you’ll notice differences in those feather patterns. The black stripes on Barred Rocks are perfectly straight and evenly spaced.

Those chooks always look sharp. But Plymouth Rocks have swirls and splashes with no real pattern or organization. Some chickens even have a splash of color around their faces that looks like messy war paint. Their feathers also tend to be a bit fluffier overall than the leaner Barred Rocks.

When it comes to size, on average Barred Rocks are a medium-sized chicken while Plymouth Rocks lean more towards large-bodied. The roosters can really bulk up too, with their broad chests and tall stature. In my experience, Plymouth Rock roos like to show off those big stately frames!

So in summary – if you want orderly stripes, go for that Barred Rock look. But if messy personality is more your style, Plymouth Rocks got you covered there too with their random splotches and shaggy feathers.


Barred Rock vs Plymouth Rock

These breeds also vary a lot in terms of temperament. My Barred Rocks are as neat and proper as their feather patterns – very calm and mature chickens. They don’t easily startle or fray their nerves over silly stuff. I’ve even seen those chooks snoozing through rainstorms without a care! But they can be a little snooty or stuck up sometimes too.

Plymouth Rocks on the other hand have much bolder personalities. They are social, spunky birds always looking for fun and games. These girls love to flock together clucking and gossiping. They’re curious about everything too, sometimes getting themselves into mischief!

My three Plymouth Rock hens like to wait by the back door at feeding time, ruffling their feathers impatiently. If I’m late with the scratch they’ll complain loudly until I show up.

The roosters are no different – my Barred Rock rooster keeps to himself mostly while strutting around important-like. But the Plymouth Rock rooster is a real showboat, crowing loudly from the top of the coop and chasing any chickens that get too close to his flock of hens. That guy has some serious drama!

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So if you want laid back nature, go Barred Rock. But if spunky attitudes and personality are more your speed, Plymouth Rocks will surely provide the entertainment.


Barred Rock vs Plymouth Rock

When it comes to egg-laying abilities, both breeds are praised as great dual-purpose chickens suitable for both eggs and meat. But they do have some differences worth considering.

My Barred Rock hens lay around 4-5 medium to large brown eggs per week throughout the seasons, including winter.

Those eggs are pretty standard store-bought size. The barred gals also tend to be excellent broody hens, eagerly setting on nests of eggs each spring. A few have gotten over-protective of chicks, chasing this boy away from “their babies” with angry clucks!

My Plymouth Rock hens lay slightly fewer eggs, around 3-4 per week on average. But their eggs are noticeably bigger – I’m talking whoppers close to extra large or jumbo sizes! Great for baking.

However, these girls aren’t such natural mothers. Even when persuaded to sit on a nest, they get easily distracted and abandon ship. Sometimes the barred chickens have to take over raising mixed flocks of barred-Plymouth chicks.

Both breeds grow out well too. I’ve enjoyed baking, frying and stewing meat from late teen pullets and roosters of both breeds. Their breasts are nice and meaty. So if egg production is most important, go for consistent barred layers. But if you want fewer very large eggs, Plymouth Rocks exhilarate.


Barred Rock vs Plymouth Rock

When it comes to mothering abilities, the Barred Rock really shines. These gals just adore sitting on nests of eggs come springtime. They’ll nestle down for 3 full weeks, only getting up briefly to eat, drink and poop before returning dutifully to the nest.

I’ve seen some Barred Rock hens get so broody they’ll sit on dragon eggs if you let them! You’ll rarely need to use an artificial incubator since your barred ladies take care of hatching duties so willingly.

The Plymouth Rocks in my experience make for inconsistent sitters in comparison. Some will nest eagerly like the barred gals, but others could care less about babies. And the ones who do brood often end up distracted or restless after just a few days of sitting tight.

They seem to tire of the whole mothering gig more easily. A few have even stepped right on top of newly hatched chicks in their impatience to escape the nest! So while Plymouths can work, Barreds definitely have more patience and commitment as future mamas.

Foraging Ability

When it comes to hunting and gathering their own food, Barred Rocks truly excel. These chickens are absolute pros at digging up grubs, worms and insects in your pasture.

I’ve watched barred gals perform meticulous scratching and pecking, unearthing fat beetles and spiders with each jab of their beaks. Nothing escapes their keen eyes as they efficiently comb turf.

And come winter, Barred Rocks stay active foragers even in snow – I’ve seen them poke around under several inches to sniff out snacks. No bug or frozen morsel stands a chance against their determined scratching!

Plymouth Rocks forage well too when motivated. But they seem less intense investigators than the Barreds, sometimes getting distracted by daydreams instead of zeroing in with laser focus. And in colder snaps, these puffier chickens favor huddling to keep warm versus braving the elements on empty bellies like their barred cousins persistently do.

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So if self-sufficiency is a priority, I give the serious-minded Barred Rocks higher marks for natural hunting skills across any climate or season.

Broiler Qualities

Whether picking birds for meaty breasts or just pet purposes, both breeds grow out well for table fare or backyard enjoyment. That said, Barred Rocks do have a slight edge in terms of achieving ideal broiler weights a bit quicker and more efficiently.

By 16 weeks, my barred cockerels consistently hit processing weights right around 4-5 pounds dressed. Their breasts are nicely rounded and the drumsticks thick. The dressed carcasses have yielded close to 65% of their live body weights too, with tender, flavorful meat that cooks up moist and delicious.

It takes Plymouth Rock cockerels a couple weeks longer on average to pack on similar heft at the 18 week mark. And their carcasses tend nearer 60% dress out percentages, with occasionally less well-marbled flesh that can toughen up if not harvested at precisely the right moment. So while both breeds fry, stew or roast up great, Barred Rocks fit the rapid growth model that many folks seek in meat birds just a bit better in my experience.

Cold Hardiness

When discussing resilience to frigid temps, I have to again give top marks to the workhorse Barred Rock breed. These chickens demonstrate near-superhero levels of ruggedness in challenging conditions.

I once had to evacuate my property for a couple weeks of subzero temps. Upon return, I found my single shed-dwelling Barred Rock and her brood of chicks had survived entirely on their own stash of spilled feed with no incident. These resilient gals didn’t miss a beat.

My Plymouth flock had hidden away safely indoors before the cold snap. But on nights dipping into the low 20s, I’ve noticed those fluffier feathers start shivering violently no matter how well-insulated the coop. My barred ladies remain stoically perched, barely noticing the cold.

Barred Rocks seem designed by nature to withstand any hardship of climate with aplomb. These birds work tirelessly even in blizzards, proving their unstoppable grit time and again. If extended periods of bitter weather are normal for your area, count on the consistently hardy and cold-proof Barred Rock breed.

Parasite Resistance

When it comes to natural defenses against external parasites like lice, mites and ticks, both the Barred Rock and Plymouth Rock are considered sturdy breeds that hold their own. However, I’ve noticed some indications that the Barred Rock may have a slight edge.

My barred ladies seem less attractive to bugs in the first place. Their barred feather patterns may help camouflage vulnerable skin better than the splotchy look of Plymouth Rocks. And the oily secretion from their preening glands appears to have a stronger protective quality, leaving fewer hitchhikers behind on their glossy coats.

While I regularly check and treat all flocks, I’ve encountered far lower traces of poultry pests like northern fowl mites on my Barred Rocks over the years. The tough birds almost seem to deter parasites all on their own through natural immunity or defenses in their plumage structure. So for customers seeking highly resilient birds, the Barred could provide one less variable to worry about.

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Heat Tolerance

While Plymouth and Barred Rocks typically thrive in moderate climates, the latter breed demonstrates superior tolerance to high summer temperatures in my experience.

On extreme 90+ days, my Barred ladies tend to pant less than the puffier Plymouths and stay generally drier beneath their feathers too. I’ve noticed their combs and wattles flush a darker red, signaling uncompromised circulation even in oppressive heat waves.

The Barred Rock’s calmer temperament may also aid them physiologically. Less behavioral stress leads to steadier core body temps even when nature turns up the thermostat. Their feathers also lay flatter and sleeker for optimal ventilation during sweat-inducing months.

While vigilance in providing shade, cool water and wet sand baths is important for all chickens during heat spikes, the sturdy Barred Rocks clearly show superior adaptation to scorching sun without missing a beat in their production or spirits. Nothing stops these birds from thriving under challenging temps!

Barred Rock vs Plymouth Rock: An Ultimate Chicken Comparison Cheat Sheet

Barred Rock Plymouth Rock
Appearance Neat black and white bars Random black and white splotches
Size Medium Large
Personality Calm and serious Fun-loving and bold
Egg Production Consistent layers of medium eggs Fewer but larger eggs
Broodiness Highly broody, excellent mothers Inconsistent broodiness, weaker mothering skills
Foraging Ability Driven foragers anytime, anywhere Less intense foragers, prefer shelter in bad weather
Cold Hardiness Very cold-hardy, thrive in any climate Prefer moderate climates, need shelter in extremes
Heat Tolerance Handle heat very well with little stress Need more attention in extreme heat
Parasite Resistance Naturally resilient to lice/mites Susceptible without preventative measures
Broiler Qualities Reach market weight quickly efficiently Take longer to reach same weights
Meat Tendernees Very tender and moist flesh Can be tougher if not processed properly
Visual Appeal Clean lines and patterns are striking Messier coloration looks more “home-spun”
Cost Inexpensive and readily available Can be more costly to acquire
Trainability Willing but independent thinkers More willing to bond and please owners
Noise Level Calm and quiet birds Louder and more chatty/social
Rare Qualities N/A Some rare color variations exist
Weight Gain Consistent daily muscle/fat increase More variable daily body changes
Overall Health Very hardy and disease resistant Need preventative TLC in poor conditions
Temperament Calm, cool-headed, mature Energetic, comical, spirited
Broodiness Consistency Extremely consistent maternal ability More variable brooding interest/skills
Suitability for Novice Owners Low-maintenance and adaptable Need more vigilance in extremes
Overall Resilience Near-superhero level toughness! Hardy but prefer average conditions
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