Plymouth Rock chickens
Plymouth Rocks are one of the world's oldest and most successful breeds of poultry. Classified as a dual-purpose breed today's birds are hardy, formidable egg or meat producers and extremely capable broodies. Add to this a wonderful temperament, charming character and beauty, availability in large fowl and miniature bantam versions, and a tendency to frequently win major show awards, one can easily see the attraction of Plymouth Rocks.
Plymouth Rocks: A wonderful chicken breed

Certain colours of Plymouth Rock are extremely popular throughout the world - Barreds, Buffs and Whites being notable examples - whereas others like the Partridge, Blue, or Silver Pencilled are much rarer.

In the UK, USA, and Australia, Barred Plymouth Rocks are often amongst the top show awards, with Buff Plymouth Rock bantams often following suit in England. Large White Plymouth Rocks take many show prizes in the USA. Utility Barred Plymouth Rocks are used in the make-up of many commercial laying Hybrids, whilst White Plymouth Rocks are the female breeders of 95% of the worlds table birds.

Both Plymouth Rock large fowl and miniature bantams are also ideal as pets or as something eye-catching for the garden or farmyard. Good stock of the popular varieties is usually readily available, although always in demand, whilst the rarer colours are definitely worth it if you can track them down!

Who created Plymouth Rocks?

The history of the ‘Plymouth Rock’ as a breed is hard to determine. Whilst it can be deduced that the breed originated in America, there are conflicting historical reports concerning who exactly created the first Plymouth Rocks and also which breeds were used in their creation. The name of the breed gives an indication as to where the breed was created but again this is subject to debate.

The first Plymouth Rocks were ‘barred’ in appearance though the use of the term in this context fails to highlight that their markings only vaguely resembled those we see on the barreds of today - the earliest pictures show they were very coarsely marked with indistinct barring. All the early birds were large fowl.

Early Plymouth Rocks
Early illustration of the Plymouth Rock, showing the original 'barring'
A common theory is that the originator of Plymouth Rocks was Dr.John Bennett, and whilst he exhibited some birds bearing this name at Boston in 1849, a separate strain developed by D. A Upham of Massachusetts (who used Dominique’s in the make up) and exhibited in 1869 are the most probable ancestors. What may have occurred in subsequent years is the mating together of both strains, and possibly another one developed in 1847, resulting in the confusion about who is responsible for originating the breed.

The origins of the other colours are perhaps even more difficult to determine, because they are blurred by the efforts of breeders in the US and England, the latter of whom played a crucial role in improving the initial Plymouth Rocks. Bantamisation is harder yet, largely because of a lack of good historical material, but they actually first appeared in England, as the 1997 American Bantam Association ‘Bantam Standard’ confirms.

Whites undoubtedly developed from barred birds, though it is not generally known they appeared before the buffs. Buffs were originally dark red coloured, rather than soft orange, and the term 'buff'
is most probably derived from their American creator whose surname was ‘Buffington’. English breeders like James Boardman created their own strain of buffs developed from Cochins and Orpington’s, and later mixed these with US birds. Other colours were developed and popularised - some vanished, like golden barred (white barring on buff background) - and bantamisation occurred originally in Britain after 1900.

You can find out more about Plymouth Rock poultry breed history here.

Barred Plymouth Rock
Barred Plymouth Rock
Buff Plymouth Rock
Buff Plymouth Rock
White Plymouth Rock
White Plymouth Rock
Partidge Plymouth Rock
Partridge Plymouth Rock
Silver Pencilled Rock
Silver Pencilled Rock
Columbian Plymouth Rock
Columbian Plymouth Rock
Blue Plymouth Rock
Blue Plymouth Rock
Black Plymouth Rock
Black Plymouth Rock


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