Rhode Island Reds are easily one of the most popular breeds of chicken among farmers in the United States, and for a good reason!
They’re known for their incredible egg production but are also considered dual-purpose birds, making decent broilers.
Rhode Island Reds grow steadily in the first nine weeks of life, starting at less than 0.1 pounds and growing to 1-1.25 pounds by the end of week nine. They continue to grow quickly, averaging about .5 pounds per month until around 40 weeks, at which point their weight gain slows significantly.
Cockerels and pullets grow at different rates and will not be equal in weight by the time they reach one year of age.
Keep reading to learn more about the growth rate of Rhode Island Red birds of both sexes.
How Quickly Do Rhode Island Reds Grow?
Rhode Island Reds aren’t renowned as fast growers.
They aren’t generally thought of as broilers, and they don’t grow at the rapid rate most broilers do.
Rhode Island Red chicks tend to weigh less than 0.1 pounds at hatching time.
By the time they turn one year old, hens will most likely weigh more than 5 pounds, and roosters may weigh up to seven pounds!
Like people, birds tend to grow significantly faster at the beginning of their lives than they do later.
The first year, in particular, is extremely important for chickens.
There are several different ways to measure your birds’ growth.
We can look at major milestones, body growth, and food intake.
Let’s start with the most basic of these growth parameters: Average body weight.
Growth in body weight is pretty easy to measure, and you’ll probably notice major changes without ever actually weighing your birdies.
Weight Gain in Rhode Island Reds Over Time
Below is a chart examining the average weight of cockerels (males) and pullets (females) over their first year.
|Weeks of Age||Male Weight (in pounds)||Female Weight (in pounds)|
|12||2 – 2.25||1.75 – 2|
|30||~5||4.25 – 4.5|
|36||5.5 – 5.75||5 – 5.25|
|42||6.25 – 6.5||~5.5|
|52 (1 year)||~7||5.5 – 6|
For the first handful of weeks, both male and female Rhode Island Red baby chicks grow at about the same rate.
It’s in the next six weeks or so when they begin to grow at different paces.
Many chicken owners report the 9-12 week interval as being especially important as Rhode Island Reds tend to experience a big spike in weight gain during this period.
If your birds aren’t growing at exactly this rate, don’t worry.
There are a lot of contributing factors to a chick’s growth rate.
Determining growth in body weight isn’t even necessarily the most important measure of how well your chicks are doing.
There are milestones your birds will hit in the first year of their lives, which are equally helpful (if not more so) in telling you how well your flock is doing.
Milestones for Rhode Island Reds
For infamous laying hens such as these, a huge milestone is the first egg!
Rhode Island Reds usually start laying at around 18-20 weeks.
This is a pretty normal starting time compared with other laying breeds.
It’s early compared to others, though.
Some layers don’t start until about 22 weeks.
Remember, your Rhode Islands won’t immediately start laying nearly every day.
Like other pullets, they lay small eggs at first and start with lower egg production.
They will begin to impress you before long, though.
At full maturity, Rhode Island Reds lay up to 300 eggs annually.
They’re hardy birds who lay even in the winter and keep it up for 4-5 years.
Cockerels grow their wattles around 6-8 weeks, so there’s another milestone to watch out for!
Meanwhile, pullets will grow their combs much later.
Rhode Island Reds are usually single comb birds, though there are some rose combs out there as well.
What Makes Rhode Island Reds Grow More Slowly?
Several possible reasons your birds aren’t growing as quickly as expected.
For one thing, Rhode Island Reds are a special bird.
There are both commercial strains and heritage strains available.
Heritage strains tend to grow more slowly and often have lower egg production.
Commercial strains of Rhode Island Reds are often bred as dual-purpose crosses, meaning they are intended as both layers and meat birds.
Further Reading: Rhode Island Red chickens as meat birds
These birds are likely to grow more quickly and have a higher end weight when they reach full maturity.
Be sure to know what kind of birds you get when you purchase from a hatchery or breeder.
Nutrition is also crucial to a growing bird’s health.
Get a good starter feed for your chicks!
If for some reason, you decide to raise your Rhode Island Reds primarily for meat, you will need to get a feed with a high protein percentage.
Adding extra protein into your birds’ diet helps them grow faster and even improves egg production.
There are other nutrients to consider if your laying hens need some extra help, though.
Calcium, for example, is a critical part of a female chicken’s diet.
It impacts the egg production of chickens like the Rhode Island Red, so be sure to provide your birdies with their needed calcium!
Regarding the average body weight of your chickens, insufficient protein is more likely to cause problems with the growth of chickens.
This being said, body growth also depends on the other factors we talked about before.
So, don’t jump to conclusions and rush to change your birds’ diet.
Heritage Rhode Island Reds have different standards than commercial strains.
Climate sometimes also plays a part in the growth of chickens.
Control the climate in your coop as well as possible to help your birds grow healthy and strong.
About Adult Rhode Island Reds
When your Rhode Island Reds reach full maturity, they will be truly beautiful birds.
The roosters’ physical traits include large wattles and larger bodies compared with their female counterparts, green and black feathering in their tails, and red feathering on their bodies.
Meanwhile, females tend to have single red combs, though there is the occasional rose comb hen and deep red feathers.
As adult chickens, hens will weigh up to 6.5 pounds, and roosters will weigh up to 8.5 pounds.
Further Reading: Rhode Island Red Hens: Do They Do Broody?