Scroll down for information on the Rhode Island Red

The Rhodebar

Great Britain
Recognised by The Poultry Club in 1952
 Originally created independently 
 by seperate breeders in
Essex & Sussex

Essex - Brussbar & Rhode Island Red
Sussex - Barred Rock & Rhode Island Red

Soft Feather Heavy Breed

Average Weight:
Cock 7½lb
Hen 6lb

Ring Size:
Cock - 22mm
Hen - 18mm

The Rhodebar is an extremely rare breed, it was originally created from the Barred Plymouth Rock and the Rhode Island Red (see below) in the 1940's and belongs to the small group of breeds known as 'Autosexing Breeds'. It is a heavy breed which should have all the characteristics of the Rhode Island Red, it was created as a utility laying breed with dual purpose qualities; or perhaps more simply an autosexing version of the Rhode Island Red itself. The Poultry Club of Great Britain approved a Breed Standard  for the Rhodebar in 1952, though it has never been popular as a show breed, and like the other Autosexing breeds is now rarely seen.

Because of the importance of the Rhode Island Red as a utility breed, and the the interest in autosexing breeds during the 1940's, there were attempts to establish the Rhodebar, or 'Redbar' as it was also known, in several parts of the world. The University of British Columbia in Vancouver made the first cross between utility strains of Barred Plymouth Rock and Rhode Island Red and by 1947/8 had established the Rhodebar, but unfortunately 20% of the chicks could not be reliably sexed at day-old; ten years later there were still 2% of all chicks that could not be sexed at day old. At day old the male chicks are yellow and the females more golden with some brown markings down their backs and an eye-line.

In Britain several independent breeders are known to have created the Rhodebar. In 1947 two breeders in Essex made a strain of 'Redbars' from a cross between the Brussbar and the Rhode Island Red; whilst in Sussex another breeder, Mr B. De. H. Pickard, used the Barred Plymouth Rock and the Rhode Island Red to create his Rhodebars, and continued to breed them for almost 20 years, having gained standardisation in 1952. The intention was that the laying ability of the Rhodebar should be equal to that of the best Rhode Island Reds, and in some instances this was achieved; but of course so much was dependent on the abilities and qualities of the strain of Rhode Island Red used. Of the few Rodebars that still exist in Britain it is not known whether they are descended from the 'Essex' or 'Sussex' strain, or are indeed the result of another cross though due to the lack of interest in the breed the last is rather questionable. 

I managed to obtain 6 Rhodebar eggs from a 'pet breeder', but the resultant chicks were impossible to sex and had several genetic defects and were culled; I had intended to breed back to my existing RIRs. I then attempted to  re-create the Rhodebar utilising my existing Welbar and Utility Rhode Island Reds, and whilst I succeded in breeding birds of Rhodebar appearance in both sexes, the autosexing was very unreliable and the breeding programme discontinued after 5 years.

In all respects other than colour and markings the Rhodebar should resemble a Rhode Island Red. The cock is a very handsome chap indeed giving the overall impression of being red and white barred on the body except for the tail which shows black and white barring, though in reality there is black and grey colouring included in the hackle and saddle hackle. The Rhodebar hen is very similar to a Rhode Island Red hen with slight, almost indiscernible, barring;and the overall effect is not dissimilar to some of the hybrid commercial layers of Rhode Island Red descent.

The Breed Standard describes the appearance of the breed, however it MUST be remembered that it was developed as a utility breed and its productivity should take precedence to show characteristics.

The Rhodebar Breed Standard

The Poultry Club of Great Britain
Breed Standard
for the

Carriage: Upright and graceful.

Type: Body large, fairly deep, broad and long. Back broad, long and somewhat horizontal in outline. Breast broad, full and well rounded. Wings carried well up, the bows and tips covered by breast feathers and saddle hackle. Tail rather small, rising slightly from the saddle, the sickle of medium length, well spread and nicely curved, the coverts being sufficiently
abundant to cover the stiff feathers.

Head: Strong, but not thick. Beak moderately curved, short and stout. Eyes large and bright. Comb single, medium size, straight, upright, well set on, with well-defined serrations, and free from side sprigs. Face smooth. Ear-lobes of fine texture, well developed and pendant. Wattles to correspond with size of comb and moderately rounded.

Neck: Of medium length and profusely covered with feathers flowing over the shoulders, but not too loosely carried.

Legs and feet: Legs wide apart and of medium length, stout and strong and free from feathers. Thighs large with well rounded shanks of medium length. Toes four, strong, straight and well spread.

Plumage: Of silky texture, free from coarse or excessive feather.

Handling : Firm with abundance of muscle.

The general characteristics are similar to those of the male, allowing for the natural sexual differences.

Plumage, Male: Hackle deep red-gold barred, with centres black and grey-white barred, the black centre portions rather longer than the grey-white; the front of the cape showing less black, the feathers towards the tips of the cape lying on the back showing wider black and grey-white barring. Wing primaries, lower web red-gold, faintly barred, upper grey and white barred, slightly gold tinted; secondaries, the whole alternately black, white and gold barred, lower web showing more gold; flight coverts very bright red-gold and white barred, tips red-gold. Wing bows very brilliant chestnut red and gold barred. Tail, including sickles, uniform black and white barring from tip to base, including the shaft. Tips black. Saddle hackle deed red-gold and grey-white and narrower black barring towards the tips. Back and saddle deep red-gold barred, with occasional black bars towards the end of the feathers. Undercolour light creamy buff. Breast uniformly barred, deep red-gold and creamy white and black.

Plumage, Female : Hackle deep buff red with bright chestnut edges, each feather with deep buff, gold, black and white narrow barring, the barring becoming narrower as it approaches the lower cape feathers. Tail feathers black with reddish tinge. Wing primaries, upper web red-buff, lower black; secondaries buff-red. Remainder, general surface dark buff-red barred with buff and buff-red, the tips of the feathers of the lighter colour. Undercolour creamy buff-red, as deep as possible. Quills yellow.

In both sexes: Beak red-horn or yellow. Eyes orange or red, pupils clearly defined. Comb, face, ear lobes and wattles bright red. Legs and feet bright yellow.

Standard Weights :
Cock:      8½lb (minimum);         Cockerel 8lb .
Hen:       6½lb (minimum);         Pullet 5½lb

Type                                     30
Colour                                  20
Legs                                     10
Condition                             15
Head                                    20
Weight                                   5
                                          100 Points

Serious Defects : Male's comb twisted or falling over. Ear-lobes other than red. Legs other than yellow, orange or light willow. Squirrel or wry tail. Side sprigs on the comb. Eye pupils other than round and clearly defined. Crooked breast or any bodily deformity. 



The Rhode Island Red

USA - 1854
Introduced to Great Britain - 1903
Recognised by The Poultry Club - 1906

William Tripp
Rhode Island, USA

Red Malay
Brown Leghorn
Red Java
Red Cochin

Soft Feather Heavy Breed

Cock 8½ lb
Hen 6 ½ lb

Ring Size:
Cock - 22mm
Hen - 18mm
260 - 300

Egg Colour:
Light brown to brown

The Rhode Island Red is a parent of the Rhodebar and it is important to make frequent backcrosses to Utility Rhode Island Reds in order to retain the vigour, type and utility aspects of the Rhodebar

The Rhode Island Red is a large, heavy breed in a rich chocolate-red colour which still has a reputation as a utilty breed par excellence, it was developed in the first half of the nineteenth century in the New England States of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and is the State Bird of Rhode Island! It was recognised by the  American Poultry Association in 1904; it  quickly spread  around the world and has been a popular breed worldwide since the beginning. The breed was introduced to the British Isles in1903.

In 1903 the Rhode Island White  was introduced; it had been developed by Alonzo Jocoy in Rhode Island since the late 1880's, and was standardised by the  American Poultry Association in 1922.This breed was bred from very different varieties to the Rhode Island Red and never achieved the status and achievement of the Rhode Island Red.

The Rhode Island Red was originated by William Tripp in 1854, he crossed a red Malay-type cock with the farm birds and developed a rose combed 'red fowl' which by 1860 was known as the Red Java. These were subsequently crossed with the Brown Leghorn (for increased laying ability), the Red Cochin (for egg laying and body size), and  the Red Java & Red Malay (for ability to convert food to flesh, and for colour); the birds had either a rose or a single comb. In 1903 the first eggs came into Britain, and in 1904 the Poultry Club of Great Britain approved a Breed Standard for the single comb 'Rhode Island Red', the following year the rose comb variety was standardised as the 'American Red', and finally in 1906  the single and rose comb versions were re-united as the Rhode Island Red with a Breed Standard accepting both the single and the rose comb. The single comb is the most common, and today a Rhode Island Red with a rose comb is a rarity.

During the creation of the breed there was very rigorous selection for laying ability and the production of large brown eggs; even today a good strain of Rhode Island Red is still capable of averaging 260 eggs a year, whilst the very best strains will exceed 300 eggs a year. Over the years the tendency for the birds to go broody has been almost entirely bred out, thus reducing the egg laying 'down time', and has become less weighty; however even today is is still a dual-purpose breed and makes a passable table bird.    During the 1920's the New Hampshire Red was developed from the RIR essentially as a meat bird.

I can remember my Grandfather's commercial flock of RIR in rural Warwickshire in the 1950's, and shared in looking after my Mother's flock in Anglesey in the 1960's. Whilst the breed has become a very popular exhibition variety there are now very few reliable utility strains available, and unfortunately most strains resemble the many red hybrids that have been bred from them rather than the breed itself. After some considerable search we located John Leach's commercial free range flock of 'utility' Rhode Island Reds at Lansdown Poultry Farm near Bath; this strain of Rhodes not only deliver in the nest, but also look like traditional Rhode Island Reds. The birds lay large eggs with shells of a deep tinted to brown colour, they seldom take a day off from laying except during the moult, they are very reliable winter layers, and older birds do lay very large eggs indeed.  What more can one ask for? The hens are inquisitive, friendly and extremely docile, the cocks however are possessive and can be aggressive!

The Rhode Island Red is a very rich dark mahogany red in colour, though the utility strains lack the intensity of colour seen in the show strains. The Poultry Club of Great Britain  Breed Standard classifies the Rhode Island Red as a Heavy Breed, with the typical adult cock weighing in at 8½ lb or more, whilst the hen is about  6½ lb. The Rhode Island Red has been highly developed as a show breed with colour being of utmost importance. Unfortunately, like so many breeds, breeding for the showpen has diminished the utility qualities of the breed, and when looking at the standard one must be aware that this is for the show bird and not the utility bird. Having said that there is no reason on earth why a good utility strain will not almost reach the standard required by the show judge, BUT productivity will always be of more importance in the utility strain than undercolour!

If anyone requires Rhode Island Reds for laying it is important that they obtain stock from a good utility strain rather than from a show strain, otherwise the results in the nest-box could well be very disappointing!

Rhode Island Red Breed Standard

The Poultry Club of Great Britain
Breed Standard
for the
Rhode Island Red



Carriage: Alert, active, and well balanced.

Type: Body deep, broad, and long; the keel bone long,straight, and extending well forward and back, giving the body an oblong look. Back broad, long and in the main nearly horizontal, this being modified by slightly rising curves at the hackle and lesser tail coverts. Saddle hackles of medium length and abundant. Breast broad, deep and carried in a line nearly perpendicular with the base of the beak; at least it should not be carried farther back. Fluff moderately full, but with the feathers carried fairly close to the body; not a Cochin fluff. Wings of good size, well folded and the flights carried horizontally. Tail of medium length, quite well spread, carried fairly well back, increasing the apparent length of the bird. Sickles of medium length, passing a little beyond the main tail feathers. Lesser sickles and tail coverts of medium length and fairly abundant.

Head: Of medium size, carried horizontally and slightly forward. Beak medium in length and slightly curved. Eyes full, bright and prominent. Comb single or rose. The single of medium size, fine texture, set firmly on the head, perfectly straight  and upright, with five even and well defined serrations, those in front and rear smaller than the centre ones, of considerable breadth where it is fixed to the head. The rose of medium size, low, set firmly on the head, the top oval in shape, and the surface covered with small points, terminating in a small spike at the rear. The comb to conform to the general curve of the head. Face smooth and of fine texture. Ear-lobes fairly well developed. Wattles medium and equal in length, moderately rounded and of fine texture.

Neck: but not too loosely feathered. Of medium length, carried slightly forward, and covered with abundant hackle, flowing over the shoulders.

Legs and feet:  Legs well apart. Thighs large, of medium length, well rounded and smooth. Toes, four, of medium length, straight, strong and well spread.

The general characteristics are  similar to those of the male, allowing for the natural sexual differences. The tail, however, should not form an apparent angle with the back, nor must it be met by a rising cushion. It should be a little shorter than medium and quite well spread. Neck hackle should be sufficient, but not too coarse in feather. In the mature hen the back would be described as broad, while in the pullet it would look somewhat narrower in proportion to the length of her body. The curve from the horizontal back to the hackle or tail should be moderate and gradual.

Plumage, Male: The neck red, harmonising with back and breast. Wing primaries, the lower web black and the upper red;
secondaries, the lower web red and the upper black; flight coverts black; wing bow and coverts red. Tail, main feathers, including the sickles,black or greenish-black; coverts mainly black, but they may become russet or red as they approach the saddle. The general surface of the plumage should be a rich brilliant red, except where black is specified. It should be free from shafting, mealy appearance, or brassy effect. Absolute evenness of colour is desired. The bird should be so brilliant in lustre as to have  a glossed appearance. The undercolour and quill of the feather should be red or salmon. With the saddle parted, showing the undercolour at the base of the  tail, the appearance should be red or salmon, not whitish or smoky. Black or  white in the undercolour of any section is undesirable.

Plumage, Female : Neck hackle red, the tips of the lower feathers having black  ticking, but not heavy lacing. The tail should be black or greenish black. In  all sections of the wing the undercolour and quills of the feathers are as in the male. With the remainder of the plumage the surface should be a rich dark, even and lustrous red, but not as brilliant in lustre as the male. It should be free from shafting or mealy appearance. In both sexes, other things being equal, the specimen having the richest undercolour shall receive the award.

In both sexes: Beak red-horn or yellow. Eyes red. Face, comb, wattles and ear-lobes bright red. Legs and feet yellow or  red-horn.

Standard Weights :   Cock 8½ lb       Cockerel 8lb
                                  Hen: 6½ lb       Pullet 5½  lb



Shape, Size, Carriage & Symmetry                         30
Colour (General)                                                      20
Quality & Texture (General)                                     15
Head & Comb                                                          10
Eye Colour                                                               10
Condition                                                                 10
Legs                                                                          5
                                                                              100 points

Serious Defect :
Feather or down on shanks or  feet, or unmistakable indications of feather having been plucked from them. Badly lopped comb, side sprig or sprigs on the single comb. Other than four toes. Entire absence of main tail feathers. Two absolutely white (so-called wall or fish) eyes. Squirrel and wry tail. A feather entirely white that shows in the outer plumage. An ear-lobe showing more than one half of the surface permanently white. (This does not mean the pale ear-lobe, but the enamelled  white.) Diseased specimens, crooked backs, deformed beaks, shanks and feet  other than yellow or red-horn colour. A pendulous crop shall be cut hard. Coarseness. Toes not straight and well spread. Super fitness. Under all disqualifying clauses, the specimen shall have the benefit of the doubt.

Robustness is of vital importance.


alt© John S Harrison