Barred Rock chickens are a variety of the Plymouth Rock breed, developed in New England in the early 1800s. They are considered a dual-purpose bird, good for laying as well as meat. Raising Barred Plymouth Rock chickens is not complicated, but it does require quite a bit of preparation. If you prepare a proper home for your chickens and are attentive to their needs, you will be rewarded with fresh eggs, delicious meat and wonderful companionship.
Things You'll Need
- Prefabricated or homemade chicken coop
- Water system
- Chicken feed
- Bedding material
- Heat lamp
Check with your local city government to make sure that chickens are permitted in your area. This is especially important if you don’t live in a rural area.
Build or purchase a chicken coop. The coop should provide shelter from the elements as well as protection from predators. You will need about 2 to 3 square feet of space inside for each chicken. Prefabricated coops and building plans are often available at feed stores, or you can find building plans in books about farming and animal husbandry.
Provide plenty of nesting material for your birds. Pine shavings work best for flooring.
Fence in the area around the outside of the coop to create your chicken yard. Chickens require at least 4 square feet of outside space each, so take that into account when planning out your space. The area should include some gravel and some grass.
Purchase a feeder and a water system. Chickens need to have ready access to feed and fresh water at all times. Water is especially important in warmer climates, and it must be kept free of bacteria and algae. Besides regular chicken feed, which is available from a feed store, chickens also enjoy greens, fruits and vegetables.
Find a reputable source for purchasing Barred Rock chicks or pullets. It is extremely difficult to tell the gender of a chick, so if you are raising chickens for their eggs, purchase pullets to be sure that you get females. If you are keeping a flock of chickens, you should never have more than one cock, as they are very territorial.
Build or purchase a brooder and a heat lamp if you are purchasing chicks. A large cage meant for hamsters or guinea pigs would work quite well.
Set the heat in the brooder at 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and reduce it by 5 degrees each week. Once the chicks are about 18 to 20 days old, they will no longer need the heat lamp during the day. As soon as they are big enough, they can be moved outside to the coop.
Spend time with your chickens once they are in their new home. Barred Rock chickens are known for their sociability. If you spend time with them each day, they will accept you as one of the flock and feel comfortable around you.
Provide an occasional change of scenery if possible. Chickens are inquisitive and can become easily bored. If you have the space, invest in a mobile chicken coop. There are many different versions of these, but they usually hold about 6 to 8 hens and can be wheeled or dragged to different areas of the yard.
Check for eggs every day. Barred Rocks can lay about 5 to 6 eggs per week, so you will need to clear the nests every day.