Saturday, May 18Food Security Matters

Rhode Island Red Chicken Breed Profile and Characteristics

Rhode Island Red is arguably the most popular American heritage breed in the Philippines. Because of its high demand, many fake RIRs are starting to pop up swindling unsuspected customers. In this article, we are going to explain in detail what you need to know about RIR in the Philippines so the next time you buy you can avoid getting ripped off.

Brief History

The Rhode Island Red was developed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the second half of the nineteenth century, by selective breeding of birds of Oriental origin such as the Cochin, Java, Malay, and Shanghai with brown Leghorn birds from Italy. The characteristic deep red plumage is derived from Malay. The State of Rhode Island celebrated the centenary of the breed in 1954 when the Rhode Island Red Monument was raised at the William Tripp farm, in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

The name of the breed is ascribed either to Isaac Champlin Wilbour of Little Compton at an unknown date, or to Mr. Jenny of the Southern Massachusetts Poultry Association in 1879 or 1880. In 1891 Nathaniel Borden Aldrich exhibited some as “Golden Buffs” in Rhode Island and Philadelphia; they were first exhibited under the present name in 1895. They were previously also known as “John Macomber fowls” or “Tripp fowls.”


The first breed standard was drawn up in 1898, and was approved by the American Rhode Island Red Club in Boston in 1901; the single-comb variety was admitted to the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1904, and the rose-comb in 1906. In 1925, the Rhode Island Red Club of America donated funds for a monument to the Rhode Island Red in Adamsville, and the monument is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Another monument was erected by the state in 1988 commemorating the farmers who grew them commercially in Little Compton; it is located about a mile south of Adamsville.

Rhode Island Red Physical Characteristics

The color of the plumage of the traditional Rhode Island Red ranges from a lustrous deep red to almost black; the tail is mostly black. The comb may be either single or rose-comb; it is vivid red, as are the earlobes and wattles. Birds have red-orange eyes, reddish-brown beaks, and yellow feet and legs, often with some red on the toes and sides of the shanks. Industrial strains may be smaller and paler in color than the old-type breed.

Due to industrialization, the color, and quality of Rhode Island Red, today vary depending on the source and quality. We will explain in detail below.

  • Country of origin: United States
  • Use: dual-purpose



  • Standard: 3.9 kg (8.6 lb)
  • Bantam: 965 g (34.0 oz)


  • Standard: 3 kg (6.6 lb)
  • Bantam: 850 g (30 oz)
  • Skin color: yellow
  • Egg color: brown
  • Comb type: single or rose
  • Egg: 200–300 brown eggs per year

Is there the US and UK Type Rhode Island Red?

The term “UK RIR” and US RIR” has been the biggest misconception among people who have a lack of knowledge. As its history tells, RIR is purely an American breed and anything that comes from the UK originally comes from the US.

The narrative about this false claim is that, during the earlier times of RIR in the Philippines, someone from the US brought some of the first Rhode Island Reds. It became popular. Years later, another person from the UK brought Rhode Island Reds but with slightly different colors. In order to distinguish his product from the first one that came from America, he labeled it “UK”, hence the RIR UK and RIR US terms were born.


There are two main types of Rhode Island Reds and depending on one’s preference, the quality of the bird always depends on colors.  The original exhibition type and production type which is broken into sub-categories. As mentioned, there is no US or UK type. There is only one source and that is America but there are several quality types based on color and conservation.

A. Exhibition or Show Type

According to Cackle Hatchery, exhibition-type RIR is extremely rare in the US. Cackle Hatchery, one of the leading hatcheries for heritage breeds in the US has been doing business since 1936 but it was only last year (2019) that they started breeding the original exhibition type RIR due to the shortage of parent stocks. The exhibition type is the pure heritage Rhode Island Red.


Its former website before the September 2020 update says:

“Production Type Rhode Island Reds soon became the norm, while the show type grew increasingly rare. In 2019, Cackle Hatchery® began breeding the original exhibition type. We acquired our start from Rhode Island Red breeder Ruth Lee Caron. Her strain came from Grand Master Exhibitor Lloyd Flanagan of Texas. Flanagan has worked with his bloodline for more than 30 years and was inducted into the Rhode Island Red Club Hall of Fame in 2001. His bloodline maintains the original rich color, brick shape, docile nature, and broodiness. Exhibition Rhode Island Reds are popular in showrooms and often appear on Champion Row.”

The original exhibition type has a dark and shiny mahogany plumage and is a bit smaller compared to the hatchery or production type.

Is the so-called show/exhibition type RIR sold in the Philippines legit?

Well, it depends on how you scrutinize the bird. There might be some legit but there are also fake ones. We’ve seen several birds sold online claiming to be show type but upon taking a closer look, some have white legs and shanks, and some are mixed of RIR and Black Australorp giving the chicken very dark plumage.

The photo below is an example of a standard show-type RIR. Show-type RIR’s plumage can be darker than this but not too dark.  If you are offered a show-type RIR, you may refer to this photo as a reference.

B. Hatchery or Production Type

This type of Rhode Island Red falls into many confusing categories and this is where many people who have insufficient knowledge of the bird fall into traps. Let’s explain each of the categories.

The production or industrial type Rhode Island Red is very controversial and is always the subject of arguments among buyers, sellers, and breeders.

The following is what we have here in the Philippines.

1. Standard Production Type RIR

The photo below is the standard production type RIR that we can find in most breeders’ backyards. Although similar in color most of the time confused with Production Red,  Production type RIRs are different from Production Red.

2. Dominant Red (D853)

Dominant CZ D853 is another type of RIR production type only that it has its own label that specifically applies to the birds bred by Dominant CZ. Dominant Red’s parents are both production-type Rhode Island Reds.

3. Low-Quality Mahogany

If you think all RIR dark mahogany is of high quality, you are wrong. The following is an example of low-quality dark mahogany RIR. Notice the uneven plumage, untidy, and monotone. There are many breeders here in the Philippines that sell this type of bird asking for a higher cost than the standard production type RIR. Although this type of RIR can cost more than the Dominant Red or the standard production type, it cannot be compared to the next type.

4. High-Quality Dark Mahogany

High-quality dark mahogany RIR is a borderline show type RIR only that they are bigger and lighter in color. The photo below is a standard high-quality dark mahogany RIR available in the Philippines. Many of the breeders who own this type of bird offer them as show type and since there is no bird show in the Philippines, it’s okay. If this type of bird enters the American show, it will mostly qualify.

5. Bantam Rhode Island Reds

Most of the chicken breeds have bantams so it is not unusual for RIR to have bantams as well. There are not so many RIR bantams in the Philippines and they are not popular so we leave them in peace.


Although we explain above the best we can, the beauty is still in the eyes of the beholder. It is always the preference of the buyer what type of chicken he wants to buy. But given the above examples and explanation, there is no excuse for getting scammed if you consider the above details seriously.

All types of Rhode Island Reds mentioned above are valuable. Whether you have show type, production type, low or high-quality mahogany, they are all the same and need care. Don’t get disappointed because your chicken does not have a higher value than those of others. Embrace what you have and love your animals.

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