Several American breeders in the 1850’s took a page from the Sussex playbook and started crossing many varieties of chickens to produce larger, heavier birds that would be more suitable for meat. Dominiques were crossed with large Asiatic birds, selected for size and growth rate, and the Barred Plymouth Rock emerged in the 1860’s.
This first American breed was a big success with farmers because they were so productive. A nice feature of Barred Rocks is that their dominant color genes (S and B) cover the evidence of outcrossing, and so a farmer could regularly outbreed his flock (increasing vigour) while keeping the Barred Rock ‘look’. Plymouth Rocks in their various colour varieties became the favorite American chicken, and were also very popular in Canada, until commercial broilers were developed.
The Gilmar flock of Barred Rocks has been bred ‘farmer style’, starting 20 years ago by crossing many different lines of purebred Barred Rocks, and always selecting for growth rate, size and carcass quality. In recent years some judicious outcrossing has had marvelous results! These birds are heavier at a younger age than any other Barred Rocks you can find.
And the hens lay very well — the eggs are large, with excellent shell quality, and come in a range of browns from tinted to medium.
If you want to be completely independent with your food supply, True North Heritage Hatchery recommends these dual-purpose Barred Rocks for a flock that you can keep going for many years without having to add outside birds. Their genetic health is excellent and if you continue to select for good utility traits you will have a good source of meat and eggs for many years to come!