Rhode Island White
with permission from
SPPA Bulletin, 2012, 17(3):6
The Rhode Island White is an American Breed of Chicken which is not getting the appreciation I believe it deserves. I have set out to place it on a more lofty perch.
I did not set out to breed or even own Rhode Island White. I happened into them by chance, as many of us do. I was visiting a small Nevada Mo. hatchery near my home in Southeast Kansas to get a start of Cuckoo Marans. As it was quite late in their season they had shut down their incubators and were clearing out all the chicks. They offered me a bunch of single comb commercial RIW chicks at a price I could not resist.
Pleased with my bargain I was not disappointed as I watched them grow, vigorous and fast. At a year and a half they are good layers with a gentle disposition. From early on my Grand daughter would say "I want see chickees Bapa" and I would pick her up and show them to her. Now she is nearing three years and comes to the chicken yards with me to chore. She wears no shoes and has me pick her up as she does not like to step on stuff in the yards and we chore together.
I wanted to learn more about the breed but didn't find much. Mrs. Christine Heinrichs, author of How to Raise Chickens, and historian with The Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiques, sent me some material on the RIW. As I began to educate myself on the breed, I realized the birds I have are of good commercial quality but far from the APA standard of the Rhode Island White I seek. They are all single comb birds, but only the rose comb was recognized in the Standard.
My search located another family of RIWs near Silex, Missouri, 280 miles from my home. Mr. Kelly Klober author of Talking Chicken, had bred and improved his flock. He kept a few of them but I bought the bulk of the flock. These new RIWs are of better quality than the first bunch. I intend to keep both the Nevada and the Silex birds and breed them as two different families.
I have looked for the Rose Comb Rhode Island White and they are very hard to find. July is late in the season to look for quality chicks of any breed and the RC RIW population is extremely low. Jeanette Beranger, Research and Technical Programs Manager of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy referred me to Ryan Carey here in Kansas who has agreed to sell me a few RC RIWs. Duane Urch, of Urch/Turnland Poultry in Owatonna, Minnesota, keeps a flock and I plan to get some in January when they become available.
Mrs. Beranger was thoughtful enough to include a photo of a Ryon Carey hen she had taken at an APA show. I am very excited to be able to get a start of such quality stock.
I have no idea where these wonderful Rose-comb Rhode Island White chickens will end up, but I'm betting they will roost a couple rungs higher on the perch before it is all over. I will try to continue improving whatever I get. In the meantime, I will just continue enjoying these lively birds.
I am very grateful to all of those who have been so helpful in this chicken adventure, for resources and photos and advice and even encouragement to pursue this wonderful breed of poultry. I hope to write more as I learn more of this breed and will post findings and suggestions and will offer whatever help I may.
[Rhode Island White]
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