Sunday, September 19News That Matters

What is Production Red Chicken

Production Red is the most talked-about chicken in the Philippines yet few online resources about the history of the breed can be found. Unlike Kabir, SASSO, Hubbard, and even Vantress that are produced by their respective companies, production red chickens are produced and bred by many hatcheries in North America. This is probably one of the reasons why there is massive confusion about the history and the early origin of this breed.

Origins and Sources

Many sources tell us that production red chickens are cross of Rhode Island Red and New Hampshire with some others saying strains of Rhode Island White and even Leghorns were added to maximize egg production.

Image credit backyardchickens.com

The following are some of the hatcheries that develop their own production red lines with their claim.

Cackle Hatchery (USA)

The Production Red chicken is very similar to a Rhode Island Red chicken only lighter in colour. The plumage colour can vary from a red-dark red to a light red. They are a vigorous, hearty chicken that lays lots of large/x-large brown eggs. The Production Red chicken breed is a cross of Cackle Hatchery’s® best Rhode Island Red chicken production line over Cackle Hatchery’s® best New Hampshire chicken production line. This cross produces a very vigorous, healthy egg producing hen. This is not an exhibition show chicken but a great production laying hen and/or pet chicken for your backyard.

The North Farm Heritage Hatchery (Canada)

Production Red is the name that has been given to Rhode Island Red crosses bred for maximum egg-laying for over 100 years. Our Production Reds are a cross between Rhode Island Reds and Rhode Island Whites, both excellent layers in their own right, and the cross is even better. They are bred for self-sufficient homesteads and farms that need to supply consistent top quality large brown eggs. The parent lines are unique to us and produce chicks that come in ‘50 Shades of Brown’, from nearly white to dark mahogany.

Hoover’s Hatchery (USA)

Although the Production Red isn’t a true sex-link, it performs like one! This docile, calm breed is one of the hardiest and productive birds offered. Hens lay good-sized eggs that have strong shell quality. A cross of a Rhode Island Red with a New Hampshire Red produces a vigorous, hearty chicken in various shades of red with some darker tail feathers. Production Reds make an ideal addition to your backyard flock, with great egg production and do well in confinement or free-range.

Welp Hatchery (USA)

Production Reds are a brown egg cross or non-standard breed that was developed for the purpose of efficient production of large brown eggs with crosses utilizing Rhode Island Reds and New Hampshire Reds. They are a friendly, great layer, but are heavy enough to be good meat birds. Babies are a light brown. The breed ranges in colour from light red to a dark brown-red when mature. The typical weight for females is 4 lbs. and males are 5 lbs

Difference between production red and Rhode Island Red

Many in the Philippines are selling their Production Reds as Rhode Island Reds. Although some production reds look like RIR, the difference is always obvious. If you are looking to raise chickens just for meat and eggs, the issue between RIR and production red does not matter. But if you plan to raise chickens and sell chicks, this is a major issue.

Rhode Island Reds mahogany is more expensive than production red and more people are looking for pure RIRs than production red.

Some obvious differences between RIR and production reds are as follows:

  1. Rhode Island Reds have dark red plumage with yellow shank and almost black tail
  2. Female RIRs have black and white spots hidden under their wings and their tails are almost 70% black.
  3. Production reds sometimes have white shanks or bluish yellow.
  4. Production reds have light red to brownish plumage with most have a single-tone color.

Are Production Reds Industrial/Production Type Rhode Island Red?

There is massive confusion regarding Production Type RIR and Production Red. In fact, the term “production type Rhode Island Red” is not being used in the US anymore. Production type RIR referred to RIR with industrial strain.

According to Cackle Hatchery and other sources, industrial-strain RIR is what we call “pure RIR” today – the dark mahogany. The original vintage RIR (exhibition type) was almost extinct more than half a century ago and most of our RIR mahogany in the Philippines are actually industrial-strain Rhode Island Red. The production red, however, is totally different from production/industrial type RIR.

The company that has been hatching eggs since 1936 classify the following breeds as totally different from each other:

  1. Cackle Hatchery’s Production Red – a cross of Rhode Island Red and New Hampshire
  2. Cackle hatchery’s Rhode Island Red (production-type) –  dark mahogany and the standard Rhode Island Red today.
  3. Cackle Hatchery’s Rhode Island Red (Exhibition Type) – the traditional and vintage RIR  that is very rare. Even Cackle Hatchery said they got their parent stock from someone who has been breeding this specific bird for decades. This is very rare and almost non-existing in the Philippines.

Given the above differences from one of the oldest American Hatcheries, we can safely say that production reds (1) are not Rhode Island Reds (2).

Why Production Reds have different colors

The answer is obvious. With so many hatcheries developing their own Production Reds with different parent stocks and mixed breeds, you can’t expect identical results. Sometimes, when a Production Red is mixed with Rhode Island Red, teh result is confusing. This is one of the reasons why some Filipino breeders sell their Production Reds as Rhode Island Reds – mahogany to light in color but shanks are either white or yellowish-green.

Which one should you buy and raise

Both Production Red and Rhode Island Reds are productive chicken breeds and can lay many eggs with delicious and lean meat. The choice of what to buy and raise, however, depends on your purpose.

  • If you want to grow chicken for meat and eggs, chose Production Red
  • If you want to grow chicken and sell chicks and hatching eggs, chose Rhode Island Red

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