Plymouth Barred Rock chicks


After I posted that cover of a 1925 issue of The Plymouth Rock Monthly, a few people asked for a photo of my chicks.

I bought six chicks from, which ships them by mail. They cost $2 each, plus an extra .50 each to ensure they are hens, plus a big shipping fee.

The post office called me on my cell phone when they arrived. I was in Illinois at the time, so I called my wife and she went down to pick them up. They were in a little straw nest packed in a small cardboard box.

The chicks are now over two weeks old, and much bigger than the one shown in this photo. They're a little skittish when someone reaches in and grabs at them, but they calm down quickly and are very sweet. Once they get big enough, they'll go here.


  1. Frauenfelder’s a big nerd, that’s what he is!

    and I love ‘im.

    God bless chickens and chicken lovers everywhere!


  2. It’s a slippery slope you’re traveling. A friend built a coop and got a couple chickens for eggs. The hens had barely started laying when my friend started investigating the purchase of a goat.

  3. You realize those adorable little chicks turn into big smelly birds in time, right? Not to mention dumb as rocks.

  4. Oblig: I for one welcome our new avian overlords

    and yes, look out for buying permaculture magazines and thoughts of digging up the lawn to put in veggies

  5. Have you lined up a source of cheap feed?

    I heard that that was currently the biggest expense in keeping egg-layers.

    Local bakeries might be able to supply old and/or ruined loaves that could be ground up for crumbs.

  6. Mark, What do you do when your chickens get sick? Do you take em to a vet or some chicken ‘specialist’? I live in Chicago and have aspirations of owning chickens

  7. Not to put a damper on things but I bought 6 barred rock cicks this spring, with assurances they were all hens. 5 of the 6 are now crowing which anyone who even has a passing knowledge of chickens knows that means they aren’t hens. Sexing chicks is an imperfect science as I’ve found out. I now have 1 hen, 1 rooster, and 4 dinners (I’m keeping my favorite of the roosters).

  8. I got completely the wrong idea with this post. I quickly scanned the title: ‘Plymouth barred rock chicks’ and assumed it must be about Courtney Love and her friends not being allowed into the city of Plymouth.
    I did wonder why there was a picture of a chicken…

  9. I can’t believe you can buy chickens in the mail!

    If you want a good down home magazine, with lots of projects etc, check out the aussie mag Grass Roots. I bought years worth of backcopies from a market for $10 about 15 years ago and I take them with me wherever I move in anticipation of the day I get a large enough property to put the ideas into action.
    Hmm I suddenly feel old thinking about how long I’ve had these mags!…

    Anyway, you can pick up old copies on for $2-5AUD / stack of 3 mags. It’s a fantastic magazine (with lots of info about chickens), and the older ones gorgeously show off the ‘down home’ movement from the 1970s.

    Cheers, Kate

  10. I read Living with Chickens a number of years ago and built my own coop. We raised 6 chicks (4 from my son’s preschool class and 2 from a farmers coop). The hens were fine and we had plenty of eggs. The roosters…well that’s another story. If your chicks turn out to be roosters find a home for them or consider them dinner.

  11. Are you going to eat them when they’re done laying eggs? My sweet sweet partner says that if I want chickens, I have to be willing to have them turned into a roast. I was thinking more along the lines of a chicken retirement home…

  12. Very cute picture. I thought (for a brief moment) that this was going to be a Wonderful BoingBoing bit about a little girl that eats little birds. Thank goodness! You know, with it being the Halloween season and all.

  13. @skramble #1
    >Frauenfelder’s a big nerd, that’s what he is!

    I’m glad you didn’t say “geek”, given the history of that word and it’s unfortunate association with chickens.

  14. I’m glad the chicks arrived healthy, whole and bereft of trauma. Reminds me of those old Chihuahua in a Teacup ads on the back of comic books in the early Sixties. Mickey Roarke played a character who hated and feared chickens in Alan Parker’s Angel Heart. In real life he owns nine dogs, seven are chihuahuas. Go figure.

  15. Just out of curiosity, Mark, did you check to see if chickens are allowed in your neighborhood under zoning laws? No worries if you didn’t, I’m not from animal control or anything. I’m asking because my husband would love to do something similar, and I had been assuming that living in a somewhat suburban area we would be (a) not permitted by law and/or (b) completely shunned by our neighbors. Haven’t actually looked into (a) yet though.

    We have rural friends with a flock of around 20 layers, and they are actually selling 2-3 dozen eggs a week, plus consuming large quantities themselves. They feed them kitchen scraps in addition to feed. I don’t know how much they’re spending on feed.

    Good luck!

  16. My interest in keeping chickens isn’t personally too strong, but a friend of mine has been looking into it. What’s the difference between the breeds? I mean, when most people think of chickens, they think of the common yellow chicks that grow into white-feathered hens.

    Are the Plymouth Barred better layers? Do they eat less or more? Or is it because they’re an interesting “heirloom” breed? I’m not looking for anything to criticize; I just wonder why one breed is preferred over another.

  17. #21: there are a LOT of different breeds of chicken.

    Many are “fancy” chickens which, much like various vanity dog breeds, are kept as companions or as show animals, not for the usual “commercial” reasons.

    Seriously strange looking, some of them. Just like some of the dogs out there :D

  18. #13 What to do when your chickens get sick…

    There is a classic joke about and old Jewish woman that had two chickens. One got sick so she killed the healthy one and made chicken soup for the sick one. Couldn’t hurt!

  19. #15 Yep. You can buy chickens through the mail. I think it is very cool in this day and age that you can. The secret is that a newly hatched chick doesn’t need food or water for a couple of days.

    Another source is the McMurray Hatchery. They have all sorts of fowl. Here is the link. Get the catalog.

    Check out the Japanese Phoenix chicken with the tail that gets as long as 20 feet. Really quite cool and beautiful. They don’t get a coop, they get a very tall aviary.

  20. @Anonymous: 5 of the 6 are now crowing which anyone who even has a passing knowledge of chickens knows that means they aren’t hens.

    Actually, hens can and do crow, especially when there are no roosters. It’s like the flock has to have a rooster, and if there aren’t any one or more of the hens just sort of takes over that role. It actually seems to be becoming more common these days, since urban farmers tend to focus on hen-only flocks.

  21. Remind your kids to keep the chicks away from their faces (i.e., don’t kiss the baby chickens), and to wash their hands after they handle the chicks. Baby chickens can spread diseases such as salmonella really quickly.

  22. +10 points for getting a few chickens – everybody should own at least six.
    -5 for buying them sexed. You do know what happens to the males you do not buy, right? Much better to buy them unsexed and have some fresh chicken in a few months for dinner.

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