The Rhode Island White originated in 1888 through the efforts of Mr. J. Alonzo Jocoy of Peacedale, Rhode Island. He developed the breed by crossing White Wyandottes with Partridge Cochins and Rose Comb White Leghorns. In 1903, Mr. Jocoy made the breed known to the public and offered individuals for sale. The breed continued to be developed and improved so that it more closely resembled the Rhode Island Red’s brick-like body shape. This distinctive shape helped to prevent the breed from looking similar to and being confused with White Wyandottes or White Plymouth Rock chickens. In 1922 the Rhode Island White was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection during the national conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, that year. The Rhode Island White gained some popularity in the US up until the 1960’s, at which time their numbers began to decline. The breed never came close to the overwhelming popularity that the more famous Rhode Island Red chicken achieved.
The Rhode Island White is a moderately-sized, completely white bird with the males weighing 8 1/2 lbs. and females 6 1/2 lbs. They have long, broad, and deep bodies which are carried horizontally, giving them an oblong and brick-like appearance overall. Their breasts are deep, full, and well rounded. Their heads are fairly deep and are inclined to be flat on top rather than round. Though some single combed offspring do occasionally occur, the breed is has been standardized only with a rose shaped comb. The historic laying ability of the Rhode Island White was respectable by all accounts, with one exceptional hen at the Mountain Grove Experiment Station in Missouri noted as laying 306 eggs in one year. Productive strains of this breed have been known to more typically lay in the 240-250 eggs per year range. They are reputed to be splendid meat fowl and excellent layers of winter eggs. Rhode Island Whites are pleasant, easy going chickens and would make an enjoyable addition to any family farm. Today, the Rhode Island White chicken continues to have its followers and maintains a population of less than 3000 birds (The Livestock Conservancy’s 2003 poultry census).
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