A Brief History of the Black Rock Chicken

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two domestic chickens eating grain in the snow – closeup

Black Rocks are one of several breeds known as “sex links”. Sex-link chickens are unique in that male and female hatchlings can be easily distinguished by color. Sex-link chickens are known to be prolific layers that produce healthy-shelled eggs throughout their reproductive life.

Red sex-link chicks are tawny at birth, black sex-link chicks dark, with the male hatchlings displaying a characteristic white spot on their heads in both cases. There are several varieties of black sex links, but most are bred by crossing a certain type of New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red Rooster with a Barred Plymouth Rock hen. Many poultry keepers specialize in their own unique breed pairings to produce a specific hybrid. This is certainly true of the Black Rock chicken. This unique breed is the product of two very particular strains of Barred Plymouth Rock hen and Rhode Island Red rooster, and is only hatched at the Crosslee Poultry Farm in Scotland.

The original stock is said to have come to England from the USA, via South Africa. Peter and Margaret Siddons purchased the original parent animals around 1950, and started raising Black Rocks on their farm, the Muirfield Hatchery. Over several decades, they sought to improve this unique strain. In 2010, Eddie and Calum Lovett (father and son), took over the care and cultivation of these birds.

Because hybrids often have somewhat unpredictable characteristics, many poultry tenders stick to traditional breeds with well-known reputations for good egg production, longevity, and other qualities. With a family history going back around 150 years, Black Rock chickens are some of the most “traditional” hybrids available. That makes them popular with poultry novices and commercial farmers alike.

While all true Black Rocks are hatched at Crosslee Poultry Farm, you can also find them through select approved agents. If you are concerned that a retailer may be offering a different hybrid breed under the Black Rock name, be sure to get in touch with the Muirfield Hatchery.

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