The Red Star chicken is a dual-purpose breed that was developed in the 1950s by crossing a New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red rooster with a White Plymouth Rock, a Delaware, or a Rhode Island White hen. The result was a sex-linked chicken that became a popular choice for commercial egg producers, poultry breeders, and enthusiast backyard owners.
Now, why did this chicken become a favorite choice? Well, this chicken was genetically designed to lay a lot of eggs in the range of 300 per year. Since it was a success, everyone from commercial egg producers to small-scale farmers became interested in raising this breed.
So, are you among those backyard owners that are asking whether this chicken is a good choice for a backyard flock? Well, this short guide will offer you all the information you need to know regarding this hybrid chicken.
Specifications of Red Star Chickens
|Weight||6 – 8 Pounds|
|Lifespan||5 – 8 Years|
|Egg Production||280 – 300 Eggs Annually|
|Egg Size & Color||Large Brown Eggs|
|Purpose||Both Meat & Eggs|
|Temperament||Friendly to Humans but Aggressive to Flockmates|
|Plumage||Yellowish-White to Reddish-Brown Colors|
A Short History of Red Star Chickens
Now, the Red Star chicken is a hybrid breed that’s known by many names. Some people call it the Red Sex Links, others Golden Buff, others Golden Comet, Golden Sex Links, and others Isa Brown and Cinnamon Queen.
Perhaps the main reason for having too many names is due to the large number of breeds that were used to cross this chicken. Although the Rhode Island Red rooster and Rhode Island White hen are the main breeds used, production has been successful by crossing a New Hampshire rooster with White Plymouth Rock or Delaware hens.
Back in history, the Red Star is a chicken breed that was developed in the USA in the 1950s. Actually, the idea of producing a genetic hybrid chicken began in the 1900s when small-scale farmers were unable to meet the rising demand for eggs.
As a result, commercial egg producers were forced to up their game. Since heritage breeds could not produce eggs regularly and consistently, the idea of selective breeding to produce a hybrid became imminent. As a result, the Red Star was born and immediately became a success and a game-changer. Red Star Sexlink chickens lay enormous quantities of eggs and are easy to identify as soon as they hatch.
Physical Appearance and Breed Standard of Red Star Chickens
When raising the Red Star chicken, the appearance and the physical characteristics of the breed are very important for easy identification. Starting with the color, the Red Star is a hybrid breed that has the advantage of being a sex-linked chicken. Being sex-linked means that breeders can easily identify males and females when they’re a day old.
About the chicks, the males will appear to have a light-yellow hue while the females will bear a reddish yellow or a light brown color. Actually, the color of the female chicks can be used interchangeably depending on the breeder.
When they’re adults, the females will bear a reddish-brown color while roosters will bear a yellowish-white color. Sometimes, you’ll see buff accents on the feathers and dark shades on the tail area depending on the breed used to cross them. Both male and female Red Stars are medium-sized fowls with roosters weighing up to 8 pounds and hens managing up to 6 pounds.
Now, other than the plumage, the Red Star chicken can be identified by its physical characteristics which include a single comb with red comb, wattles, and earlobes. It has clean yellow shanks, yellow skin, yellow or brown beaks, and yellowish-orange eyes.
Finally, yet importantly, the Red Star is a chicken that doesn’t breed true. This means crossing a Red Star male with a Red Star female will not guarantee you Red Star offspring. This is the main reason why breeders focus on raising Red Star hens instead of having a mixed flock containing hens and roosters.
This is also the reason why Red Star chickens are yet to receive APA recognition as they’re not a consistent breed.
Productivity of Red Star Chickens (Egg Laying and Meat)
Perhaps this is where the Red Star chicken shines and thrives most. In fact, egg production is the main reason why these chickens are bred in the first place. About its production, this chicken is considered a prolific layer of large brown eggs.
When carefully raised with a nutritious balanced diet and perfect coop and backyard conditions, the Red Star can operate at maximum capacity by laying at least an egg a day. This amounts to around 280 – 360 eggs annually, with 300 being the average.
Now, Red Star pullets begin their laying journey as early as 18 – 22 weeks. While this is considered early, it doesn’t come as a surprise as this is the average age when most hybrid breeds begin laying. But, just like most hybrid layers, these chickens begin to slow down production as they age.
Considering Red Star chickens’ lifespan is estimated to be around 5 – 8 years, we think production can lower during the second or third year though we can’t specify by how much.
Now, when raising egg-laying chickens, you need to be aware of two things—climate and broodiness. Starting with broodiness, Red Stars rarely go broody as they use most of their energy on laying eggs. Secondly, these chickens are cold and heat-hardy.
This means that they can’t decline production when climates are extreme. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take care of your hens. You need to keep the hens warm by insulating the coop and applying clean warm nesting materials.
What About Meat Produce?
Well, male Red Stars have a mature weight of 8 pounds. Such a weight is considered enough for a table bird as there is enough meat to feed an entire family. But, to be sincere, roosters are disliked and are likely to be culled after matching. So, in most cases, aging hens that lower production is the ones that are likely to end up on the table.
Red Star Chickens Characteristics (Personality and Temperament)
Whether you’re planning to raise a flock of Red Stars only or you’re thinking of adding a few Red Stars to your existing flock, learning about their personality is quite important.
Now, according to most farmers, the Red Star is a hybrid breed that comes with a wide menu of personalities. I guess this is due to the wide range of breeds that have been used to produce it. I think when buying your next chicks, it’s important to ask the breeders about the specific breeds that have been used at least to have a clue of what to expect in terms of disposition.
Otherwise, most breeders argue that the Red Star is quite aggressive and territorial towards its flockmates and quite docile and mellow towards humans.
These chickens are considered free-range rockstars as they can fend for themselves if allowed to free-range. But, while giving them the freedom to free-range, you need to note that these birds are flighty thanks to their strong and capable wings.
So, if your backyard has a low fence, then you better raise it higher or else clip the wings of these birds to deny them the freedom to fly.
Lastly, there’s the issue of noise. Now, Red Stars are not the quietest chickens you’ll find. These chickens are quite noisy with the noise level ranging from medium to high. So, if you’re raising them as a backyard flock, then this is one factor you must consider.
Common Health Issues of Red Star Chickens
Although the Red Star is a hardy breed that tolerates all climates and doesn’t suffer from any hereditary illnesses, that doesn’t make it immune. So, what are some of the health issues you’re supposed to check out for?
First, as a hybrid chicken that lays many eggs under pressure, the Red Star is likely to suffer from vent gleet, vent prolapse, and egg-binding problems. It can also suffer from internal worms and parasite infestation such as attack by lice, and mites.
This chicken can also suffer frostbite during cold weather considering it’s a single comb. So, to keep your flock safe, you should clean the coop regularly and ensure that you keep them warm during cold weather. In case of severe cases, you should call a vet to check and correct any complex issues.
Required Environment for Red Star Chickens
When planning to raise Red Star sexlink chickens, the first question you have to ask yourself is whether they make great backyard breeds. From what we’ve discussed, it’s easy to see why every backyard owner dreams of raising these chooks. But, what is the required environment for these chickens?
First, Red Stars are chickens that love to fly a lot. This means that keepers need to erect high fences to prevent the chickens from flying away. If a high fence is not enough, you can consider confining them inside the coop or covering the top of the run with a mesh. If the chickens dislike confinement, then you can allow them to free-range but make sure you clip their wings.
Now, Red Stars are among the chickens that get bored quite fast. Therefore, you need to keep them entertained by giving them enough space to free-range. You can also offer them elements of entertainment such as mirrors, plastic bottles, colored balls, and hanging fruits and vegetables in the run.
Lastly, Red Stars are among those breeds that get really aggressive with other members of the flock. If you’re looking to add a few more chickens in a flock that contains Red Stars only, then you need to be very careful as they can turn out to be bullies.
Raising Tips for Red Star Chickens
When raising the Red Star chicken, you need to start by performing a thorough coop setup. Now, this chicken is marketed as being medium to large size. Therefore, you need to start by building a large coop that offers plenty of space for each chook. Here, you can offer the chickens about 4 – 5 square feet of coop space per chicken and 8 – 10 square feet of outdoor run space per chicken.
Now, Red Stars are considered flighty. Since they’re able to fly over standard fences, farmers are advised to cover the run with poultry netting or else trim their primary flight wings.
Lastly, Red Stars are chickens that love to dust bath. So, when setting up your backyard, you need to preserve a special dust bath area. Here’s how you can build a great dust bath for your Red Stars.
- Dig a shallow hole
- Add sand or fine dirt
- Add Diatomaceous Earth to protect the chickens against parasites
- Add wood ash
- Sprinkle dry fragrance herbs such as rosemary, mint, or lavender. These herbs will make your chickens smell nice and will also serve as natural insecticides.
Feeding and Diet
When it comes to feeding, Red Stars are chickens that demand a healthy diet. Actually, these chickens are known to eat a lot. Therefore, you should plan on how to feed them well to meet all their nutritional requirements.
When feeding these chickens, you should start with high-quality commercial poultry feed that offers a perfect mix of grains, grit, vitamins, and calcium. The feed should make up at least 90% of their daily intake.
Considering Red Stars lay a lot of eggs, you’ll have to supplement commercial feeds with special treats that offer high vitamins, proteins, energy, and mineral (calcium) boosts. Here, you can think of fruits, vegetables, and food scraps such as mealworms, crickets, bananas, mangoes, kiwi, grapes, apples, berries, tomatoes, oatmeal, peas, broccoli, cucumbers, cabbages, bread, corn, and rice among others.
Now, Red Stars are single combs. Although they perform exceptionally well in cold climates, their single comb and wattles can develop frostbites if they’re neglected. Therefore, special care such as keeping the coop warm and applying dry nesting material is required.
During hot climates, these chickens require plenty of drinking water. Remember, water plays an essential role in poultry metabolism. It aids in digestion, regulating body temperature, and eliminating body waste. Note that chickens drink twice as much water as feed during normal temperatures. In extremely hot temperatures, water consumption doubles or even triples.
Where to Buy Red Star Chickens?
Now that you’ve learned everything from Red Star chickens’ lifespan, their personality, and production to their appearance, the last step is to figure out where you’re going to buy your chooks. Now, there are various ways you can purchase Red Stars.
You can buy them from sellers via E-Bay or Craigslist or you can buy them from feed stores or online/local hatcheries such as Cackle Hatchery or Murray McMurray Hatchery. You can also order the chicks from farms such as Heritage Pullets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Why Do Red Stars Go By Many Names?
The reason why Red Stars go by many names is that they’re crossed by a strain of different chickens over several generations. Some of the chickens used include a male Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire and a female Plymouth Rock, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Delaware, or Rhode Island White.
Q2. Are Red Stars Pure Breeds or Cross Breeds?
Well, these chickens are considered crossbreeds or hybrids. The reason why they’re not pure breeds is that they don’t breed true. This is the main reason why they’re not recognized by the APA as they’re not consistent.
Q3. Can Red Stars Reproduce?
Yes, they can. However, these chickens are hybrids and not purebreds. Being hybrids means that crossing two Red Stars will not guarantee a Red Star offspring. So, if you’re planning to raise your own backyard flock consisting of Red Stars, you’ll need to buy hatching eggs from hatcheries that produce Red Stars.
Q4. What’s the Difference Between Red Star and Black Star Chickens?
The Black Star and the Red Star are two chicken breeds that are closely related. Everything about these breeds is identical with just a few differences. One of them is the parentage where Black Stars are developed by crossing a New Hampshire or Rhode Island rooster with a Barred Plymouth Rock hen. Another difference is the color where Red Stars are reddish-brown to yellowish-white in color while Black Stars have black feathers with gold flecking on their breast area.
As you can see, the Red Star chicken is a breed that comes as a convenient package. This chicken is completely versatile as it can serve as a great companion, a table bird, and an excellent egg layer for those that love eggs.
This chicken is easy to raise as it appreciates all types of coop conditions. It can be confined inside the coop or allowed to free-range. Feeding is an essential factor when raising these chickens as they require a balanced diet to stay happy and healthy. So, if this is the type of bird you’re admiring to raise, then this guide has offered you everything you need to know.
Hello, I am John Reid. I have been raising chickens for the last 15 years. I have got my experience from my father. My father is the owner of a large chicken farm. This is our family business that has been continuing for over 35 years. I am very interested in backyard chickens and I know how to take care of them. You can learn more About Us here. Happy Reading!!