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Author Topic: Breed Advice - Blackrock vs Rhode Rocks vs Calder Ranger  (Read 15790 times)


  • Joined Nov 2010
  • West Lothian
Breed Advice - Blackrock vs Rhode Rocks vs Calder Ranger
« on: January 26, 2011, 08:30:29 pm »
I wonder if anyone can advise?  I am a soon to be new hen keeper and I am looking to keep 3 hens, who will have some but not continual access to free ranging in my garden (approx 20m x 10m) we are in the process of building a coop and integral run which is 3m x 1.5m. I thought I had it straight in my head that I was going to go for Blackrocks due to their hardiness and egg production until visiting what I thought was a Blackrock supplier they turned out to be Rhode Rocks and the lady suggested that Rhode Rocks and Calder Rangers would be a better choice as I have a wee girls who is really keen to take an active part in the whole hen keeping business.  So I am a bit confused and would welcome any thought on Blackrocks vs Rhode Rocks vs Calder Rangers.  Also if you have advice on the space of the run and number of hens all would be welcome!

Many thanks in advance!


  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Breed Advice - Blackrock vs Rhode Rocks vs Calder Ranger
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2011, 10:05:42 pm »
Call me daft, but isn't a Black Rock a cross between a Rhode Island Red male and a Barred Plymouth Rock female...... whereas a Rhode Rock is, well, exactly the same thing, no?

If that's right, then it's just a matter of where the breeding stock comes from (e.g. the name Black Rock is copyright, so I wouldn't be able to breed my own and call them Black Rocks). From a bit of googling, Calder Rangers seem to be RIR / Light Sussex crosses of some sort, but I can't really comment any further, since I've never actually met one!

We have a couple of 'genuine' Black Rocks, who are great characters, and would definitely be suitable for kids. At the end of the day, kids are going to need lots of eggs to keep their interest up, so hybrid birds like the ones you mention are perfect for that.

No point in worrying about it too much though. Just get whatever you can source locally, and that you and the kids like the look of!  If the breeder will let you, then do what we did, and hold out a handful of grain, and buy whoever comes over first to get it!!
« Last Edit: January 26, 2011, 10:08:03 pm by Womble »
Experience is what you get just after you needed it.


  • Joined Nov 2010
  • West Lothian
Re: Breed Advice - Blackrock vs Rhode Rocks vs Calder Ranger
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2011, 10:56:52 pm »
Womble, thanks so much for your reply!  I too thought the Rhode and Black Rocks were essentially the same thing but being a beginner did not want to ask the draft question! I think you suggestion of holding out some grain and whoever comes over first it just the ticket...
Thanks again for taking the time to reply, much appreciated!


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Kinlochbervie, NW Sutherland, Scotland
  • Mad, bad, and dangerous to know!
    • Harbour Cottage
Re: Breed Advice - Blackrock vs Rhode Rocks vs Calder Ranger
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2011, 12:50:59 am »
We've six hens, all different types, including a Black Rock and a RIR.

So far as egg production goes I couldn't say one is any better than the other - they're both excellent - and neither has shown any sign of having a problem with the wintry weather here in the northwest corner of Scotland.

If you're only getting three then I'd recommend getting different varieties if you can. It'll add a bit of variety and you'll still get plenty of eggs.


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Breed Advice - Blackrock vs Rhode Rocks vs Calder Ranger
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2011, 09:33:19 am »
I'd second that about different breeds. Our first three were a Black Rock, a RIR and a Light Sussex. We weren't going for max egg production - we just liked the look of them. I wouldn't have any of the mediterranean breeds - leghorn, legbar etc as they tend to be flighty so not great with children.

We have Black Rocks and Warrens - similar to Calder Rangers, I think - as well as other odds and sods. The Warrens are very docile and tame more easily than the Black Rocks.

Whatever you get, enjoy.


  • Guest
Re: Breed Advice - Blackrock vs Rhode Rocks vs Calder Ranger
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2011, 12:34:54 pm »
im a black rock agent firstly you are right the black rock is bred from old stock that have had all problems and thats why breeding off selected stock  they last to 6 or 8 yeres old .the cross to road will give the bird more road than Plymouth barred rock so the balance wont be the same naw cost a black rock sells for £15 to 20 pounds a road rock sells for £8 think off a ford car and a bmw next will they be fully vaccinated like the black rock .the best pound for pound is the shavers that arbro sell £6.50 point off lay very good bird onley half as good as the black rock .im putting black rock to other breeds at the mo black rock cream leg bar black rock light Sussex and black rock Cornish game i will sell them local for £1 per chick and go back and have a good look haw they have done .i would like to build a good Hardy bird but can they last 5 to 8 yeres old road island red light Sussex etc  Plymouth rock 3 yeres at the most .whot is youre oldest birds ..................there are black rocks 7 yeres old i no 200 off them and stock is still coming from them .Why is this chicken better than pure breeds for domestic egg production? - this is because she will lay more than any pure breeds in the UK nowadays, and she is more cost effective in terms of the amount she eats for each egg. Unlike the pure breeds who have had little consistent selection for good productivity in 90% of the current strains, Peter Siddons, the original breeder of the Black Rock in the country, maintained an exceptionally high standards of breeding, which, now Peter has finally retired, has now been taken on by his family and Eddie Lovett.
The Black Rock is a consistently good bird in all kinds of free range conditions. Over the past decades we have sold birds around Scotland and they have coped, nay thrived, in some of the most inhospitable places.
It is very unkind to put the commercial hybrids, with their weak feathering, poor immune systems, limited ranging, and high food value demands, outside in some of our exposed garden, croft and smallholding situations. It's a terrible thing to do to ex-battery birds, which have known only a completely protected environment for all their lives. Few gardens in most of the UK provide anything like the sort of environment they need.
Unfortunately chickens are far too stoic for their own good, and put up with so much humans throw at them, in the name of providing us with food and then in salving some sort of anthropomorphic conscience about it.
In contrast the likes of most pure breeds and birds like the Black Rock have been given the qualities by our breeding over the generations to really be able to thrive in the vagaries of the outside world.
Living outside is not without its significant challenges -- weather, wild birds and disease, food quality, and if badly managed mud, mites and other stresses.


  • Joined Apr 2013
  • Worcestershire
    • Its Baaath Time
    • Facebook
Re: Breed Advice - Blackrock vs Rhode Rocks vs Calder Ranger
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2011, 01:22:35 pm »
we've got a mixture including bluebelle's, black rocks, rhode rocks, white stars, marans...
my 4 children are aged 9 down to 4 and they all pick up the rhode rocks and have gentle cuddles with no struggle or scratching. one of the bluebelle's is very nice to the children too but I guess it varies from bird to bird!
Smallholding in Worcestershire, making goats milk soap for and mum to 4 girls,  goats, sheep, chickens, dog, cat and garden snails...


  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Glasgow
Re: Breed Advice - Blackrock vs Rhode Rocks vs Calder Ranger
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2011, 01:56:33 pm »
I dont know about the other breeds but the Rhode Rock I have is the friendliest/tamest of my 4 hens and is a great layer of large eggs. She is also great with children feeding from their hands and being picked up etc. I would certainly recommend the breed. As Rosemary said, enjoy.


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