The Barred Rock is the barred variety of the popular Plymouth Rock chicken. It was developed in New England in the early 1800s by crossing single-combed Dominiques and Black Javas. According to some, Barred Rocks were developed using crosses of Dominiques, Black Javas, Cochins, and perhaps Malays and Dorkings. The Barred Rock became an official breed in the United States in 1865. It was first exhibited as a breed in 1869. The first Plymouths were barred. Other varieties were developed later. The Barred Rock has spread to every part of the U.S. and also to various other countries. It is raised for both meat and eggs.
The Dominique is the oldest American dual-purpose breed. Reliable data of its origin is not available. The Dominique chicken was very common in American farmyards during the 1820s and 1830s. In 1871, the New York Poultry Society decided that only the rose-combed Dominique would become the standard for the breed. It was admitted to the American Poultry Association's (APA) Standard of Perfection in 1874. It is only recognized in the cuckoo pattern. Old farmers may refer to Dominique chickens as 'Dominecker chickens'.
Both these breeds are known for their gentle temperament and decent productivity. They exhibit a calm and nurturing personality. They both make wonderful show birds and family pets. However, Dominique roosters can sometimes become aggressive. There have been incidences wherein Dominiques have killed small cats, minks, and snakes.
Barred Rock with a Single Comb
Dominique Chicken with a Rose Comb
Heavier Barred Rock
Lighter Dominique Chicken
|Barred Rocks possess a single comb.||Dominiques possess a rose comb.|
|Barred Rocks exhibit sharply contrasting parallel black and white bars. The Barred Rock roosters are slightly lighter in color than the hens, as the males carry two chromosomes for the barring and the females have only one.||Dominique barring is not as sharp as that of a Barred Rock. The bars are somewhat staggered and not parallel like that of the Barred Rock. A male is much lighter in color than the female.|
|The width of the dark and light bars is almost same. They are placed in parallel rows. Both males and females have straight uniform bars. According to the breed standards of the Barred Rock, acceptable plumage variations are white, blue Colombian, silver penciled and black.||A slight 'v' pattern is seen in the barring of the feathers. Staggered barring in their plumage results in what is described as 'mottled appearance.' The light bars are silvery white, while the dark bars are not black, but dove gray. Moreover, the light bars on a Dominique male are twice as wide as that of a female. So, a male is much lighter in color than the female. The Dominique does not have any other acceptable variations in plumage.|
|The tail is quite short.||The tail is long and flowing. The tail of the cock is carried at 45 degrees from the horizontal.|
|The Barred Plymouth Rock is heavier than the Dominique. The standard weights are: cock - 7.5-9.5 lb (3.4-4.3 kg), hen - 6.6-7.5 lb (3-3.4 kg), cockerel - 8 lb (3.6 kg), and pullet - 5-6 lb (2.3-2.7 kg).||The standard weights are: Cock: 7 lb (3.17 kg), Hen: 5 lb (2.27 kg), Cockerel: 6 lb (2.72 kg), Pullet: 4 lb (1.81 kg)|
|It has a relatively deeper body and lower tail carriage.||They carry their heads high up on well-arched necks. The males have an almost "u" shaped back outline. The females have sloping back outlines- sloping from head to tail. The carriage of the Dominique is more upright than that of the Barred Rock.|
|The Barred Rock produces more eggs (about 4 per week) than the Dominique. The light brown eggs are larger than the eggs laid by Dominiques.||The Dominique has a medium production rate (about 3 per week). The eggs are light brown. They may be large or medium-sized.|
|Barred Rocks are heavier than the Dominiques, they may have a few ounces more meat than the Dominiques.||The Dominique is also a good producer of meat and eggs.|
Many times, it is difficult to differentiate between a Barred Rock and a Dominique, especially if they are from a commercial hatchery, as both may exhibit a dark cuckoo pattern on the feathers.
The Dominique was quite popular in the 1830s. However, its popularity declined soon after the Plymouth Rock breed was developed. By 1950, Dominiques were so rare that they were considered nearly extinct. By 1970, only four known flocks were left. At that time, Dominiques were allotted the status 'Critical' by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Through the effort of dedicated individuals, the Dominiques steadily rose in numbers until 2006. In 2007, their numbers were again found declining. They are now listed on the 'Watch' list; that is, the danger of their extinction is less.