US vs UK Lines Rhode Island Red: What’s the Difference




You may have heard about the RIR UK line or RIR US line online but have no idea what is the difference between the two. Or perhaps someone is selling a Rhode Island Red chicken with a US or UK line connected to it. In this article, we are going to explain the buzz around this controversial and rather intriguing topic – the so-called Rhode Island Red UK Line and Rhode Island Red US line.

Breed Profile

The Rhode Island Red was developed in the US state of Rhode Island in the 1890s. Crossing a large variety of other breeds including the Buff Cochin, Langshan, Black Red Malay, Hamburg, and Rose comb Leghorns together created the Rhode Island Red. They are recognized by their beautiful mahogany plumage, bright yellow legs, and brick-shaped body. Rhode Island is another bird created for both meat and eggs, to satisfy the demands of the American population. 

The breed arrived in the UK in 1903 and became extremely popular very quickly. The Rhode Island Red is possibly the best-known breed in the world today. The Rhode crossed with a Sussex forms the basis of most of our present-day hybrids.

Types of Rhode Island Red

There are three types of Rhode Island Red

1. Rhode Island Red Chicken (Exhibition Type)

These old type Rhode Island Reds were large and blocky, with dark mahogany plumage. And the hens tended toward broodiness. At one time this was the most popular breed in the United States. Starting in the 1940s, Rhode Island Reds were selectively bred for more efficient egg production. Developing an efficient production breed involves an increase in laying and a decrease in both broodiness and body size, resulting in more eggs at less cost. With an increased focus on laying, the birds grew less docile. And with a reduced focus on the breed’s appearance, the plumage became a lighter shade of red.

2. Rhode Island Red (Production Type) 

(Not to be confused with Production Red) The Rhode Island Red – Production Type is a true heritage chicken breed picked as a great choice for egg production. RIR production types are lighter in color than exhibition types. The roosters usually weigh in at 8.5 pounds (3.9 kg), The hens weigh slightly less at 6.5 pounds (2.9 kg), cockerel at 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg), and pullets at 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg). 

3. Rhode Island Red – Bantam

Rhode Island Reds bantams are just any other bantam chickens. A miniature size of the Single Comb Rhode Island Red Standard chicken, they are great layers and have a docile, fun personality. They are great foragers and do well in shows. Admitted to the American Poultry Standard of Perfection in 1940 and it makes a great backyard chicken for enjoyment and eggs.

The Case for the US and UK Lines

As mentioned above, Rhode Island Reds originated from the United States of America and were only brought to the United Kingdom in 1903. Since the breed is already established in the US, the UK continued to popularize the breed when it arrived there and became a standard breed.

Origin of US and UK Line Terms

In reality, there are no US or UK lines. The story goes like this.

Earlier, someone from the US brought a Rhode Island Red chicken to the Philippines. Since his chicken was imported and rare, he asked for a higher price. This became the norm. His chicken quadrupled and he was known for bringing an imported American breed to the Philippines.

Several years later, someone from the UK brought the same breed to the Philippines. Since he wanted to be distinct from that previous one from the US, he called his chicken UK line, hence it was from the UK. Similar to the first one, his flock multiplied.

The two people were the only source of the first known Rhode Island Red and in order to tell the difference, they labeled the first one US line and the other one UK line.

What’s the Difference?

There is no difference. Both are Rhode Island Reds from the USA. Even if we dig all available resources online, we cannot find a reliable source that says a different line of Rhode Island Reds were developed in the UK.


This UK and US line myth always confuses beginners. When buying Rhode Island chicks or breeders, they always ask whether it is a UK line or the UK like. This question is invalid because there is no such thing and because this information has been disseminated already, sometimes it is hard to correct the wrong. 

Another issue is that other people who own pure breed and dark mahogany Rhode Island Reds are labeling their chicken whatever they want just to increase the value. For example, there are some people online who own a cross of Black Australorp and Rhode Island Red and since these types of chickens look darker, they labeled it exhibition type fooling many people in the process. 

The Exhibition type is very rare even in the US and it’s no surprise that these chickens are also rare in the Philippines but some people are inventing something for their own advantage.

If you have a family or friend coming from the US and bringing Rhode Island Red, do not call it a US line because there is no such thing. Just call it imported from the US to specify that it’s pure and authentic. The same can be said for those chickens coming from the UK.

See also:



Selected References:

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *