Rhode Island Red Hen Vs. Rooster (With Pictures!)

Anyone who has raised Rhode Island Reds will attest to just how amazing, wonderfully well-mannered, and beautiful these creatures can be.

If you’re raising Rhode Island Reds yourself, it’s natural to not want too many roosters (or any roosters at all if you’re not allowed them!).

Without professional venting at the baby chick’s birth, it can be very difficult to determine whether your young Rhode Island Reds are hens or roos!

We can lend a helping hand. 

Here are the main differences between Rhode Island Red hens and roosters and how you can tell the difference from an adult age all the way down to baby chicks. All to help you prepare your flock accordingly!

Rhode Island Red Hen Vs. Rooster: How To Tell The Difference

When Rhode Island Red chickens have matured, it’s very easy to spot the difference. Even for someone with very little chicken knowledge, you can kind of guess it.

This is because roosters in general are much larger have bigger combs and wattles, and are much more boisterous and loud.

However, the younger the chicken is, the more challenging determining the sex becomes. At the young ages of 1-6 weeks, you will barely see any difference!

To help you understand what chicks you are dealing with, here are all the main physical and behavioral differences between a hen and a rooster of a Rhode Island Red.

Size & Body

Like with most chicken breeds, the first clue helping you to spot the difference between a Rhode Island Red hen and a rooster comes down to its size, stature, and body shape.

Because it’s a rooster’s duty to protect their flock and dominate their hens, they need to grow bigger and stronger and develop better weapons to fight off predators.

You’ll notice that Rhode Island Red roosters stand more upright, at about 20-22 inches in height, weighing about 15 pounds.

Hens tend to stay closer to the ground, and only stretch up to around 15-16 inches in height, weighing in at about 10 pounds.

Unfortunately, at a younger age than maturity, while your hens and roosters are still pullets and cockerels, they will virtually be the same height and weight, making it harder to distinguish from each other based on just their body size.

Wattles & Comb

Just a quick knowledge check. Wattles are the dangly bits below the chicken’s head. The comb refers to the protruding red crest that grows on the top of their head.

Although both hens and roosters can grow wattles and combs, Rhode Island Red roosters grow their wattles and combs much earlier than hens, from around 6-8 weeks old. This occurs only after several more months for Rhode Island Red hens.

When fully grown, there is no mistaking a rooster for a hen, as their wattles and comb grow to be 3-4 times the size of their hens!

In fact, this is the main differentiator of hens and roosters in most chicken breeds, from silkie hens and roosters to ISA Brown hens and roosters, even to more obscure breeds like the silver laced wyandotte.

Color Difference

One of the simplest differences between Rhode Island Red hens and roosters is the color of their plumage. 

Hens’ feathers are usually more muted in hue than roosters’. This muted color provides natural camouflage for the hen when she has to sit on her eggs. That way, she’ll blend in with her surroundings and avoid being spotted by predators.

The Rhode Island Red hen’s plumage is typically a lighter reddish-brown, whereas the rooster’s plumage is a much darker, deeper shade of red, similar to burgundy. It’s not uncommon for Rhode Island Red roosters to also have bluish tinges on their tail feathers, or some white feathers too.

Unfortunately this color difference doesn’t become as obvious until about 8-12 weeks old.


Aside from the many subtle physical differences between a Rhode Island Red hen and rooster, there are also clear temperament differences.

If you’ve ever known a rooster you’ll know what I mean here!

Just like many roosters, the Rhode Island Red is very protective, much more boisterous, active, and clearly takes care of its flock.

You’ll notice these roosters will watch over them as they eat, run over if there is any conflict or a debacle, and will generally follow and trail your hens.

If there is any apparent danger they will round up your hens and shepherd them away from the danger.

Around the age of 16 weeks, the rooster will begig crowing. Though this doesn’t guarantee that it’s a rooster, even hens can be very loud in the morning too! 

Rhode Island Red Baby Chicks Male Or Female? 

With any baby chick under about 4 weeks old, it’s very hard to tell the difference based on size, color, temperament, or any other physical characteristics.

In some chicken breeds, males and females grow different colored feathers from one another even as baby chicks.

Unfortunately in Rhode Island Reds, both the males and females appear the same from about 0-6 weeks: being of equal size and sporting brownish-red plumage with some white feathers on their chests and wingtips.

Rhode Island Red 6 Weeks Old Male Or Female? 

From as early as 6-8 weeks old, your Rhode Island Reds should start showing some initial physical characteristics that can help you determine whether it’s a male or female.

To note the most obvious sign of a male is early wattle and comb growth. 

This is because Rhode Island Red roosters will begin to develop their wattles from as young as 6-8 weeks old, whereas it will take hens months longer to start showing any real wattle growth.

Further to this, hens won’t grow their combs till much later too, whereas a rooster will begin to show a bright red comb anywhere between 8-10 weeks old (if not earlier!)

Still, there are subtle differences between their wings, bodies, and colors from a younger age, but the presence of wattles and combs are the first true tell-tale signs of their sex.

To Sum Up

So, differentiating between Rhode Island Red hens and roosters isn’t so difficult when they’re adults, particularly if you’re familiar with their appearances and temperament differences.

When it comes to knowing whether your Rhode Island Red baby chicks are male or female, you may have to wait until about 6 weeks when you will start to see some clear differences in their wattles and combs.

Remember, young Rhode Island Red females will not grow their wattles and combs for many months, whereas you can see the growth of wattles and combs on young males from as early as 6 weeks old!

With the above-mentioned characteristics, you should be able to expand your skillset and learn new tricks to tell apart the Rhode Island Red hen and rooster.

4 thoughts on “Rhode Island Red Hen Vs. Rooster (With Pictures!)”

  1. I believe I have two roosters out of eight. I have four Rhode Island reds and four Plymouth rocks. Question: Is it ok to have two roosters or should I find a home for one. Thanks!

    • Hey Donna,

      It depends on your flock really. If they’ve all been raised together it should be OK to keep 2 roosters for 6 hens, but certainly no more.

      If you do notice aggression in the flock then you may wish to separate the roosters or rehouse one of them, but it’s not always necessary!


  2. I have RIR that’s about 5 mos old that crowed yesterday morning, & I’m not sure it’s a hen or roo. it barely has a comb, & absolutely no wattle. it has beautiful tail feathers that are curved, & flowy, & have a sheen to them that’s very dark. it looks like a roo, but acts like a hen. I’d say too, but there is absolutely no wattle. At this age, wouldn’t it have a wattle by now if it was a roo? I hatched it myself, & don’t remember what it looked like as a chick. pls help, & thank you very much!


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