Red Star Chickens 101: Complete Care Guide (2021)

Red Star chickens are one of the most commonly kept breeds of chickens, and it’s not hard to see why.

They are egg-squisite in the laying department, and are one of the best breeds for egg production.

But, if you’re after a chicken dinner, then you’ll be pleased to know that Red Stars are dual purpose – they’ll provide you with plenty of meat to go around! Their docile temperament also makes them a delight to keep.

All of these factors make the Red Star chicken one of my favorite breeds to own, and my flock is never without at least one of these brilliant birds.

History

Red Star chickens were created in the 1950s when backyard chicken keeping had dipped in popularity.

In its place came large-scale poultry industries.

Demand for eggs was high, so the answer was a chicken breed that could produce a lot of eggs on a regular and consistent basis.

Enter the fantastic egg-laying Red Star chicken!

Hybrids

During the mid 10th century, the notion of hybrid chickens and crossbreeds being inferior to purebreds began to quickly change.

The creation of hybrid crosses like the Red Star chicken altered this perspective, paving the way for chickens to become everyday goods rather than a luxury food.

Development

The original Red Star chickens were developed by crossing a few different breeds.

One of the most popular sex linked bred pairs are a Rhode Island White hen and a Rhode Island rooster.

White Plymouth Rocks and Delawares are also sometimes used.

Red Stars are also known as Red Sex Link, Golden Comet, Golden Buff, Cinnamon Queen, Golden Sex Link, and ISA brown chickens.

What Are Red Star Chickens Known For?

Red Star chickens are sex linked and known for their excellent egg laying ability.

These chickens were created for egg production, and are a popular breed to raise both by commercial egg producers and families.

How Long Do Red Star Chickens Live?

On average, these chickens live for between 5 and 8 years.

Your bird’s genetics, diet, environment, and overall health will influence their lifespan, so ensure you provide them with everything they need to live long and healthy.

Breed Standards

Red Star chickens are a sex-linked chicken.

This means that female and male chicks are different colors, making them easy to tell apart (more on this later).

While figuring out the sex of Red Star chicks is a straightforward process, breeding a hen with a Red Star rooster will result in offspring that doesn’t adhere to the breed’s standards.

That’s because sex-linked breeds like the Red Star do not breed true.

NOTE

If you’d like to breed Red Star chickens, consider adding some Rhode Island Red, Rhode Island White, and White Rock chickens to your flock.

Color

That said, the majority of hatcheries sell Rhode Island Red crosses, which are a light to dark reddish brown.

There will usually be flecks of white or black in the bird’s feathers too.

Red Stars have yellow beaks and legs, and hens have a single comb.

Both male and female Red Stars are clean legged, which means their legs are completely featherless.

NOTE

Red Star roosters are typically white or yellowish-white in color with a bit of brown appearing on the saddle.

Sexing Red Sex Link Chickens – How To Tell Male and Female Chicks Apart

As I mentioned earlier, Red Star chickens are a sex-linked breed, so males and females are quite easy to tell apart at just a day old, shortly after they’ve hatched rather than when they are weeks of age.

Female chicks are a light brown color and male chicks are usually white or light yellow.

Sometimes the color differences between males and females can be very subtle at just a say old.

NOTE

Due to this breed’s sex-linked identification and their inability to breed true, males are usually culled or raised for meat.

Appearance – Red Star Chicks, Hens, and Roosters

Red Stars are considered a medium-sized large fowl, with hens being a reddish brown color and males being a white or yellowish-white color.

These fantastic egg-laying birds have orangey-red eyes, yellow legs, and yellow beaks.

Characteristics

Red Star chickens have a single comb, medium-sized wattles, and red earlobe.

Male chicks are a white or yellow color, whereas females are a light shade of brown.

As they mature, females will turn reddish brown color, but males will retain their white or yellowish-white coloring.

Colors

Colors will vary depending on the breeds used in breeding the Red Star, but most specimens available at hatcheries are Rhode Island Red crosses.

These birds will be a deep red brown color.

How Big Do Red Star Chickens Get?

Red Stars have a rather stocky build, and hens normally weigh around 6 pounds.

Red Star males are a little larger, usually weighing around 8 pounds.

These birds only come in standard sizes – there currently isn’t a bantam variant available.

Brooding – How Often Do Chickens Red Stars Go Broody?

While this hybrid chicken is great at laying eggs, broodiness is not their strong point.

Hens don’t often go broody and will not usually sit on their eggs to help them hatch.

If you want to raise and hatch chicks, you might want to get an incubator.

However, this breed’s lack of broodiness does mean that they are one of the few breeds you can use at maximum capacity.

Less chicks to hatch means more eggs for you!

Age of Laying – When Do Red Stars Become Egg Layers?

A Red Star pullet (hen under a year old) will begin laying eggs at around 18 to 22 weeks of age.

This means you don’t have to wait too long for your Red Star hens to become a prolific egg layer or start raising chicks.

How Many Eggs Per Year Does a Red Star Hen Lay?

Red Star chickens can lay a lot of eggs as long as they are kept in the right conditions and are fed a nutritious diet.

Females can lay anywhere between 280 and 360 eggs per year, but around 300 eggs per year are more common.

Either way, that’s a lot of eggs for you to enjoy!

How Many Eggs Do Red Stars Lay Per Week?

Red Star hens normally lay between 4 to 5 eggs a week, but your bird could give you an egg every day if they are extremely well cared for.

Egg Size

Not only are Red Stars hens a prolific egg layer, but they’re a large brown egg layer too. This hybrid breed produces large eggs – perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Red Star Chicken Egg Color – White Eggs or Brown Eggs?

Red Star hens lay large brown eggs.

Did you know that poultry with white earlobes usually lay white eggs, while chickens with red earlobes like the Red Star normally lay brown eggs?

Both brown eggs and white eggs taste the same, but your bird’s diet will influence the flavor of their eggs.

Are Red Star Chickens Good for Meat?

So, as we’ve already established, Red Sex Link chickens are one of the best breeds for egg production. But, what about meat?

Red Stars are considered a dual-purpose breed (one that is used for both eggs and meat), so they are a good bird to raise for meat.

Weight

This bird will provide you with a high yield of meat as they are quite a stocky chicken.

Females usually weigh around 6 pounds, but males are even bigger at around 8 pounds in weight.

Coop and Free Range Setup

Red Stars like a lot of room, both in their run and coop.

You’ll want to find the biggest coop possible for this breed to keep them well and healthy.

Red Stars are rather adept at flying, so it’s best to use high perches and roosts for this breed.

High Flyers

The coop walls should be tall to allow your bird to spread their wings even when they’re not free ranging.

Additionally, find poultry netting to go over the top of your Red Star chicken’s run.

This breed can jump over even the highest of fences (over 6 feet!), so without netting, you might find your bird attempting to escape.

How Much Space Do Chickens Red Stars Need?

Red Stars are a fairly large breed of chicken, so they require a decent-sized coop.

As a general rule of thumb, a coop should give each chicken at least 2 to 3 square feet of space.

In an outdoor run, each chicken will need at least 8 to 10 square feet.

Like most chicken breeds, Red Stars enjoy foraging, so try to offer them a large and tall outdoor run or pen to explore.

NOTE

Remember to use poultry netting for this breed’s run so they can’t flee.

Special Considerations

Flying/Net

If you didn’t already know, the Red Star chicken can fly rather well, at least compared to many other breeds of chicken.

This means that they require a tall coop with high perches and roosts to let them spread their wings far and wide.

The Red Sex Link chicken also needs a spacious free range area with netting.

The breed can jump over even the highest of fences, so poultry netting is a must for your bird’s outside run.

Dust Bathing

Dust bathing helps your chicken keep clean – my Red Stars in particular love dust bathing, more so than my other breeds.

You should provide your flock with a dust bath so they can keep their feathers pristine and free of parasites.

I use a mixture of soil (one without clay so it doesn’t clump together) and wood ash in my flock’s dust bath area.

Climate – Are Red Stars Heat Tolerant and Cold Hardy?

The Red Star chicken tolerates all climate conditions relatively well, but their single comb and wattles are prone to developing frostbite in extremely cold weather.

Chickens that are subjected to overly cold conditions without protective measures can quickly decline.

Cold Weather

If you’re expecting the weather to turn cold, make sure you provide your Red Star chicken with plenty of dry nesting material (straw is a good choice) and keep the coop well ventilated to prevent moisture buildup. You should also position roosting perches wide and far apart.

Signs of Frostbite in Chickens

If your chicken coop is too cold, your flock can develop frostbite.

There are many signs of this condition, including:

  • Color change of tissues (pale, greyish-blue, whitening, lightening, or grayish-yellow)
  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Limping
  • Blackened tissues
  • Swelling
  • Cold or hard touch to tissues
  • Blisters filled with a clear or milky liquid

Variety

Although chickens will forage outside, you’ll still need to make sure you feed them a range of foods to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

This is especially true for females to ensure they lay as many large eggs as possible.

Commercial Feed

First thing’s first, a good-quality commercial poultry feed should be the main part of your Red Stars’ diet each day.

The majority of chicken feeds consist of grains (like soybeans, corn, and oats), grit (limestone or ground oyster shell), and vitamins (calcium).

You can find poultry feed in pellet, mash, or crumbed form.

Types

There are a few advantages and disadvantages for each.

Crumbs

Crumbed and mash feeds are easier to eat for chicks, pullets, and small breeds of chicken

However, they create a lot of dust and waste, which can attract pests.

Pellet

Pellet feeds are easier for adult poultry to eat and are less messy than crumbed and mash feeds. Personally, I like to use pellet feeds for my flock.

TIP

Red Stars like to forage, so you can scatter some seeds and grains for them to find around their free-range area. My Red Stars chickens particularly like corn and wheat.

Fruits/Vegetables and Food Scraps

Alongside a good-quality poultry feed, your Golden Comet requires some different types of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.

Provided the fruits and veggies are safe for chickens, these feathered friends will devour pretty much anything.

My female chickens really enjoy spinach, carrot, banana, silverbeet, berries, apple, broccoli, and cabbage.

I also feed them food scraps like cooked rice, cooked, pasta, and bread – these particularly go down well!

Leftovers

If you want to feed your Red Stars leftovers, avoid anything that contains uncooked beans, raw potatoes, garlic, avocado, chocolate, uncooked rice, citrus fruits, and apricots. You should also steer away from foods that are spoiled or high in salt and fat.

NOTE

If you’re unsure whether a food is safe for chickens, check with a poultry expert or veterinarian first.

Diet

Your Red Star chicken’s dietary requirements will differ depending on their age, size, and sex. Remember, males are a bit larger than females!

Additionally, if your Red Star hen’s eggs are thin or have a soft texture, she may be deficient in calcium.

NOTE

An egg-laying bird with low calcium levels may require a calcium supplement, but double check with your vet first. There may be other health issues that are causing your bird to lay abnormal eggs.

Grit and Chickens

Every hen and rooster needs grit in their diet to keep them well and healthy.

This is necessary to help them digest their food, so you’ll want to ensure you give your flock plenty of it.

Gravel, stone or ground up shells will provide your bird with grit.

TIP

If your Red Stars don’t have access to an outdoor area with grass or dirt, it’s especially important that they get grit in their diet through other means.

Poisonous Plants

When your male and female Red Stars are free ranging, you’ll want to make sure they can’t access any poisonous plants or weeds.

Some plants that are known to be toxic for poultry are:

  • Morning Glory
  • Daffodil
  • Foxglove
  • Azaleas
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Tulips
  • Rhododendron
  • Nightshades
  • Jimson Weed
  • Castor Bean
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Holly
  • Monkshood
  • Trumpet Vine
  • Bracken Fern
  • Iris
  • Tansy
  • Lobelia
  • Lupines
  • Nicotiana
  • Amaryllis

Water

All chicken breeds need access to clean water every day.

This should be changed at least once a day.

My flock is a little messy, so I normally refill their water container a few times each day.

Place your birds’ water container to make it easy for them to drink without bending down.

NOTE

In cold weather, keep an eye out for frozen water – chickens won’t want to drink ice.

I use a heated water container during the winter or when it’s a little cold to avoid this issue.

Temperament and Disposition

They are relatively easy to handle and don’t mind being picked up, which is always helpful when performing health checks every day.

My Red Stars are very easy going and laid back, particularly when I have something they want (i.e, food).

NOTE

However, each bird is different – your Red Star’s unique personality will influence their friendliness.

Some Red Stars are mellow and gentle, while others are a little skittish and flighty.

Are Red Star Chickens Friendly?

With Other Chicken

Red Star chickens can be a little aggressive and territorial towards other chickens, especially if a new hen is introduced to an existing flock.

For this reason, I’d advise adding Red Star chickens to a flock last rather than first.

My Golden Comet females were the last chickens I added to my flock, and this seems to have worked pretty well.

Aggression

I haven’t encountered many problems with aggression so far, other than one or two minor squabbles over food.

I have a pretty large coop and outdoor range area for all my chicken breeds to ensure each one of my feathered friends gets plenty of space. Red Stars like a lot of room and don’t want to be kept in cramped living quarters.

TIP

Subjecting your bird to a small environment could result in aggression and territorialism, so try and give your Red Star hen a large free range area and coop.

With People

Like I mentioned earlier, the Red Star chicken is normally docile and mellow bird.

They are tolerant of being petted and picked up, which makes them a good breed for first-time chicken owners and households with children.

Are Red Star Chickens Noisy?

The Red Star chicken isn’t the quietest of chicken breeds, so if you’re after a chicken with a low level of noise, this one may not be a good fit for you.

From personal experience, I find that this bird has a moderate to high level of noise.

Some different breeds that are known for being relatively quiet include the Cochin, Ameraucana, Brahmas, and Australorps chicken.

Ailments

Some of the most common ailments that can affect the Red Star chicken include mites, lice, bumblefoot, intestinal parasites, vent gleet, vent prolapse, and egg binding.

Parasites are frustrating, and you’ll probably find yourself dealing with lice and mites at some point.

However, the best way to prevent these two annoyances are a clean coop/environment and dust baths.

Parasites

If your birds are infested with mites or lice, you can sprinkle some Diatomaceous Earth around their coo or directly onto their feathers (be careful not to get any in their eyes!). A coop mite and lice spray can also be effective.

A Large Clean Coop Is Essential

Keeping your coop clean and hygienic is important no matter what breed of chicken you own.

Not only will your chickens thrive in a tidy habitat, but it will help prevent a lot of illnesses.

TIP

Every night, take away any leftover food from your coop and refill your flock’s water container.

Water

Your flock needs fresh water even when they’re resting.

Each day, remove droppings and dirty nesting material. Change the old bedding and replace it with new.

Lastly, perform a thorough clean of your Red Star’s coop at least twice a year.

Final Thoughts

The Red Star chicken sure is a wonderful breed to raise in a family flock, especially if you’ve got a taste for eggs.

These marvelous egg-laying feathered friends are extremely versatile, whether you want a chicken for eggs, meat, or simply for companionship.

I’ve had my Red Star hens since they were tiny chicks at just a day old – it’s been a few years since then, and they’ve become a huge part of my family.

Share Your Thoughts!

I hope I helped you learn a little more about the radiant Red Star chicken, but let me know if there’s anything you’d like to know about this breed that I haven’t covered.

What do you make of the Red Star chicken?

Be sure to let me know on our social media platforms.

If you’d like to find out more about different chicken breeds or other helpful care tips on raising chicks and a healthy flock, then take a look at our other informative guides.

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Jess Woods
Jess Woods
Founder of Chickens & You. I love raising chickens and creating a self sustainable homestead for my family. I like to spend my time writing and teaching skills for homesteading and self sufficient living. 🐓 👩‍🌾