New Hampshires, also known as New Hampshire Reds, are a relatively recent breed. They began to be developed in New Hampshire and southern Massachusetts around 1910. Beginning with Rhode Island Red parent stock, breeders developed the New Hampshire by continuously selecting for vigor, early maturity, fast growth rate, conformation, egg size and rapid development of full plumage. It is thought that no other bloodlines were crossed with the Rhode Island Red to develop the New Hampshire, a testament to how a breed can be shaped for specific purposes by selective breeding alone.
Color was not a primary concern to the early breeders of the New Hampshire, so plumage colors began to drift from the darker feathering of the Rhode Island Reds to the lighter color of today’s New Hampshires and various shades in between. Early breeder, A.W. Richardson is noted for saying that “the bird is not producing colour for sale, but meat and eggs.” His focus and interest lay in its production traits rather than its color. Commercial producers continued to develop the breed through the 1920s, and in 1935 it was admitted into the APA Standard.
In addition to the New Hampshire’s use as a purebred, the Delaware and New Hampshire cross was also a popular broiler cross before Cornish crosses came into widespread use in the 1950s.
New Hampshires are dual-purpose, traditionally raised for both meat and eggs. They lay large brown eggs and produce a plump carcass. They are fast growing and can be used as broilers or roasters. According to the Standard, live weights for cocks (over a year old) are 8.5 pounds and 7.5 pounds for cockerels (up to a year old). Hens, according to the Standard, will be 6.5 pounds and pullets, 5.5 pounds. The handsome, deep, rich plumage of New Hampshires remains lighter than that of their Rhode Island Red ancestors and is described by some as a “deep chestnut red.”
Traditionally, New Hampshires were bred for dual-purpose use, with a main focus on meat production. Our current line of New Hampshires has been selectively breed for the past five years for a balance between meat and egg production.
New Hampshires can be raised in confinement or free ranged and will tolerate either environment well. We’ve had our New Hampshire breeding flock less than a year and do not yet have full egg laying records. This line of New Hampshires is reported to lay well and reported to have some tendency toward broodiness. Those that go broody tend to make good mothers. In regard to disposition, I would describe our New Hampshires as fairly laid back.
(Click to enlarge photos.)
NEW HAMPSHIRES AT A GLANCE
- Good layers of brown eggs
- Dual-purpose, meat and eggs
- Fast-growing and fast-feathering
- 8 1/2 lb. cocks
- 7 1/2 lb. cockerels
- 6 1/2 lb. hens
- Selectively bred for 6 years
- Breeder: Claborn Farms, Waco, TX