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The Rhode Island Red were originally bred in Adamsville, a village which is part of Little Compton, Rhode Island. One of the foundation sires of the breed was a black-breasted red Malay cock which was imported from England. This cock is on display at the Smithsonian Institution as the father of the Rhode Island Red breed.
In 1925, the Rhode Island Red Club of America donated funds for an elegant monument to the Rhode Island Red in Adamsville, near the baseball field and across the street from what used to be Abraham Manchester's restaurant. (The monument is now on the National Register of Historic Places.) A competing monument to the Rhode Island Red, claiming its creation not for the poultry fanciers, but for the farmers who grew them commercially in great numbers in Little Compton, was erected by the state in 1954 a mile or so (about two kilometers) south of Adamsville.
Rhode Island Reds and Sussex are also used for many modern hybrid breeds. Many modern hybrid hens have Rhode Island Red fathers, mainly due to the prolific egg laying characteristic of the Rhode Island Red, which is passed down through the males. Rhode Island Reds cocks were hybridized with Black Shumen chicken and Starozagorska red chicken.
Frequent layers, Rhode Island Reds are noted for their brown eggs. Although they can sometimes be stubborn, they can end up producing up to 275 eggs a year but a healthy one can lay more. When free ranged, their first year eggs can be too large to fit comfortably in standard or medium egg cartons. Healthy hens can lay up to 5–6 eggs per week depending on their care and treatment. Rhode Island Red hens lay many more eggs than an average hen if provided plenty of quality feed.