Buckeye Chickens are quite similar to the Rhode Island Red in size and utility. However, their comb styles set the two apart. The two breeds were actually developed around the same time, but in different parts of the country. Prior to the introduction of the Rhode Island Red in the West, Ohio breeder Mrs. Nettie Metcalf was working on a cold-hardy dual-purpose red chicken breed. The Buckeye is also the only APA standard breed to have been created by a woman.
The Buckeye Chicken was originally named the “Pea Combed Rhode Island Red”. However, the name detracted from the popularity and uniqueness of the bird. In 1902, Mrs. Netcalf first exhibited the breed as a Buckeye. The Buckeye is a dark mahogany color that was said to resemble the rich seed color of the Ohio Buckeye Plant. The Buckeye has a small pea comb and tight feathering. Thus, it is an incredibly winter hardy chicken breed. The breed was developed with the bloodlines of the Black Breasted Red Game Fowl, Buff Cochin, and Barred Plymouth Rock Chickens.
The Buckeye Chicken is a dual-purpose breed, and the hens are good producers of medium-sized brown eggs. In many parts of the country the Buckeye is prized for it’s unique taste. This slow growing bird develops more rich dark meat than most other dual purpose breeds. Buckeye chickens have an active disposition and do not bear confinement well. However, they are excellent free range chickens, and they have even been known to hunt mice. They are incredibly friendly and tolerant of human interaction.