“The Rhode Island Red by its own unquestionable merits supplemented by the ceaseless, untiring and mighty efforts of its supporters, has grown to such a pitch of popularity that…there is scarcely a solitary spot where the breed does not reign supreme. Its position is as secure as anything can ever well be…And no testimonial is more eloquent of the sterling, undeniable merits of the great Red breed than the outstanding, dominating, brimming-over-with-meaning fact that it has emerged from all the trials and difficulties of the great war, not only undimmed, but holding a position that, for strength and security, is unapproached by any of its compeers.” -George Scott, The Rhode Island Red: Its History, Breeding, Management, Exhibition and Judging, (Introduction, ca. 1920)
When we wanted to express our excitement and enthusiasm for this breed, it was hard to come up with a more eloquent description than that given by Mr. Scott nearly 100 years ago. That it could even be written nearly a century ago, demonstrates the depth of quality and reputation of this American original. That this was written by an Englishman only further exemplifies the renown of this bird.
With the help of our friend Ron Fogle, we have been able to acquire a truly heirloom line of Rhode Island Reds (RIR). The Fogle line is the continuation of a line of single-comb RIR’s that was established many years, possibly decades ago. It has been in the hands of some noteworthy keepers of RIR’s, including Robert Blosl, Andre St. Romain, and Master Breeder- Ricky Bates. As a result of his wonderful work with this line, we refer to it as the Fogle line of heritage Rhode Island Reds. This line has been recognized as one of the top five lines of heritage RIR’s in the country.
The heritage RIR lines have been closed to outbreeding for many generations, in order to preserve the efforts of the families that have worked countless hours to preserve the outstanding qualities of this breed. The Fogle line has been developed to encourage not only conformation, but also produce a respectable number of eggs. We feel this is the perfect representation of the heritage Rhode Island Red. We are delighted to be among the few lucky homes of the Fogle RIR’s on the West Coast. By establishing flocks of this line in differing climates and terrior (sorry for the French, but its the best word), we can add diversity to the line without outbreeding. The heritage RIR is found both on ALBC’s list of conservation breeds, and Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. This project is the essence of what Sunbird Farms stands for; an opportunity to contribute to, and preserve, a true treasure of American poultry genetics.
Update, Dateline February 2017
In early 2014, we made the difficult decision to move away from this breed. Mr. Fogle was an amazing partner and we are grateful for his generosity, both with his time and with his outstanding RIR genetics. In the end, they just weren’t the right fit for us, but we would encourage others to seek out the heritage lines of this wonderful breed.
If you’re interested in the breeds we are currently working with, you can find those on our Store page. If you want to discuss our experience with the RIR’s, feel free to go to our Contact page and drop us a note.