Buying chickens- What breeds are right for you?
Buying chickens is super exciting, knowing that you'll be raising them for a purpose... whether it's for egg laying, meat or show. But we all know it's not just that simple. First, we have to do lots of research to decide which breeds are right for us. This article will offer some pointers to possibly make your job a bit easier for you.
Selecting the right breeds for you~
Best egg laying breeds-
There are many great egg laying breeds out there. Most people today are buying chickens to have their own fresh eggs. These below breeds are great egg layers, but there is also a lot more than these! I don't have enough time to go through all of them but here are some of the best ones and most popular.
The Star breed lays brown eggs, and you should expect about 280 eggs per year. This is one of the most common breeds that commercial egg industries use. They tend to be a very tough and resilient chicken and rarely ever turn broody. So if you are looking for an all year round egg layer who is easy to look after, a Star chicken is definitely the pick for you.
The Barred Rock is an ideal pick for a first time chicken keeper who is looking for a hen that lays eggs roughly once every two days. A healthy Barred Rock should lay around 200 eggs a year. These eggs will be medium sized and are a light brown color. Barred Rocks are a large bird that is much better suited to the free range lifestyle. They are very friendly birds who can easily be tamed.
Rhode Island Red-
Rhode Island Reds are known as a ‘dual purpose’ chicken. This means they can be raised for either eggs or meat. They are one of the most popular backyard chicken breeds because they are tough and lay lots of eggs. You should expect a young Rhode Island Red to lay 250 eggs a year. These eggs are brown and medium sized.
They are more than capable of looking after themselves, and are well known for being tough. Rhode Islands are very friendly and are commonly picked by first time chicken keepers.
Leghorns are also one of the most common breed the commercial egg industries use. They should lay around 250 eggs per year. These eggs will be white and medium size. They are skittish and flighty birds. They would still make an ideal pick for a beginner, anyone looking to tame their chickens shouldn’t choose Leghorns as they are known for being shy and hard to tame.
Marans are another dual purpose hen and are renowned for their vibrant dark brown eggs and exception meal quality. A Maran will lay around 200 eggs a year. These eggs are a vibrant dark brown color and are medium sized. Marans don’t require much space to roam in and are a very gentle hen. With this being said though, they aren’t very tame and don’t make good ‘pets’.
Best meat breeds-
Lots of people today have meat birds. With meat birds you can have your own organic meat without having to buy the stuff at the store. These breeds below are some of the best meat birds out there.
Broilers are chickens raised specifically for meat. They grow much faster than egg laying hens or dual purpose breeds. Most broilers have a fast growth rate with a high feed conversion ratio and low activity levels. In five weeks, broilers can reach a dressed weight of 4-5 pounds.
The Cornish Cross is an excellent, fast growing broiler. Harvest time for a 4 pound broiler is normally 7 to 8 weeks. Their body make-up is superb, with broad breasts, large legs and thighs and a rich yellow skin.
This bird was developed to replace the turkey. A purebred chicken, this Giant’s weight averages 11-13 pounds. Jersey Giants however grow at a slower rate than other meat birds, about 6 months to full maturity, making them undesirable to the commercial industry. While originally a meat chicken, today, the Giant is prized as a dual-purpose bird, laying extra-large brown eggs.
Best show breeds-
There's lots of cool, beautiful, funky and funny show breeds! I know I have lots of favorites, but I'll name some of the best show breeds that are known for winning first prize. Usually bantams are the best breed to use for showing.
D'uccles have been a favorite for many years, known for their sweet disposition and beautiful colors that they come in. Starting off with the Porcelain, Belgian and Mille fluer. Personally, the Porcelain is my favorite! I have one and she's the sweetest thing... plus her coloration is just gorgeous!
They are kind birds, but roosters may get protective around their hens. They are often entered into poultry contests and often win first prize. Due to their light, flighty nature it might be best to keep them contained to a smaller, fenced off area. Sebrights often will happily live among other breeds as well.
The Frizzle is a breed of chicken with characteristic curled or frizzled plumage. They are sweet with a gentle disposition and are great for kids. They come in blue, cuckoo, black and white colors. They also have Polish, Cochin and bantam Frizzles. They are known for their broodiness but can be a great show breed too.
The Silkie is a breed of chicken named for its atypically fluffy plumage, which is said to feel like silk, and satin. Silkies are one of the most tame and gentle chicken breeds. They are also known for their broodiness and are great show birds. Silkies are also great for kids. They come in all varieties of colors, bearded and non-bearded.
Cochins are known for their great mothering skills, great personality and wonderful color variety. But of all the unique characteristics of this wonderful breed of chicken there is one that perhaps stands out above all others – personality. Cochins are noted for extremely gentle dispositions. They also make great show birds and have been known to make first prize.
Thanks so much for reading everyone. I hope this has made it a bit easier for you all to pick the right chicken breeds for your flock. Look for the second part of this article. Buying chickens- What to look for?