Choosing the right breed of chicken is much like choosing a husband. There are many unique breeds, all needing different requirements. When choosing the right breed for your flock, make sure you choose correctly.
First of all, you must determine the purpose of your flock. This means finding why you wanted chickens in the first place.
For meat lovers:
The most common meat birds are known as Cornish or Indian game. These offer broad breats and tasty meat. They can be crossed with Sussex, Wyandotte and Rhode Island Red to breed hybrid chickens that grow in 8-10 weeks. The orpington is also a very good table bird.
For the city chick and family pet:
Living in a smaller home, you must consider smaller chickens. These include the bantam varieties, like Pekins or Silkies. They are known for their gentle nature and friendly personality. Having feathered feet, they are great backyard pets but need a little more care than other chickens. Due to their small size, they are also targets to predators such as hawks and neighbourhood cats.
Hens are relatively tough and can survive most climates, but keep in mind that roosters' combs can get frostbitten. If living in a very hot or very cold climate, you will need to provide your flock with ventilation/insulation.
Heavy-feathered breeds like the show orpington can become very hot because of their bulk of plumage. All breeds will need plenty of water, shade and shelter.
For the chicken fancier:
If you'd just love to have your own flock for no particular reason, then the orpington is the breed for you. It was originally develloped as a dual purpose breed, suitable for both eggs and meat. Buff orpingtons are especially docile and go broody often, being great mums. Event though orpingtons are rather large, they cause less destruction than other chickens. This is mainly because they are less focused on foraging.
For the egg productor:
If egg production is your highest priority, look for the Rhode Island Red,Sussex, White leghorn and Barred Rock breeds, which are great layers of large and small brown/cream coloured eggs. RIR have a reputation for their intelligence and Sussex chickens are considered good-natured, but both breeds are active foragers. Leghorn can be aggressive with other chicken breeds, but they and Barred Rock usually have decent temperaments. More productive breeds will cause more damage on your garden or backyard. You will find that hybrids are often much better layers, and are hardier than purbred breeds. Egg productors usually lay around 200 eggs per year, but hybrids can often lay 300+ per year. Many people also recommend the Wyandotte and Faverolles as good layers.
After choosing the right breed, do your research! Make sure your coop or backyard is correctly set up and you have everything needed to care for your chosen breed...