1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

How to Pick the Right Chicken Breeds for You

  1. Mountain Peeps
    How to Pick the Right Chicken Breeds
    [​IMG]
    (Mix of breeds)
    Chickens lay more than 300 eggs per year. They are very meaty and heavy. They are beautiful and delicate and are great for showing. They are affectionate and lap hogs. All chickens are like this right? Wrong! There are hundreds of different chicken breeds out there, all of the same species but all known for their different characteristics and traits. Although unique in their own way, chicken breeds have been arranged in several categories. Let’s take a look at what you need to consider about these breeds when choosing your flock.

    Temperament
    [​IMG]
    (Curious wyandotte hen)
    Chickens all have different personalities. There are some breeds that will sit on your lap or shoulder and eat from your hand. Whereas others will run from you, peck you or never let you near them. If you have young children, you definitely will need to look into buying docile chicken breeds. Also, even if a chicken breed is labeled as docile, doesn’t mean they will come into your home already a lap lover; they need to be tamed. It’s best to start when they are babies. (See this link for more on taming chicks from an early age https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-tame-chickens-from-the-start)
    Some of the chicken breeds best known for their affectionate personalities include:
    *Orpington
    *Australorp
    *Silkie
    *Cochin
    *Sussex
    *Naked Neck
    *Millie Fleur (usually)
    *Faverolle
    *Barred Rock
    *Jersey Giant
    *Brahma
    *Easter Egger (usually)
    *Buckeye
    *Wyandotte (usually)


    Climate Hardiness
    [​IMG]
    (Swedish Flower hen)
    Freezing winters and scorching summers. Negative 15 or 115 degrees F. We can have some pretty intense weather where we all live. Some chicken breeds just can’t handle certain climates. For example, fluffy, heavy breeds such as dorkings are best suited to live in cold areas and will overheat easily in hot areas. Breeds like Andalusians, on the other hand, are best built for hot areas and will get frostbite if they live in cold places. Before you get set on a breed, you need to consider what your climate weather extremes are.
    Best chicken breeds for cold areas:
    *Sussex
    *Araucana
    *Cochin
    *Orpingon
    *Aseel
    *Ameraucana
    *Rosecomb
    *Silkie
    *Java
    *Australorp
    *Hamburg
    *Dominique
    *Brahma
    *Faverolle
    *Wyandotte
    *Old English Game
    *Jersey Giant
    *Welsummer
    *
    Chanteclar

    [​IMG]
    (Swedish Flower hen)
    Best chicken breeds for hot areas include:
    *Andalusian
    *Cubalaya
    *Brahma
    *Sumatra
    *Modern Game
    *Buttercup
    *Aseel
    *Fayoumi
    *Sebright
    *Rosecomb
    *Leghorn
    *Minorca
    *Sussex
    *Rhode Island Red
    *New Hampshire Red


    Production
    [​IMG]
    (Rhode Island Red hen)
    Most of us are drawn to chickens because they produce food. Their eggs are tasty and nutritious, their meat luscious and flavorful. While all hens lay eggs and all chickens are made of meat, some breeds lay more eggs and some breeds are larger and meatier.
    The best chicken breeds for eggs include:
    *Leghorn
    *Sex link
    *Rhode Island Red
    *Ancona
    *New Hampshire Red
    *Maran
    *Welsummer

    [​IMG]
    (Australorp hens)
    The best chicken breeds for the table include:
    *Cornish
    *Jersey Giant
    *Brolier
    *Dorking
    *Faverolle
    *Orpington
    *Rhode Island Red
    *Barred Rock


    Space Requirements
    [​IMG]
    (Buff Orpington hen)
    All chickens take up space. Some take up more space and some take up less. Bantam breeds will always take up less room than standard chickens. Especially large breeds such as Orpingtons, Jersey Giants, Faverolles and Wyandottes all require more space than lighter, smaller breeds such as Sex Links, Fayoumis, Leghorns and Easter Eggers. You also need to take into account the feather type of the chickens you plan to obtain. Phoniex and Yokohama chickens have very long tails and will need more space to keep these tail feathers from breaking. Chickens need a minimum of 4 square feet per bird in their coop and 6-10 square feet per bird in their run.
    [​IMG]
    (Barred Rock and Australorp hens)
    Since chickens require a good deal of space, you will need to decide if you are going to be free ranging them or confining them. Some chicken breeds cannot be kept in confinement. All chickens can free range but some make better targets for predators and some can’t forage very well.
    Chicken breeds that don’t do well in confinement include:
    *Ancona
    *Andalusain
    *Sebright
    *Buttercup
    *Modern Game
    *Sumatra
    *Malay
    *Cubalaya
    *Fayoumi
    *Old English Game
    *Hamburg
    *Minorca
    *New Hampshire Red

    [​IMG]
    (Speckled Sussex and Buff Orpington hens)
    Chicken breeds that forage well include:
    *Naked Neck
    *Campine
    *Andalusain
    *Sussex
    *Welsummer
    *New Hampshire Red
    *Buttercup
    *Maran
    *Old English Game
    *Java
    *Delaware
    *Rosecomb
    *Barred Rock
    *Sebright
    *Minorca
    *Hamburg
    *Wyandotte
    *Dominique
    *Houdan
    *Sultan
    *Chanteclar
    *Millie Fleur
    *Leghorn
    *Fayoumi

    (Note that white chickens will be an easier target for predators no matter what the breed.)

    Time Requirements
    [​IMG]
    (Hand feeding my flock)
    All chickens require your time every day. On average you will be spending 10-60 minutes with them daily. But depending on how you intend to use your chickens will tell you how much time you are going to be spending with them. Some breeds require more “human” time than others. Docile chickens will need to be handled every day if possible. Whereas wild breeds that you don’t care about their friendliness, will only need to be fed and watered every day.

    4H/ Fair
    [​IMG]
    (Millie Fleur rooster)
    You may be looking into getting chickens because you are in 4H or because you want to participate in fair or poultry shows. Chickens are great for these purposes! However, there are a few things to think about. First off, not all chickens are meant to be shown. Some are simply too wild or plain ugly! If you intend to show your chickens, you need to tame them. At the fair they will be held in different positions and constantly touched. Secondly, most ornamental chicken breeds must have their food intake monitored, their living quarters cleaned very often and their egg laying monitored. Lastly, you must be aware that chickens that are constantly at shows and fairs will get sick more easily since they are exposed to disease. You will need to practice good biosecurity and realize that you will probably be dealing with a lot of sickness and loss. (Here is a link on biosecurity https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/biosecurity-for-the-rest-of-us)
    Best chicken breeds for exhibition include:
    *Old English Game
    *Ancona
    *Sumatra
    *Naked Neck
    *Sebright
    *Phoniex
    *Maran (Best for egg shows)
    *Silkie
    *Cochin
    *Sussex (Speckled variety is best for shows)
    *Wyandotte
    *Polish
    *Welsummer (Best for egg shows)


    Chickens are fun to raise!
    The squawking, pecking, digging, eating, running, preening, laying and dirt bathing provide endless, abounding, entertainment! There are so many breeds to choose from and it may seem a bit overwhelming. But once you narrow down what you want, what your climate temperatures are, how much time you have and how much room you have, you will be able to make your decision much easier. I hope this article has helped you narrow down what chicken breeds might best fit your needs.

    Happy chicken raising![​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Special thanks to:
    @Chickenchick11
    @dan26552
    @Kelsie2290
    @mymilliefleur
    @TwoCrows

    Share This Article

Comments

To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. BantamFan4Life
    Nice article!
  2. jgoldy2
  3. ChickyChickens
    WOW...love it!! Very informative!! It will be GREAT for those members who will still have to get chickens!! Wish I was new and didn't have chickens...LOVED IT!
  4. lightchick
    Awesome article MP!
  5. familyfarm1
  6. Chickenchick11
    Wonderful article Mountain Peeps!
  7. TwoCrows
    What a great article!! Love the pics! :)
  8. mymilliefleur
    Great Article!!
  9. Yorkshire Coop
    Great article!! Very informative [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  10. Americano Blue
    Awesome, very helpful

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by