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There are dozens of chicken breeds out there, each with different qualities. But which breed would suit your circumstances best? Here's a rough list of breeds that stand out.


Egg Layers
These breeds have been selected for their outstanding egg-laying abilities.


#1. ISA Brown.
ISA Brown - a cross-breed capable of producing a whopping 300-350 eggs per year - it's easy to see why they have quickly become popular! Also sex-linked. How very handy. However, due to the stress on their reproductive system, ISA Browns do not have a long life expectancy.


#2. Australorp.
A prolific egg-layer, with plenty of eggstra fluff! What more could you want?

Cold hardiness? Friendliness? Beautiful iridescent plumage? May we introduce....the Australorp. An Australorp hen set the record for most eggs per year, at 364. Whew!

#3. Rhode Island Red
An American breed, the Rhode Island Red is a dual-purpose breed, with beautiful red feathering. Hens can lay a nice 250 eggs per year. Not bad!

#4. Marans
Known for their beautiful deep brown eggs, Marans can produce 180+ eggs per year. They come in colour variations Cuckoo, Black Copper, Wheaten, Colombian, Golden Cuckoo and others.

#5. White Leghorn
With the ability to lay 250 beautiful white eggs per year, the Leghorn deserved a mention. Their white earlobes, distinctive shaped tail and sporty body type makes them easily recognisable. Leghorns are typically flighty and skittish, so not ideal for a family pet. However, the Leghorn is a beautiful breed, and definitely has a place on the list.


For Meat.
Selected for their meat, these birds may also shine in other areas.

#1. Cornish Cross.
A hybrid bred to put on weight, fast! Used only for meat due to the weight gaining. While the hens are decent layers, life expectancy is short, and health problems common.
Life expectancy can be increased by careful dieting and allowing the birds to free range, but ideally Cornish x will be butchered at a young age, before problems occur.

#2. Bresse Gauloise
Another favoured for its tender meat, the Bresse is a large, docile breed, and a layer of white eggs.
The birds are typically harvested at 4+ months, being fed a specific diet to enrich the taste. Colour variations are blue, black, white and grey.
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Light Sussex (front) and Jersey Giant cross pullet (back) - this pullet was a runt, so she is notably smaller than the average JG.
#3. Jersey Giant
The largest pure breed chicken, the Jersey Giant has earned its name!
Jersey Giants are typically friendly and docile, despite their immense size.
Although used as a meat bird, the Jersey Giant has many other desirable qualities, and also makes a good pet.
Jersey Giants are slow growing, so those with less patience may choose another breed.

Other breeds such as Orpington, Sussex and Plymouth Rocks are also notable for their meat quality.

Pets!
Wondering which breeds would make a good family pet?
Here are some suggestions.


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Buff Orpington pullet, 6 weeks old.

#1. Orpington
A fluffy, heavy breed known for being docile, the Orpington is a British breed, prone to broodiness. Laying a good 180 eggs a year, and also being good for meat, Orpingtons are a great choice.
Colour variants include Buff, Lavender, Blue, Black and Splash.
Very cold hardy, but don't deal well with heat due to their size and fluffiness.

#2. Cochin
Need a lap chicken? Here's the Cochin.
Fluffy footed and friendly, the perfect family pet. Cochin deal well with cold, but not so well with the heat.
Cochin are also broody prone.
Good mothers and decent layers, boasting cute socks that will melt your heart.
Their bantam siblings, Pekins, are also beautiful birds.

#3. Easter Egger
An easy to obtain breed, the Easter Egger comes in all different shapes and sizes. Being a cross breed, you never know quite what they may look like - which adds to it, right?
Easter Eggers are good layers, with eggs usually in shades of blue, hence the name.
A fun breed to add to your flock.


Ornamental
Maybe you're after a breed that looks cool....and there are so many cool looking chickens out there! Here are some of my favourite.

#1. Silkie
A fluffball. That should explain it all.
The Silkie has been loved for years.
Easily recognisable for its fluff and shape, the Silkie is a Chinese breed. Hens are extremely broody, and brilliant mothers.
Not very good layers, or for meat, the Silkie makes up for that with tons of personality. A perfect family pet.


#2. Polish
Polish. A beautiful, friendly breed with awesome hairstyles. Due to their huge crest, Polish have a hard time spotting predators, which can make them an easy target. With the right precautions, and a good enclosure, they will make a good pet.
They are also prone to get lice, but when treated this shouldn't be a problem.
Combs are unusual - v-shaped and often hidden by the crest.

#3. Ayam Cemani
An unusual, melanistic breed. Rare, but becoming more popular, the Ayam Cemani is completely black. Despite this, they lay pretty cream eggs.
Comb is single, and legs are clean.
If you're looking for an unusual breed, this is definitely a good choice.


All-Round Performers
Breeds that are just eggcelent at everything.
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Light Sussex hen.
#1. Sussex
A brilliant breed, good at just about everything. Hens are prone to broodiness, good mothers, and excellent layers.
Cockerels are handsome and friendly.
Also used for meat.
Colour variations Speckled and Light are very popular.

#2. Plymouth Rock
A layer of light brown eggs, the Plymouth Rock is becoming more popular.
Hens are reasonably good sitters and mothers. Colour variations include White, Barred, Colombian, Silver-Pencilled and Buff. Friendly and curious.

#3. Brahma
Another of those sock wearing breeds, the Brahma is a favourite of many.
Comb is pea, legs are feathered.
Colour variants include Dark and Light.
Good layers, cold hardy and friendly.


So there we have it.
There are so many beautiful breeds out there that didn't get a mention.
Choose a breed that you like. Do some research. And find out what will work best for your flock.

For more reading;
https://www.backyardchickens.com/reviews/categories/chicken-breeds.2/

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/chicken-breed-focus-project.975504/