Best breeds to buy

Seesagirl

Songster
7 Years
Sep 24, 2014
83
33
116
Virginia
I'm finally getting more chicks! I had a flock years ago and it got wiped out by bears. We moved to a new place and we're getting everything set up next week for a huge chicken coop! I'm over the moon to have chickens again.

Unfortunately, due to availability, I may not be able to get exactly what I want in breeds. So I need y'all to give me opinion in advance, which breeds would YOU pick? Example: I want Orpingtons, but all they have is Easter Eggers or Wyandottes, so I'd get EE's. My criteria is good layers, friendly, and all-weather.

I basically want to go to the store for chicks armed with a list of breeds that are acceptable so I'm not standing there wondering which one to get because I only wanted specific ones and didn't research others. Hope that makes sense!
 

cherrynberry

🍒❤️🐓🐐🐕
Premium Feather Member
Aug 2, 2020
12,279
35,618
956
California
I'm finally getting more chicks! I had a flock years ago and it got wiped out by bears. We moved to a new place and we're getting everything set up next week for a huge chicken coop! I'm over the moon to have chickens again.

Unfortunately, due to availability, I may not be able to get exactly what I want in breeds. So I need y'all to give me opinion in advance, which breeds would YOU pick? Example: I want Orpingtons, but all they have is Easter Eggers or Wyandottes, so I'd get EE's. My criteria is good layers, friendly, and all-weather.

I basically want to go to the store for chicks armed with a list of breeds that are acceptable so I'm not standing there wondering which one to get because I only wanted specific ones and didn't research others. Hope that makes sense!
In my experience, Wyandottes can get poopy butts during the summer time especially. It can cause flystrike, so it would need to be clipped and maintained if it occurs. Orphingtons too. Easter Eggers are okay layers and are pretty hardy, but it depends on the breeds in their blood. Most hatchery EEs are EEs cross with EEs, so they are pretty hardy in general.

Now, for breed, I, personally would get:

Salmon Faverolle's (I have never had any, but they are ADORABLE!)

Leghorns (Good producers, cheap to feed, I had a few)

Welsummers (Their color pattern is gender specific. I have a few currently)

Barred Rocks (Hardy, good layers, I have heard a lot about them. If you want to keep a rooster, they can create sexlinks. The male cannot be barred or hide barring, though).

Marans (Nice egg color)

Easter Eggers (Pretty good layers)
 

My Bagurks

Songster
Sep 3, 2020
111
293
116
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Have a pretty diverse flock. My silver laced wyandottes are great birds. Hearty, nice, a tad skittish, and good layers.
Speckled Sussex has been a great breed as well. Temperament of the hens and the roosters have been really good. Even with an excess of roosters. Egg production isn’t the best, but they’re consistent.
RIRs are a default awesome breed. Good layers and my girls have always been polite.
Then, I recently got some Saphire Gems. Those birds are laying machines. More skittish than my other, but I got them full grown so I’m not surprised. They lay huge eggs and a lot of them. They’re very pretty and a little more quirky than my other birds.
 
6

629522

Guest
I think I have one of everything 😃 but my favorite is Buff Orpington, great mom's and substitute mom's, the roosters have nice personalities and they are friendly curious birds. I love RIR's and Barred Rocks, I started with two of each. I like Polish chickens but they don't lay everyday and can be skittish. We have Wyandottes and they are very bold. Also Copper Marans and Buff Brahma which are a nice dual purpose bird.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
24,362
42,847
1,156
southern Michigan
Get a few of several breeds that look interesting, and see who you like best.
EEs are a good choice, as are Plymouth Rocks. I like the buff Rocks best though. Speckled Sussex hens are beautiful and very human interactive, a plus. French Marans lay those nice chocolate eggs, another plus.
For maximum egg production, sex links, Leghorns, and hatchery RIRs.
Salmon Favorelles are very nice birds, so mellow that they will get picked on if you have red sex links or RIRs, so be careful about that.
Look at Henderson's breed chart and feathersite...
Mary
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,694
19,066
726
USA
Personally I'd get a little bit of everything and double the EEs (because I love them so much). They're very productive in my opinion!

For whatever breeds are available, I would get a few of each, except that I would avoid a few particular traits.

I hate muddy foot feathers, so I would avoid any chicks that have fuzzy feet.

I do not like large crests on chickens, because the crest can block the chicken's vision and may encourage other chickens to bully the crested bird. So I would avoid any chicks with obvious lumps on their heads. (The lump is called a vaulted skull. A chick can have a crest without that, but vaulted skulls often go with bigger crests, which is what I would most want to avoid.)

I might skip ones with fat faces (muff/beard), because sometimes that can get big enough to interfere with their vision, but I might get them anyway depending on how many other kinds were available.

I might also avoid chicks that are solid yellow and/or white chicks, if I wanted to be sure of avoiding Cornish Cross meat chickens. (Many good breeds come in white, and are white or yellow as chicks, so depending on the other options I might risk a few anyway. But Cornish Cross are very unsuitable as backyard laying hens.)

All of these things can be seen by looking at the chick, so it does not matter if the labels are right or wrong.

Obviously, different people have different preferences. The traits that I avoid (because I consider them a bother) are ones that some people really like (because they consider them attractive.) So you can choose to get or avoid the traits I mentioned, according to your own preferences.

Some people might make guesses on breeds by looking at the comb types and the colors of the chicks, but that only works if you know what comb types and colors go with each breed, and even then you can get confused by the many breeds that look alike as chicks.
 

bruceha2000

Addict
9 Years
Apr 19, 2012
17,593
75,350
1,262
NW Vermont
Salmon Faverolle's (I have never had any, but they are ADORABLE!)

Leghorns (Good producers, cheap to feed, I had a few)

Welsummers (Their color pattern is gender specific. I have a few currently)

Barred Rocks (Hardy, good layers
I had 2 Salmon Faverolles. They didn't lay in the winter (as they are claimed to do), were not great layers of eggs that barely got into USDA Medium, broody several times a year. One was really good as an "Auntie" to assist another hen that was raising the next set of hatchery chicks though. She would stick with them for several months even though the surrogate Mom would blow them off at 6 - 8 weeks.

Leghorns are cheap to feed and good layers but can be aggressive with others in the flock.

Welsummers, I have 2 hens. They can not be sexed when young by feather pattern or the "V" (or lack thereof) on their heads as some claim. They are good layers of Large to XL, darker brown eggs and not skittish.

Barred Rocks, I have 2. They are very good layers of Large to XL and not skittish.

Love my Easter Eggers (the ones with beards, muffs, green legs; no experience with the "newer" crosses that don't have these features). They have been pretty good layers. I have 5 now in a flock of 25 hens. They are aged 2 (2), 4, 6 and 9 years old.

Black Australorps - I like them, I have 2 that are 6 years old, and 2 that are 5 months old. My all time very favorite hen was a BA from 2012.

My best layers are 2 Austra Whites. They are specific to Meyer Hatchery, a cross between Black Australorp and White Leghorn. They are more Leghorn size and shape but with the BA temperament and lay USDA Large to XL. I got them in 2019, one of them started laying in November that year and hasn't stopped (though she MIGHT be now, she needs a rest!) and I don't light the coop.

White Rocks are also good layers as are my Columbian Wyandottes (though these are USDA Medium layers).

I would not again get Anconas (very aggressive to other birds but good layers), Exchequer Leghorns (don't lay well and rarely lay eggs as large as UDSA Medium) or Salmon Faverolles (too broody, not very productive). Keep in mind that while I like to look at the birds (thus the wide range of breeds I have, I do want them laying. This may not be as important to some people.

I can't talk about the Gold and Silver Laced Wyandottes since mine aren't old enough to lay yet.
 

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