How I pick Chicken Breeds

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by WyattsChickens, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. WyattsChickens

    WyattsChickens Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 1, 2015
    To me, there are only a select few things that are important in selecting a breed of chicken.

    Number 1: Personality.
    I like my chickens to be a very outgoing breed. Loving being around people, and other animals like our family dog. Now many chickens can be trained/adapt to being more friendly, however some chickens are naturally timid, so I do my best to avoid those chickens. Most times, it has to deal with the individual chicken itself, so don't rule out a breed because when you google it it says, timid, not used to people, etc.

    Number 2: Egg Laying Efficiency
    I could never bring myself to butcher one of our chickens because to me they are family. So I find it important that they at least provide us with eggs. Now, even when my girls reach the point where they stop laying, they will stay in the family until they are taken by natural causes. But from what I've read/heard, they can lay for a very long time

    Number 3: Color/Style
    I would love to have myself a big puffy silkie someday but for the time being I pick my chickens based on their color. For some reason the Rhode Island Red hen intrigues me and I love the deep red/brown color. Not only do I love the color but also the consistency of laying and their winter toughness,

    Now, I'm not saying that you should come read through my Ramble before going for a new chicken, but these are three factors that are important to me personally, and also to someone who maybe treats their chickens more as pets than just free eggs for a while followed by a chicken dinner. I am at the moment in the hunt for new chickens because we recently lost two and are down to one. These are just a few factors of the many I've considered and I'm not a chicken "veteran" as I like to call it. I'm fairly new to having birds but am loving every minute of it. :)

    Anyways, thanks for reading!
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    As you said, personality. It's important but not #1.

    For me, the #1 criteria for selecting a breed is choosing those that are most adaptable to one's climate.
    A bird may be friendly but having Chanteclers or Orloffs in Texas or the tropics is a recipe for disaster. Or at least making management very difficult. Just as having Seramas or Cubalayas in Minnesota would be.

    Other characteristics I find important in no particular order, like you, productivity, but also vigor, free ranging ability - which includes alertness, ability to avoid predators as well as good foragers.
    Since I hatch a lot and have to cull a lot of roosters, meat quality is very important.
    The breed I raise is so famous for flavor that they have their own foodie festival in Spain where people come to buy their Christmas dinner. Fira del Gall or Fair of the Rooster.

    After 30 + breeds in multiple color varieties, I've found my favorite breed and you would likely hate them.
    They are aloof and until they're a year old, avoid human contact to the extreme. That fear and wariness of anything not chicken is what keeps them alive while foraging without supervision.

    A flock of orpingtons o,r heaven forbid, silkies wouldn't last long around here. With hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, opossums, neighbors' marauding dogs, weasels, mink, etc., those friendly breeds wouldn't live long.
    I can turn out my flocks and leave fully expecting them to be there when I return. I haven't lost a bird to a hawk since having one of these roosters with a flock. I have lost a rooster to a coyote or dog on occasion but he saves the rest of the flock.

    It's all about the personality of the owner as well as the chickens.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
  3. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

    May 14, 2014
    It's interesting reading the criteria that different members have in selecting their respective breeds. For me personally, the order goes like this:

    1. Hardiness (this would include climate adaptability)--If a chicken doesn't survive all it's other characteristics are worthless.

    2. Egg laying ability--the main reason that I raise chickens is for eggs. A small percentage of my breeds over the years have been chosen for their appearance, but the vast majority of them have been heavy egg producers.

    3. Temperament--I would almost rank this one on an equal basis with egg laying ability. I want excellent layers, but not aggressive, high strung, or flighty birds (it's why I don't raise White Leghorns anymore despite the fact that they are egg laying machines). I don't want breeds in my flock that children can't handle.

    4. Appearance--I want my chickens to at least look nice (with apologies to Naked Neck owners, it's why I've never had any of them in my flock, and never will). :eek:) I've had a few breeds in my flock (Cochins, Silkies, Mille Fleur D'Uccles, Sebrights, Polish, etc.) solely for the way they looked even though they were poor layers.

    Given all these criteria, Black Sex Links (Black Stars) are my personal favorite chickens. They are very friendly and hardy, egg laying machines and I personally think that the hens are quite beautiful in their black feathers with the copper or reddish colored feathers around their neck areas.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    And it's interesting to see how one's personal criteria can change over the years. My flock today is so different than my flock 20 years ago.

    When I started it was pretty much about the eggs. Sex links and brown Leghorns. Color was important to a degree, but not as much. Lots of eggs was my goal.

    Then there was some breeding, and mixed breeds, and colorful egg baskets. Then there was the "eye candy" year or two where I ordered birds solely on pretty.

    Now I have a pen of bantam cochins to use as broodies, and two silkies. 20 years ago I would have told you I'd never ever have a silkie. I have two, have had for 18 months, and will possibly sell them in the spring. Tried them, just not my thing.

    So, from someone who was solely egg production based 20 years ago, I'm now feeding probably 45 birds.

    I got 3 eggs last week.
  5. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

    May 14, 2014
    Very interesting. I pretty much went the opposite direction over the past few decades. I used to have dozens of breeds, most of them chosen for their appearance as much as anything else. But I've become much more utilitarian over the years, reducing my flocks down mainly to productive egg layers.
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Yes, I think egg production is important to 70+% of keepers.
    After years with white leghorns, I dabbled in all the varieties I did to acquaint myself with as many breeds characteristics as I could with limited space and time.
    It was fun having the gorgeous egg basket as well as the pasture eye candy.
  7. Cockatrice6420

    Cockatrice6420 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I start my selection by egg color #1. I like colored eggs, especially blue. This helps me because I'm a chicken addict. It also helps because alot of colored egg layers are suitable for my climate, #2. Personality/broodiness is #3. I enjoy having and watching the different breeds interact with our farm. Color of feather is not so important to me yet... I have chickens for eggs and company not show at this point, so it's my #4.

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