Newbie Needs Help Picking Breed(s) Best Suited for Me


In the Brooder
8 Years
Mar 5, 2011
Ok fellow chicken lovers--I'm a 100% complete newbie to chickens. I owned an easter chick once as a kid, but that's as close as I've ever been! I have wanted to have chickens for a long time--fresh eggs sound amazing!! With more spare time on my hands, I have now decided that the time is right and my farm needs some chickens!!! I've researched the different breeds for a while, but I want to hear first hand from experienced chicken raisers---what breed will work best for me?

Here's my idealistic criteria:
1. Lays medium-large brown eggs relatively frequently
2. Asthetically pleasing--I don't want a boring look. I want them to be picture worthy

3. Friendly/Docile disposition
4. At least one breed that will go broody and sit
5. Can survive the Texas heat and cold--100+ for about a month in the summer and moderately mild winters average 30-40 (rarely gets below 20)

(Are these even realistic?)

Based on my "internet research" these are the breeds I'm currently considering:

1. Australorp
2. Plymouth Rock (Barred, Partridge)
3. Wyandotte (Silver Laced, Golden Laced, Columbian)
4. Rhode Island Reds
5. Buff Orpingtons

I want to start off relatively small--I'm thinking about 3 different breeds for a total f roughly 15 girls. I also would like one rooster to run with them (maybe a Sliver or Columbian Wyandotte) so I could eventually try my hand at hatching a few. They will not be free range--I don't live at the farm, so I can't watch them all the time. And I certainly could not bear the thought of a vermin snatching one of my girls, so they will stay in a 20'X20' area with a coop. It has shade from several large trees. What would you get if you were in my shoes--inexperienced and eager? Is there another breed I should consider? If so, where would you purchase them?

Any and all advice, suggestions, ideas, etc. would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks

Since you are in Texas, I'd look at Ideal. I think any of the major hatcheries will work fine for this criteria, but since Ideal is probably the closest to you, shipping should be easier on the chicks.

Your criteria is absolutely reasonable.

1. Lays medium-large brown eggs relatively frequently

This includes practically any of the dual purpose breeds but eliminates most of the fancy ones. It eliminates Silkies, Cochin, Polish, and bantams but still leaves a lot of possibilities. It also eliminates Leghorns, the white egg layers.

2. Asthetically pleasing--I don't want a boring look. I want them to be picture worthy

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You'll find supporters and detractors of any breed or color. Some people find the Black Australorp boring, but in the sunlight with that green sheen, I think they are gorgeous. Some people think the Delaware are not that attractive, but my Delaware was the favorite of a 12 year old visitor. Any of them meet this criteria, at least to somebody. What I suggest is get different colors or patterns. I find the darker colors more attractive up close but the lighter colors more attractive from a distance.

3. Friendly/Docile disposition

You'll find that each chicken has its own individual personality. Some chickens of any breed will meet this criteria, but there are breed tendencies. I'd take Rhode Island Red off your list. They don't have a great reputation for this. I'll give you a link to Henderson's Breed Chart later. Look for breeds that handle confinement well.

4. At least one breed that will go broody and sit

Another reason to eliminate the Rhode Island Red. Again, check the Henderson Breed Chart. There is no guarantee that any individual of any breed will go broody. Some breeds tend to go broody more often than others, but it is pure luck if you get one of those individuals. The Orpington have the reputation of going broody a lot, but mine never have. My Australorp have, but that is just pure individual luck.

5. Can survive the Texas heat and cold--100+ for about a month in the summer and moderately mild winters average 30-40 (rarely gets below 20)

This may come as a shock to you, but 20 degrees fahrenheit is just getting comfortable to chickens. That is not cold if you are wearing a down coat. The heat will be your enemy more than cold. You need a coop with lots of ventilation and that shade in the run will be great. Ventilation is a huge topic in itself, but if you give them a place to sleep that is out of direct drafts and breezes in freezing weather but still has plenty of ventilation and you can open it up more in the summer for even more ventilation, any breed will do OK. Their down coat insulates them from the cold in the winter. But summer heat is much more dangerous than winter cold. They need shade and plenty of water.

A lot of breed selection is purely subjective. We all have our favorites. Many of them will meet your criteria extremely well. If it were me, I'd take Rhode Island Reds off you list, add Delaware and Speckled Sussex, and be satisfied with any three you select. I'd also suggest you look at EE's. They will probably lay blue or green eggs instead of brown, but that makes a pretty and interesting egg basket. And they come in all kinds of colors and patterns, anything from solid reds or blacks to all kinds of interesting colors and patterns. No two will probably look alike from a hatchery. Normally I would suggest yoou look at the sex links, but these have a tendency to not go broody. I think you will be better off picking breeds where any of them could go broody rather than depending on one breed.

As far as a rooster, any of them will do. I'd tend toward getting a red or buff rooster, purely because those colors are less dominant. You are more likely to get a variety of chick colors or patterns. If you get a Black Australorp rooster, for example, most of your chicks will probably be black in the first generation. I'd probably pick the rooster from Buff Orp, Speckled Sussex, Partridge Rock or something like that.

My criteria is not your criteria, but if it were me starting over, I'd probably get Speckled Sussex rooster and Black Australorp, Delaware, and EE hens. But I'm not going to argue with any of your selections. They are all good.

Here is the Henderson Breed Chart. I'll also include Feathersite so you can get photos of the various breeds and colors.

Henderson’s Breed Chart


Good luck and welcome to the adventure.
Glad you are joining us.
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I have #1, #3, and #5 LOVE THEM ALL!!! Friendly, beautiful, good egg production, I would only suggest that in the summer, when its really hot, put some water-misters or fans out. The big fluffy ones can overheat quickly. I lost a Buff Orp on a really hot day this past summer. You can also add some electrolytes to their water in the summer too, to help with heat stress.

2x the above replies!

I'm new to chickens too. I struggled with which birds to pick, too. I had the same criteria as you. While you can choose a breed, in reality they may not perform exactly as listed. That being said, I started with hatchery birds because I knew that they must have disease free birds and they would be pure breds but not high quality in general.

The list of criteria you made is the most important step--now find the birds that fit. I used My Pet chicken selection tool be my guide(see link in previous post), then researched the breeds further.

My Picks that arrived in February and now 4 wks old:
Rhode Island reds(RIR)--I did get them despite the reputation for being Not Nice. I've read many posts here on BYC who loved their RIR. They are tops for laying brown eggs.
Speckled Sussex-- brown eggs, very good producer.
Black Austrolorp-very good producer laag brown eggs, broody
Silver Laced Wyandotte--the original wyandotte large brown eggs, very good producer
Black star-- this is a brown egg super producer, a combo of two of the above

I picked from the super producers of brown eggs, and coloration easy to hide from hawks therefore avoiding those with lots of white; a few hours every day free ranging.

Easter Eggers from the hatcheries produce green/blue eggs and light brown and other tones. My EE (a donation) prod very large lt brown eggs. EE feather color vary greatly and are not bred for feather color but blue/green egg production. I love my girl.

I would like to add more EE and 6-8 other breeds that are lovely and good egg producers if not excellent. Oh, Faverolle are supposed to be very nice tempered and very good layers. I passed on them because I worried the RIR would be too tough on them and wouldn't run from the hawks.

FYI: If you order pullets know that the 90% rule is in play; 10% are likely to be boys, so you may want to use one of them rather than try for another type. Your choice.

You have made good choices-- go for it! We are enjoying our birds, hope you do too!!!
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In some cases, they are not purebreds. They are sometimes mixed to be better producing birds. They are awesome layer though, you can't beat them for laying!
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Here is a response from Ideal on another thread that tells a lot on how they do it. I'm not saying they are al;l liek this, but I found this informative.

Hello all, This is Teri from Ideal. It was said earlier that we were not commenting for 'obvious' reasons. That is not the case. We do come on the board about once a week and see what is going on. We do not have an employee that constantly 'monitors' the board.

The video was of the hatchery operation itself because that is what Purina wanted for their television show. We have not done anything on location at the farm but will look into it. Back when I was in school at A&M, I did some very unprofessional videos of the farm and most people found it really boring.

I am going to try my best to address the topics brought up in this thread. If I miss something, you are welcome to send a follow up message. I will subscribe to this topic so I will see your responses and be able to reply to them.

Ideal Poultry has a very large breeding farm about 8 miles out of Cameron in Pettibone, TX. We have approximately 60,000 chickens, bantams, ducks, geese and guineas on the farm. There is a picture of the farm shown briefly in the video, as well as a photo of the farm in the about us section on our website .

We have our own breeders for all of the poultry we sell other than the following: all turkeys, french guineas, chukar and pheasant.

We have not purchased breeders from an outside source since 1999. 1999 is when we ventured into the 'rare' side of the poultry business. Since that time, each summer we start a new breeding flock by selecting our breeders based on the Standard of Perfection. In the late 90's when we were building our rare flock, Mr. Fuchs did go all over the country to try to buy the best of the best. He ordered breeding stock that was 'show quality, high dollar' stock. Even by purchasing the offspring of show champion poultry, many chicks we received were what you all would call, hatchery quality. It takes a lot of culling once the birds mature to even get close to the Standard. All three Mr. Fuchs' that are involved in the selection process hold a Poultry Science degree from Texas A & M, with the elder Mr. Fuchs holding a Master degree in genetics.

There are times when we are sold out of a breed, that we might have an order drop shipped from another hatchery. However, it is a hatchery that has quality poultry and in most cases it is a hatchery that we sold breeding stock to.

Our breeding stock is mated on an average of one male per ten hens.

We do not claim to have nor advertise to have 'show quality' poultry. In fact we very clearly state otherwise in our literature.

Anyone that is involved in showing poultry would know that our prices are not indicative of show quality poultry.

The purpose hatcheries serve is to provide good quality poultry at a reasonable price, to the average farmer that wants to enjoy the beauty of the poultry or have farm fresh eggs. We do our best to provide quality poultry to all of our customers as well as provide excellent customer service. It would not be in our best interest to do otherwise. We have been in business since 1937 and will celebrate our 75th anniversary next year. We have not survived this long by providing an inferior product.

Like another post said it's about knowing what you want for both the buyer and seller. Our primary customer is the backyard farmer. That is who our product is priced for and marketed for.

Please respond with any other questions you might have and I will do my best to answer them.

Teri Fuchs Adcox
V-P Ideal Poultry

e-mail us now Ideal Poultry

Visit Ideal Poultry now!
I think you should take another look at Easter Eggers. They are docile, a little flighty but shy, and aren't big fluffballs like Orpingtons (I LOOOOVE my Orpingtons). They won't give you a brown egg usually, though.

My favorites are EEs and Orpingtons. I have Black Australorp chicks so I don't really know that breed yet.

Orpingtons can overheat- they have massive quantities of feathers. They go broody, though, and are real sweeties.

RIRs are really not friendly from what I hear.
I had Wyandottes before- the rooster tried to kill me and one of my children. The hens were not especially friendly.

My Welsummers are really docile - they whine a lot- but I have one raising chicks she hatched out. I LOVE Welsummers. I sold my roo when he was a chick, though so I can't tell you about the roos. Welsummers wouldn't be as prone to overheating IMO.

If I were moving to a hot weather environment, I would choose:

1. Welsummers (dark brown egg)
2. EEs (blue/green egg)
3. Buff Minorcas (white egg)- might be flighty
4. Partridge Rocks (I have chicks now so really can't tell you about them)
5. If you are leaning towards black australorps, Orpingtons come in white too (less overheating with white color maybe?)
6. Consider bantams- they poo less, eat less, take up less space, and the eggs are 1/2 size.

Oh- someone else mentioned black stars- I forgot about the sex links. I had Golden Sex Links, which were VERY friendly to us, but aggressive to my Easter Eggers. I finally sold them, since they were stopping the EEs from coming to the feed dish.
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There are a few breeds that are reported to be consistent about going broody. See page one of the link below. By sheer luck I got 3 of Ideal's Kraienkoppes and I really loved them, they were tame and friendly and easy to handle, and all 3 were great broodies and mamas; they even worked together to raise chicks. They might be considered to be kind of a plain brown but I thought they were beautiful. I have had #1, 2, and 5; none were good broodies and mamas. I did have an EE (called Ameraucana by Ideal) and a mutt hatch and raise some chicks.

You got some wonderful information here.
I'm new in the past year or so also. I happen to really enjoy a variety package of birds. I think if I had 15 of the same kind I would get bored. I too would suggest getting some standard size EE's. You never know what coloring you are going to get, white to black and everything in between. Plus the large pastel colors of their eggs are cool and will amaze your friends. Ihave the following breeds and have yet to have a mean bird. BR, BO, ISA Brown, RIR, SLW, EE's, Light Brahma, Turken. I think they're a lot like puppies, handle them, play, love and socialize them and you will have nice birds. Put them out on a chain and throw some food out once in awhile and your puppy will not grow into a nice dog. Hope it helps a little and welcome.

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