Which Breeds Would Be Good for a Newbie?

3KillerBs

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Jul 10, 2009
4,210
8,547
776
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
As far as specific breeds, while I adore my Brahmas (my stately yard dinosaurs), since I want plenty of eggs I need to have more than just Brahmas.

This afternoon while working in the pen and sitting there watching Chicken TV afterward I just couldn't stop thinking that if I think of "Chicken" the shape in my mind is that of my Blue Australorps.

I got them by a happy accident. I'd intended to buy ordinary Black Australorps, but the farm store had gotten blues instead so I bought what they had.
 

WVBirdsAndBees

Songster
Mar 30, 2020
229
444
126
You've gotten a ton of good advice. We first got chickens for eggs and because they're entertaining, so I was in your shoes not long ago. 50 chickens later, I have a few thoughts. Most have already been mentioned.

Nothing lays like a leghorn. You hear that a lot but it's true. If you don't like the pure white or want a less flighty version, there are a few colors and austrawhites are more docile - just leghorns mixed with australorp.

Unless you're going to be breeding a specific breed you like, don't be afraid of hybrids. Olive eggers, easter eggers, true blues and all the other hybrids get love here a lot for a reason. They're some of the most interesting birds.

I love orpingtons and brahmas. They're giant, beautiful, sweet - and they eat. A lot. Just keep in mind that larger breeds eat more and may lay less and what that means in feed cost/egg ratio - especially if you're softies like us and don't raise dual purpose birds to eat. I write this as someone with 10 very spoiled orpingtons.

Other than the leghorns for productivity, we really love a couple breeds. Cream legbars lay lots of blue eggs and have fun personalities. Barnevelders are beautiful, docile, and lay a darker brown. Wyandottes, rocks, etc are all great too but those 2 have stood out for us.

As for a rooster, temperament should be the primary criteria - especially if he's going with a mixed flock. There are so many options. A hybrid EE or OE roo might be worth considering. I like our lavender orpington roo but he's BIG. The best natured boys in our flock are our silkie roos. They're good to the girls and people - but they don't do much flock protecting when they can hardly see past their own crests. It just comes down to what you want/need.

Good luck figuring it out and enjoy the journey. It took us months of debating and our first birds ended up being a rare assortment from Meyer Hatchery - because we still couldn't decide on individual breeds. Kinda still want one of each.
 

HappyClucker7

Free Ranging
Apr 28, 2016
4,078
13,345
722
New York
Barred Rocks and Orpingtons might be too hot in your weather. My BR is always miserable in the summer.
Australorps and Wyandottes should do okay. Speckled Sussex, Easter Eggers, Rhode Island Reds, and Marans should do well too.
For your rooster, Easter Eggers tend to be friendly, and they're good at protecting the flock. A Marans might be good too.
 

Xouie

Crowing
Jun 11, 2020
952
3,631
306
SF Bay Area
My recommendation for first hens would be barred rocks. Why:
  • Easy to get at many feed stores
  • generally inexpensive
  • Large breed, but not giant
  • Sturdy, like a lobster
  • Good layers
  • Mellow to the point of laziness*
*even the most docile breed can have the occasional butthead, but I’ve never personally seen a nasty BR.
 

Xouie

Crowing
Jun 11, 2020
952
3,631
306
SF Bay Area
You've gotten a ton of good advice. We first got chickens for eggs and because they're entertaining, so I was in your shoes not long ago. 50 chickens later, I have a few thoughts. Most have already been mentioned.

Nothing lays like a leghorn. You hear that a lot but it's true. If you don't like the pure white or want a less flighty version, there are a few colors and austrawhites are more docile - just leghorns mixed with australorp.

Unless you're going to be breeding a specific breed you like, don't be afraid of hybrids. Olive eggers, easter eggers, true blues and all the other hybrids get love here a lot for a reason. They're some of the most interesting birds.

I love orpingtons and brahmas. They're giant, beautiful, sweet - and they eat. A lot. Just keep in mind that larger breeds eat more and may lay less and what that means in feed cost/egg ratio - especially if you're softies like us and don't raise dual purpose birds to eat. I write this as someone with 10 very spoiled orpingtons.

Other than the leghorns for productivity, we really love a couple breeds. Cream legbars lay lots of blue eggs and have fun personalities. Barnevelders are beautiful, docile, and lay a darker brown. Wyandottes, rocks, etc are all great too but those 2 have stood out for us.

As for a rooster, temperament should be the primary criteria - especially if he's going with a mixed flock. There are so many options. A hybrid EE or OE roo might be worth considering. I like our lavender orpington roo but he's BIG. The best natured boys in our flock are our silkie roos. They're good to the girls and people - but they don't do much flock protecting when they can hardly see past their own crests. It just comes down to what you want/need.

Good luck figuring it out and enjoy the journey. It took us months of debating and our first birds ended up being a rare assortment from Meyer Hatchery - because we still couldn't decide on individual breeds. Kinda still want one of each.
:goodpost:
 

black_cat

Happy is Awesome
Premium Feather Member
May 21, 2020
13,172
40,853
1,006
Connecticut
My favorites are leghorns, cochins, plymouth rocks, australorps, and *shudders with the effort of saying this* orpingtons. From what I understand, faverolles cockerels tend to be pretty calm. I would brood chicks from a hatchery and not hatch, because you are garunteed to end up with too many boys if you hatch your own.
the stuff in green is referencing something else, so don't worry about it, orps are a pretty good beginner breed. This is the one good thing i will say about orps, and the one time you'll hear me say it
 

SBFChickenGirl

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2018
3,760
14,961
581
My favorites are leghorns, cochins, plymouth rocks, australorps, and *shudders with the effort of saying this* orpingtons. From what I understand, faverolles cockerels tend to be pretty calm. I would brood chicks from a hatchery and not hatch, because you are garunteed to end up with too many boys if you hatch your own.
the stuff in green is referencing something else, so don't worry about it, orps are a pretty good beginner breed
@OneHappyRooster .......
 

nolotus

Songster
Nov 13, 2020
93
212
106
West Central Idaho
I believe it's important to get them used to you from day 1. I probably went overboard by cuddling them to sleep every night before I put them, sleepy, back in the brooder, but they're 17 weeks old now, and still follow me, jump on my lap instead of looking for food and bugs, and fly up to my shoulders.

I have an Easter Egger and Buff Orpington (who's mean to the EE, but loves me), and a Speckled Sussex I had to rehome (he turned out to be a rooster). They're all nice chickens. The SS was the best forager, the EE the best flyer. Let's just say the BO is "special." ;)
So maybe a little imprinting on you? :cool:
I've heard a lot of different things about BOs, there seems to be a wide range of personalities. But I think I'd like to get a couple of white orpingtons and take my chances. I've heard good things about the speckled sussex breed. Thanks for your reply!
 

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