Picking the right chickens is the most important part of developing
your flock. Different chickens offer different things and with the wide variety in personalities,
patterns, sizes and styles it can be difficult to pick which are best for you. It is best to begin by
analyzing why you want your flock and then going from there.
Layers are hens. End of story. A hen will lay
an egg nearly everyday without any help from a rooster. In other words, you do not need to have roosters to
have eggs a hen will lay regardless. Prolific layers and breeds specifically meant for laying are your best
options. Many also have calm and gentle personalities that make them fun to have around children.
If you live in a colder climate with more mild summers, your best bets are
Ameraucana, Leghorn (White), and Rhode Islands. These are all common and easy to get ahold of in many
hatcheries. Rhode Islands and Leghorns also do well in hotter climates.
These birds tend to be larger than
dual-purpose birds or layers and are designated meat birds because of the meat they provide. Both hens and
roosters can be meat birds, but most people prefer to keep their hens and only eat their roosters. Some may
choose to keep hens till the molt, a period in which new feathers come in and laying stops, and then harvest
Excellent meat and game birds are Cornish or Indian Game birds. They are
fairly uncommon, but not so much that it should be a struggle to get them. They are on average 8 lbs., and tend
to be slow moving and unable to defend themselves.
Dual purpose birds are for those that want a
good layer and a good meat bird. Many were formerly sought for the meat, but it was discovered that they were
also good, if not excellent, layers and changed into dual-purpose birds. These birds also tend to be the most
common on the market and easily accessed for the small farmer. Our household currently has two Orpingtons, two
Rhode Island Reds, and two Barred Rocks, as well as two uncommon Maran chicks.
Common dual-purpose chickens include: Australorps, New Hampshires, Orpingtons,
Plymouth Rock, Rhode Islands, and Wyandottes. Most of these breeds do excellent in all types of weather, are
known for being hardy and robust and will lay right through the winter without being bothered by the
I am also going to include the somewhat uncommon Jersey Giant. I had the
pleasure of seeing one of these birds at the local county fair last year and was astonished not only by its
size, but by the calm demeanor and temperament that it displayed. The owner was even comfortable opening the
cage and allowing me to pet the bird in the middle of the fair ground. They generally weigh about ten pounds
and grow to be quite tall. They are a very sweet natured and enjoyable bird to have around the home.
A "pet" chicken is not always the same as a
well-mannered or gentle chicken. In some cases, people consider the flashy and out there silkies and bantams to
be pets as they are stunning and beautiful yet serve no other purpose really than to simply look impressive in
the yard. Some of the larger breeds, such as Plymouth Rocks and Brahma's can be found in the miniature bantam,
but most prefer to go for the out of this world look.
If you are looking for a space-alien chicken, consider purchasing: Black
Frizzle Cochins, Silkie Bantams, or Faverolles.
If you are looking for miniatures of bigger birds: Barred Plymouth Rock
Bantam, Brahma Bantams, Cochin Bantam, or Wyandotte Bantams.
Chicken Clubs- Get Out and Strut Your
5 Exotic Chicken Breeds
Tips for Transporting Chickens
Best Cold Weather Chickens
Poultry Farming- Get Rich Quick?
Top 5 All Around Best Chicken Breeds
5 Heat Hardy Chicken Breeds
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5 Oldest Chicken Breeds
5 Largest Chicken Breeds
Showing Poultry- A Quick-Step Guide
Top 5 Meat Birds
5 Smallest Chicken Breeds
Incubating Chicken Eggs- A Quick Guide
Why You Should Free-Range Your Chickens
Culling Your Birds
Chicken Dinner: From Backyard To Table
Chicken Breeding: Creating the Master
What to Know When Adding New
Chickens to Your Flock
Common Myths About Chickens
What Does "Free Range" Really Mean?
Do You Need a Rooster?
Preventing the Annoyance of Unwanted
Can You Keep Chickens With Other
The Advantages of a Purebred Chicken
Can You Keep Roosters Together?
How Old Should Chickens Be?
Where Not to Buy Chickens and Why
What to Look for When Buying a Chicken
Breeding Chickens Wisely
Simple Ways to Tame Chickens
Building the Best Coop
Setting Up an Ideal Chicken Run
Setting Up Free Range Chickens