If you're looking for a chicken that's hardy in the winter, keeps up with
their egg laying all year long, has a mellow temperament and loves to hang around with their humans, these
chickens are the chickens for you.
1. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red (and White) is a
large-ish sized bird about 6 1/2 pounds. It is an excellent all weather bird and a prolific layer of large,
light brown eggs. They are friendly, with an excellent personality. A dual-purpose bird, it is also excellent
for eating. They are a wonderful bird for the outdoors and have a good disease resistance. Not often broody,
hens make excellent mothers. This breed matures a little early too, which means your eggs may come slightly
sooner than they would with other breeds. Almost every list of recommendations for a hardy backyard flock will
recommend this standard bird as one of the best choices you can make.
2. White Leghorn
If you're looking for less of a pet and more of a utility chicken, then
the Leghorn, especially the white variety, is for you. These hens are prolific layers of the standard white
egg- they have highest laying rate of any breed. The eggs are larger than some other breeds. It is a hardy
bird, well suited for both hot and cold climates and rarely ever broody. They are very early maturing. Leghorns
tend to be a bit flighty and skittish. If they can avoid human contact they will. Historically, the Leghorn was
honored by the Romans who may have used them in a variety of rituals.
Brahmas are an excellent all around,
dual-purpose bird. They have a beautiful feathering pattern, with lacing on the neck and tail but solid colored
bodies. This is a large breed of bird with the average weight being 9 pounds, so it is not difficult to see why
they are often prized as an eating bird over a layer. Brahmas are good layers with average sized eggs, good
mothers but slow to mature. They are hardy in all climates and possess one of the sweetest and gentlest
personalities amongst poultry. They do not mind being handled, petted, or hand fed.
4. Plymouth Rock
An American standard, the Plymouth Rock
is most commonly seen in the Barred Rock pattern; the feathers are banded giving it the look of an old time
striped jail suit. They are docile and friendly and able to reach large sizes, some upwards of nine pounds.
They are a dual-purpose bird and good layers of large eggs. They make excellent mothers and mature fairly
early. They are hardy in general and excellent for winter laying. Plymouth Rocks are friendly, easy to handle
and love being around people.
5. Buff Orpington
Large, fluffy and loosely feathered, the
Buff Orpington (and Orpington's in general) is a big, fun bird to have pecking about your yard. Originating in
Orpington in Kent, England, this bird lays large brown eggs and though dual in purpose is preferred for its
eggs as its skin color is considered too white. They are frequently broody, but excellent mothers. Hardy all
year and excellent with winters. The Orpington matures a bit early but tends to be, despite its size, the
lowest peg in the pecking order and owners should keep a bit of an eye out to make sure they're not being
bullied too much or too often.
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