Choosing chicken breeds can be one of the most exciting parts of raising backyard chickens. Whether you are just getting started with building your backyard flock or adding some chickens to your existing layers, it’s important to understand what breeds suit your needs and location.
Are you looking for chickens that lay the most eggs? Wondering which breeds are most docile or kid friendly? Maybe you want breeds that are best for meat supply. Or maybe a hybrid of best egg laying and eventually meat supply. You could even be looking for some chicken breeds that are just considered fancy!
Fortunately, chickens of different breeds typically get along, so your egg basket can be much more colorful with your flock having a variety of different kinds of chickens with different purposes.
What are the best chicken breeds for eggs?
Keeping backyard chickens comes with great benefits… like fresh eggs! If maximum egg production is your top criteria for choosing chicken breeds, we suggest choosing from the following breeds. All the breeds below can handle confinement or be free range.
- Isa Brown – 300+ eggs average annually
- Australorps – 250-300 eggs average annually
- Leghorns – 280 eggs average annually
- Sussex – 200-250 eggs average annually
- Wyandotte – 200 eggs average annually
- Rhode Island – 250-300 eggs average annually
- Sex Links (Black Star and Red Star) – 250-300 eggs average annually
- Golden Comets – 300 eggs average annually
What are the most docile chicken breeds?
Chickens often make great companions and with the right breed, you will have a chicken sitting in your lap in no time. If you are looking for chickens that will readily become a family pet and are more docile, these chicken breeds are for you. One thing to note, these docile birds below are more likely to be easily bullied by more aggressive breeds.
- Rhode Island – Very calm, not fazed by a lot, sweet and people-loving, they often cuddle
- Jersey Giant – Mellow personality, gentle giants, get along with children although their size may be intimidating (can get to be around 10 lbs)
- Faverolles – Vey easygoing, comical natured, very adaptable, teachable, a joy to watch and they have an extra toe!
- Silkies – Cuddly natured, love being on your lap, gentle, easily handled especially because of their small size
- Buff Orpingtons – Easily tamed, love attention, great with children, become affectionate, often referred to the “Golden Retriever” of chickens
- Australorps – Sweet temperament, easily handled, don’t mind if you carry them, very adaptable
- Brahmas – Very calm, children may be intimidated by their size (can get up to 30 inches tall)
- Sussex – Quiet, calm, gentle with children and people in general
What are the best chicken breeds for meat?
Chickens have many purposes from the start to the end of their lives… meat supply being one of them for many. If you are looking for breeds that are best suited to provide a generous and quality meat supply, these breeds will give you what you are looking for.
- Cornish Cross – Males weigh approx. 12 lbs, females 8 lbs, harvest time is 4-6 weeks
- Freedom Rangers – Males weigh approx. 6 lbs, females 5 lbs, harvest time is 9-11 weeks
- Leghorns – Males weigh approx. 6 lbs, females 5 lbs, harvest time is 16-21 weeks
- Buff Orpington – Males weigh approx. 10 lbs, females 8 lbs, harvest time is 18-24 weeks
- Jersey Giant – Males weigh approx. 13 lbs, females 10 lbs, harvest time is 16-21 weeks
- Bresse – Males weigh approx. 7 lbs, females 5 lbs, harvest time is 16-20 weeks
- Buckeye – Males weigh approx. 9 lbs, females 6.5 lbs, harvest time is 16-21 weeks
- Rhode Island – Males weigh approx. 8.5 lbs, females 6.5 lbs, harvest time is 16-21 weeks
What are the best dual-purpose chicken breeds?
Most flocks will produce eggs for 3-4 years, but when the egg supply runs short, people often turn focus on another purpose for their birds. If you are looking for breeds with great egg production and eventually meat supply, these breeds will be best for you.
- Rhode Island – 250-300 eggs annually, weigh approx. 6.5 lbs, harvest time is 16-21 weeks
- Plymouth Rocks – 260 eggs annually, weigh approx. 7 lbs, harvest time is 18-20 weeks
- Buff Orpingtons – 250-300 eggs annually, weigh approx. 8 lbs, harvest time is 18-24 weeks
- Australorps – 250-300 eggs annually, weigh approx. 6.5 lbs, harvest time is 16-24 weeks
- Wyandottes – 200 eggs annually, weigh approx. 6 lbs, harvest time is 16-21 weeks
- Sussex – 200-250 eggs annually, weigh approx. 7 lbs, harvest time is 18-20 weeks
- Buckeye – 175-250 eggs annually, weigh approx. 6.5 lbs, harvest time is 16-21 weeks
- Jersey Giant – 150-200 eggs annually, weigh approx. 10 lbs, harvest time is 16-21 weeks
What are some fancy chicken breeds?
Many chicken keepers choose to collect different breeds of chickens as a hobby. If you are looking for breeds that are considered, “ornamental” or “fancy,” these breeds will surely decorate your backyard!
- Cochins – Fluffy and feathered head to toe, has big eyes, very docile, good with other pets
- Sebright – Long legs with no feathers, feathers have bold black outlines, small body, docile
- Silkie – Fluffy feathers that spread from top of the head to the toes, black or dark blue skin, docile
- Polish – Adorable crest of feathers drape over head, some have beards under their beaks, docile
- Frizzle – Feathers curl tightly backward towards the head, fluffy, docile
- Houdan – V-shaped comb, very unique hairstyle, has five toes rather than four, docile
- Serama – Known as “Toy Soldiers” because they stand tall at attention, tiny in height getting to be 6-10 inches only, quiet and often used as therapy birds
- Araucana – Known for their “mutton chops” of feathers on the side of their heads, lay blue eggs
What chicken breeds are best suited for my location?
If you are concerned about choosing chicken breeds based on your area and climate, check out The Happy Chicken Coop’s guides: 7 Chicken Breeds That Do Well in Cold Climates and The Best Chicken Breeds for Hot Weather.
With a wide collection of chicken breeds to choose from, your backyard flock can contain many different breeds that will serve all your needs! Check out Choosing Chicken Breeds for more factors to take into consideration when choosing chicken breeds.
We want to see your chicken breed collection! Share your flock my tagging us on Twitter @MillerMFG
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