Looking over the poultry catalog can be quite overwhelming! There are so many different chickens available to order, who knows what type to get?
Have you wanted chickens and wondered what breed to get? There are a lot to choose from, but in this article I’ll share with you some ideas about different breeds to hopefully help you narrow down your choices. Some of the decision really depends whether you want laying hens or broiler hens, and your climate.
We raised laying hens, roosters, turkeys, geese, and ducks for 8 years. I’ll be posting more blogs in the future about these birds as well.
It was kind of hilarious walking in the post office and hearing chicks peeping LOUDLY, knowing full well they were mine, and soon everyone in the building was going to know they were mine too!!
That’s how you will receive yours too, if you order them from a hatchery. (Yep, I know. You’ll be thinking about this me and this article while you’re walking into your post office hearing, “chirp, chirp, chirp!!”)
Having chickens and chicks was a great and fun experience that our children will always remember. Chickens make a great livestock to start with on your homestead. They can provide eggs, meat and fertilizer!
Here are a few ideas on different chicken breeds.
Our first chickens were Buff Orpingtons as they are probably the tamest breed you’ll find. They’re not the aggressive type which also makes them great for children. They’re a dual purpose bird in that they can be raised for meat and egg production, and are resistant to cold weather. I remember how fun we all thought it was to go to their nest and get large, brown eggs. They lay anywhere from 175-200 eggs per year.
Orpingtons are also a fairly large, heavy breed, so they’re not able to get off the ground very well. This is good for keeping your hens in your fence, but make sure you have something to protect them from hawks, coyotes, and other predators since flying away to safety is not an option for them.
Another laying hen we had was a Barred Rock (Plymouth Rock) and this is also a good- natured breed. They are good egg layers and lay medium-sized light, brown eggs. They also make good meat hens. They are resistant to cold and lay around 200 eggs per year.
Auraucanas, or Ameraucanas, is another breed we had and enjoyed because they are dependable egg layers with blue-green eggs. They’re not as friendly as the others I mentioned, but they’re not aggressive either. They originated from the Araucania region of Chile, hence the name. These birds have a different look about them, but if you’re not about having pretty hens she might be fine. They are good egg layers laying around 250 per year.
Australorpes, originally from Australia, lay around 250 eggs per year and are dual purpose. They lay a large, brown egg, and the hens come in a variety of blue, black or white. They're hardy and docile.
The Wyandotte breed is another highly sought after breed if you want eggs and meat. I think these are pretty birds as they are black and silver laced, but there come in a variety of colors. This hen matures moderately rapidly and lays a light colored, large brown egg. They’re not as mild mannered as the orpingtons mentioned, but again not aggressive either. They have an annual egg laying production of around 200 a year.
Fun Fact: It is a popular show bird, particularly in Germany. If you’re looking for a dual purpose bird that’s also colorful this may be the hen for you! We enjoyed having Wyandottes years ago and will be ordering them again.
While having a variety of hens we may as well have the Rhode Island Red too, right? After all, these are beautiful, hardy birds and good egg layers. They lay anywhere from 5-7 eggs per week, and over 300 eggs their first laying season and over 200 their second. They are a maroon, rusty color. The hens are not aggressive, but roosters and turkeys are another story.
Note: The number of eggs a hen lays drops considerably after her first laying year.
Something to consider before purchasing your first hen or chick is the noise they can create throughout the day. If you live in a subdivision, this might make some neighbors unhappy, but then again most people who live in subdivisions are used to loud dogs.
Some hens are noisier than others, orpingtons being one of the loudest. You’ll need to check with your county to see if you can have any hens or roosters to begin with in your neighborhood.
I believe we’ve had other hen breeds, but this should be a good start for you.
What’s your favorite chicken breed?
All the best!
Elk Mountain Market, LLC