Raising chickens in your backyard can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Not only do they provide fresh eggs, but they also offer companionship and entertainment. However, selecting the right breed of chicken is crucial to ensure they thrive in your environment.
Each breed has its own unique characteristics, such as egg production, temperament, size, and cold or heat tolerance. Here’s a breakdown of some popular chicken breeds ideal for backyard settings:
1. Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Red chickens are good brown egg layers. They are easy to keep and lay consistently. Not the prettiest chicken but it’s good to keep a few just for their consistent laying of large brown eggs.
- Egg Production: Excellent egg layers, producing large brown eggs consistently, (about 270/year)
- Temperament: Docile and friendly, making them suitable for families and beginners.
- Hardiness: Known for their ability to withstand various climates, including cold winters.
Black Australorps were the first chickens we ever had. A friend sold us a bunch of them for a song. They are still some of our favorite chickens to keep around.
- Egg Production: Exceptional layers, known to lay around 250-300 brown eggs per year.
- Temperament: Gentle and easy-going, making them great for smaller spaces or with children.
- Hardiness: Adaptable to different climates, including hot summers and colder winters
3. Buff Orpington
I think Buff Orpington chickens are so pretty. I love their fluffy backsides and their color is beautiful! One of our best roosters was a Buff.
- Egg Production: Good layers, producing large brown eggs consistently, around 280 large eggs/year.
- Temperament: Calm, friendly, and docile, making them excellent pets and suitable for families.
- Hardiness: Tolerant of cold weather but may suffer in extreme heat without adequate shade and water.
4. Plymouth Rock (Barred Rock)
Our kids like this breed of chickens as they are easily handled. They are very gentle and don’t mind being picked up frequently. They are a lovely chicken too.
- Egg Production: Reliable layers, known for consistent production of brown eggs, approximately 250/year
- Temperament: Gentle, adaptable, and easily handled, making them ideal for beginners.
- Hardiness: Hardy birds that can handle various climates, including colder regions.
These chickens are great layers but not my absolute favorite. Their temperament is not as sweet as some others. However, if egg production is what you are after these are some of the best layers.
- Egg Production: Excellent layers, known for their prolific egg-laying ability (around 280-320 white eggs annually).
- Temperament: Active and somewhat skittish, better suited for experienced poultry keepers.
- Hardiness: Thrive in warmer climates, but may need protection in colder areas.
Sussex chickens can either be speckled like the one on the left or white with black like the one on the right. We have enjoyed keeping Speckled Sussex chickens in the past.
- Egg Production: Good layers, laying light brown eggs regularly, about 200-250/year
- Temperament: Friendly, calm, and easily handled, suitable for families and beginners.
- Hardiness: Adaptable to different climates, including colder regions.
We love keeping some Ameraucana chickens simply because of their beautiful blue eggs. They do need space to roam so if your yard is small, they may not be the best chicken to choose.
They can vary in appearance coming in eight different shades, from black to white, and colors like buff or a grayish color in between. They have a “beard” or muff.
Ameraucana’s are just moderate layers. You likely wouldn’t want your whole flock to be of this bird. The fun thing is if you eventually hatch your own eggs you can cross this chicken with a brown laying breed and get the most beautiful olive colored eggs!
- Egg Production: Decent layers (150-200/yr). They lay blue eggs!
- Temperament: Curious and energetic, don’t love to be handled
- Hardiness: Cold and heat hardy.
8. Silver Laced Wyandotte
These look similar to the barred rock but when you look closely the pattern is different and the body shape is a bit fluffier.
- Egg Production: Good layers (220-280/year)
- Temperament: Good disposition and can be handled. Great for a backyard
- Hardiness: Cold hardy and will lay through the winter.
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Where to Buy Chickens?
It’s probably best to check around locally for a hatchery. However, there are several hatcheries that sell online! You can order chicks and have them shipped to your home! We have done this in the past without any problems. Here are a couple of online hatcheries where you can browse and purchase chickens for your backyard: Murray McMurray Hatchery and My Pet Chicken.
Keeping a variety of chickens is fun as you can get to know each breed and see firsthand what you enjoy about each specific variety. A barnyard mix is also fun as when you mix breeds you can enjoy some interesting colors in the eggs!
When choosing the right breed for your backyard, consider factors such as climate, available space, egg production, and temperament. Additionally, ensure proper housing, feeding, and healthcare for your chickens to maintain their health and well-being.
Remember, each chicken breed has its charm, and whether you’re seeking excellent egg layers, friendly companions, or both, there’s a breed suited for your backyard flock.
Happy chicken keeping!
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