I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about which breeds are best for a backyard flock for the first time owner. First, congrats on making the leap into chicken ownership! Watching your birds scratch and interact with each other is one of the most relaxing past times I can think of. They’re great fun, and when you get that first egg, you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment and independence.
You can either buy established hens or chicks locally, or buy chicks either through the mail or at your local feed store. I’ve found a great variety by buying them locally, and even have gotten some mixed breeds that were fantastic.If you buy locally, you know what you’re getting (for the most part), and you can pick your birds. You don’t have to deal with travel stress, and you’ll meet like-minded people who can help you out if you have any questions. Most chicken owners are very friendly, and interested in helping you keep your flock healthy and happy.
If you buy from a hatchery, you will find a great variety, and some breeds you might not find locally. Hatcheries are also a great source of information, and carry chicken-related products that can be shipped with your chicks.
In fact, if you have any chicken questions, please contact me! We were all getting our own starter flocks once upon a time!
So, which breeds make great starter chickens? Let’s take a closer look!
1. Rhode Island Reds – If you want easy to care for and great brown-egg layers, Rhode Island Reds are a great breed. They lay consistently, and are great producers, and convert feed into eggs very efficiently. All ours have been very friendly, and we even had a couple that would run to us like dogs when they saw us.
2. Buff Orpingtons – Buffs are a great option for homesteaders who want both egg and meat birds. Buff Orpington roosters can get up to 10 lbs, which is heavier than egg laying breeds. The hens produce just as well as traditional egg laying breeds, and can get up to 8 lbs. Their feed conversion ratio is good too!
3. Leghorns – If egg laying is your thing, then Leghorns, with their pretty white feathers, are for you. Their eggs are white, and can be fairly large. They tend to be nervous though, so they won’t make a good lap chicken,
4. Golden Sex Links (aka Red Sex Links, Golden Comets) – Gold Sex Links are one of the best egg layers around,and have an excellent feed to egg conversion ratio. Our Golden Sex Link hens also lay in the winter, when our other hens have stopped. They aren’t so friendly though, but if egg production is most important to you, then you can’t go wrong with a Golden Sex Link.
5. Barred Rocks – Barred Rocks are extremely pretty birds to look at! They lay reliably, and owners of Barred Rock chickens are devoted to the breed because of their egg laying ability and friendly natures. Owners report their Barred Rock hens are the watchdogs of the flock, making them a good addition if you’ve had trouble with predators.
There are plenty of options for starter breeds, and these are just a few. They’re all easy to care for, and produce eggs reliably, in addition to being nice to look at! With any breed you get, you will be entertained and feel a new level of self-sufficiency!
Until next time!