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
So, which chicken breeds make great starter flocks? Let’s take a closer look!
5 Chicken Breeds For New Chicken Mamas
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
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 the breed 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. Production Red (aka Red Sex Links, Golden Comets)
Production Reds are one of the best egg laying breeds around,and have an excellent feed to egg conversion ratio. Our 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!
5. Barred Rocks
Barred Rocks are an extremely pretty breed 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.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: I think Cornish Crosses make great pets. The breed as a whole is docile, they don’t get flustered, love to sit with their owners, and love attention. Ours lay every day.
We have a few brahmas, and they’re friendly, quiet when picked up, and love attention. They lay brown eggs and lay consistently.
There are plenty of options for starter chicken 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!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.