9 Chicken Breeds Perfect for Beginners!

9 Chicken Breeds Perfect for Beginners!

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.

 

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My Rhode Island Red laying an egg (you can never predict where they will choose to lay!)

 

2. Buff Orpingtons

Buffs are a great breed for people who want eggs and big beautiful golden 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!

 

Wondering can chickens lay eggs without a rooster? If you keep a rooster and chickens, you'll need to know this backyard chicken for beginners idea!

 

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!

 

golden sex link

One of my hens. A great producer!

 

 

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.

 

 

Bonus Breeds

Cornish Cross

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.

 

Silkies

Silkies also make great pets, especially for children. Silkie chickens are small, the roosters aren’t territorial, social, and they love attention. They also lay eggs….so there’s that too.

 

Brahmas

We have a few brahmas, and they’re friendly, quiet when picked up, and love attention. They lay brown eggs and lay consistently.

Speckled Sussex

We have a speckled sussex, and she’s friendly, although opinionated, loves treats, and does well when being picked up. She likes to eat from the hand, which is great too!

 

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!

 

12 Types Of Chickens Smart Women Keep As Pets

12 Types Of Chickens Smart Women Keep As Pets

If you’re here, I’m pretty sure you’re probably raising certain types of chickens for their eggs.

 

Raising chicken breeds for eggs is usually why people get into chickens in the first place! Then, very quickly, you realize it’s a lot of fun to own these weird little cluckers and each of the types of chickens has a distinct personality…….and you fall in love.

 

Some types of chickens are great chicken breeds for eggs, some are good for meat, and some types of chickens are perfect as pets. And there are some chicken breeds you need in your life just because they’re fun and quirky (and you can put bows on them).

 

In this article, we’re going to show you the best types of chickens that are perfect as pets!

 

Are you a backyard chicken beginner and not sure which hens will look super cute in your coop? Here's 12 types of chickens to give you some ideas!

 

Chicken breeds for eggs

Marans

Marans, a type of chicken which originated in France, can lay anything from a light brown egg to the coveted chocolate-colored eggs (said to be the best in the world).

 

The first few eggs a marans hen lays can be darker than subsequent ones, unlike other chicken breeds. Chart your flocks egg colors to see if her eggs stay the same shade! There are several different types of marans chickens, including Black Copper, Blue Copper, Cuckoo, and Wheaton.

 

Production Reds

This type of chicken isn’t really a breed, but rather a modern strain, created for high egg production. They lay very consistently, and some will even lay throughout winter.

 

Plymouth Rock Chickens

This is an old chicken breed that’s been raised in the United States for hundreds of years. Plymouth Rock chickens are a great chicken breed for eggs. They lay about 280 eggs a year and the roosters are great guardians and protectors.

Are you a backyard chicken beginner and not sure which hens will look super cute in your coop? Here's 12 types of chickens to give you some ideas!

Easter Eggers

Easter eggers are not breeds of chickens, but rather a hybrid between chickens carrying the blue laying gene and another breed, such as New Hampshire Chickens.

 

If you’re looking for a healthy types of chickens that lay all sorts of colored eggs, then definitely raise Easter eggers, but know the color of the eggs isn’t guaranteed, since they don’t breed true.

 

Types of chickens for pets & children

Silkies

Out of all the types of chickens, Silkies are best known for their even, friendly temperaments, and some silkies are even used as therapy chickens for special-needs children because they’re so good with people.

 

Silkies are adorable with fluffy feathers and 5 toes on their feet. Adult males get around 4 pounds. Hens go broody easily, and they are the types of chickens that will hatch eggs other than their own.

 

Rhode Island Reds

Rhode Island Reds is one of the oldest types of heritage chickens in America. There are both industrial strains of Rhode Island Reds, bred for egg production as well as the heritage strains, which are larger.

 

They’re docile and friendly types of chickens, and easily trained to be held in your lap. Rhode Island Reds also happen to be an excellent chicken breed for eggs, and they can produce about 280 eggs each year!

 

Ameraucanas

Ameraucanas are great pet types of chickens because they lay beautiful blue eggs and are small and look adorable.  An American breed, Ameraucanas were developed intentionally to preserve the blue egg laying gene of the Araucana (which is the only type of chickens evolved to carry the blue egg laying gene), but to eliminate the some of the lethal genetics of the Araucana breed.


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Beautiful types of chickens

Hamburg

Hamburg chickens are beautiful with black and white feathers. They are great chicken breeds for eggs, and you can get either full sized or bantam types.

 

Polish Bantams

These types of chickens look a bit like cartoon characters with big tufts of feathers on their heads (they look like pom poms!) Polish bantams come in a variety of colors, and they are calm and docile. I mean, who wouldn’t love looking at these cluckers all day?

 

Are you a backyard chicken beginner and not sure which hens will look super cute in your coop? Here's 12 types of chickens to give you some ideas!

 

Lavender Orpington

This breed is becoming more popular because…well…..lavender. They’re not really purple, although some owners disagree! They’re a type of orpington, which are known for being great layers. They’re also great companions!

 

Are you a backyard chicken beginner and not sure which hens will look super cute in your coop? Here's 12 types of chickens to give you some ideas!

 

Sultans

Sultans are one of several heritage chicken breeds that are critically endangered. They were bred in Turkey as ornamental birds for the gardens of the Sultan (in fact, their actual name is Serai Taook, which in Turkish means Sultan’s Fowl.) They’re very pretty chickens, with tufts of feathers on their heads and feathered feet.

 

Frizzles

How neat are these Frizzles chickens? Their curled feathers are a genetic trait, and are certainly a show stopper! These types of chickens are docile and happily will sit on eggs for you when they’re not strutting around your yard!

 

Brahmas

These types of chickens are super cool – they have black and white feathers, and tufts of feathers on their feet. They’re docile and happy to hang out on your lap! Best of all, you can get them as average sized chickens, or as large as turkeys! How cool would a huge rooster like this be in your backyard!

 

Beginner backyard chicken owner? Here's 12 super cute types of chickens that'll look great in your coop!

 

For Further Reading On Various Types of Chickens:

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Discover Your Perfect Backyard Chicken Flock With 5 Of The Best Egg Layers [Podcast]

Discover Your Perfect Backyard Chicken Flock With 5 Of The Best Egg Layers [Podcast]

Although it’s winter, now is the time to start thinking about what breeds you want to add to your backyard chicken flock.

 

While all chickens will lay eggs, some are better layers than others. In this episode, we talk about 5 breeds you can add to your flock for consistent egg production. They also make great pets!

 

You’ll learn:

  • Which breeds I’m planning to add
  • Why you need to start thinking about your perfect flock now and not in the spring
  • Which breeds will give you blue eggs
  • Why I love Production Reds out of all the available layer breeds out there.

 

 

Links we discuss:

Manna Pro Poultry Feeds

Chickens: Naturally Raising a Sustainable Flock

Araucana, Ameraucana, & Easter Egger Chickens: 3 Breeds For Blue Eggs

 

385x470 organic ad_frugal_chicken

I’d like to hear from you!

What breeds of chickens will you add to your flock this spring? Which is your favorite? Leave a comment below!

5 Heritage Chicken Breeds Our Grandparents Kept

5 Heritage Chicken Breeds Our Grandparents Kept

Heritage chicken breeds play an important part on our homestead.

 

Did you know humans have raised poultry for meat and eggs for almost 10,000 years?

 

While I’m a big fan of industrial breeds such as production reds, who lay an egg every day like clockwork, I’m turning more towards keeping pure blooded heritage chicken breeds on our homestead, in part to preserve a piece of American history that might otherwise be lost.

 

We also use them in our breeding program, to improve the chicken breeds we’re developing, and so we can start hatching sex links to bring some income to our farm.

 

This year, we added several heritage chicken breeds to our flock – both hens and roosters so we can continue the terrific bloodlines of these breeds.

 

Now, according to the Livestock Conservancy:

A heritage chicken “can only be produced by a Standard-bred Chicken admitted by the American Poultry Association. A Heritage Chicken is hatched from a Heritage Egg sired by an American Poultry Association Standard-bred Chicken, whose breed was established prior to the mid-20th century, is slow growing, naturally mated with a long productive outdoor life.

 

Why bother with heritage chicken breeds?

 

One advantage to heritage breeds is, when it comes to hatching them, you know what you’re going to get.

 

After all, the purpose to breeding pure bloods is the genetic traits are predictable. Generation after generation of heritage chicken breeds show the same traits, whether it’s a certain color egg, a specific size, or plumage.

 

Centuries ago, when heritage chicken breeds were first developed in America or otherwise introduced to our country, for the most part they were developed as dual purpose breeds.

 

Buff orpingtons, for example, were specifically bred so they would consistently produce eggs but were also white skinned, making butchering easier, and were a hefty weight.

 

So, which heritage chicken breeds are good for a homestead?

 

I’m glad you asked. Let’s take a look.

 

In this article, we’ll look at 5 heritage chicken breeds and why they’re great for any homestead.

 

Orpingtons

 

The first of the heritage chicken breeds we’ll look at are Orpingtons. We personally keep several Buff Orpingtons on our homestead, and they lay wonderful brown eggs regularly.

 

They’re a great dual purpose chicken, bred for both meat and eggs. If you’re off grid, they’re particularly advantageous because the hens like to sit on eggs, making them ideal for a sustainable flock of heritage chicken breeds.

 

Orpingtons come in several colors, including black, white, buff, blue and splash, and the buff color is the most commonly seen.

 

Orpingtons have a wonderful history, and were developed in 1886 by an English man named William Cook, who was a professional coach man.

 

To meet the need for a dark chicken that could be exhibited in London at shows without soot showing (London was a dirty place in those days!) and to meet market demand for a chicken that was large, white skinned, and good for the table, he developed Black Orpingtons.

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken
These heritage chickens are named after the town they were developed in, Orpington, and were produced by crossing Minorcas, Langshans and Plymouth Rocks heritage breeds.

 

Later, the buff color was developed, and only the original colors are accepted by the American Poultry Association. 

 

As a heritage chicken, Orpingtons are perfect for any homestead because they grow to good harvestable weight, lay large brown eggs regularly, and are attractively colored birds.

 

Rhode Island Reds

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

Photo by Livestock Conservancy

 

Rhode Island Reds (RIR) is one of the oldest heritage chicken breeds in America. When it comes to RIR, there’s industrial strains, bred for egg production as well as the heritage strains.

 

For this article, we’re talking about the heritage breeds, which look different from an industrial chicken strain.

 

According to the Livestock Conservancy, heritage Rhode Island Reds are listed as “recovering”, thanks to efforts by breeders and homesteaders who want to preserve this piece of Americana.

 

Directly descended from the heritage chicken breeds our ancestors developed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Rhode Island Reds originated in Adamsville, which is a village in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

 

They are larger than industrial strains, and perfect for either the table or for their eggs. They’re also the foundation for more modern “breeds”, such as Production Reds and Sex Links.

 

If you want to raise heritage Rhode Island Reds, do your homework to make sure the bloodlines are indeed true to this heritage chicken breed.

 

These heritage chickens are hearty birds that weather winter well, and are great with children. 

 

the better egg ad final

 

Delawares

 

Delawares are next on our list of heritage chicken breeds. They’re beautiful, striking birds that make a gorgeous addition to any backyard flock.

 

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

 

This heritage chicken originated in Delaware in the 1940s by crossing  Barred Plymouth Rock roosters and New Hampshire hens. They’ve been important in creating modern broiler breeds, and for a while were the most popular meat chickens in the Mid-Atlantic area largely because of their color.

 

Delawares are critically endangered according to the Livestock Conservancy because their usefulness as broilers has been surpassed by Cornish Crosses, but they still make a wonderful dual purpose bird for any homestead.

 

We have a couple Delaware roosters on our farm and they’re friendly, hearty birds that grow well.

 

Plymouth Rocks (Barred Rocks)

 

The fourth on our list of heritage chicken breeds are Plymouth Rocks, also popularly known as Barred Rocks.

 

I talk in depth on this heritage chicken breed in one of my podcast episodes, so I’ll just briefly recap here.

 

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

 

The Plymouth Rock originated in America in the middle of the 19th century, and is one of the most popular heritage breeds in part because the barred birds are very showy and beautiful.

 

They’re also excellent egg producers. This type of heritage chicken was first exhibited in Boston, Massachusetts as a breed in 1849 and were developed from hybrid chickens with Spanish, White Cochin, Dominique, Buff Cochin, Black Java, and Brahma bloodlines.

 

And the original Plymouth Rocks were of the barred variety.

 

According to the Livestock Conservancy, the Plymouth Rock seems to have disappeared for 20 or so years until 1869 when this heritage breed appeared at a poultry show in Worchester, Massachusetts.

 

The Plymouth Rocks we know today are heritage offspring of the second set of Plymouth Rocks.

 

This heritage breed was accepted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Excellence in 1874.

 

The Plymouth Rocks we have on our farm are friendly birds that we’re raising to breed both purebloods and black sex links. 

 

I like them because they lay nice brown eggs consistently and they’re a popular meat birds among our neighbors.

Sultans

 

Heritage chicken breeds were just as important to our grandparents as they are today. These 5 heritage chicken breeds all make great dual purpose birds, and fit into any homestead, regardless of size. From FrugalChicken

 

I’ve never kept Sultans one of the heritage chicken breeds we raise on the homestead, but after learning about them, I would like to!

 

Sultans are one of several heritage chicken breeds that are critically endangered,according to the Livestock Conservancy.

 

They’re natives of Turkey, where they were likely developed as ornamental birds for the gardens of the Sultan.

 

They have been rare since they arrived in England in 1854 when Mrs. Elizabeth Watts of Hampstead, England, the editor of the Poultry Chronicle (a British publication) received heritage chickens from a friend living in Constantinople (now Istanbul).

 

Their actual name is Serai Taook, which in Turkish means Sultan’s Fowl, which is where their name derived.

 

They’re very pretty ornamental birds, possibly the most among the heritage chicken breeds.

 

They don’t lay very well, but if you are not looking for a high efficiency bird and just enjoy having friendly companions, then preserving these heritage chickens might be for you!

 

Helping to save heritage chicken breeds is a wonderful pursuit for any homesteader. These breeds are a piece of American history, and we’re happy to continue preserving them!

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Which heritage chicken breeds most interest you? Email me at [email protected] or comment below!


Sultan photo by “A White Sultan (chicken)” by Eunice. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.