Chicken Breeds: Egg Layers, Giant Chickens, & More!

Chicken Breeds: Egg Layers, Giant Chickens, & More!

If you’re searching for the perfect chicken breeds for your backyard, you’re in the right place! Although “perfect” usually means different things to different people – what’s perfect in your eyes might not be for someone else – knowing what types of chickens suits your needs and interests will help you build your ideal flock.

 

Even though you might want colored eggs and friendly chickens, your foodie neighbor might yearn for as many eggs as possible. And not every chicken will work for everyone.

 

Whether you want pet hens, great layers, or unusual feathered friends, here is everything you need to know about the different kinds of chicken breeds, their strong points, and why they’re popular.

 

Best Egg Laying Chicken Breeds

  • Australorp
  • Black Sex Link
  • Brahmas
  • Buckeye
  • Delaware
  • ISA Brown
  • Leghorn
  • Marans
  • New Hampshire
  • Orpington
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Production Red
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Speckled Sussex

Australorp

This chicken breed is the honorary bird of Australia and its name is a contraction of “Australia” and “Orpington.” They were bred to be great layers – and they are! The Australorp is a large, heavy bird with close fitting and soft feathers.

 

Australorps have an upright stance, four toes on each foot, a broad chest, and big solid body. The wattles, earlobes, and comb should all be red, and the comb should be upright with seven points.

 

Champion egg layer status: They’re champion layers – at one point, an Australorp held the world record for the highest amount of butt nuggets laid! The average hen will lay about 300 per year.

 

You can discover how to tell if your eggs are fresh here.

Black Sex Link

Sometimes also called “Black Stars”, this breed is a cross between a Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire rooster, and Barred Rock Hen. They’re called “sex link” because you can tell the sex of the chick by its down when it hatches: Males have a white dot on their head but the pullets don’t.They tend to be hardier and more productive than their parent’s respective breeds.

 

Both males and females feather out with black and white “barred” feathers – and they’re VERY beautiful.

 

Champion egg layer status: They are great layers and can average at around 300 light brown ones per year. If you want your flock to use nesting boxes, you can find my best nesting box ideas here.

Brahmas

Brahmas are an old chicken breed that dates way back before recorded time – and the exact genetic heritage of the bird is unknown.

 

Brahmas are a large bird that is almost as large as the Jersey Giant – some grow to around 30 inches tall! Because of its size, it’s sometimes called the “King of Chickens.”

 

This breed has a long, deep, and wide body that stands tall and gives it a narrow ‘V’ shape when viewed from the side. It has black and white plumage that is dense and tight, with thick down-like feathers under its top feathers.

 

They’re gentle giants with a docile and calm temperament. Many people keep them as pets and for eggs. With Brahmas, you’re not just limited to one option: Light, Dark, and Buff are three recognized color varieties.

 

You can learn more about Brahma chickens here.

 

Champion egg layer status: Their eggs come in medium to large size and are brown in color, and the typical hen will produce 3 to 4 per week.  

Buckeye

This is a dual-purpose breed of chicken that has brownish red and green plumage. Developed in Ohio (hence the name “buckeye” since Ohio is “The Buckeye State”), they do great in colder weather, and because of their pea comb, they’re less likely to endure frostbite.

 

This chicken breed is adaptable to a variety of living conditions, but because they’re very active, and won’t do well in confined living situations.

 

The Buckeye is docile, calm, and easy to manage. With their peaceful nature, they’re less likely to bully others, and are great foragers (you can discover alternative feeds for chickens here). Because their root stock are Cochins and Barred Plymouth Rock heritage chicken breeds, the chicks are relatively slow growers. However, this also makes them hardy and reliable.

 

Champion egg layer status: Buckeyes are a reliable producer of 3 to 4 medium brown eggs per week, with a total yearly output of about 200. As a bonus, they are also reliable layers in winter.

Delaware

Delaware chickens were developed in Delaware in the 1940s, and they’re medium-sized, dual-purpose birds that are great layers. Because their root stock is Barred Rocks and New Hampshires, they’re easily confused with other chicken breeds that have a similar appearance.

 

They have a long, broad, and deep body that weighs in at 7 to 8 lbs for males, and 6lb for females. They are calm, curious, and intelligent birds that get along well with children and have excellent laying capabilities.

 

Champion egg layer status: They lay 4-5 large brown eggs a week, and are not very broody.

ISA Brown

A very popular breed known as “a global superstar” for its laying reliability and good feed-to-egg conversion ratio. ISA Brown chickens are medium sized, with an affectionate and docile nature that is suited for families.

 

They tolerate confinement well, and are good foragers suitable for most climates (if you don’t plan to free range your chickens, check out the no-waste chicken feeders I recommend here). They have a life expectancy of 5 to 8 years, if fed well and given a clean living environment.

 

Champion egg layer status: You can expect about 300 brown butt nuggets each year. Learn what chickens eat for better egg laying here and how often chickens lay eggs here.

Leghorn

Originally called “Italians” because they originated in Tuscany, the name leghorn is actually the Anglicization of the word Livorno, which is a port city in Italy where the breed was first exported to the United States. They’re also known as the king of the layer chicken breeds.

 

Their overall appearance is sleek, long, and aerodynamic, except for that single comb which gives it a sort of comical look, especially when it flops over.

 

They are intelligent and resourceful, and if allowed to free-range, they can find as much food as they can by themselves. They are also fairly good flyers, and will roost on trees or branches in your coop.

 

Leghorns that haven’t been handled regularly can be flighty and hide their eggs. If you come across a nest and aren’t sure if they’re fresh, try the egg float test.

 

Champion egg layer status: The Leghorn is a favorite because of their superior laying capabilities of up to 320 eggs a year. They have been specifically bred to lay a lot and not to brood, so it is rare for hens to go broody.

Marans

Maran are known as chocolate egg layers because this chicken breed lays butt nuggets with a deep chocolate brown color. The’re a must if you value a wide variety of colored eggs!

 

Originating in the town of Marans, in France, their eggs are said to be the best in the world, and the breed itself is raised mainly for its egg color and beautiful appearance.

 

Varieties of Marans include:

  • Black Copper
  • Blue Copper
  • Wheaten
  • Cuckoo
  • Columbian
  • Birchen

 

Marans are fast growing and extremely hardy chickens that will thrive in almost all climates. They are generally docile, quiet, and pretty active with a good defense for diseases. Some do go broody and make great mothers.

 

Champion egg layer status: They average about 200 eggs per year. The darkness of their shells depends on the individual chicken – some will lay a deep chocolate colored one, and some will lay a lighter brown egg. Generally, after your hens lay their first dozen, you’ll know how dark her shell color will be.

New Hampshire

This breed is a heritage chicken breed developed in – you guessed it – New Hampshire. They’re a medium-sized bird, derived from Rhode Island Red chickens, so they’re roughly the same size as that breed. With a friendly disposition, they make great pets for families.

 

Champion egg layer status: They are a good layer that can produce 200 large brown tinted eggs per year (about 3 each week.)

Orpington

One of the best breeds to hatch chicks! Developed in Britain, orpingtons are great mothers with a superb maternal nature. They’re also great for children and families because they’re good-natured and love attention. The roosters make great flock guardians, but are still friendly towards people.

 

They come in two sizes: The large fowl that weighs in at 8 to 10 pounds, and the bantam that weighs in at 34 to 38 oz. They tolerate confinement well, although many people keep them because they’re good foragers.

 

Their feathers are fluffy and beautiful, and the Buff Orpington variety has golden-colored feathers that add flair to any flock. Another popular variety are Lavender Orpingtons.

 

Champion egg layer status: They are great layers, and reliably produce 300 per year.

Plymouth Rock

A dual-purpose bird that is one of America’s oldest chicken breeds, they’re excellent layers. This breed also has a distinct black and white bar plumage, which is a beautiful addition to any flock.

 

Both roosters and hens are generally calm, and these birds get along well with everyone. The roosters are good protectors, and aren’t aggressive towards people. They’re curious and generally will prefer to free range and find morsels in the yard, although they do tolerate confinement well (as long as they have enough space.)

 

To keep them entertained, you can find out what to include in your coop here.

 

Champion egg layer status: The Plymouth Rock is a reliable layer that can produce 300 large brown eggs per year.

Production Red

This isn’t a breed per se, but they’re great layers, so they deserve a spot on this list. Production Reds were developed for industrial egg laying, so they’re reliable hens who are often productive even during winter.

 

They have red and white feathers, although their plumage color can range from a dark red to a light red. They can be flighty if not handled consistently. The roosters are easy going, although for breeding, there’s better options.

 

Champion egg layer status: They are bred to be productive layers, and they’re a vigorous and hearty chicken that lays a lot of large brown eggs. The Production Red will typically produce around 300 per year.

Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Red chickens are one of the oldest breeds in the USA. They’re also one of the most popular and successful breeds of chicken out there. Aside from regular feed, water, vet care, and housing, they require little care and are usually extremely healthy. Like most chickens, they can be susceptible to chicken mites, so some management might be needed.

 

They’re usually easy-going, and are active foragers that will tolerate confinement, if given enough space. They occasionally go broody, and are very protective mothers.

 

Champion egg layer status: Rhode Island Reds are very popular because they’re great layers. They can produce about 300 medium-sized brown butt nuggets per year. (If your chicken stops laying eggs, read this for answers)

Speckled Sussex

An all-time favorite breed in its homeland England, Speckled Sussex chickens are intelligent, resourceful, and curious by nature. They’re also relatively calm, with a friendly demeanor. They can get into mischief, and love to interact with humans. They’re also very cold hardy.

 

With their beautiful red, black, and white colored feathers, they’re a great addition to any flock. The Speckled Sussex will tolerate confinement well, and if they are allowed to free range, they are also excellent foragers.

 

You can learn more about Speckled Sussex chickens here.

 

Champion egg layer status: This breed is an excellent layer and averages at about 4 to 5 large brown ones a week.

Breeds That Lay Blue, Green, or Olive Eggs (Or Pink)

  • Olive Egger
  • Easter Egger
  • Ameraucana
  • Araucana
  • Cream Legbar

You can read more in depth about these chickens that lay colored eggs here.

Olive Egger

Olive Egger chickens are prized for their dark green butt nuggets. While not a true chicken breed, but a cross of a blue egg layer and a dark brown egg layer, they’re great additions to any backyard chicken flock. One chicken breed combination that makes an olive egger chicken is an Ameraucana hen and a Marans rooster.

 

The olive egger has a varying temperament due to the genetic diversity of this chicken breed – some are very friendly, and others tend to be flighty and shy away from humans. Generally speaking, they are a mellow bird that gets along well with other breeds, and rarely causes much trouble.

 

They are also hardy, and breeding olive egger chickens are easy since they aren’t difficult to raise. With their friendly dispositions, they get along well with other birds and sometimes go broody.

 

Shell color: Dark or olive green

Easter Egger

Like olive eggers, Easter Eggers are a variety of chicken that carries the blue egg laying gene. They’re typically a cross between a blue layer (like an Ameraucana, Araucana, or Cream Legbar) and a brown layer (like a Barred Rock).

 

Like all blue egg laying chicken breeds, Easter Eggers are descended from the ancient Araucana breed that first evolved in Chile to lay blue eggs.

 

Because Easter Eggers are a combination of a blue egg layer and any other breed of chicken, one chicken can look completely different than another – there’s no breed standard. You might find that each fluffy butt has a different comb style. We have Easter Eggers with pea combs and others with a regular style single comb.

 

They’re excellent layers who will give you lovely, large butt nuggets. The color of the shell will depend on the genetics of the individual chicken – and each Easter Egger hen lays just one color eggs. They don’t tend to go broody, so you should get a consistent supply year round.

 

You can read more about Easter Egger Chickens here.

 

Shell color: Green, blue, brown, pink, cream

Ameraucana

Ameraucanas were developed in the USA from Araucana bloodlines. They lay blue eggs, and has a beautifully curved beak, large eyes, and a red “pea” comb. This pea comb, together with the wattles and the round earlobes, should be red.

They also have a distinctive appearance that includes a “beard of feathers” and adorable muffs that sometimes almost cover their face.

 

They’re consistent layers that can produce about 200 blue eggs a year and Ameraucana the shells can be light blue to almost green to sky blue depending on the individual hen.

 

You can read more about Ameraucanas here.

 

Shell color: Blue

Araucana

This old breed lays blue eggs and are named after the Araucania region of Chile – its place of origin. Araucanas have a very unique appearance – like Ameraucana and Easter Eggers, they have “peduncles” – tufts of feathers that develop near their ears that they’re born with.

 

This breed is easily confused with Ameraucanas, Easter Eggers, and Cream Legbars – so if you want this type of chicken in your flock, go to a reliable breeder.

 

Unlike other chicken breeds, Araucanas don’t have tail bones like most chicken breeds, so they won’t grow any long, fabulous tail feathers. It gives them a distinctive profile that can differ from Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers.

 

You can read more about Araucanas here.

 

Shell color: Blue

Cream Legbar

This is a breed is known for laying beautiful blue eggs. It was developed in the 20th century by researchers at Cambridge University by crossing Barred Plymouth Rocks, Leghorns, Cambars, and Araucanas. They’re medium-sized birds, with cream-colored feathers. The hens aren’t very broody which makes collecting relatively easy and hassle-free.

 

They have tufts of feathers on their heads, and this variety lays about 200 blue or blue-green eggs each year.

 

Shell color: Blue

Breeds That Lay Dark Brown Eggs (Chocolate Colored)

  • Barnvelder
  • Marans
  • Welsummer

Barnvelder

Barnvelders were developed two centuries ago in the Barneveld region (located in the central Netherlands) from local birds and possibly chicken breeds like Cochins or Brahmas. It was first recognized by the American Standard of Perfection in 1991. The hens have a contrasting black-and-white or buff-and-white “double laced” feathering, while the roosters have blue and green tinged double lacing. The breed has a single, red, comb.

 

Some unrecognized varieties are auto-sexing (meaning, you can tell the sex of the chick when it’s born). These types include the barred, dark brown, partridge, chamois, blue, and silver varieties.

 

Either way, they’re unique looking AND they lay chocolate colored eggs – a double win!

 

Barnvelders are an affectionate chicken that will lay on average 3 to 4 butt nuggets per week (even in the winter, according to some owners) that are dark chocolate in color or speckled. The hen isn’t known for particularly being broody and is generally an easy going bird.

 

They do well in confined in a run (as long as you build your coop with enough space).

Marans

These chocolate eggers originate from France, and are docile and relatively clean. The shell color is often misunderstood topic – many people expect a dark brown shell, but color does vary by each individual bird. Her health and management are also a factor (when stressed, hens can lay abnormal eggs that don’t have a consistent color).

 

While some hens lay a deep chocolate colored egg, others will only lighter brown one. They average about 200 per year.

 

Varieties of Marans include:

  • Black Copper
  • Blue Copper
  • Wheaten
  • Cuckoo
  • Columbian
  • Birchen

Welsummer

An under-represented breed in the backyard, Welsummers are intelligent, calm, and docile chickens. They were developed in Holland, and are prized for their dark brown eggs.

 

Despite the fact that they are sturdy birds, they aren’t aggressive with other breeds and love to forage. Like many chicken breeds, they’re not great flyers – making this beautiful variety perfect for any urban flock.

 

Welsummers can lay up to 200 eggs per year, while bantam varieties might lay more.

Best Chicken Breeds for Beginners

  • Ameraucana
  • Cochins
  • Delaware
  • Dominique
  • Easter Eggers
  • Frizzles
  • Jersey Giants
  • Marans
  • New Hampshire Red
  • Polish
  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Silkies

Ameraucana

This blue-egg laying breed is a unique chicken that’s a fairly recent addition to the market. It’s great for beginners because it’s hardy, friendly, lays consistently, and is easy to care for.

 

They have a unique appearance that includes beards and muffs that can be difficult to differentiate unless with closer inspection.

 

They lay light blue eggs and is a good layer producing 3 to 4 medium-sized ones per week. They don’t tend to go broody, although it can happen. They’re easily confused with Araucanas and Easter Eggers, so be sure to get your chickens from a reliable breeder.

 

You can learn more about Ameraucanas here.

Cochins

These fluffy butts have feathered feet, and it makes them a lot of fun to own. They’re one of the most popular chicken breeds among beginners because they’re hardy, lay brown butt nuggets consistently, and enjoy human company. You can get a full-sized cochin or the bantam variety.

 

The standard sized cochins have big and beautiful bodies that can weigh in at about 5 pounds and have an abundance of fancy soft feathers. They are gentle giants that are easy to handle which makes them great pets for families and make great foster moms for hatching and brooding.

 

The bantam variety weighs about 2 pounds, and they love human companionship. You can even train them to sit on your shoulder for a treat. They recognize their humans, and will look forward to your visit.

 

You can learn more about Cochin chickens here.

Delaware

Delaware chickens are great for beginners because they’re excellent layers that can produce up to 5 large brown eggs per week. They’re cold hardy, distinctive looking, and friendly. The hens aren’t really broody, so collecting is easy, especially if you have children.

Dominique

This breed originated in North America (Quebec to be exact)( source), and with their barred feathers, they look similar to Barred Rocks (except Barred Rock chickens have a single comb while Dominiques have rose combs. Barred Rocks also have a more distinct barring, while Dominiques have staggered barring)

 

They’re great for beginners because they are sweet, calm, friendly, and docile birds that are also steady and dependable layers. They do well in confinement, as long as they have enough space.

 

They also tend to go broody (since they’re heritage chicken breeds), making them ideal for beginners who want to hatch chicks.

 

They will lay an average of 230 to 270 medium sized eggs per year.

Easter Eggers

Easter Eggers are great for beginners because they lay consistently (about 250 per year) – and they lay a variety of shell colors! Because there is no standard for this chicken breed, one Easter Egger can look quite different from another.

 

They will lay eggs of varying colors that range from light blue, seafoam green, dark green, brow, and even pink. Each chicken only lays one color shell though. There’s also no telling what color your hen will lay until they pop out of her!

 

You can read more about Easter Eggers here.

Frizzles

With its unusual look, the frizzle chicken is a special bird. While not a breed per se (but rather, any breed that’s also developed the “frizzled feathers”), they have plumage that curls upward and outward from the body instead of lying flat against the body like a ‘normal’ hen. This is called “Frizzling”.

 

Their feather will often look untidy or windswept depending on the breed of chicken, but it should be soft to the touch.

 

They’re great for beginners because they’re sweet and friendly, and enjoy human companionship. Just remember that they aren’t prolific layers, but will produce 120 to 150 cream tinted ones per year. You can read about Frizzles here.

Jersey Giants

Jersey Giants are the largest purebred chicken in the United States, and it’s certainly deserving of its name! Bred as an alternative to turkeys, this breed can weigh in between 11 to 15 pounds!

 

They’re also great layers (about 200 per year), but they don’t make the best incubators because they could end up crushing and breaking the shell. (If you want to hatch Jersey Giants, you can check out our chicken incubator recommendations here. You can also read my review of the Brinsea Ovation 56 here – it holds approximately 50 eggs.

They’re great for beginners because they lay consistently, and despite their size, they have great personalities that are friendly (even the roosters).

Marans

Marans are a breed that comes from the port town of Marans, and are prized for their dark brown eggshells – some French chefs claim they’re the best in the world!

 

They’re perfect for beginners because they’re generally docile, quiet, and disease-resistant, and are cold-hardy chickens that don’t require a lot of work. The hens are great layers (approximately 250 per year), and the chocolate-colored shells are a great addition to any morning basket.

New Hampshire Red

This old breed of chicken is reliable and incredibly robust. They produce delicious eggs and are friendly and warm creatures, making them perfect for beginners. They make excellent mothers and are winter hardy, which is ideal if you live in a cold climate. They are strong foragers with full strong bodies and a lovely red plumage.

 

They are easy to care for, and can lay on average 200 butt nuggets per year.

Polish

With their “pom pom” crest of feathers that top their head, Polish chickens look unique and cuddly – and they are! They are tame and friendly breed that is beloved by many beginner chicken owners.

There’s several different options, including bantams, and bearded, non-bearded and frizzle varieties. Because of their distinct appearance, they’re usually kept as ornamental birds. They they lay about 150 eggs per year.

Rhode Island Reds

This breed is great for beginners because they require little care (except for food, water, a clean coop, and vet care), but lay consistently. It’s very popular for its laying capabilities that can produce about 300 medium-sized brown eggs.

 

They are adaptable to various kinds of climates, are cold hardy, and are friendly. You can learn more about Rhode Island Reds here.

Silkies

Many new chicken owners like starting with Silkies because they’re adorable with soft and fluffy plumage that accentuate their small stature. Unlike other chicken breeds, they have 5 toes, which makes them distinct.

 

They’re calm, with a sweet and docile nature that makes them a hit with children. They’re becoming a common family pet that lays about 120 eggs a year. For people that want to hatch chicks, Silkies are also commonly kept because they “go broody” easily.

 

While they can withstand cold temperatures, their feathers resemble down (like chicks have), which can make it harder for them to stay warm in temperatures below 20 degrees F. (In this case, you can always bring them inside for the night, and let them warm up in a dog crate).

 

You can learn more about Silkie chickens here and read fun facts about silkies here.

Chicken Breeds with Feathered Legs

  • Brahmas
  • Cochins
  • Faverolle
  • Langshan
  • Silkies
  • Marans
  • Sultan
  • D’Uccle
  • Booted

Brahmas

This gentle giant can be as tall as 30 inches (although this is rare and depends largely on the breeder), and sports lovely feathers on its feet. Brahmas are friendly birds that lays eggs that are a lovely brown color. The hens lay consistently, and you can expect up to 300 per year. However, the number of “butt nuggets” laid will depend on the individual, her diet, and the quality of her environment.

 

You can read more about Brahmas here.

Cochins

Cochins are feather-footed chickens that originate in Asia. They were introduced to Britain and America in the mid-19th century. They’re very friendly and cold-hardy birds that lay up to 300 brown eggs a year. In addition to a regular-size variety, you can also find bantam cochins and frizzle cochins (frizzled feathers are turned upward and outward, giving chicken breeds a messy look). Their feathers can get muddy, so be sure to clean them regularly.

 

You can read more about cochins here.

Faverolle

Faverolles have an adorable fluffy look, and it’s famous for its soft feathers and genial nature. They originated in the town of Faverolles, France. They have beards and muffs (similar to Ameraucanas) that give a distinctive look that makes them a standout beauty in anyone’s flock of fine feathered friends. They also have 5 toes (instead of the usual 4) (source). The Faverolle is also a reliable layer who can produce approximately 240 eggs per year.

 

There are many varieties; the two most popular are salmon and white, and the salmon coloring is unique to the breed.

Langshan

These feather footed beauties originate from China (like Cochins), and they lay dark brown eggs (some say their shells sometimes have a purplish tint.) They’re not super popular in the United States, but they’re a hardy breed that’ll fit into any flock. They average about 180 butt nuggets per year.

 

You can read more about large breeds like the Langshan here.

Silkies

Silkies also have feathered feet, and they’re very popular because of their soft plumage and easy-going temperaments. They’re oddities: in addition to their down-like feathers, they also have black skin and bones, blue earlobes, and five toes on each foot. They make great pets and can average at about 150 eggs a year, depending on varying factors such as health and their environment.

 

You can read more about silkies here.

Marans

True marans have feathered feet (sometimes you see chickens marketed as Marans but they don’t have the feathered feet). Like other chicken breeds like Welsummer and Barnvelder, this breed lays eggs with a deep chocolate brown color.

 

They have a lot of varieties, including:

  • Silver Cuckoo,
  • Gold Cuckoo,
  • Black Copper,
  • Blue Copper,
  • Splash Copper,
  • Wheaten,
  • Black Tailed Buff,
  • Splash,
  • Birchen,
  • Columbian

 

There’s a lot of options to choose from! Marans are friendly chickens, and very good layers.

Sultan

Sultans are feathered footed chickens that are uncommon in the United States. Generally, they’re raised for ornamental purposes, which makes sense: They were originally bred in Turkey as ornamental birds for the Sultan’s palaces during the Ottoman Empire.

 

There’s three varieties: Black, Blue, and White. They have a fluffy cascade of feathers on top of their head, a V-shaped comb, muffs, and a beard. They aren’t cold hardy, but tolerate heat well.

 

They’re friendly and docile, and the hens don’t go broody. They’re poor layers, producing only 1 egg per week, but if your goal is to raise a diverse and beautiful flock, adding a Sultan or two is a great idea!

D’Uccle

A funny bird with a funny name this is a Belgian breed of bearded bantam chicken that is affectionate and likes human company. They got their name from their place of origin:  Uccle, which is just outside of Brussels.

 

This breed lays about 200 small white eggs. There’s some discrepancy about varieties between the US and Europe (source). One of the more popular varieties in the US are Mille Fleur and Porcelain, which are prized for their beauty.

Booted

Booted bantams are similar to the D’Uccle breed, except Booted bantams are non-bearded. They also have very distinctive feathers on their feet (hence the name, Booted). They are mainly kept for ornamental purposes, but they are fairly good layers, averaging at about 2 tiny cream-colored eggs per week. They have friendly personalities and bear confinement well.

 

The American Bantam Association currently recognizes the following varieties:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Buff
  • Golden Neck
  • Grey
  • Mille Fleur
  • Mottled
  • Porcelain
  • Self-Blue
  • White

Friendly Chicken Breeds (Great For Children)

  • Cochin Bantams
  • Easter Egger
  • Frizzle
  • Polish Bantams
  • Silkies

 

While many breeds have friendly roosters that are great with children, if you’re at all concerned, or if you have very young children, it’s best to stick with hens from a non-broody breed. Note this list doesn’t include EVERY friendly breed, because most chicken breeds are very friendly. It’s just a selection of layer breeds we’ve found to be the MOST friendly.

Cochin Bantams

Cochins are feather-footed chickens that originate in Asia, and are very friendly chickens. If you have young children and plan to keep chicken breeds as pets, then it’s best to go with bantam cochins, because they’re small enough for children to hold. Cochins come in both full-sized and bantam varieties, so make sure you choose the right variety for your situation.

 

Cochins are cold-hardy birds that lay up to 300 brown eggs a year. Their feathers can get muddy, so be sure to clean them regularly.

 

You can read more about cochin bantams here.

Easter Egger

Easter Eggers lay consistently (about 250 per year) – and they lay a variety of shell colors! They’re friendly, and children love to check the nesting boxes for a blue, green, brown, or pink egg! Each chicken only lays one color shell though, so if you want a variety of colors, choose breeds that definitely lay blue (like Araucanas) or green eggs (like Olive eggers) in addition to Easter Eggers.

 

You can read more about Easter Egger bantams here.

Frizzle

Frizzles are a a sweet and friendly bird that aren’t prolific layers, but will produce 120 to 150 cream eggs per year. With their funny feathers and “Muppet” like appearance, children love looking at them. Frizzles are very friendly, and perfect for any flock.

Polish Bantams

Polish bantams, like most bantams, love being held. They’re small – weighing only a couple pounds, and they have slight builds. So, handle with care!

 

With their fluffy crest of feathers that crown their head, they certainly look unique! There’s several different options, including bantams, and bearded, non-bearded and frizzle varieties. Because of their distinct appearance, they’re usually kept as ornamental birds. They they lay about 150 eggs per year. There’s several different varieties, including Silver Laced and White Crested.

 

You can read more about Polish chickens here.

Silkies

These small tufts of feathers is a popular family pet because of their small size and the soft feathers covering their entire body. They live about as long as regular-sized chickens, and coupled with their good-hearted dispositions, many people have welcomed Silkies into their lives.

 

You can read more about silkies here.

Unusual & Rare Chicken Breeds

  • Ayam Cemani
  • Frizzle
  • Houdan
  • Icelandic
  • La Fleche
  • Mille Fleur d’Uccle
  • Onagadori
  • Phoenix
  • Sebright
  • Serama
  • Turken (Transylvania Naked Neck)
  • Yokohama

Ayam Cemani

A black chicken – inside and out. This breed is thought of as good luck charms, and have the distinction of being the most EXPENSIVE chicken breed in the world! On average, a breeding pair goes for $5,000! In some cultures, the Ayam Cemani is used in ceremonies.

 

They’re the only true 100% black chicken breed (Silkies have black skin and bones but they also have blue earlobes and a “mulberry colored” comb), and they lay medium cream colored eggs.

Because of the value of this chicken breed, if you do buy an Ayam Cemani, please do your research about breeders – there’s many unscrupulous people who try to sell black chickens as purebred Ayam Cemani. It’s also best to steer clear of hatching eggs, except from reliable hatcheries.

Frizzle

Particularly classified as unusual due to their appearance, the frizzle chicken has feathers that curl upward and outward from the body instead of lying flat against the body like a ‘normal’ hen. This type of feathering this is called “frizzling”. This breed is friendly and make great pet chickens.

Houdan

This breed has an unusual appearance, with it’s “mottled” black and white feathers, a v-shaped comb, 5 toes, and the tuft of feathers on its crown. Like other chicken breeds like Marans, Houdans originated in France and they’re said to be derived from an ancient breed owned by Romans. They’re hardy, and productive layers. They’re very docile and amenable to confinement.

Icelandic

Originating with the settlement of Iceland in the tenth century by the Norse, this chicken breed has much to offer. Icelandic breeders are very strict about their bloodlines to ensure purity of the breed – if you’re interested in raising Icelandic chickens, it’s best to go to an established, well-recognized breeder. This unusual breed is best for flocks with a lot of space; they prefer to have range to roam and they are highly skilled at both foraging much of their own feed and evading predators. They’re very beautiful birds that make a stunning addition to any backyard flock.

 

You can search this Facebook group for reputable breeders.

La Fleche

Named for the town of  La Flèche in France, this is a rare breed was near extinction in the 1970s but has since made a comeback thanks to dedicated breeders. It’s medium-sized, with black plumage, white earlobes, and a distinct V-shaped comb. They lay very large white eggs and lay well (except during winter).

Mille Fleur d’Uccle

This variety is part of the d’Uccle chicken breed. The name translates as “Thousand Flowers,” which is a reference to the black, mahogany, and white feathers that look similar to flowers. This Belgian bantam is kept for ornamental reasons, and is an affectionate bird known for their mysterious, quirky expressions, thanks to their beards and muffs. Mille Fleurs lay about 200 small white eggs per year.

Onagadori

A historic Japanese breed of chicken, the names translates to as “Honorable Fowl.” Best known for its distinctive, long tail of 16 – 18 feathers (source) and long saddle feathers, the breed is considered a “special treasure” of Japan. The breed is endangered, partly because the hens, which are known for being broody, are poor layers of light brown eggs. Breeders can expect about 25 per year.

Phoenix

This is a German chicken breed that’s known for its long tail feathers. The Phoenix might be the root stock of the Onagadori breed. These chickens molt each year or every-other-year and tend to have wide, rigid sickle feathers of two to five feet in length and saddle feather of 12 to 18 inches. They are an alert breed with a pheasant-like appearance. They are fair layers and hardy. If you raise them, remember that they require extra protein to grow their tails.  

Sebright

This good natured bantam breed is named after its creator, Sir John Saunders Sebright. They’re tiny – under 2 pounds – and primarily kept for ornamental reasons. They have beautiful feathering and rose combs that give them a friendly appearance.

 

They’re fiercely independent, with the roosters being defensive and protective of their hens. They love to explore, so make sure they have enough space to run around, and have secured fences to keep them safe, since their size makes them a target for every chicken predator out there.

 

You can get my top free chicken coop plans here and learn about the best chicken wire here to keep out predators.

 

Sebright roosters don’t develop the saddle feathers and long tail feathers characteristic of other chicken breeds (although they do have the neck feathers). This is because they have a genetic mutation that causes androgens (male hormones) to be converted to estrogen (source). They’re also poor layers, and the roosters are sometimes infertile (although that being said, they’re fairly easy to source in our area).

Serama

Seramas are one of the smallest chicken breeds in the world, but they make up for it with lots of personality! With their distinctive profiles (which includes a protruding chest, vertical wings, and upright tail feathers), this breed is mainly used for ornamental purposes, although they make a great addition to any flock. They weigh less than 2 pounds, and lay anywhere from 80-160 eggs per year.

Turken (Transylvania Naked Neck)

This unusual but friendly breed is also known as the “Naked Neck” chicken because it has no feathers on its neck (or vent). First bred in Eastern Hungary, they’re kept for eggs and meat. It’s a cold hardy breed that gets along well with humans. It’s not very popular in the United States, but it is in Europe and South America (because it’s suited to warm climates.) Turkens are intelligent, take confinement well, and are quite gentle. It’s best to keep them in a secure coop because they’re a favorite of chicken predators (like raccoons).

Yokohama

This breed is used for ornamental purposes that originated from Germany and comes from the Japanese long-tail breed of chickens. The original root stock is said to have departed from Japan from the Yokohama port – hence the name of the breed. The breed is red or white saddled with long tail feathers and a pea or walnut comb. It’s easily confused with the Phoenix, but only chickens with the red and white saddle feathers are considered true Yokohama (source). They’re poor layers, producing only about 80 eggs each year.

Cold Hardy Chickens

  • Plymouth Rock
  • Orpington
  • Dorking
  • Australorp
  • Brahma
  • Speckled Sussex
  • Dominique
  • Jersey Giant
  • New Hampshire Red

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rocks are a well known and popular dual-purpose chicken breed that’s also one of America’s oldest breeds. Developed in the North East, their barred feathers keep them warm in sub-zero Fahrenheit weather. You can learn more about Plymouth Rocks here.

Orpington

Developed in Britain, these chickens are large, with fluffy feathers that keep them warm. Just make sure they have a warm place to get out of the dampness, since their single combs are more likely to get frostbite. Otherwise, they will do fine in winter. They’re calm and docile as well, making them a great pet for children and families. They are great layers and produce about 300 eggs per year. You can learn more about Orpingtons here.

Dorking

Named after the town of Dorking in the United Kingdom, these fluffy butts are one of the most ancient domesticated chicken breeds known. While it’s not clear how they developed, there’s evidence that they have some origins in the Roman Empire, and possibly came to the UK when Romans traded them for tin (source). The hens are said to lay all winter, and according to some sources, will sit on large clutches, and protect their young very well.

Australorp

Developed in Australia, using Orpingtons as root stock, these birds are excellent layers suited for cold climates. They’ll need access to water in the winter – you can learn how to keep chicken water from freezing here.

Brahma

Brahmas are well suited to winter because of their large bodies and plentiful feathers. They’re excellent layers (although they won’t necessarily lay during the darker days of winter), and friendly birds who enjoy human company. Their pea combs mean they’re less susceptible to frostbite. You can learn more about Brahmas here.

Speckled Sussex

This is one of the most intelligent chicken breeds, and they’re resourceful when searching for food. They enjoy human company, and do well in the cold. Be sure to keep an eye on them – with their bright plumage, they’re easy for predators to spot in the snow! You can learn more about Speckled Sussex chickens here.

Dominique

Dominiques are said to be the one of the oldest chicken breeds. They do well in the cold because they’re sturdy, heavy birds. They also have rose combs, which makes them less susceptible to frostbite.

Jersey Giant

Originating in New Jersey (which has cold winters), this is one of the largest purebred chicken breeds in the United States. By nature, it’s docile and friendly. Keep it dry during wet winter days, because it’s single comb might get frostbite. Because of its size, it’s otherwise very winter hardy.

New Hampshire Red

Developed in New Hampshire, this breed is adapted to cold climates, and does well in the snow. It’s also very friendly, making it a great pet bird. They are great foragers with large bodies, which helps them stay healthy in the cold weather.

Heat Tolerant Chickens

  • Ayam Cemani
  • Blue Andalusian
  • Black Faced White Spanish
  • Egyptian Fayoumi
  • Minorca
  • Sicilian Buttercup
  • Silkies
  • Sultan

 

Note: While these breeds are heat tolerant, they’re not immune to heat stroke. You can learn how to keep your chickens cool in summer here. You can also learn how to install coop windows here and automatic chicken coop doors here.

 

This is also my favorite design for an automatic chicken waterer – it’ll help your flock keep cool, too.

Ayam Cemani

Ayam Cemani are heat tolerant all black chickens – both inside AND out. The all black coloring is caused by a genetic condition called fibromelanosis. They originated in Indonesia, on the island of Java, and so are adapted to warm climates. They lay medium cream colored eggs.

 

An individual bird can cost up to $2,500. Because of their value, if you do buy an Ayam Cemani, please do your research – there’s many unscrupulous people who try to sell black chickens as purebred Ayam Cemani. It’s also best to steer clear of hatching eggs, except from reliable hatcheries.

 

You can read more about Ayam Cemani and other black chickens here.

Blue Andalusian

This beautiful chicken originated in the warm region of Andalusia, which is located in southwest Spain. It’s particularly heat adapted because of its region of origin. Like many chicken breeds, Andalusians come in different varieties; the older type has darker feathers while the more modern types developed in Britain are a more vibrant blue-grey. They have a curious disposition and is a good layer producing roughly 150 eggs per year.

Black Faced White Spanish

These funny looking chickens are also known as “clown faced chickens” because of their funny white over-developed earlobes that distinguish their face. It’s closely related to the Castilian and Minorca chicken breeds, which gives it better genetics for warm climates. The hens lay regularly, producing large white eggs. They don’t like to be held and are good foragers.

Egyptian Fayoumi

Quite rare in the United States, Egyptian Fayoumis are an ancient breed that has originated in the hot climates of Egypt’s Nile Valley. These slightly built chickens have upright tails, and begin laying as early as 5 months. They don’t do well in cold weather. However, they are fairly nervous in temperament and as a result, can be feather pickers if they don’t have enough room. They have barred feathers, and red, single combs.

Minorca

Minorcas are named after their home region, the island of Menorca, off the coast of Spain. They’re similar in appearance to Black Faced White Spanish chickens, and sport huge red wattles and large red combs which help their bodies stay cool. They are mainly bred for their eggs; they can produce up to 280 a year.

Sicilian Buttercup

Originating in the warm region of Sicily (which gives this chicken breed its name), Sicilian Buttercups are an old, heritage breed of poultry that’s rare in the USA. With its unique comb type and beautiful feathers, it’s a great addition to any flock needing heat tolerant chickens.

Silkies

With their fluffy down-like plumage (which feels like silk – hence the name “silkies”), this breed is perfect for warm climates. The bird has black skin, along with black muscles and bones, and dark beaks, combs, and wattles. This uncommon feature, known as melanism. They make great pets, and are fair layers. You can learn more about silkies here.

Sultan

Kept mostly for ornamental reasons, this breed originates in the warm climates of Turkey. Sultans are feathered footed chickens with funny feather “pom poms” on their crowns that give them a distinctive appearance. They’re docile and friendly. You can learn more about sultans here.

Bantam Varieties

  • Ameraucana
  • Belgian d’Uccle
  • Booted Bantam
  • Cochin
  • Faverolle
  • Frizzle
  • Polish
  • Silkies
  • Sebright

 

If you want to learn more about these chickens, you can read more about raising bantams here.

Ameraucana

Ameraucana bantams lay blue eggs, producing 3 to 4 medium-sized ones per week. You can read more about Ameraucana bantams here.

Belgian d’Uccle

Also known as Ukkelse Baardkriel, is a Belgian bearded breed that’s kept mostly for ornamental purposes. They’re very friendly and lay cream colored eggshells, although they generally lay only about 100 a year.

Booted Bantam

Similar to d’Uccles, booted bantams have feathered feed, and are fairly good layers.

Cochin

One of the most popular breeds of bantam chickens, they are friendly and fun-loving creatures. They love their humans, and make great pets. They weigh about 20 ounces, and lay fairly well, although the bantam varieties are mostly kept for companionship. You can read more about cochins here.

Faverolle

Loved for their unique plumage, salmon color, and genial nature, they have a distinct appearance. They’re also a reliable layer who can produce approximately 240 eggs per year.

Frizzle

This chicken gets its name from its  “frizzled feathers” which curl upward and outward from the body instead of lying flat against the body. Certain breeds are more prone to frizzling than others such as the Cochin, Polish, Plymouth Rocks, and the Japanese bantams who are the main breeds, but many other breeds can be frizzled.

Polish

The Polish bantam is a special and unique breed due to the huge bouffant crest of feathers and v-shaped comb. These sweet birds are typically kept for ornamental reasons.

Silkies

This type of bantam is undoubtedly one of the most popular chicken breeds out there. This chicken has beautiful down-like feathers, and are friendly creatures who love interacting with humans. They will typically weigh in at 3 to 4 pounds, and will lay approximately 120 eggs per year.

Sebright

This beautiful bantam has gorgeous feathers. It’s also more active compared to other bantam chicken breeds, which makes them a lively addition to your backyard. They’re very tiny, weighing less than 2 pounds. Be sure to hand raise them from the time they’re chicks to ensure they’re great pets for families.

 

Which of these chicken breeds are your favorite? Leave a comment below!

Chicken Breeds For Children [Podcast]

Chicken Breeds For Children [Podcast]

While there are many chicken breeds for children out there, I think some are better than others.

 

We’ve had a lot of chickens on our farm over the years, and I believe some breeds are better for children. Although everyone has their own opinion, I’ve found that smaller and more colorful breeds are more attractive to small children.

 

If one of your goals with raising chickens are to teach your children about animals and life lessons, starting with a breed that might interest them is one way to go.

 

You also need to be sure that the breed will be safe and that your children will enjoy spending time with them.

 

In this episode of What The Cluck?! we talk about 5 chicken breeds for children as well as reasons to keep a flock when you have a family.

 

You’ll learn:

  • Which 5 chicken breeds for children I recommend
  • Which breeds I don’t recommend
  • How chickens can also be a teaching tool
  • How to bring chickens into your life so your children enjoy them

 

(LIKE THIS PODCAST? LISTEN TO THE REST HERE)

Transcript

 

Hi there, and welcome to session 15 of What the Cluck?!, a podcast devoted to keeping chickens for fun and self-sufficiency. I’m Maat from FrugalChicken, and in this episode we’ll talk about chicken breeds that are good choices if you have children, and advantages to keeping chickens if you have children.

 

If you have children, or just wonder which breeds I recommend, you’ll love this episode. Just as a reminder, you can access this episodes show notes at TheFrugalChicken.com/podcast15 that’s podcast one five all one word.

 

Now, over the years as we’ve had children, I’ve noticed that some breeds are better than others with small children. So, we’re only covering five breeds today, and this list is certainly not exhaustive.

 

I had to trim it down for the sake of time, and I’ve chosen breeds that I have personal experience with, and that I’ve seen interact with children.

 

I also tried to take into mind the things that are attractive to children, since part of raising chickens with children is to actively get children involved.

 

I’m not a child development specialist, I’m a chicken expert, but I know from raising two small children that there are certain things that get them more excited than other things, and things that they’ll respond to better than others.

 

I also tried to take temperament into consideration, and to choose breeds that aren’t known for being flighty or that are too antisocial.

 

I also took size into consideration, because we keep all kinds of breeds on our homestead, and I noticed that our children respond better to young chickens and smaller breeds because they’re less intimidating, especially the roosters.

 

So, that’s pretty much what’s reflected in my list of chicken breeds for children.

 

Now the other thing I should mention is in this podcast, I’m using the term “breeds” loosely. Some of these breeds are hybrids, and purists will shout that they’re not really breeds because they’re not recognized by the American Poultry Association, and I get that.

 

But until we come up with a different word in English for chicken breeds that are really hybrids, we’re going to continue to use the word breeds. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

 

So, there are many breeds that work well with children, and I can’t for the sake of time discuss them all, so I’ve just included five. These are good breeds for children, and are reflective of my opinion.

 

Your list might differ, but I think these five are a good starting point for someone wanting to bring chickens into their family that includes small children.

 

First on my list of chicken breeds for children are Cornish Crosses. And these are not your typical pet chicken breed, and if you don’t know what they are, they’re large meat chickens, often referred to as “frankenchickens” because they’re bred to grow freakishly large very quickly.

 

Now, if you hate Cornish Crosses or think they’re freaks of nature, just stay with me here. Cornish Crosses, because they’re bred to grow quickly, are quiet birds that don’t do much except lumber around.

 

They do enjoy human company though, more so than other breeds I’ve owned, and they’re happy to just sit quietly with people.

 

While they do have a tendency to die quicker than other breeds, if they’re well managed and not overfed, they can live quite a while. If you do decide to raise a Cornish cross, you need to remember they are not fully feathered and have a hard time regulating their own body temperature.

 

So, they’re more susceptible to temperature extremes, unlike other breeds that are fully feathered and can regulate their temperature better.

 

Cornish crosses do get quite large but they’re quiet birds and the roosters are placid giants that are not very territorial. We kept two Cornish crosses here as pet chickens, and both lost their lives to weather extremes, one to very hot weather and the other to weather that was too cold for her during tornado weather.

 

But because they’re not flighty, Cornish Crosses typically won’t scare children, and don’t really run away when approached. Like I said, they tolerate being held better than other breeds, and especially if you want to use chickens as a natural sciences teaching tool, then Cornish crosses are a good option.

 

They lay white eggs, and they lay much less frequently than other breeds. We had one hen that laid an egg every 3-4 days but her personality made up for the lack of egg laying.

 

Next on my list of chicken breeds for children are polish bantams. We’ve had a couple of these birds over the years, both hens and roosters.

 

READ NEXT: 10 ABNORMAL CHICKEN EGGS & WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!

 

One of the reasons I personally like them is that they look funny and have tufts of feathers on their heads that look like a puff ball. They’re eye catching, and I think because of that, and also because they look like cartoon characters, children can relate to them.

 

Our children liked them because they look like cartoon characters, and they’re placid, easy to get along with birds that don’t grow too big. They’re bantams, but our rooster did grow to the size of a large breed hen, he was about the same size as our rhode island red hens, but he wasn’t territorial and didn’t ever make a move to attack us. He just did his thing and minded his own business.

 

Polish bantams come in a variety of colors, our rooster was mostly black with red tipped feathers, and of course his pom-pom on the top of his head was black with red tipped feathers.

 

Polish bantams are not really excitable birds, I’m sure given the right circumstance they would be, but for the most part, movement didn’t bother them, which is good for small children because they tend to make sudden movements. Our Blue Copper Marans hens, for example, run away from our children because the sudden movements make them uncomfortable.

 

Polish bantams lay white eggs, and they’re good layers. Of course, the roosters don’t lay eggs, but they’re nice, easy to get along with birds that children love to watch.

 

The third chicken breed on our list today of chicken breeds for children are silkies. Now, for full disclosure, we don’t currently have any Silkes, but I wanted to mention them largely for the same reason I mentioned Polish bantams which is that they’re comical to look at and they look a little like cartoon characters.

 

To me, they look a bit like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

 

Now, at this time I want to address that you shouldn’t choose a chicken breed for your children just because they’re funny looking.

 

I know I’ve mentioned that I like Polish Bantams and Silkies as a breed for children because they’re cute, but by and large, you should choose a chicken breed for children because they’re a good fit on your farm and your kids want to raise them.

 

That being said, with this list, I’ve chosen breeds that I think are eye catching and that children can easily relate to. Since many people want to raise chickens as pets, or to teach their children about the world, or to teach them responsibility, choosing a breed that’s interesting to your children is the place to start.

 

Of course, you should always take the well-being of your chickens and your kids into mind, since both are living, breathing organisms. Both chickens and children should be kept in a safe environment and cared for accordingly.

 

So, getting back to Silkies.

 

Their feathers are also fluffier and finer than other chicken feathers, so small children are attracted to how they feel, and since their feathers are similar to mammal hair, I think children can relate to them. Children also like soft things, such as soft stuffed animals, so the texture of Silkie feathers are more attractive to small children.

 

There’s some debate out there about whether Silkies are a breed of bantam, and according to the American Poultry Association they’re considered a bantam breed.

 

Out of all the chicken breeds, 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.

 

One woman actually fought her city ordinances after she was made to get rid of her autistic son’s therapy chickens. She was told that she wasn’t allowed to have chickens, and would be fined $10,000 if she didn’t get rid of them.

 

But when her son’s health declined after the chickens were gone, she successfully got the city to alter the rules to allow her son’s therapy silkies, and was able to bring them back to her property.

 

So, a bit of history about the breed. Silkies originated in China, and made their way over to Western cultures via the Silk Route as well as on merchant ships.

 

Silkies were recognized officially by the Standard of Perfection in 1874. Unlike other chicken breeds, Silkies have 5 toes on their feet. They have all black skin, but their feathers can be different colors, including black, white, and buff.

 

They’re fluffy creatures that like Polish Bantams, they have a tuft on their head. Silkies also have feathers on their feet, and overall, their appearance is more attractive to small children than other chicken breeds.

 

One reason I mention silkies is because they’re small, adult males get around 4 pounds, so they not intimidating for children, and a good size for children to hold. Silkies roosters aren’t territorial so they’re less likely to attack your children.

 

Silkie chickens lay white eggs, and although they don’t lay as well as other breeds, they tend to go broody easily, and they will hatch eggs other than their own, so some people keep them as live incubators. Of course, a lot of people keep them as companions, as well.

 

READ NEXT: 5 CHICKEN BREEDS TO RAISE FOR COLORED EGGS

 

The fourth breed on our list are Easter eggers, and largely that’s because they lay colored eggs, and I think kids are fascinated by this. While most chickens lay brown or white eggs, Easter Eggers can lay blue, green, and even pink eggs.

 

We have one Easter Egger that lays pink eggs. I think kids get a kick out of the different colors, and it’s a little like Christmas or Easter every day for kids.

 

Unlike other breeds we’ve talked about in this podcast, Easter Eggers lay frequently, ours lay just about every day, so there’s always eggs for the kids to look for.

 

Easter Eggers are also effectively mixed breed birds, they’re a combination of chickens with the blue egg laying gene and other breeds, so they have hybrid vigor, and are generally healthy chickens to raise.

 

Easter eggers grow to a good size, around 6 pounds, but we haven’t personally had any Easter Egger roosters that were territorial. But that being said, because they do get bigger, Easter Eggers can be intimidating for small children simply because they grow to be the same size as small children.

 

Now one disadvantage of Easter Eggers is they’re more standoffish than other breeds we’ve discussed today, and generally don’t like to be held. So, if you’re looking for more of a lap chicken, then Silkies might be a better choice.

 

Last on our list of chicken breeds for children breeds for children are Cuckoo marans, and in this case, I recommend the hens only. We’ll talk in a minute about why that is.

 

As far as Cuckoo Marans hens go, we’ve had a few of them on the homestead, and they’ve been very friendly birds that enjoy human interaction. Ours would willingly be held, and as chicks, they would happily sit on our shoulders and take a snooze under my hair.

 

They were never aggressive and seemed to really enjoy human company, as long as there no sudden loud noises.

 

They’re a type of Marans, which are the dark brown egg layers. They’re also called chocolate egg layers.

 

Cuckoo marans also lay eggs frequently, every other day or so depending on the season and their diet. Cuckoo marans are barred chickens, mostly black with white barring. I think children enjoy the color of Cuckoo marans.

 

Like I said they’re more friendly birds than other breeds, and the ones we’ve had were willing to be held. They get larger than Silkies, for example, but the hens don’t get overwhelmingly large, 5 or so pounds. They have long, elegant-looking toes, and are just really nice birds to raise.

 

Now one disadvantage of cuckoo marans is they can move quickly when they’re scared or intimidated, and although they’re more scared of us than we are of them, so to speak, for children who get overwhelmed easily, a cuckoo maran might not be the best choice.

 

But like I said, cuckoo marans do enjoy human company, so if your child tends to be more in their head than you’d like them to be, cuckoo marans might help with that.

 

Now let’s talk for a minute about why I don’t recommend Marans roosters and other breeds of Marans.

 

I don’t recommend other breeds of Marans, we’ve had Black Copper and Blue Copper Marans here, and that’s because they tend to be flighty and run away from people. For children that want a pet or that are overwhelmed easily, they’re not the best idea.

 

Other breeds of Marans tend to be standoffish, and they don’t seem to like interacting with people too much, unlike the Cuckoo Marans.

 

I don’t recommend any Marans roosters in particular. We’ve had several Marans roosters here, both black copper and blue copper, and although we had a couple of exceptions, as a whole they were more territorial than the Marans hens and other roosters in general that we’ve had here on the homestead.

 

Our one Blue Copper Marans rooster, Lavender, is a quiet guy that won’t hurt anything, but he’s not your average rooster. The other Marans roosters we have are quite territorial, and one in particular likes to come after people.

 

This is good for a rooster who need to protect hens, but it’s not good for pet roosters, as it can frighten small children. For a while, our son was afraid of all chickens because this rooster would try to intimidate him by charging him, and this particular rooster has tried to charge me as well.

 

He’s never actually flogged anyone and it’s more about bravado than actually trying to hurt anyone, but children can’t tell the difference, and are easily intimidated by roosters like this.

 

The other rooster breeds we’ve had here have not been as territorial, and given the amount of Marans we’ve kept, I feel comfortable saying this is a breed trait.

 

Marans also grow to be large. The males can weigh as much as 8 pounds, and the hens 6, so they can grow as large and as tall as a 1 year old human.

 

My recommendation is to look at other breeds, or if you really want Marans, to keep them in a coop if they seem to present a problem for your children.

 

And that’s not saying that every Marans out there will be territorial, but by and large in my experience, they tend towards it more than other breeds I’ve seen.

 

So, let’s talk for a minute about why you might want to raise chicken breeds for children, and some of the advantages. Now again, I’m not a child development specialist, but I’ve noticed over the years that chickens are a gateway to teaching children about all sort of subjects, such as anatomy, natural sciences, and pretty much almost anything.

 

I like to think with chickens you can use a Montessori approach to teaching, for example, if your child is fascinated by the eggs your hens lay, you can use that as a springboard to teach about anatomy, biology, math, reproduction, colors (if your chickens are all one color), you get the point.

 

READ NEXT: WHAT ARE LASH EGGS?

 

You can also use your chickens as a way to teach kids where their food comes from, and to have respect for the life that yields that food.

 

With many people out there becoming more divorced from where their food comes from, there are people out there that don’t realize meat comes from animals, chickens are a healthy way to teach your kids where their food originates.

 

Chickens are also a way to teach kids about custodial duty and how to care for other living beings. Having to care for a live animal, regardless of the time of day, temperature, weather, etc teaches life skills in a more meaningful way. I think it also shapes kids into productive adults.

 

For example, someone I know, who now I wish I didn’t know, decided to throw a live rabbit he bought for his daughter to his dogs simply because he didn’t want to care for it anymore. What kind of lesson did that man teach his children?

 

So, raising chickens is one way to teach your children to value life and to be responsible for other living beings.

 

You can also use your chickens to teach about sharing. During the height of egg season, if you get more eggs than you can eat, giving them away to friends or family is one way to use chickens to teach your children that when they have too much of something, they can give it to someone who might not have any.

 

Or, you might prefer to teach your children about business and industry. For example, if you decide to sell your eggs, you children can help you take care of the chickens, or if they’re older, they can help you calculate how much your spending on feed and housing, and how that effects the price you sell your eggs for and any potential profits. You get the point.

 

You can also use your chickens to teach geography. For example, Silkies originated in China, and that’s a gateway to teaching about world cultures. They came to Western cultures via the Silk Trade route.

 

That’s a way to start talking to kids about human history and how different cultures historically interacted.

 

You can also teach US history, since breeds like Delawares originated in the US and are part of US history.

 

Chickens are also a way to get your children involved with programs like 4H and FFA, which stands for Future Farmers of America. Both of these programs work to shape the personalities of children and to teach them responsibility.

 

As an aside, FFA has scholarship programs and other opportunities available, perhaps 4H does as well, but I’m not as familiar with 4H. There’s many opportunities there, however, and I know chickens are a large part of FFA in our area.

 

One teenager I got my Blue Copper Marans from in our area was breeding them as part of his FFA scholastic credit, so that right there is telling you something. And like I said, both of these programs work to instill values in children and teach them skills they might not learn otherwise.

 

So, if you want to raise chicken breeds for children, but aren’t sure where to begin, you should first check your local ordinances to make sure you’re allowed to keep chickens.

 

Each area is different, but a good place to start is City Hall, to see if you’re allowed to have chickens in your backyard. Nothing is worse than getting attached to them only to have to find new homes for them.

 

Once you know you can have them, you’ll need to provide housing, so you’ll have to build or buy a coop. You can read one of my articles about how to build a coop at TheFrugalChicken.com/Tractor or you can buy one I recommend at TheFrugalChicken.com/Coop.

 

Just remember that you need to provide 10 square feet of space per chicken if they will be cooped all the time or 4 square feet if they will be allowed to free range.

 

They’ll also need feed and water.

 

If you’re looking for a good book to help your children learn to raise chickens, head over to Pantry Paratus, which is an online homesteading store.

 

There’s a wonderful book there called A Kid’s Guide To Keeping Chickens, which I highly recommend. It’s a step-by-step guide that kids can easily read to learn how to take care of their feathered friends.

 

You can find that book at TheFrugalChicken.com/KidGuide, that’s K-I-D-G-U-I-D-E, all one word.

 

Although I’m not an affiliate of Pantry Paratus, I talked to the owner, who is a wonderful woman named Chaya, and she agreed just for What The Cluck?! listeners to offer a special free shipping discount for orders over $100, and I think once you head over to the Pantry Paratus site, you’ll be super excited about all the awesome tools and books you’ll find over there.

 

Right now their books are 10%-40% off in the “How-Tos & Why-Tos” section, so I know I’ll be stocking up on some of their books.

 

So to use that free shipping opportunity, just use the code FrugalChicken, that’s F-R-U-G-A-L-C-H-I-C-K-E-N all one word. But you need to use it this month, because the coupon expires January 31.

 

Of course, I’ll also put that information as well as a link to Pantry Paratus in the show notes, which you can view at TheFrugalChicken.com/podcast15, that’s podcast one five all one word.

 

Well, I hope this podcast gives you a good idea of chicken breeds for children, and maybe it’s given you some ideas for breeds you can raise.

 

I’d love to hear about your experiences with chicken breeds for children or even if you have questions, so there’s something I want you to do. I would love it if you dropped me a line at [email protected]. I do respond to every email I get.

 

Now, if you have raise any chicken breeds for children, and you think their diet might be a problem, then you’ll be interested in my course Feeding Your Hens Right which comes out in January, which you can see at feedingyourhensright.com.

 

In this course, you’ll learn how to feed your chickens so they get an optimal diet, lead healthy happy lives, and lay the most nourishing eggs possible.

 

As we grow increasingly sophisticated in understanding where our food comes from and the repercussions of eating poor quality food, it’s important to understand how your hens diet effects the quality of her eggs.

 

Anyone who has a wheat allergy and can’t eat store bought eggs will understand what I mean. A friend recently told me that if she feeds her chickens a wheat based diet, her son, who is wheat intolerant, will get sick.

 

So, that right there is proof that your hen’s diet does effect the quality of her eggs, and studies have shown the exact same thing.

 

I’m not making this up, researchers have proven it in several studies.

 

If feeding your family the most nutritious food possible is important to you, then you’ll want to check out my course. It’s 5 video workshops, that you can access at any time. There’s specific recipes for homemade feed that can be tailored to your particular needs, and you’ll learn how to raise a happy, healthy flock of chickens.

 

The URL for that course is FeedingYourHensRight.Com, all one word.

 

Thanks for listening to this episode of What the Cluck?! about chicken breeds for children, and I’ll see you next time!

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6 Questions To Ask Before Getting Chickens [Podcast]

6 Questions To Ask Before Getting Chickens [Podcast]

There’s no point in getting chickens if you’re not prepared…and preparation includes more than just buying a coop and some chicks.

 

Every year, I get messages from new chicken owners who got chicks at their local feed store….and they’re a bit over their heads.

 

There’s a consistent theme to their questions and concerns that could have easily been avoided if they asked themselves some simple questions. 

 

In this episode, we explore 6 critical questions you need to ask yourself before heading to the feed store and bringing home some day old chicks.

You’ll learn:

 

  • The #1 question you should ask before any others (or getting chicks)
  • What your neighbors have to do with your decisions (and it’s not what you think)
  • And more!

Links we discuss:

Manna Pro

How to Preserve Eggs

Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock

Where to buy lemon essential oil