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


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 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.  


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 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.


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.


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.)


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


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


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


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).


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


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


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.


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 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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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


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 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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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!


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.  


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).


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

Black Chicken Breeds: Ultimate List

Black Chicken Breeds: Ultimate List

Just like how every woman needs a little black dress, every backyard flock needs black chicken breeds. Why? Because it’s a beautiful and elegant color!


Luckily, black chicken breeds can be found easily in hatcheries and private sellers. If you’re interested in getting to know the various kinds of breeds with dark feathers (including black and white speckled chicken breeds!), you’re in for a treat!


You’ll discover your options in this ultimate list of black chicken breeds!


Ultimate List of Black Chicken Breeds

  • Ayam Cemani
  • Black Sex Link Chickens
  • Black Australorp Chicken
  • Silkie Chickens
  • Black Star Chickens
  • Marans Chicken
  • Black Jersey Giant Chicken
  • Cochin Chickens
  • Orpington Chicken
  • Black Polish Chicken
  • Sumatra Chicken
  • White Crested Black Polish Chicken
  • Black Rock Chicken
  • Bantam Cochin Chickens
  • Frizzle Chickens
  • Minorca Chicken
  • White Faced Black Spanish
  • Langshan
  • Svarthöna
  • Castellana Negra

Ayam Cemani

In addition to being an all black chicken breed, Ayam Cemani also have the distinction of being the most EXPENSIVE chicken breed in the world! On average, a breeding pair goes for $5,000!


This type of chicken originally hails from Indonesia, where it’s prized for its mystical abilities. Ayam Cemani chickens are completely black (both inside and out), and have a heart as black as its feathers.


Their blood is also said to be quite thick, and a darker red than normal (although this theory hasn’t been proven).


In Indonesia, this black chicken is said to be a good luck charm, and some people believe it can communicate with the beyond. In some cultures, the Ayam Cemani is used in ceremonies before big events.


However, you might be disappointed to learn that even though the Ayam Cemani is the only true 100% black chicken breed, they don’t lay black chicken eggs. They lay cream colored eggs of medium size.


If you do buy this breed, please do your homework and make sure your supplier is honest – there’s many people who try to pass off hybrid chickens as purebred Ayam Cemani.


Some hatcheries that offer Ayam Cemani are Featherloverfarms, Cackle Hatchery, and Greenfire Farms Hatchery. You can read our review of Cackle Hatchery here.


Black Sex Link Chickens

This breed isn’t really a black chicken breed (it’s a hybrid) but they’re still very beautiful birds that are also super friendly (and the roosters tend to be calm).


Black sex link chickens are the result of crossing two purebred heritage chicken breeds – a Rhode Island Red rooster with a barred rock hen. The term “sex link” means that the coloring of the chicks depends on the sex of the chick.


When black sex link chicks are born, the male chicks have a white spot on their heads – the females don’t (they’re all black). This unique trait only consistently occurs when the Rhode Island Red rooster is crossed with a Barred Rock hen – in other words, black sex link chickens don’t breed true.


This chicken breed is very healthy and make great layers and pets. Many prefer this breed to raise free range chickens eggs and organic free range chickens.


You can purchase black sex link chicks at Cackle Hatchery, Purely Poultry, and McMurray Hatchery.


Black Australorp Chicken

Black Australorps are wonderful chickens to have in your flock! This clean-legged breed originated in Australia from the Orpington chicken. They got a lot of attention in the 1920s when they broke several world records for the most eggs laid! You can find them now in any farm store in the US.


Their black feathers also have shades of green, and the hens are great layers and very friendly. This big black chicken will tolerate confinement well, and is an egg laying machine of over 250 eggs per year.


You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery, Purely Poultry, and Meyer Hatchery.


Silkie Chickens

Silkie chickens are another black chicken breed.. They are cute and cuddly, so they are easily loved as family pets. They’re calm, and are patient with being held. The hens are well-known for their brooding ability and their extra toes! They lay 2-3 cream colored eggs per week, and are generally friendly. Kids just love them!


Their feathers are more like down, and you’ll fall in love with their feathered feet! They lay around 250 brown large to extra large eggs per year. In addition to black, Silkies also come in a variety of other colors, including white and buff.


You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery, Chickens for Backyards, and Meyer Hatchery.


Black Star Chickens

A relatively new edition to the backyard chicken world, this breed is medium sized and weighs in at around 7 to 8 lbs, with hens at 5 lbs. This bird is very docile, hardy, and low maintenance since they can adapt to local conditions.


You can purchase this breed at Chickens for Backyards and Meyer Hatchery.


Marans Chicken

This breed is called “chocolate eggers” because they’re well known for their dark colored eggs. Marans originated in the town of Marans, in France, and their eggs are said to be the best in the world. Not all hens will lay the deep chocolate brown eggs, although all females will lay brown eggs.


You’ll love their feathered feet and hardy natures. While black Marans chickens are said to have the best eggs, this breed also comes in other varieties, including Wheaton, Cuckoo, Blue Copper, and more. They are a rarity, and have wonderful personalities.


You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery and Purely Poultry


Black Jersey Giant Chicken

This black giant chicken breed is the largest purebred chicken in the US, and possibly the world. This heritage chicken breed originated in the United States as a meat bird and an alternative to turkeys.


This black chicken breed weighs in at around 11 to 15 pounds. They are docile and mellow, and the roosters have even temperaments. The roosters are good protectors, and are hardy.


The hens aren’t as large as the roosters, but are consistent egg layers with friendly, even cuddly, temperaments.


You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery, My Pet Chicken, and Purely Poultry.


Cochin Chickens

Cochins are also larger birds (although there is a bantam variety) that come in many colors including black! The name refers to the fact that the bird is a Chinese Shanghai Fowl, and among the many reasons you would want one is that they get along well with children. They’re also gentle, and great for raising chicks. They lay small to medium sized brown eggs, and this particular variety is known for its dark black coloring.


You can purchase this black chicken breed at Cackle Hatchery, Purely Poultry, and Strombergs Chickens.


Orpington Chicken

This particular breed is well known for its historical significance – they’ve been around for a long time! The original Orpingtons were white, but they also come in buff and black colors. They’re also one of the most gentle and docile breeds, and it makes them great pets.


The roosters are hardy, friendly, and great protectors. They love finding food for the hens, and will “round” their hens up at night to make sure everyone is in the coop!


Although they were originally bred for both eggs and meat, they’re better as egg layers. Their eggs are a tinted pink to brown color, and they lay about 300 eggs per year. This breed is a good forager and greatly desired for their looks and easy going nature.


You can purchase Orpington chickens at most major hatcheries and farm stores.


Black Polish Chicken

Polish chickens are an adorable ornamental breed! They’re best known for the tufts of feathers on their head, lovingly referred to by chicken owners as their “pom pom.”


This breed is a stunning mix of white, brown, and black making it a real head turner. The silver laced polish varieties are black and white chickens. They’re aloof birds, although they can be friendly if you interact a lot with them. They’re also moderate egg layers – but their beautiful feathers and personalities make up for whatever they lack in the egg laying department!


You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery and Meyer Hatchery.


Sumatra Chicken

While a bit more difficult to find, this black chicken breed is worth it! With their long tail feathers, they’re a gorgeous addition to any flock. They’re named after their place of origin: The island of Sumatra, in Indonesia. The hens lay white eggs, but don’t lay that often – maybe twice a week. However, if you want to hatch chicken eggs naturally, then this might be the breed for you – like Silkies, Sumatras tend to “go broody.” In addition to black, you might find the blue and white varieties for sale.


You can purchase this ornamental breed at My Pet Chicken, mypetchicken, Cackle Hatchery, and Purely Poultry


White Crested Black Polish Chicken

You’ll fall in love with these birds! They’re adorable! Originally from the Netherlands, the White Crested Black Polish chicken has a striking contrast in color between it’s dark body feathers and it’s poofy white crest. They’re friendly, although the crest does sometimes make it hard for them to see. If you spend a lot of time with them, though, they’re more likely to trust you. The hens lay white eggs, although not every hen will lay consistently. This breed is mainly kept for ornamental purposes.


You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery and Strombergs Chickens.


Black Rock Chicken

This particular breed was developed in Scotland, and isn’t well-known in the United States. It’s a hybrid cross from selected strains of Rhode Island Red and Barred Plymouth Rock.They’re good foragers, and excellent layers: you can expect to get about 250 brown eggs per year.


You can purchase this breed at Farmfowl if you live in the UK.


Bantam Cochin Chickens

Bantam cochins make a wonderful addition to any flock – and you’ll love how the black variety has feathered legs! This breed is perfect for anyone who is looking for a docile and kid-friendly chicken. The hens lay small brown eggs (because the chicken itself is small), and the roosters enjoy human companionship. They love to be cuddled by their humans! In addition to black, bantam cochins come in white and buff varieties.


You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery and Welp Hatchery.


Frizzle Chickens

A frizzle chicken is fun and lovable with a very unusual look – their feathers “frizzle” and curl upwards. They’re not a separate breed, but a variety of many different types of breeds. Some cochins have a frizzle variety. Children love them because they look so cuddly. Frizzles tend to be smaller, and they have friendly and docile dispositions. They will lay around 120 to 150 light brown colored eggs per year. Be sure to keep an eye on your frizzle over the winter – because their feathers don’t lay against their bodies, they might have a harder time in colder weather.


You can purchase this breed at Meyer Hatchery and Strombergs Chickens.


Minorca Chicken

Minorca chickens look unusual – they’re mostly black, but with a white spot near the ears. They’re an old breed, and have grey legs. Minorcas are named after its place of origin: Island of Minorca, off the coast of Spain. They lay about 200 white eggs per year, and the hens don’t tend to go broody. This hardy breed does well in warmer climates, so it’s a good option if you live in a warm area.


You can purchase this breed at Cackle Hatchery and Strombergs Chickens.


White Faced Black Spanish

These chickens look odd – they’re black, except for their face, which is white. While English speakers call this ancient breed “white faced black Spanish,” in their native Spain, they’re referred to as “Española Cara Blanca.” Their white faces give them a look similar to a mime. They are prolific egg layers of white eggs.


You can purchase this breed at Purely Poultry, McMurray Hatchery, and Cackle Hatchery.



This black breed originates from China and is named after it’s place of origin: a district along the Yangtszekiang River. It’s a unique looking breed of bird – like cochins, it has feathered legs! They’re hardy birds that lay large brown eggs – some say they’re as dark as Marans eggs. The hens don’t tend to go broody. They’re also large, and with bright, intelligent eyes, they’re a great addition to any flock.


You can purchase this breed at McMurray Hatchery and Tangled Wood Farm Miniatures



This breed has a unique trait – their very dark red combs that almost look black! They have black skin and are said to have descended from chickens from Mozambique and brought to Scandinavia in the 1700s. They are hardy and good foragers, even though they’re not great layers. You can expect 2 to 3 cream-colored eggs per week.


You can purchase this breed at Purely Poultry and My Pet Chicken.


Castellana Negra

This breed is a Mediterranean type from Spain and is one of the oldest strains of poultry in Europe. Currently, it’s status is threatened, and the breed is on the verge of extinction. It is also believed that it is the ancestor of many European black breeds such as Minorcas and Black Spanish chicken breeds. They have decent laying abilities – you can expect about 250 eggs per year.


Black Chicken Breeds with Feathered Feet


Which black chicken breed is your favorite? Leave a comment below!


Brahma Chickens: What To Know Before You Buy!

Brahma Chickens: What To Know Before You Buy!

We own several brahma chickens, and they make wonderful pets who lay lovely brown eggs (we also have one that lays lavender eggs!).


In this article, I’m going to tell you everything there is to know about this breed!


While brahma chickens are known for growing into beasts the size of large turkeys, giving it the nickname “The Majestic One” by the American Brahma Club (1), and the equal honor of the “king of chickens” (2) the average brahma isn’t so large.



How Big Is The Brahma Chicken?

While this breed can be as tall as 30 inches (although this is rare and depends on the breeder), the average brahma chicken size is the same as other chickens. Even in our own flock, they vary in size, with one about 8 inches tall and another about 18 inches tall. Bantam brahma breeds are even smaller – about 6 inches tall.


How Long Does a Brahma Chicken Live For?

Like any other types of chickens, such as silkie chickens, araucanas, or speckled sussex chickens, brahmas can live 5-8 years, depending on the quality of care you provide. Providing a daily meal of 16% protein chicken feed, fresh water, a warm home, and veterinary care can extend their lives.

brahma chicken rooster with brown feathers

Are Brahma Hens Broody?

By and large, no. However, this will depend largely on the individual hen. Brahmas are particularly susceptible to broody behavior if another hen has decided she wants to hatch eggs, too.


Bea, one of our brahma hens, decided to go broody in her second year, and hatched a single chick. My other brahma chicken is a great daily layer, but isn’t broody at all.


If your brahma goes broody, it’s best to let her hatch her eggs (as long as they embryos are developing – candle them to find out). If the eggs aren’t developing, then remove them from the nest before they explode.


Are Brahma Chickens Good Egg Layers?

Yes! Brahma chicken eggs are a lovely brown color, and the hens lay consistently – up to about 300 eggs per year. The number of “butt nuggets” laid will depend on the individual, her diet, and the quality of her environment. You can improve the chances your chicken will lay if you provide her a secure home, a quality layer feed with 16% protein and plenty of calcium, fresh water, and a clean nest with nesting herbs.


You can see photos of brahma chicken eggs laid by our hens here:

brahma chicken egg


Do Brahma Chickens Lay Large Eggs?

The Brahma chickens lay medium to large eggs. The yolks are also large and delicious. You can improve the color of the yolks by adding herbs such as calendula to their diet.


What Color Eggs Do Brahma Hens Lay?

This chicken breed lays brown eggs, although the shade can vary from layer to layer. The chicken’s diet, stress level, and the weather can effect the shade of her eggs as well. When a hen is stressed, she might lay a lighter shade of brown, or the color might be dotted with white. If the hen’s diet is poor or the weather is very hot, you also might see different shades on the same egg.


How Many Eggs Does a Brahma Chicken Lay?

Approximately 300 per year, or 5-6 eggs each week. This number will vary based on her feed, her age, and the time of year. While brahmas do very well in the cold, hens don’t typically lay during the shorter days of the year (unless supplementary light is provided), or when they’re very young or very old. If the hen’s diet is poor, she won’t lay regularly, which will effect how many eggs she lays.


How Old Are Brahma Chickens When They Start Laying Eggs?

Typically brahmas start laying eggs when they’re 6 or 7 months old. However, it can take up to 12 months for the hen to start laying, particularly if she’s a larger hen, or if she matures during the winter months.


Are Brahma Chickens Friendly?

Yes, brahmas are very friendly, as long as you’ve raised them to enjoy the company of people (feed them lots of treats and they’ll be yours forever). They are quiet, docile, and calm birds who love to take treats from your hand and get cuddles. They get along great with other chickens, as well. The roosters aren’t prone to attacking humans, although this will depend on the individual rooster and the time of year.


What Colors Are Brahma Chickens?

There’s three colors of brahmas recognized by the Standard of Perfection: Light, Dark, and Buff. Each type is unique and very beautiful. According to the Livestock Conservancy, “Brahmas are large chickens with feathers on shanks and toes, pea comb, smooth fitting plumage with dense down in all sections, and broad, wide head with skull projecting over the eyes – termed “beetle brow.” (2)


The earliest brahma chicken colors – the light and the dark variants – were first included in the first Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1874, while the Buff variant was added in the 1920s.


Where To Buy Brahma Chickens

There are several chicken breeder farms that selectively breed and raise healthy and quality Brahma Chickens. You can check them out here:


Cackle Hatchery

This is where we purchased our brahmas. They arrived safely and have been very healthy. Cackle Hatchery is family owned and located in Missouri. 


Purely Poultry

Purely Poultry is another family owned business. They have fair prices. 


Meyer Hatchery

Meyer Hatchery has over 35 years of experience. They offer over 160 breeds of poultry including chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guineas, peafowl and game birds. 


My Pet Chicken

This company has been praised by numerous publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, New Yorker Magazine, and has appeared on such television shows as The Martha Stewart Show, Bloomberg TV, ABC News Nightline, and The Today Show. You can visit My Pet Chicken here.


Private breeders nationwide

You can find a complete list of breeders (that are affiliated with the American Brahma Club) here.


How to Care For Brahma Chickens

Brahma chickens require daily feeding and fresh, clear water daily. As baby chicks, you should provide your brahmas a chick starter that’s 18% protein, as well as clean water. You can mix organic apple cider vinegar or apple cider vinegar granules with the water to promote good gut flora. You can read more about how to raise day old baby chicks here.


For hens, you should provide a quality layer feed with at least 16% protein and an extra calcium supplement to ensure strong eggshells. Adding herbs to her nesting box will promote laying.


If your hens are broody, be sure to keep a high protein feed and water close to her for easy access.


Brahma hens tend to be the favorite of roosters – keep a close watch on your hens to ensure they’re not hurt by roosters. If your hen has lost feathers due to roosters or if she’s molting, you can offer a high protein supplement to promote growth.


If you think your brahmas are sick, for example with sour crop, bumblefoot, or vent gleet, you can read more about how to care for them here.






So, Is The Brahma Chicken Right For You?

Overall, the Brahma chicken is an ideal bird for you are considering of raising larger sized chickens. They’re very friendly, and lay nice, large eggs. Would you add them to your flock?


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Silkie Chicken Facts: 5 Odd Facts That Make Us Love Silkie Chickens Even More

Silkie Chicken Facts: 5 Odd Facts That Make Us Love Silkie Chickens Even More

Known as one of the most popular chicken breeds, Silkie chicken’s odd features – specific to their breed – are what makes them such great pets. 


Before you add these lovely fluffy butts to your flock, there might be some questions you have. In this article, I share 8 Silkie chicken facts that’ll help you decide if this breed is for you.


Let’s take a look at this several unique characteristics that makes them different among other breeds of chickens.



Fact #1: Silkie chickens have extra toes

Silkies are known for their unique genetic twist which gives them an additional 1 or 2 toes per foot. While most types of chickens have 4 toes, silkie chickens have 5 or even 6! 


(Though the breed standard is 5 toes, some have an additional toe for a total of 6. Technically, these silkie chickens are not adhering to the Standard of Perfection and therefore cannot be entered into competitions.)


While not “normal,” the extra toe certainly is cute! It also makes it easy to spot silkies at your local farm store during Chick Days.


The extra toes don’t serve any evolution or survival function, and no one is really sure how the breed ended up with some extra digits.

Silkie chicken pet facts for new owners

Fact #2: Silkies naturally have black and blue colored skin that makes them even more adorable

They also have black bones and muscles and dark reddish black wattles (the exact color, according to the Standard of Perfection is “mulberry.” Whatever you call it, it’s a beautiful color.)


This unusual feature is referred to as melanism (development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin, an opposite of albinism) which goes beyond the skin, penetrating the bird’s connective tissue.


The only other breed that has black skin is the Ayam Cemani, which is completely black, both inside and out, while Silkies have a combination of black and turquoise blue skin (the blue skin tends to be around their oval-shaped earlobes.)


Although they aren’t entirely black like Ayam Cemanis, the blue skin still is super cool!


Fact #3: Silkie chickens have feather that’s a little like fur

While their fur-like feathers are different from other chickens, it’s super soft and very fluffy to touch.


In fact, while the feathers don’t provide much protection from the cold, they DO make the silkie a great choice for a pet chicken since children adore the fine feathers that resemble the down on chicks.


So, why are silkie feathers so different? Well, the feathers lack barbicels (minute cartilage hooks that holds each strand down), so the feathers fly freely.


And yes, it makes these chickens very soft and fluffy and adorable!


Fact #4: Silkie roosters hardly crow

This isn’t to say they NEVER crow….but they’re pretty quiet. This makes Silkie roosters ideal for urban farms, where your neighbors might object to the noise.


As for their temperament, the roosters tend to be naturally more calm and don’t make loud noises when they’re startled (unlike other roosters, which will crow loudly at the slightest leaf shaking), making them a less disturbance in your neighborhood.


The roosters also tend not to attack humans, unlike other breeds, which can flog you when provoked. In fact, silkie chickens are more likely to run away!


Fact #5: Silkie hens tend to naturally “go broody” than other chicken breeds.

Silkie hens are more likely to want to sit on eggs than other breeds, which makes them perfect for your farm….if you want to naturally hatch chicken eggs, that is.


Most of the time silkie hens are friendly and loveable, but when they sit on eggs, the chickens can turn into fierce mothers who guard their nests closely.


This is a good thing! While other types of chickens tend to abandon nests, a silkie hen is more likely to stay on her eggs until they hatch, and guard her chicks so they grow up healthy.


Though they aren’t the champion egg layers of the backyard chicken world – most silkies only lay eggs about 3 times a week –  broody hens will hatch their own eggs, other chicken eggs, duck eggs, and even turkey eggs! 


Imagine how nice it would be to see a Silkie hen raising baby ducks, geese, and even turkeys!


Fact# 6: Silkies have a “puff ball” on their heads that’s also a genetic anomaly.

Some Silkies have a crest or “topknot” that gives them an adorable “puff ball” of feathers on top of their heads. It’s more prominent on Silkies that have a vaulted skull.


Silkies that have these poofy feathers sometimes find it hard to see because of their crest. However, this is easily solved by gently trimming the feathers away from the Silkie’s eyes.

silkie chicken facts

Fact #7: Silkies are smaller in size and weight as compare to other traditional types of chickens.

They are lightweight and only weigh about 2-3 pounds, which makes these chickens great for children.


Fact #8: Silkies can’t really roost because they can’t fly up like other chickens.

Silkies don’t really have flight feathers, so it’s hard for them to fly up into roosts. The best they can do is kind of hop upwards until they get to their destination.


They still like to sleep off the ground, so you can stack hay bales or blocks of wood so they have a safe place to rest at night.


Have we missed any Silkie chicken facts? Although Silkie chickens may be different in one way or another from other breeds, one thing is for sure, they make an excellent pets!


Overall, these peculiar little Silkie chicken creatures gives so much joy and pleasure to their owners!


Silkie Chickens: Pet Facts & Fiction

Silkie Chickens: Pet Facts & Fiction

Who doesn’t want to own Silkie chickens? They’re fun, sweet-natured, and they make you breakfast! In short, they’re the perfect pet.


Yep – you can definitely keep chickens as pets, and Silkies make GREAT pets, especially for households with children. I also know MANY seniors who keep Silkies because they’re easier to care for than a dog, and they’re great company.


For special needs children, Silkies can also be a great pet because:


  • They’re quiet
  • Submit to being held on laps (while other breeds of chickens will flap and squawk)
  • They look like fluffy balls straight out of a Dr. Seuss story, and
  • Their feathers are soft to touch – great for children with sensory issues.


In this article, you’ll find all the Silkie chickens information and facts you need to help you decide if you want to add them to your flock.

Silkie chicken pet facts and fiction


Silkie Chickens Information & Breed Characteristics

What are Silkie chickens?


Where do Silkies originate from?

Silkies are an ancient breed that has their origins in Asia, most likely in China. Because of their black skin, their Chinese language name is wu gu ji, which means “black-boned chicken.”

Marco Polo was the first Westerner to write about Silkies – and in his books about his travels on the Asian continent in the 1200’s, he referred to them as a “furry chicken.”  

Similarly, Renaissance writer Ulisse Aldrovandi referred to Silkie chickens as “wool-bearing chickens” and “clothed with hair like that of a black cat.”

As you can see, Silkies have made quite an impression on humans for centuries!


Why are they called Silkies?

They’re called Silkies because their feathers resemble the down on chicks – and it feels “silky.”


What do Silkies look like?

How big do Silkies get?

Silkies weigh about 2-3 pounds and are about the size of a Chihuahua dog.


What’s the Silkie breed standard?

When you think of Silkies, you probably think of the bantam size – and according to the American Standard of Perfection, the perfect size for a silkie chicken hen is about 2 pounds.


The American Standard of Perfection has very specific requirements for Silkies. The comb and wattles should be a “deep mulberry, approaching black” with a “Leaden blue” beak. The legs of both hens and roosters should be straight with no more or less than 5 toes.


What are their feathers like?

Funky feathers like fluff balls of joy! Silkies are a bit different than other chickens. Yes, the hens lay eggs, but did you know they also don’t have “normal” feathers like other backyard chickens?

Their feathers are similar to down, and it’s a bit like silk – hence the name “Silkie.” Because of their feathers, Silkie chickens can’t fly, but they do love to run for a treat!

Their feathers are structured different than other chicken feathers – they do not have barbicels, so they do not have the physical structure needed to allow Silkies to fly.

If you get Silkies for sale as chicks, you’ll love how they develop “Mohawks” when they turn into teenagers! It takes a while for the down to grow out to its full length, so there’s some lovably awkward stages!


Do Silkies have black skin?

Silkies are also well known for their skin – while most other chicken breeds (such as Speckled Sussex and Araucana chickens) have white skin, Silkies have black or even blue skin.

You might notice your silkies have blue skin, particularly on their ears! As they mature, you’ll also notice their combs and wattles have a reddish hue to them.


How high can Silkies jump?

Because they don’t really fly, silkies can’t roost like other chickens. So, they can only jump a couple feet at a time.

Do silkies roost? Well, they DO enjoy sleeping off the ground, even if they can’t roost up high.

You’ll want to give your silkies an easy way to get higher. We put bales of hay in our coop for the silkies to jump up on – and they can get 5-6 feet in the air easily.

How many toes do Silkies have?

Unlike other chickens, Silkies have an extra 1 or two toes on their feet! (Just like a polydactyl cat!)

The scientific reason is because Silkies have a genetic mutation that allows them to grow the extra toes. I’m not sure if it has much purpose out in the “real world” of the coop, but they sure do look cool!


What colors are Silkies?

Silkie chickens come in all sorts of colors, such as black, blue, buff, grey, partridge, white, cuckoo, lavender, red, and splash.

While the American Standard of Perfection doesn’t recognize all these colors, you should choose the color that’s right for you – especially if your keeping Silkie chickens as pets. After all, color doesn’t matter as much as temperament!

There’s also bearded Silkie chickens – which have an extra adorable tuft of feathers!

Silkie chicken pet facts for new owners

Do Silkies have feathered feet?

Yes, they do – and it’s part of their charm! In the United States, silkies are ornamental birds, so they’re bred to grow feathers on their feet. Most owners love it!


What age do Silkie chickens start crowing? Do Silkies crow?

If your silkie is a rooster, he should start crowing at about 7 months. However, not all silkies will crow. It depends on the individual chicken.


Our silkie roosters don’t crow or make much noise at all – which makes them ideal for suburban households that don’t want to disturb their neighbors.

What are Silkie chickens like as pets?

Do they make good pets?

Silkies make GREAT pets, especially for households with children. I also know MANY seniors who keep Silkies because they’re easier to care for than a dog, and they’re great company.


Are Silkies good with children?

YES! Silkies are quiet birds who enjoy human company. They’re more willing to be held than other chickens and will put up with small children and fast movements more than other breeds.


You can see our chicken breeds for children recommendations here.


Why do people keep them as pets?

Silkies can also be a great pet because:

  • They’re quiet
  • Submit to being held on laps (while other breeds of chickens will flap and squawk)
  • They look like fluffy balls straight out of a Dr. Seuss story, and
  • Their feathers are soft to touch – great for children with sensory issues


Are Silkies friendly?

Yes, especially if raised as pets from birth. They’re quiet, and when they’ve bonded to their human, they often follow their owners around. Many seniors keep silkies because they’re friendlier than other chicken breeds and enjoy being around their humans.


How long do Silkie chickens live for?

Silkies, like other chickens, can live for 4-8 years, when kept in ideal conditions and fed correctly.


To give your silkie the best quality of life, you should keep them in a coop with fresh water and plenty of high quality feed.  You should also give your pet chicken medical care when needed and herbal supplements to support her health.


Buying Silkies

How much is a Silkie chicken worth?

Whatever someone will pay for it! Most Silkie chicks that are sold as pets cost less than $5 – and you might find them at your local farm store for less.


Silkies that are show quality might cost hundreds of dollars, while ones hatched at a high quality breeder might cost less.


Where can I buy Silkie chickens?

Hatcheries, your local farm store, or private breeders. See our list here of where to buy chickens.


When you buy them, look for the extra toe – that’s a pretty good indicator the chicken actually is a Silkie. You should also bring a knowledgeable friend who can help you select chicks that appear healthy.


We’ve had good luck finding them at farm stores like Tractor Supply.


General Care

How long do Silkie chickens need a heat lamp?

Approximately 16 weeks of age. Like other chicks, Silkies need their brooders to be between 90-95 degrees for their first week of life (and reduce the temperature by 5 degrees every week.)


If it’s warm in your area, your Silkies should be fine once they can handle temperatures of 70 degrees.


If it’s cold, and your Silkies are under 16 weeks of age, you might need to supplement with a heat source until they’re older. We don’t recommend heat LAMPS because they can cause fires. We’ve used heating pads and been okay.


Do Silkie chickens need a heat lamp during winter?

Not generally, although this will depend on how cold your area gets. They’re generally fine in temperatures as low as 0 degrees.


In colder temperatures, you might have to provide a heat source. If you have just a couple, the easiest and safest way to ensure they’re warm is to bring them in at night. They’ll be fine in a dog crate.


Heat lamps are dangerous and can ignite a fire, so we don’t recommend them.


Can Silkies stand cold temperatures? Are Silkie chickens cold hardy?

One thing to watch out for is caring for Silkie chickens in winter – because they don’t have regular feathers, they can’t “fluff” them like other chickens to keep warm.


Just keep an eye on your fluffy butts and if they seem cold (or if it’s going to be very cold in your area), give them a way to stay warm.


They’re generally fine in temperatures as low as 0 degrees. It’s extremely important to make sure your silkies aren’t outside when it’s cold and wet – in freezing rain, for example.


Because their feathers are finer, they won’t stay as warm as other chickens. Freezing rain, sleet, or snow can turn deadly for your Silkies – so in inclement weather, leave them in their coop.


Do Silkies get along with chickens?

Yes – even though they look different, Silkies are quiet flock members, and get along well with other chickens.


Because they’re docile, you might find your Silkies are picked on more than your other flock members – just keep an eye out, and separate if any issues arise.


How do you introduce Silkies to an existing flock?

Just like you would any other chicken – by letting established flock members see their new friend without touching the Silkie.


Then, after 48-72 hours, you can try to integrate the Silkie with the rest of your flock.


You still might see squabbles, but as long as everyone is healthy and not hurt, they will stop in a couple days.

Feeding Silkies

What do you feed Silkies?

Silkies eat the same feed as regular chickens – a high-quality layer feed (for hens) or a high quality chick starter (for baby chicks). They don’t need any special feeds.


For treats, you can feed Silkies mealworms, herbs, kitchen scraps, leafy greens, black soldier fly larvae, or river shrimp.


Do they eat a lot?

Silkies are smaller chickens, and they eat less than standard size breeds. They still should be fed about 1-2 cups of feed daily – and you can feed them leafy greens, black soldier fly larvae, herbs, mealworms, and other treats to boost their diet. This is also a great way to bond with your silkies!


Silkie health issues

You might read on the internet that Silkies are more disease prone than other breeds and you should get your Silkie chickens vaccinated – I have not experienced this, and I would venture to say that Silkies are a hardy breed.


Silkie Eggs

What color eggs do Silkies lay?

They lay off white eggs or cream colored eggs.


How many eggs do Silkie chickens lay? Do they edible eggs?

They lay 3-4 times a week – so they’re not the champion layers of the backyard chicken world, but they have other qualities to make up for it!


Do Silkies like to hatch eggs?

Yes! Many people keep silkies because the hens “go broody” and want to hatch eggs – any eggs!

They’re wonderful pets that look funny and make great companion chickens for children and adults. They’re friendly, calm, and love human company….that is, unless they’ve decided to hatch eggs!

Yes, Silkies tend to “go broody” more than other breeds, and many people keep this breed of chicken specifically to incubate eggs on their farm. Now, this isn’t a guarantee your hen will want to hatch chicken eggs!


How many eggs can a Silkie hen sit on?

As many as she can fit under her! The amount will depend on the size of your fluffy butt.

Hens prefer to sit on an odd number of eggs – it’s not unheard of to see silkie chickens sitting on 11 or 13 eggs!