When it comes to choosing a chicken, it’s hard to know where to start. There are just so many great breeds to choose from, after all! Well, a good idea to narrow down the choices is to ask yourself some simple questions, and take note of the environment the chickens will be living in.
Read on to see what questions you should consider before buying some new feathered friends, and also a list of chicken breeds that suit various purposes. By the end of it, you should know what breed of chicken is the one of your dreams!
1. Do you live in a hot or cold climate?
Some chickens are better at adapting to hot conditions, others favour the cooler elements. In Australia, we tend to get the extremes of different temperatures depending on where we live – if you’re up north, you get extreme heat. Down south generally equals freezing temperatures. Therefore it is important that you choose a breed that suits your climate.
If you’re in a location that gets a tad hot now and again, these are some breeds that will fare well:
On the other hand, if the temperature dips to near freezing near your house, you’ll be wanting a chicken that doesn’t mind a bit of frost! These are breeds that are generally heavy in size and have full feathered coats, such as:
2. What do you want chickens for?
This really is a fundamental question you need to ask yourself before narrowing down the breeds. People get chickens for a number of different reasons, most commonly including:
They want to have fresh eggs everyday
They want a great family pet that’s different to your conventional dog or cat
They want to use the chickens for their meat supply
Or a combination of these! Not all breeds have the same attributes – some don’t lay as many as their feathered counterparts, some are more docile in nature and therefore like being handled, and are calm around children.
- Great egg layers
If eggs are the main thing on your mind, then these breeds will keep your breakfast table looking full and delicious:
Don’t forget, fresh backyard eggs are the best kind you could ever eat – nutrition wise and taste wise! Getting chickens for an ongoing supply of fresh eggs is a great reason to start keeping them.
- Beautiful egg layers
Perhaps a clutch of rainbow eggs is something you wouldn’t mind on your kitchen table every morning. Different breeds lay different coloured eggs – from blue, to green, to a chocolate brown! If you’re after a specific colour of egg, here are the breeds that lay them:
Blue Eggs – Araucana
Blue/Green Eggs – Easter Eggers
Dark Brown Eggs – Marans
Pinkish Brown – Salmon Faverolles, Plymouth Rocks
- Docile breeds for family pets
If you’re after a family pet that will love to snuggle up against you and your family, and won’t become too stressed by the sight of a toddler, then these are some breeds that are the most docile:
- Good table birds
Some people like to raise chickens to be table birds, so they know the meat is fresh and ethically raised. If you’re looking to use your chickens for meat, here are some breeds that carry the most:
- Dual purpose breeds (eggs and meat)
If you’re after chickens that are productive egg layers and also have enough meat to be a good table bird, then there are certain breeds that are best for both:
3. How much space do you have for your chickens to live in?
Some birds are perfectly happy roaming around a small backyard area or in a run enclosure, others prefer to forage and free range across a wide space. When considering what breed is right for you, you do have to take into account how much space they’ll have to live in. If you pick a breed that likes to stretch their wings and put them in a run permanently, you might have some unhappy, frustrated chickens on your hands!
Breeds that are happy to roam around in a small space, or stay safe together in a include:
Breeds that need a little egg-stra room to roam, and the opportunity to stretch their wings over an average sized backyard include:
Remember, before you decide on what breed of chicken you’re going to buy (and definitely before you bring your new feathered friends home!), you’ll have to get them the perfect chicken house – otherwise you’ll have some grumpy chooks no matter how big your backyard! Our Taj Mahal and Penthouse have runs attached if you’re thinking of choosing the breeds happy in small spaces, and Mansion also has a run option available.
4. How often are you home?
Do you work full-time? Are you a stay at home parent/work from home? How often will you be home to let the chickens out? The answers will also influence what kinds of breeds you should get, and what kind of coop you’ll need. If you work full time and can’t let the chickens out to free range during the day, you’ll probably need to keep your chickens in a run. Therefore, you’re also going to want to get chickens that are happy poking around small spaces.
In contrast, if you are home to let the chickens out during the day, then you can definitely have chicken breeds that like to free range.
So, in summary:
Breeds that fare well in hot climates:
Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds, Brahmas
Breeds that fare well in cold climates:
Australorps, Silkies, Plymouth Rocks, Cochins, Dorkings, Wyandottes, Sussex
Good egg laying breeds:
Isa Browns, Rhode Island Reds, Australorps, Leghorns, Plymouth Rocks, Sussex, Welsummer, Wyandotte
Docile chicken breeds:
Silkies, Isa Browns, Plymouth Rocks. Orpingtons, Australorps, Sussex, New Hampshire Red
The best birds for meat:
Houdans, Faverolles, Leghorns, Brahmas
Good dual purpose breeds (eggs and meat):
Rhode Island Reds, Plymouth Rocks, Orpingtons, Australorps, Wyandottes, Leghorns
Breeds that can live in small backyards:
Silkie Bantams, Australorps, Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks
Breeds that need more space to roam around:
Rhode Island Red, Ancona, Hamburg, Wyandottes
Before you decide on the perfect feathered friends for your flock, make sure you organise their chicken coop – they might not be a fan of living in a cardboard box! Our Taj Mahal, Penthouse and Mansion coops have happily housed chickens of all breeds, shapes and sizes.