So you’ve finally taken the big step and decided to get backyard chickens.
You’ve read all the books and blogs on caring for chickens, you know what they can and can’t eat, when they lay and when they roost, there is even a chicken coop proudly set up in the backyard!
One problem-there are so many chicken breeds available, you just don’t know which of these chicken breeds will be the best fit for you! If you are new to the backyard chicken keeping game this can be quite overwhelming.
But do not fear, we want to make the step of choosing chicken breeds for your backyard flock a little easier, giving you plenty more time to mix feed and get your nesting boxes ready!
As a novice, you will want chicken breeds that meet the characteristics below:
- Chicken breeds that are friendly, quite docile and calm
- Chicken breeds that are relatively easy to tame
- Chicken breeds that are easy to care for
- Look for common chicken breeds that you can find at local hatcheries
Below we have compiled our top five chicken breeds for beginners. These chicken breeds encompass most of the characteristics listed above, and are popular chicken breeds among both novice and expert chicken keepers for good reason!
The Rhode Island Red is one of the quintessential backyard chicken breeds, and is an ideal bird for beginners. They are quite a large breed, but are generally a very calm and docile bird, and quite hardy. While their name suggests they are red, over the years they have changed to be more of a reddish-brown colour, with their bright yellow legs being a stand-out point. They are very tolerant birds and are willing to adapt to their given environment which makes them one of the better chicken breeds for beginners. If you’re after chicken breeds that will provide you with an abundance of eggs the Rhode Island Red is a perfect choice, with its laying performance it’s strong point. They can produce over 300 large, rich, brown eggs in a year-ideal if you love fresh eggs for breakfast!
The Leghorn is a great addition to your backyard flock if you’re after chicken breeds that are prolific layers, as they are known to produce more than 300 white eggs annually. They are a very hardy and heat tolerant bird that love foraging, so will adapt well to most environments. They are characterised by by their large, single comb and full tail, making them an attractive addition to any backyard flock! While they can be quite an excitable breed, which can make them flighty on occasion, the bantam variety can be a little more docile. Despite this, they are one of the most common backyard chicken breeds as they are a great dual-purpose breed if you are after a table bird as well as fresh eggs,
The Plymouth Rock is another of the favoured chicken breeds for beginners, and a great all-rounder for any flock! They are known for having one of the best personalities of all chicken breeds, being very docile, placid and friendly, and take well to being handled-making them ideal pets for children. They are also considered quite a good layer and will provide you with up to 200 brown eggs a year. They fare well in both confinement and free-range environments, so will adapt well to any surrounding you provide them with. If you’re wanting to add some visual interest to your backyard flock, the Plymouth Rock in the barred variety makes for one of the most impressive looking chicken breeds, showcasing an attractive display of distinctive black and white feathers, contrasted with it’s bright red wattles and comb.
If you’re after chicken breeds that also make great pets, the Orpington is a great choice. They are one of the few chicken breeds that really do enjoy being handled and petted, and they thrive on human contact and attention, which makes them a perfect family chicken (especially great for kids!). They are very calm and docile birds which sometimes can unfortunately mean they are subjected to being bullied by other birds, so be weary of this when mixing them with your flock. Despite this, they are one of the more practical chicken breeds-tolerating confinement well, foraging when necessary, and are very cold hardy. They are also fair layers, laying around 160 good-sized brown eggs annually. They are profusely feathered which makes them extra soft and cuddly, and they come in both buff or white varieties.
Every chicken keeper knows that the backyard flock needs some unique chicken breeds to mix things up a little, and the Silkie is just the breed! The Silkie Bantam chicken is mostly an ornamental breed, and with good reason! Known as the ‘lap kitty’ of the chicken breeds world, the Silkie boasts some very unique masses of fluffy feathering, covering them from their head right down to their toes. They also have black skin and bones which is rare amongst chicken breeds, which is another stand out point for the Silkie. They have a wonderful gentle and calm nature, are easy to tame and love to receive a little tender loving care from their owners, making them a great family pet. Unfortunately they are not strong layers due to their size, and will only produce around 100 small eggs a year. The Silkie deals particularly well with confinement and doesn’t fly, so is one of the best chicken breeds for beginners.
So now that you have been spoilt for choice with chicken breeds, what one do you think is right for you and your flock-the cuddly and sweet Orpington? Or maybe the Rhode Island Red and all of it’s eggs is more appealing? Well you could always have one of each…
For more information on these and a huge range of other chicken breeds, be sure to check out our breed articles in our online Learning Centre.