Looking to get into backyard chicken farming or trying to choose the right breed? Choosing the right breed of chicken is important for backyard farmers. Different breeds have different personality traits, egg-laying abilities, and overall hardiness. When choosing your chicken breed, it is important to consider what type of chicken will best suit your need. In this blog post, we’ll explore the top 14 breeds of chickens best for backyard farming.
Breeds of Chickens for Backyard Farming
The Ancona chicken is a breed that originates from the Ancona region in Italy. They are mostly black with white-tipped feathers and are known to be a smaller breed of chicken. These chickens typically lay small white eggs, around 5 eggs a week. Ancona chickens can be flighty, which coupled with their darker coloration helps them evade predators.
The Andalusian breed of chicken is believed to have originated in Spain before being further developed in the United States and England. These birds are known for their white eggs and their striking plumage, which can be blue, black, white, or black and white. Blue Andalusians have slate blue feathers with a narrow ridge of dark blue. This breed of chicken is known for being very active and foraging a lot, which can help to keep feed costs down during warm weather. However, because they are so active, they can run very fast, making them difficult to catch.
The Australorp is a dual-purpose chicken breed that was developed in Australia using Black Orpington birds. As a dual-purpose chicken, it is raised for both meat and egg. Apart from laying plenty of brown eggs, it is also known for being calmer than other chicken breeds. Adult Australorp roosters typically weigh around 3.6 kg (8 lbs).
Cochin chickens are a favorite among poultry enthusiasts for their attractive feathered feet and variety of colors. These birds are quite large, with roosters weighing up to 5 kg (11 lbs), and hens laying medium-sized brown eggs. Cochin chickens make excellent mothers, often fostering chicks of other chickens.
The Cornish chicken is a breed of chicken that is known for its meat production. The breed was developed in England and is one of the chicken breeds that contributed the most to the broiler industry. Cornish chickens are not known for their egg-laying abilities, as they typically only lay one egg per week. The breed comes in three different color varieties which are white, dark and laced red.
The Cornish-Rock Broiler is a commercial strain of chicken created by crossing the Cornish chicken with a Plymouth Rock chicken. The meat-production bird (also called broiler) produced is known for its fast growth rate, which can sometimes lead to crippling leg deformities and cardiac problems.
The Delaware chicken is a versatile breed that can be used for both egg and meat production. It was developed in the 1940s in the United States and is characterized by its white feathers with black points. This chicken is a good layer of extra-large, brown eggs, and also grows to be a large bird, with males weighing up to 4 kg (9 lbs) at maturity. The Delaware chicken is known for being a good forager and having a calm temperament.
The Leghorn chicken is a popular breed of chicken that is known for its egg-laying abilities. The white Leghorn variety is especially known for its ability to lay large, white eggs. Other varieties of Leghorn chickens are not as prolific at laying eggs, but they can still lay a sizable number of eggs. Leghorn chickens are very light birds, typically only weighing around 1.8 kg (4 lbs) when they reach maturity. They can be shy around people and easily startled, but they make good foragers.
8. New Hampshire Red
This breed of chicken is good for both meat and eggs. They have red-brown feathers and the rooster can get up to 4 kg (9 lbs) when fully grown. The females are good mothers and will often go broody. They’re also active foragers and can be aggressive.
Orpington chickens are a heavy, dual-purpose breed from England. They come in black, blue, buff, and white, and have lots of feathers, making them good for cold winters. They are also a brown egg-laying chicken breed. Orpingtons are gentle and calm, making them a good choice for families with small children who want to be active in raising chickens. Hens can go broody if allowed to collect eggs in a nest.
10. Plymouth Rock
The Plymouth Rock chicken is a breed of chicken that was developed in the United States in the 19th century. It comes in two varieties based on feather color: the barred variety and the white variety. The barred Plymouth Rock chickens have a black and white feathering pattern. The white Plymouth Rock chickens are used in commercial broiler strain production. Plymouth Rocks are excellent egg layers, with large, brown eggs. They are generally fairly calm, but some could be aggressive occasionally. Adult roosters could weigh about 4.3 kg (9.5 lbs).
11. Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Red chickens are a dual-purpose breed, meaning they’re good for both eggs and meat. They lay large brown eggs and are heavy birds, making them great for chicken dinners. Rhode Island Reds are also good foragers and relatively docile, so they’re easy to keep as backyard chickens. A mature rooster weighs 3.9 kg (8.5 lbs), and a hen can lay up to 300 eggs per year.
12. Silkie Bantam
The Silkie Bantam chicken is one of the ornamental breeds of chickens that originated in China in the 1200s. They come in several colors and their feathers look like human hair. While the Silkie Bantam chickens have a calm temperament, they lay small to medium-sized, white to brown eggs. They also have blue flesh, bones and earlobes due to the melanin in their skin. Unlike other chickens, they have five toes on each leg which makes them unique and different from most chicken breeds. A female Silkie Bantam lays an average of 3 eggs a week and will brood the eggs.
Sussex chickens are a great dual-purpose breed developed in England. They’re amazing egg layers, with large, light brown eggs, and come in a variety of feather colors, including speckled, light, or red. Male Sussex chickens weigh around 4 kg (9 lbs) when fully grown, and they’re excellent foragers with a calm temperament. Hens lay around 250 eggs per year and can become broody.
The Wyandotte is a good chicken for both eggs and meat. They lay large, brown eggs and are available in many colors and feathering patterns. Wyandotte chickens are docile and talkative, making them a popular choice for shows. They’re also good foragers, with adult males reaching 3.5 kg (8.5 lbs).