Choosing the Right Breed of Chickens

Choosing the Right Breed of Chickens

Once you’ve decided to raise backyard chickens, your next step is considering which breed is best for you and your situation. Here are some things to think about when selecting a breed.

First, consider your primary purpose in raising chickens. Some breeds are especially good at laying eggs but produce little meat. Other breeds produce delicious meat but don’t necessarily lay many eggs. There are dual purpose breeds that are relatively good at both of these functions, but if you’re mostly raising chickens either for eggs or meat, choose a breed that matches your purpose. Why buy a chicken that produces good meat if you really want a chicken for its eggs? Also, some people are especially concerned about the appearance of their chickens or the colors of the eggs they lay. If you’d like exotic breeds with spectacular feathers or breeds that lay eggs with unique colors like blue and green, you’ll have to do a bit of work to track them down. (More about where to buy chicks in the next section.)

You should also consider the size of your chickens and how much space they’ll need to live happily. Most chicken breeds come in two sizes: bantam and standard. Bantam chickens are much smaller than their standard relatives, but bantams also lay smaller eggs. Also, some breeds are naturally smaller than others. If you have a tiny yard with hardly any space for your chicken coop, you probably don’t want to buy the biggest breed available.

Most people with backyard chickens are primarily interested in eggs, and there are breeds that lay 250 to 300 eggs per year. Here’s a list of some of your best options if egg production is your primary goal:

  • Black and Golden Sex Link

  • Delaware

  • Dominique

  • Golden Comet

  • New Hampshire Red

  • White Leghorn

If you’re interested in raising your chickens for eggs but also want some high-quality meat, consider these breeds:

  • Black and Golden Sex Link

  • Barred Plymouth Rock

  • Buff Orpington

  • Rhode Island Red

  • Rhode Island White

  • White Leghorn

  • Sussex

  • Wyandotte

Few people seem to raise backyard chickens solely for meat, but the Cornish Cross is a good choice if producing meat is your primary goal.

When it comes to making a final decision about breed, do some research. Ensure that you’re getting a breed that will be well-suited to your space, your climate, and your goals. Employees at farm supply stories will usually have lots of information that they’re glad to share with you if you ask a few questions. Also, you might already have a neighbor raising chickens who can give you some advice. Utilize all of the resources you have.

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