Chickens come in hundreds of breeds. Some are better layers than others. Some are broody while others are more docile. Some are hardy enough for winter in the Rockies. And some are large while others are small. So, how do you choose? It's a tough question to answer and ultimately the choice is all yours. But let’s review some of the qualities that we think are most important. Below you can use our breed recommender to find the right chicken breeds for your flock.
One of the main reasons people have backyard chickens is for the deliciously fresh eggs. How many eggs will you get? Well, from start to finish, it takes a chicken about 26 hours to produce an egg. So, you can expect an egg every 26 hours, kinda. There are many factors that go into egg production. Breed, age, lighting, season, molting, and stress. All of these play a role in the number of eggs you can expect from your girls.
Some of the top egg producing hens are the White Leghorn Rhode Island Reds Barred Plymouth Rocks, Golden Lace Wyandotte Buff Orpingtons and Austrolorps.
EGG COLOR & SIZE
White, brown, green, and blue. Eggs come in a variety of colors and sizes from small to jumbo. An all-time favorite for their egg color are the Easter Eggers, Araucanas, and Ameraucanas. Often times you will find a cross between an Araucana and Ameraucanas. All will lay either blue or green eggs.
Some chickens are better for eating than others. Some are even dual purposed meaning that they are great layers and great roasting birds.
The Cornish Rock Broiler, Cornish Roaster, Turken, Wyandotte, Australorp, and Barred Plymouth rock are just a few of the breeds that are great for raising meat.
Some birds fair the cold temps better than others. And some will even lay through the chilly Rocky Mountain winters. Orpingtons, Australorps, Silkie Bantams, Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Delawares, and Brahmas.
Broody chickens are those that want to sit on their eggs and raise chicks. Breeds are designated broody when they are known to have hens that frequently go broody. These hens can become “angry” when they have no fertilized eggs to sit on and can be somewhat difficult to handle if you are not planning on raising chicks.
Some of the known broody breeds are Brahma, Cochins, Orpingtons, Silkies, and Dominiques.
There are chickens known to be more gentle and friendly than others. Though, that isn’t to say that there aren’t special cases when a docile chicken becomes broody or has a bit more attitude than the others.
Buff Orpingtons, Australorps, and Silkie Bantams are all calm and friendly birds that are great for beginners.
MURDOCH’S TOP PICKS
We love all breeds, but there are some chickens that we feel shine a little brighter. Most of our top picks are friendly, easy to handle birds that will produce eggs, even through the cold mountain winters.
Some of our favorite breeds are Araucana/Ameraucanas, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Red Star Sex Links, Rhode Island Reds, and Silver Laced Wyandottes.
FIND YOUR CHICKEN BREED
Tell us what characteristics are important to you by checking the boxes below and we’ll give you an idea of what breed of chick you should get. Then visit your local Murdoch's and a Chick Expert will help you select your chicks and the supplies you'll need to care for your new flock.