If you are new to raising chickens, you have started your flock with the chicken breeds that were easily available in your local area. But if you are keen on a little research first, there is a whole world of chicken breeds to choose from.
In this article, we’ll review ten of the best chicken breeds for a small backyard coop. We’ve sorted our selections according to category – egg laying, meat chickens, decorative and family-friendly hens.
The first thing to do is to decide your ultimate goal for raising chickens – do you want eggs for the family or a unique pet for the kids to teach them about homesteading?
It’s always good to branch out and try a few other breeds. Not only will you have poultry for every purpose, but your enjoyment of the hobby will also increase when you see how unique these birds are.
Best Chickens For Laying Eggs
1. ISA Brown
The ISA Brown is a favorite chicken breed to raise if you want a low-maintenance bird that is a very proficient in laying eggs. They are very resilient and gentle, making them the perfect addition to any backyard coop.
They have light brown chestnut feathers and are well-suited to a variety of climates and chicken coop styles. The ISA Brown is a hybrid breed so should be purchased from a reputable breeder. They were created specifically for their egg production abilities and weigh in at about 5 pounds each.
2. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is also known for laying many eggs. However, these hens are also good for those who wish to raise chickens for meat, making them the perfect backyard bird. In fact, one hen may lay up to 250 brown eggs a year. Add one hen for each member of the family and there will be no need to buy eggs again.
3. White Leghorns
Some families prefer white eggs, and White Leghorns are excellent at producing. One hen of this type lays up to 300 eggs per year.
The key to successfully raising these chickens is to ensure they have the right amount of heat, food, and water at all times. Furthermore, they aren’t as concerned about having room to move, so those who don’t have space to allow their chickens to free-range will appreciate this breed.
Raising Hens for Meat
4. Cornish Cross
Cornish Cross chickens are an excellent choice for individuals raising birds for meat. In only seven to eight weeks, this bird reaches a weight of four pounds, perfect for broiling.
The breasts are broad, the thighs and legs are large, and the skin is rich and yellow. The entire family will enjoy dining on this bird any day of the year.
Don’t hesitate to pick up a few Faverolles for the flock if you are breeding birds for meat. They can withstand any climate and are very calm and docile.
When space is at a premium, this is the bird to get, as they withstand confinement with ease. The salmon favorolles are the most common color, but they are also available in white or mahogany.
Considered fancy birds, Brahmas are known for their meat, although they also lay a decent number of eggs. These animals are quiet and tame, making them perfect for owners with families.
Furthermore, they don’t mind being hugged, which is what everyone who sees them will want to do thanks to their fluffy feathers and general appearance.
Decorative and Fun Breeds
Consider adding some Austrolops to your flock if you love birds with brilliant plumage. They have black feathers with a green and purple sheen with white or grey feet.
These animals are very proficient egg layers, and they have a pleasant personality. The Austrolop chickens are also known to be very hardy and can survive colder winters.
Silkie chickens are known for their style. Think of flamboyant celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Elton John. The Silkie serves as their chicken counterparts, and these creatures are small, docile, and broody. Take time to pet them on a regular basis, as they truly enjoy it when they get the extra attention.
Imagine blue eggs on the dining room table. This dream can become a reality when you add Araucana chickens to your flock. Their distinct markings allow them to stand out the first time you lay eyes on them, and their blue eggs will have you remembering them for some time to come.
10. Plymouth Rock
For those who like pink, Plymouth Rocks chickens are the breed to buy. These hens lay brown eggs with a touch of pink, and the eggs are large. In addition, this type of bird is known for its meat, so owners can benefit from the addition of these creatures to their flock in more ways.
Which Chicken Breeds Are Good With Kids?
Children love chickens too, so be sure to pick up some docile birds that won’t mind being snuggled by the littlest members of the family. Breeds suitable for this purpose include Silkies, Australorps, and ISA Browns, as mentioned above, along with Sussex and Orpingtons chickens.
Which is Your Favorite Chicken Breed?
Don’t settle for one breed when raising chickens in your backyard. With so many breeds to select from, every family can find the right combination for their needs.
Be sure to provide plenty of room for the birds to mingle while still having their own space. Doing so ensures the flock stays happy and healthy at all times.