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Monday, April 9, 2012

Choose Your Chicken

Whether you are new to chickens, or just adding to your flock, it is always fun to try and figure out what chickens you might want to have for your backyard. Your decision might be based on looks, productivity, broodiness, egg color, hardiness, size, temperament, and many other factors. We have used a lot of different sources in the past and wanted to give you some resources for choosing chickens.

Other chicken lovers

If you know people that  raise chickens I would use them as your first resource for choosing a good breed. I like going local because local people will know what works in your area. They will be able to teach you and give you suggestions based on experience. You are assured that the information they give you is good since their chickens are alive. If their chickens are dead or undead, then you might not want to take their "expert" advice.

Local Farm Store

Here in Utah we have a good farm store called IFA. I'm sure you have a similar store like Tractor Supply Company, or maybe a local mom and pop garden/farm store in your area. They sell chicks and often times when you go you can get some good information about the breeds they are selling. It's also fun to see a picture at the store of what the chicken will look like once it is older. Usually your local store will sell breeds that do well in your area.


The website backyardchickens.com has a great website with a lot of good information about chickens. This link takes you to a cool part of their site. On the left side of the page you can check off some of the things you are looking for in a chicken and it will give you a list of chickens that fit your criteria. Then you can read the details about the breeds that come up. They have some great pictures as well.

Another website that we have used is mypetchicken.com. They have a chicken breed selector tool.which asks you a few questions and then gives you some suggestions for breeds. They also have a good list of breeds here and if you click on the breed name it gives extensive information on each breed.

 There are a lot of good books out there. I bet you can get most of them at your local library. I only own one book that talks about chicken breeds. It is basic but I like it and it is worth the cost. The title is Know Your Chickens by Jack Byard. It contains a brief synopsis of various breeds as well as beautiful pictures.


Let's make our comments section a resource as well. If you have the time, leave a comment with your favorite breeds and give some insight as to why you like them. I'd love to hear your opinions.



Dree said...

I think individual birds have such different personalities, the breed doesn't matter so much (unless you're getting 20 of something!). Our buff orpington is the sweetest, friendliest bird, and so cuddly! The second sweetest--our white leghorn (supposed to be flighty--but ours is not at all). Our most high strung bird is our silver-laced wyandotte--which are supposed to be calm--we could not lay a hand on this bird from about 8 weeks to 23 weeks, and still can only touch her when she egg squats. Our others are a RIR, barred rock, and an australorp (also pretty high-strung, this is the one that panics when a coopers hawk comes by).

Anne Kimball said...

My favorite is the Buff Orpington. They are very friendly and docile. They're large, and good layers, though they do go broody. We love our Buffs!

If you want to learn more about my Buffs or any of my others, check out some of my posts under my "chickens" tag at: http://annesfunnyfarm.blogspot.com

Sandy said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I'll be visiting those websites as well as looking for that book.

Alice said...

We currently have partridge chantelclers. They're friendly birds, and are very winter hardy- we don't put a heat lamp. The down side is that we didn't get any eggs from about october to march. The eggs are a little on the small side as well. We're back to getting between 5 and 7 eggs a day from our 8 hens, but next time we get new chicks, we're going to stick with RIR's. Out of all the breeds we've had, those have been our favorites.

Mel said...

I have eight hens and each are a different breed. Our Dominique is by far our most friendly and so sweet. She is our "lap chicken". If you sit in the yard while they are out, she will come over and sit in your lap and coo and fall asleep. My RIR and the Black Australorp are the next friendliest. Our Gold Laced Wyandotte and Speckled Sussex are the most anxious and only let me touch them in the rooster squat.

Charlotte said...

I like that I have a variety of hens. They have very different personalities and I can look at the egg and know who laid it. My Plymouth Barred Rock is the best layer, but she is rather mean to the other hens. My Copper Marans are sweet and lay beautiful dark brown eggs. The hen sat on 9 eggs last year, so now I have 2 half breeds--love them. I just got 4 Sultan chicks for My Pet Chicken. They are so unique.

angela said...

A friend of mine who needed to reduce her flock gifted me with eight chickens. Four are leghorns and four are Golden Comets. They are all friendly, but the Golden Comets are more relaxed and enjoy being held. The Leghorns are a little more aprehensive about being held, although they tolerate it well, they much rather prefer squatting down and spreading their wings out so we can pet them. Both breeds lay an egg a day...we are very pleased with our flock.

Stoney Acres said...

I think all of your suggestions are great! I found it helpful also to check out the different breeds online at the websites of the actual sellers. The comments and reviews of each chicken breed really helped us to make our final decision.

Chris said...

Hi there, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

Mrs. Small House said...

I only have 2 golden sex-links right now and LOVE them. They're more docile than the RIR in my experience, but I'd love to get some ameraucanas for the blue/green eggs. I've been drooling at IFA, but am hoping to get some Easter castoffs next month from this month's impulsive purchases. We'll see though. I'm feeling impatient.

Nicole said...

We have 8 hens. An exchequer leghorn, 2 welsummers, 2 easter eggers, 1 Dominique, 1 australorp, and 1 cochin bantam. They all have very unique and funny personalities. I ordered all my girls, except the Cochin bantam, through My Pet Chicken.com. They have selections based on egg color, climate (hot weather or cold weather) and personality traits. It is very helpful and I have had very successful shipments ordering 4 or 5 chicks at a time. Backyard chickens are wonderful and I highly recommend them to everyone.

Anonymous said...

I've got my first chickens ever and I wasn't sure which breeds that I would like, so I have a rainbow flock with 1 dominique, 1 Welsummer, 1 Cuckoo Maran, 4 different colored silkies (white, buff, blue, black), 1 Easter egger, and 1 Polish. They are all just a few weeks old now and so far my favorite personalities are the sweet Dominique who jumps onto my hand whenever I put it near her and the Polish who is the most curious of the bunch. Also, the Welsummer is so beautiful with her huge eyes and markings, but she runs away whenever I put my hand near her.

Kim and Victoria said...

We have a Barred Plymouth Rock, which we love. She is our friendliest chicken, and also a great layer. We also have a Silver Laced Wyandotte and an Araucana which we bought for the blue/green eggs. All we've gotten from her are light brown eggs. All three hens are great; they lay regularly, friendly, don't jump over our fence, and are curious ladies.

Anonymous said...

I've had many different breeds around our farm. I think my favorite hen would be Austrolorp. They are big and gentle. And very beautiful with their black feathers tinged in green when the sunlight hits them just right. They lay large brown eggs.
Our best rooster was a Rhode Island Red. He was great with the hens and never developed an attitude with us humans.

Anonymous said...

We have 2 each: Black Australorps, Silver-Laced Wyandottes, and Ameracaunas. All are cold-hardy, good layers, and good with our kids. They all have distinct personalities, so it's hard to say that one breed is better than another, but I do have one SLW that likes to cuddle. The other is more skittish. I think the trick is socializing them early. Ours are "pets", and they get played with constantly. Our friends have chickens that they view more as farm animals, so theirs are less friendly (according to their kids). Hope that helps!