Choosing the Right Chicken Breed for Your Backyard

A lot of people don’t know this, but raising chickens for egg and meat production requires an understanding of the livestock. There are so many different types of chickens, each differing in characteristic, appearance, productivity, and ability.  You need to know what breed is suitable for you and your conditions.

Take into consideration these important questions before deciding on what breed you should get for your backyard:

  1. What is your purpose for raising chickens? Is it for eggs, meat, or both?
  2. How big is the area where you plan to house your chickens?
  3. What color of eggs do you want? Is it white, dark brown, or cream?
  4. What is the climate condition in where you live?

Read on to help you find the answers to these questions. Once you are able to clearly determine what characteristics you need, then finding the perfect breed for you would be a piece of cake!

What is your purpose for raising chickens?

Ask yourself, what do you want from your chickens? The obvious answer would be “eggs”, but some would want “meat”, and others are after both.

1. Eggs

If your main purpose for raising chickens is to get a supply of eggs, then you need chickens that are efficient in laying them. Did you think all chickens lay an average number of eggs at a time? Nope!

Some chickens are actually better at laying eggs than others. It’s just like how humans have different strengths and weaknesses. Slender and lightweight chickens tend to be best at laying eggs, but there are some breeds that are best at going broody.

What does that mean exactly?

Broody behavior is a hen’s natural instinct to sit on laid eggs (whether her own or others’, sometimes even other species’) all day, feeling the need to be a sort of ‘incubator’ for them.  

So, if you’re looking for a vast supply of eggs, then you should go for slender, lightweight, broody chickens. Here are some breeds of this type:

  • Leghorn
  • Hamburg
  • Campine
  • Fayoumi
  • Dominique
  • Golden Commet
  • Red Star
  • Black Star
  • Goldline

2. Meat

On the other hand, if you’re raising your chickens for the purpose of consuming them as meat at the right time, then you should get breeds that can grow enormously — that makes good meat! Although all chickens can be used as meat, who would not want to eat a huge juicy chicken?

Chicken breeds that have the ability to grow ‘large thighs and breasts’ are the following:

  • Cornish-Rock Cross
  • Freedom Ranger
  • Red Ranger
  • Cornish
  • Brahma
  • Jersey Giant
  • White Leghorns
  • Cochin

3. Both Eggs and Meat

Others raise chickens to benefit from their production of eggs, and to consume them as meat when they are no longer as efficient in egg laying. Of course, if this is your purpose as well, make sure to ensure that you raise chicks — unless you want to wipe out your entire chicken population!

This is why hens with the tendency to go broody are preferred in this condition. You want to ‘ensure future generations’.

For the purpose of egg production and meat, the best breeds are the following:

  • Plymouth Rock
  • Wyandotte
  • Orpington
  • Sussex
  • Rhode Island Red
  • New Hampshire Red
  • Australorp

How big is the area where you plan to house your chickens?

Of course, raising chickens requires a big space. You need an area, whether enclosed or fenced, where your chickens can roam, feed, forage, lay eggs, and breed.

The breed of chickens you should get depends greatly on how big the space you have for them is.

If you have a small space…

Get bantam chickens. Bantam chickens are referred to as “miniatures”. This is because they weigh only ¼ the weight of standard sized chickens!

Their size, however, does not make them inferior to the standard sized chickens. There are various benefits of breeding bantam chickens. One of it is that they are “broody-prone”!

Oh, and although standard sized chickens are 4 times bigger than bantam chickens, their eggs only differ by half-size!

The following are classified as bantam chickens:

  • Serama
  • Nankin
  • Dutch
  • Bearded D’uccle
  • Bearded D’Anver
  • Booted Bantam

On the other hand, if you have plenty of space for your backyard chickens, you can get the standard sized or full sized chickens. These weigh about 4-8 pounds.

Also consider if you are going to house the chickens in an enclosed space, or fenced backyard. Don’t forget that chickens are birds, and most birds can fly!

What color of eggs do you want?

Although the egg color does not cause its nutrients to vary, some people have preferences when it comes to eggshell color.

Eggshell color is breed dependent”, and some breeds can lay eggs in the colors of white, shades of brown, pinkish, cream, shades of blue, and shades of olive.

Refer to the chart below for eggshell colors and the respective breeds who produce them.

Eggshell Color

Breeds
Brown Plymouth Rock

Rhode Island Red

New Hampshire Red

Wyandotte

Brahma

Sussex

Dark brown Marans

Welsummer

Penedesenca

White Leghorns

Campines

Hamburgs

Cream to light brownish pink Easter Eggers

Salmon

Faverolles

Dorking

Cochines

Old English Game Bantams

Blue Easter Eggers

Ameraucanas

Araucanas

Cream Legbar

Olive Olive Eggers

What is the climate condition in where you live?

Chickens can adapt to different weather conditions, but not if there is a spike in temperature. If it gets extremely hot or extremely cold in the place you live in, that’s where the problem arises.

If you live in a country that experiences extreme weather conditions, then it’s best to choose a breed that can adapt to the climate.

Chickens have characteristics and bodily functions that help them adapt to climate change. This is referred to as their ‘climatic hardiness’.

Chickens with long, slender, flat bodies lose body heat more quickly, which is why birds like this should not be exposed to a cold climate. They belong to much hotter temperatures.

Breeds that are better off in hot weather are the following:

  • Leghorns
  • Andalusions
  • Campines
  • Lakenvelder
  • Black Faced White Spanish
  • Catalana
  • Naked Neck

So, you guessed it. Chickens with the opposite characteristics as the aforementioned — ‘rounder bodies, short thick combs, and small wattles’, can adapt better to cold temperatures. So I guess it’s true that thinner people are more prone to feeling cold (at least in the case of chickens).

Breeds with high cold tolerance are:

  • Chantecler
  • Buckeye
  • Brahmnam Wyandotte

There you have it! Now you can decide which chicken breed you should get, taking into consideration the pointers mentioned above.

To help you further understand, you can refer to this chart:

 

Leave a Reply