My Top 5 Favorite Chicken Breeds

This is going to be a rough post for me to write! There are so many reasons that I love so many breeds. But I am going to focus on ease of care, hardiness, egg laying, and meat production of breeds I have actually kept. This is from my personal experience so know that your situation may be different and there are some breeds that would probably be great! I just don't have experience with them myself. I'm going to do things different and list my top picks first!


 

#1 Barred Plymouth Rock


Not only are these girls GORGEOUS, but they are some of the easiest keepers I have ever had the pleasure of keeping.


They lay med-large brown eggs consistently. I get at least 5-6 eggs a week from each hen, even through the winter, without supplementary lighting. They forage very well for their own food if you are wanting to let them range, AND they do well in confinement if you have limited space and need to keep them in a coop/run. They are docile and friendly and produce enough meat (hens 7.5 lbs roosters 9.5 lbs live) to make it worth butchering at the end of their lives, or if you end up with too many roosters. Another great plus for our farm is that they are good mommas. They will sit and hatch a clutch of eggs and take care of those babies all without your interference. So if you are able to keep a rooster, you will have a replenishing supply of laying hens and roosters for meat.



Summary rating from 0-10:

Egg production: 9

Ease of care: 10

Friendliness: 9

Mothering: 9

Meat production: 8

Confinement: 7


 

#2 Rhode Island Red


This breed has a lot of the same traits that I love in the Barred Plymouth Rock. They are friendly, great egg layers, do great foraging or in confinement, and don't need any specialized care to thrive. Our very best layers as far as consistancy, size, and no need for lighting in the winter have been these girls. They have rich red plumage and are very pretty to look at too. They are a bit smaller in body size and are not as good at hatching eggs, but can. Be careful where you order the breed from. Some are more feisty and lay less than others. I always love ordering from Cackle Hatchery. I have ordered different poultry from them on a number of occasions and have been impressed with the quality of the birds and their customer service really goes above and beyond!




Summary rating from 0-10:

Egg production: 9.5

Ease of care: 10

Friendliness: 9

Mothering: 6

Meat production: 7

Confinement: 8


 

#3 Easter Egger, sometimes sold inaccurately as Ameraucana's, but that is a separate true breed


The Easter Egger is not a pure breed of chicken. Instead they are crossed between blue egg laying chickens and another egg laying breed to produce a chicken that is as variable in looks as it is in the egg color it produced. Our Easter Eggers have been a joy to keep. They have all been exceptionally friendly, are easy keepers, and lay consistently. Our girls did slow down in production in the winter and supplementing with a light in the coop would have helped, but we had no reason to push egg production from them. They are slightly smaller still than the first two breeds and though you can eat them, there may not be much meat to be had. They can also be good mommas, but that is variable, and they will not "breed true" if you try to hatch eggs from a hen with access to an EE rooster because they are a cross breed. If you are looking for a friendly, fun chicken to enjoy in a small flock, these girls would be my pick!


Summary rating from 0-10:

Egg production: 7 The fun colors more than make up for a slight drop in #

Ease of care: 10

Friendliness: 10

Mothering: 8

Meat production: 4

Confinement: 10


 

#4 Leghorn


If you are looking for straight egg production the leghorn breeds will not disappoint! They lay nearly daily!! This is why they made my "favorites" list. They are a smaller, flightier chicken that is great at avoiding predation on pasture during the day. They are not very friendly and are usually high strung, but they can absolutely crank out the eggs! Winter can be rough on these birds because of their lack of body mass. They need a coop that will keep them warm on cold winter days or they will not thrive.


Summary rating from 0-10:

Egg production: 10

Ease of care: 7

Friendliness: 3

Mothering: 1

Meat production: 2

Confinement: 7


 

#5 Black Australorp


These birds are regal! Their plumage is black with a beetle green/blue shine in the sun. They are big beauties and gentle to boot. They produce nice big brown eggs on the regular and are fairly consistent layers. These were a favorite of my then 5 year old. He would have his hen in his lap loving on her and she seemed to love it just as much as he did. They were easy to keep and though not exactly calm, were very gently and easy to handle. Being a bigger bird they can also be used for meat. They can make good mommas, but we never did experience one going broody while we had them. Another drawback to this breed is the major possibility of heat related problems. Their dark coloration makes it easier for them to overheat and possibly die. So if you choose the Australorp, be sure that they have adequate shade!


Summary rating from 0-10:

Egg production: 7

Ease of care: 7

Friendliness: 9

Mothering: 7

Meat production: 8

Confinement: 7



 

There you have it! If you are looking for how to get started with chickens check out my blog post HERE .

Some breeds that I would like to try in the future are the Copper Marans, Orphington , Welsummer, and the Brahma. If you have any experience with any of these breeds, drop a comment on what you thought of them!







****Images used are either my own, or from cackle hatchery. You can follow the link on each breed name to be directed to their site for purchase. I do not make ANYTHING on the sale of any item from Cackle Hatchery, I have just been highly impressed with their chicks and customer service and would recommend purchasing from them! ****

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