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Guide to Backyard Chicken Breeds

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Having raised chickens since childhood, finding the best ways to tend to them is a rewarding and sometimes challenging hobby of mine.

Choosing a Chicken Breed - Variety is the Spice of Life

Deciding between breeds of chickens to raise depends on a lot of things, not the least of which is one's own personal preferences.

Raising chickens in your backyard or garden can be a fun and rewarding venture for those who are interested, however, the reasons for having chickens are as varied as the people who tend to them.

This article will explain the differences between several popular chicken breeds so you can come away with a little better idea of what type of birds you may want to invest your time and money in.

Twenty-nine varieties of chicken (and one Guinea Fowl).

Twenty-nine varieties of chicken (and one Guinea Fowl).

What do You Expect From Your Chickens?

Planning ahead will save you time and money in the future.

Knowing what you want from your backyard chickens is a good starting point for deciding which breed will be right for you.

There are a lot of different reasons as to why people raise chickens, chief among them being for fresh healthy eggs and/or meat.

Chickens can also be a great source of fertilizer for farms or gardens, and they are a sustainable way of controlling insects and weeds.

There are also those individuals that breed chickens for show, and then there are those that just like to have them around as pets.

For people that are looking to raise backyard chicken breeds, there are many options to choose from. You can choose between hundreds of domesticated chicken breeds from all around the world.

Different chicken breeds are classified by several characteristics including:

  • the number of toes
  • type of comb
  • the color of plumage
  • size
  • skin color
  • feathering
  • the type of eggs that they produce
  • whether they are primarily egg layers, meat producers, or strictly for ornamental purposes

Chickens can suffer from various illnesses, including Marek's Disease, Fowl Pox, worms, and various external parasites.

If any of your chickens don't look or act quite right, or egg production suddenly drops, check out a few tips in my article Guide to Backyard Chicken Diseases.

Girls holding chickens

Girls holding chickens

The Perfect Backyard Breed

Do you want meat, eggs, or are you a show-off?

Choosing the perfect breed depends on what you want from your birds. Are they for meat, eggs, or a combo of both meat and eggs? Are you raising them for show or to keep as pets?

Breeds available today are split into two size categories: Standard and Bantam.

Bantams usually weigh only a pound or two, and they are sometimes a smaller version of a larger breed. These are often referred to as miniatures. A bird that has no large counterpart is referred to as a "true bantam".

Bantams can be fun, but they don't produce much meat, and their eggs are small, usually coming in at about half the size of eggs you can get from the store.

Chicken breeds also come in 4 different categories: Meat birds are bred for quick growth and large meaty breasts; egg birds which produce eggs at a higher pace than other chicken breeds; dual-purpose birds (providers of both meat and eggs); and ornamental chickens raised for show.

In addition to categories, chickens can be referred to based on their class. There are 11 classes in total, some of which include American, English, and Mediterranean (larger breeds), and Game Bantam, Single Comb, Clean Legged and Feather Legged (bantam breeds).

Then there are the "varieties" that refer to breeds that exhibit two or more traits yet have the main characteristics of their parent breed.

Jersey Giants are an example of breeds that come in two varieties, a white variety, and a black variety. Rhode Island Reds have two varieties based on comb configuration. The Wyandotte breeds have nine varieties, based on color and pattern.

You also have the heritage breeds that are no longer used commercially. Most of these breeds were of economic importance not too long ago and still have characteristics that need to remain in the gene pool.

Recommended Reading

The Incredible Edible Egg Jingle

Hens and Egg Production

All healthy female hens lay eggs. Some laying breeds start producing eggs at an earlier age and lay more frequently and for a longer period of time.

Good egg-producing hens lay about 250 eggs per year, but the best performers can lay over 300, which is almost one a day. These breeds have smaller bodies with light breasts and tend to have high-strung personalities.

Egg production for layers is usually about three years then the output drops dramatically. At this point in time, you have a decision to make, which usually means someone eating the bird. Older chickens tend to have a bit tougher meat, but with proper cooking are quite edible.

The color of eggs has little effect on nutritional value, although a lot of egg eaters prefer brown eggs.

Most eggs are white or brown, although some breeds like the Araucana, lay a bluish-green egg, and some like the Ancona, lay a pink egg.

Ameraucana

  • Breed Size: Standard and Bantam
  • Comb Style: Pea
  • Egg Production: High - 200/year
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium to Large Blue in Various Shades
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Name derived from "Araucana", a separate breed of chicken and "America"
Blue Ameraucana cock, from Cree Farms. A little under 1 year old.

Blue Ameraucana cock, from Cree Farms. A little under 1 year old.

Ancona

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Comb: Single or Rose
  • Egg Production: High - 220/year
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium to Large White/Pinkish White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Wild, Flighty, Noisy, Active
  • Country of Origin: Italy
  • AKA: Mottled Leghorn
Ancona hen

Ancona hen

Andalusian

  • Breed Size: Standard and Bantam
  • Comb Style: Single
  • Egg Production: High - 165/year
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium to Large White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Active
  • Country of Origin: Spain
  • AKA: Blue Andalusian
Blue Andalusian hen

Blue Andalusian hen

Campine

  • Breed Size: Standard and Bantam
  • Comb Style: Single
  • Egg Production: High - 200/year
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium to Large White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Chatty. Flighty, Active
  • Country of Origin: Belgium
  • AKA: Kempisch Hoen
Silver and Gold Campine chickens

Silver and Gold Campine chickens

Hamburg

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Comb Style: Rose
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Flighty, Active, Alert
  • Country of Origin: Holland
  • AKA: Hamburgh
Sam, the late Silver-Spangled Hamburg

Sam, the late Silver-Spangled Hamburg

Lakenvelder

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Flighty, Shy
  • Country of Origin: Germany
  • AKA: Lakenfelder
Two Silver Lakenvelder cockerels in a chicken yard

Two Silver Lakenvelder cockerels in a chicken yard

Legbar

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Blue-Green
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Flighty, Noisy
  • Country of Origin: United Kingdom
  • Color Varieties: Gold, Silver, and Cream
Cream Legbar hen

Cream Legbar hen

Leghorn

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Flighty, Shy, Noisy
  • Country of Origin: Italy
  • AKA: Italians
Leghorn cockerel and hen

Leghorn cockerel and hen

Minorca

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large White
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Flighty, Shy
  • Country of Origin: Spain
  • AKA: Minorka
Black Minorca rooster and White Minorca hen

Black Minorca rooster and White Minorca hen

White-Faced Black Spanish

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Easily Handled
  • Country of Origin: Spain
  • AKA: Clown Chicken; Fowl of Seville
White-Faced Black Spanish rooster

White-Faced Black Spanish rooster

Chickens and Meat Production

"You can't have your pudding if you don't eat your meat".

Most folks raising poultry for production go for dual-purpose breeds (meat and eggs).

Common breeds for meat production are Indian Game, Ixworth, Bresse and Cornish Hens.

Some characteristics of meat breeds are rapid growth and large meaty breasts with lighter colored skin and feather, which facilitate easier plucking.

Classifications of the meat breeds are based on butchering size.

Rock and/or Cornish hens (a.k.a. game hens) are butchered around the 4 to 6 week age and weigh between 1 and 2 pounds.

Broilers are the most common of the butcher group. Usually taken at 10 to 12 weeks of age and weighing 4 to 5 pounds, they can be of either sex.

Roasters are birds intended for (you guessed it) roasting whole. They are larger breeds, usually around seven pounds or so and 4 to 5 months old.

While most roasters can be either male or female, capons are de-sexed males allowed to grow anywhere from five to eight months, resulting in a larger meatier bird.

Commercial broiler operations tend to breed Rock-Cornish hybrids. These are the prominent crossbreeds in the chicken industry because they grow quickly and are efficient at converting chicken feed to meat.

Brahma

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Docile
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • AKA: Shanghai Bird; Brahma Pootra; Burnham; Gray Chittagong
Dark Brahma hen

Dark Brahma hen

Cornish

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Cold Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: United Kingdom
  • AKA: Cornish Indian Game; Indian Game
Dark Cornish hen

Dark Cornish hen

Cornish Cross

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Calm, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • AKA: Broiler
Cornish Cross chickens at 5 weeks

Cornish Cross chickens at 5 weeks

New Hampshire Red

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Easily Handled, Noisy
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • AKA: New Hampshire
New Hampshire Red hen

New Hampshire Red hen

Do You REALLY Need a Rooster?

If you are raising backyard chickens mainly for meat or eggs, then a rooster waking you up every morning at the crack of dawn, annoying you and the neighbors, is not needed.

If you plan on breeding and raising chicks, only then you will need a rooster.

The best rooster to hen ratio is around 8 hens per rooster (no wonder Foghorn Leghorn is so happy!).

Dual-purpose chickens are recommended for most backyard chicken operations and are the most common breeds kept in backyards and on farms.

Although some breeds are better at producing eggs, others produce more meat. The fact is, they do both well.

New Hampshire Hahn rooster

New Hampshire Hahn rooster

Araucana

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Blue/Green
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Easily Handled, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: Chile
  • AKA: South American Rumpless
Araucana hen showing ear tufts

Araucana hen showing ear tufts

Australorp

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: Australia
  • AKA: Australs; Black Australorp; Australian Orpington
Black Australorp hen

Black Australorp hen

Barnevelder

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: Netherlands
  • Color Varieties: Double-Laced; Double-Laced Blue; Black; White
A closeup of the head of a Barnevelder chicken

A closeup of the head of a Barnevelder chicken

Buckeye

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Wild, Noisy
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Name derived from Ohio's nickname "Buckeye state"
Buckeye rooster

Buckeye rooster

Catalona

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium White
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Flighty, Shy
  • Country of Origin: Spain
  • AKA: Catalana del Prat Leona; Buff Catalana
Catalona flock

Catalona flock

Chantecler

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Cold Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Noisy
  • Country of Origin: Canada
  • AKA: Partridge Chantecler
A White Chantecler hen at the Abbey in 1926

A White Chantecler hen at the Abbey in 1926

Crèvecœur

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium White
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Docile, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: France
  • Color Varieties: Black; Blue; White; Cuckoo
Black Crèvecœur rooster

Black Crèvecœur rooster

Delaware

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Critically endangered
Speedy the 14 week old Delaware pullet

Speedy the 14 week old Delaware pullet

Derbyshire Redcap

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Wild, Restless, Shy
  • Country of Origin: United Kingdom
  • AKA: Redcap
Derbyshire Redcap

Derbyshire Redcap

Dominique

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Docile, Quiet
  • County of Origin: United States
  • AKA: Dominicker; Pilgrim Fowl
Dominique pullet (6 months old)

Dominique pullet (6 months old)

Dorking

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Large White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Docile
  • Country of Origin: Italy
  • Color Varieties: White; Silver-grey; Red; Dark; Cuckoo
Silver Grey Dorking rooster

Silver Grey Dorking rooster

Faverolles

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Light Brown to Pink
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Docile
  • Country of Origin: France
  • Varieties include white, black, ermine, cuckoo, splash and blue
Faverolles rooster and hen

Faverolles rooster and hen

Frizzle

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Docile
  • Country of Origin: Unknown. Possibly in Asia.
  • Four colors are recognized: black, blue, cuckoo and white
Black Frizzle chicken

Black Frizzle chicken

Holland

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • County of Origin: United States
  • Varieties: White and Barred
Holland chicken

Holland chicken

Japanese

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White or Cream Colored
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Wild, Restless, Noisy
  • Country of Origin: Japan
  • AKA: Chabo
Pair of Japanese black-tail bantams

Pair of Japanese black-tail bantams

Java

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • County of Origin: United States
  • Black and Mottled varieties
Mottled Java

Mottled Java

Jersey Giant

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Cold Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Docile
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Plumage comes in blue as well as black and white
Amelia the Jersey Giant hen

Amelia the Jersey Giant hen

La Fleche

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Wild, Restless, Shy
  • Country of Origin: France
  • AKA: Poule de La Flèche
La Flèche hen

La Flèche hen

Langshan

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: Australia
  • Black, blue and white varieties
Pair of Black Australian Langshan bantams

Pair of Black Australian Langshan bantams

Marans

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Dark Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Cold Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Easily Handled, Docile
  • Country of Origin: France
  • AKA: Poule de Marans; Country Hen
A cuckoo Marans hen in winter. This barred feathering, called cuckoo, is the most common color for the Marans breed.

A cuckoo Marans hen in winter. This barred feathering, called cuckoo, is the most common color for the Marans breed.

Naked Neck Turken

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Varieties: Black, White, Buff, Red
  • AKA: Transylvanian Naked Neck; Turken; Kaalnek
Naked Neck Turken

Naked Neck Turken

New Hampshire

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Easily Handled, Noisy
  • AKA: New Hampshire Red
New Hampshire Red hen

New Hampshire Red hen

Orpington

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Original Colors: Black, White, Buff, Blue, and Splash
Black Orpington hen

Black Orpington hen

Plymouth Rock

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Easily Handled, Docile
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • AKA: Barred Rocks, Rocks
A Barred Plymouth Rock rooster

A Barred Plymouth Rock rooster

Red Star

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Docile
  • AKA: Star
Red Star (Sex Link) hen in back yard

Red Star (Sex Link) hen in back yard

Rhode Island Red

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Aggressive, Friendly, Docile
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • AKA: Rhode Islands
Rhode Island Red rooster

Rhode Island Red rooster

Rhode Island White

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Cold Climates
  • Personality: Aggressive, Friendly, Noisy
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Also in bantam variety.
Rhode Island White hen

Rhode Island White hen

Russian Orloff

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: Russia via Persia
  • AKA: Orloff; Russian
Spangled Russian Orloff hen

Spangled Russian Orloff hen

Sussex

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Docile, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: United Kingdom
  • Color Varieties: Brown, Buff, Coronation, Light, Red, Silver, Speckled and White
A Light Sussex breed hen

A Light Sussex breed hen

Vorwerk

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Flighty, Easily Handled
  • AKA: Vorwerkhuhn
A Vorwerk rooster, Pfaueninsel, Berlin

A Vorwerk rooster, Pfaueninsel, Berlin

Welsummer

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Dark Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Cold Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Easily Handled, Calm
Welsummer hen with a Light Sussex hen in background

Welsummer hen with a Light Sussex hen in background

Wyandotte

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: High
  • Egg Size/Color: Large Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: United States
Silver-laced Wyandotte rooster

Silver-laced Wyandotte rooster

Ornamental rooster

Ornamental rooster

American Game

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Aggressive, Easily Handled, Noisy
  • Country of Origin: United States
American Game hen

American Game hen

Appenzeller Spitzhauben

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: Switzerland
Trio of  Silver Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens

Trio of Silver Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben chickens

Aseel

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Aggressive, Friendly, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: Pakistan
  • AKA: Asil
Long-tail parrot beak Aseel

Long-tail parrot beak Aseel

Belgian Bearded d'Anvers

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Flighty
  • Country of Origin: Belgium
  • AKA: Barbu d'Anvers, Antwerp Belgian
Belgian Bearded d'Anvers hen

Belgian Bearded d'Anvers hen

Belgian Bearded d'Uccle

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Flighty, Docile
  • Country of Origin: Belgium
  • AKA: Barbu d'Uccle
Belgian Bearded d'Uccle

Belgian Bearded d'Uccle

Booted Bantam

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Flighty, Quiet
Booted Bantam rooster

Booted Bantam rooster

Booted Dutch Bantam

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Flighty, Easily Handled
Booted Dutch Bantam pullet

Booted Dutch Bantam pullet

Brabanter

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Large White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Flighty, Shy
Brabanter rooster and hen

Brabanter rooster and hen

Cubalaya

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm
  • Country of Origin: Cuba
Cubalaya flock

Cubalaya flock

Cochin

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Small Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Cold Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
  • Country of Origin: China
Cochin bantam

Cochin bantam

Fayoumis

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Flighty
Egyptian Fayoumi pullet

Egyptian Fayoumi pullet

Houdan Standard

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Docile
  • Country of Origin: France
  • AKA: Poule de Houdan
Houdan pair

Houdan pair

Malay

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Aggressive, Wild, Flighty
The Malay (chicken) female. Taken from a village in Kelantan, east coast Malaysia.

The Malay (chicken) female. Taken from a village in Kelantan, east coast Malaysia.

Modern Game

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Aggressive, Friendly, Noisy
A Modern Game chicken at the Puyallup Fair in Washington State

A Modern Game chicken at the Puyallup Fair in Washington State

Old English Game

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Small Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Docile
Old English Game

Old English Game

Phoenix

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Small Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Aggressive, Friendly, Noisy
Phoenix chicken rooster and hen

Phoenix chicken rooster and hen

Polish

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
Polish chicken photographed at Country Village, Bothell, Washington

Polish chicken photographed at Country Village, Bothell, Washington

Sebright

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Flighty, Shy
Sebright chickens

Sebright chickens

Sicilian Buttercup

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Wild, Restless
Sicilian Buttercup rooster, Clark County fair

Sicilian Buttercup rooster, Clark County fair

Silkie

  • Breed Size: Bantam
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Small Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Calm, Quiet
A Silkie rooster in Australia

A Silkie rooster in Australia

Sultan

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Small White
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Friendly, Easily Handled, Quiet
A White Sultan chicken

A White Sultan chicken

Sumatra

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Medium
  • Egg Size/Color: Medium White
  • Best Climate: Likes Most Climates
  • Personality: Aggressive, Wild, Flighty
Blue Sumatra hen

Blue Sumatra hen

Yokohama

  • Breed Size: Standard
  • Egg Production: Low
  • Egg Size/Color: Small Light Brown
  • Best Climate: Likes Hot Climates
  • Personality: Docile
Yokohama flock in backyard

Yokohama flock in backyard

In Conclusion

As you can see, the depth and breadth of chicken breeds to choose from can be overwhelming. Hopefully, this article has helped you narrow down your choices.

If you are looking for ideas for chicken coops, please check out my Backyard Chicken Coop Plans article for a ton of tips and tricks on the subject.

Good luck on your chicken raising journey!

Chicken Train Stomp

Reader Poll

© 2010 Hal Gall

Reader Comments - Tell Me What You Think!

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on April 29, 2016:

Thanks!

Richard Lindsay from California on April 26, 2016:

I have had chickens of some sort almost my whole life. They are great bug catchers for the yard. Even if you just have a few they keep the bug population down. Great well written post

katespetcorner1 on July 21, 2013:

Wow, I didn't know that you could predict their personality by their breed. Something to consider carefully when choosing a breed as I would like friendly ones!

Rose Jones on July 10, 2013:

I might do this sometime, my neighbors do. I have a border collie though..............This is a great lens, like a hobby blog. Pinned to my poultry board and "squidoo lenses worth blessing" - (even though our wings were clipped.)

lionmom100 on June 05, 2013:

If I dint have cats I would be tempted. You have quite a wealth of information here.

anonymous on March 29, 2013:

Many people are going to raising their own chickens these days for eggs and the meat as we keep hearing about the terrible conditions commercially. I live on a farm years back and we used the chickens for both meat and eggs and they sure were good, I always enjoyed having the job of feeding them. My uncle had bantams a while back and they sure were as cute as can be, the eggs were tiny but delicious. Unfortunately Mr. Weasel had a taste for chicken. I can sure tell this is a love of yours and those looking to start raising chickens will definitely benefit from your wealth of information and expertise. Very impressive and beautifully presented! FB liked because I love this! :)

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on March 13, 2013:

@Brandi Bush: If you are like me, some of the chickens were probably pets as well. That makes it tough sometimes...

Brandi from Maryland on March 13, 2013:

This lens makes me miss my backyard flock! A couple of years ago, we lived on some acreage in central WV and at one point we were up to 34 layers and chicks. I'll never forget how fascinated my kids were to see the eggs hatch into peeps...our favorite part of the whole experience! Sadly, we had to move to the suburbs, so we gave our flock away, but someday I hope to have my own eggs again. Your pictures are wonderful...and I absolutely love that crazy looking rooster on the calendar! :)

lionmom100 on March 08, 2013:

It would be so gret to have backward chickens. I had no idea there were so many breeds.

GramaBarb from Vancouver on February 25, 2013:

Love this lens! I'm a chicken farmer at heart :)

norma-holt on February 14, 2013:

What a list and great lens. My chickens were always white Australorps, an Australian breed. They were easy to care for, less noisy and great egg producers. They also lived until they were 10-12 years old. Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2013. Hugs and Happy Valentines

KimGiancaterino on January 26, 2013:

Our next-door neighbor raised chickens for years, and we actually miss hearing the rooster crow in the morning. This is excellent information for anyone interesting in raising chickens.

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on December 13, 2012:

Great lens for anyone wanting info on backyard chicken breeds. Thanks for sharing. Blessed.

Jo-Jackson on December 03, 2012:

I have Australorps - good egg producers and friendly like pets.

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on December 03, 2012:

@AllThingsPotter: In a way that brings up a down side to raising chickens. They make decent pets and it's easy to get attached to them. Makes it tough when you lose one to old age or predators, and even tougher if you raise them to be eaten! Thanks for stopping by.

AllThingsPotter on December 03, 2012:

My neighbors had chickens and when they moved I really missed their rooster - he was the only one up at that hour besides me.

E L Seaton from Virginia on November 28, 2012:

Chicken train Now Departing! Great Lens! Blessed by COUNTRYLUTHIER. Saw some chickens from my youth here.

floppypoppygift1 on November 25, 2012:

This is clearly a subject that is near & dear to you! A job well-done. Cheers~cb

RinchenChodron on November 25, 2012:

Lots of useful info from an expert chicken man! Well done.

golfgpswatch lm on November 21, 2012:

I can tell you are a real expert

vinodkpillai lm on October 23, 2012:

Exhaustive list and useful tips. Thanks for sharing

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on October 17, 2012:

Great details about chicken breeds. Thanks!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 26, 2012:

You really do know your chicken. Enjoyed all the info. I smiled at that high strung major producer.

FallenAngel 483 on September 04, 2012:

Great lens with lots of detailed information on the different breeds. I really want to have some chickens. I think some Buff Orpingtons and some Sussex would be just right for me.

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on September 04, 2012:

@sojourner-1: Depending on the breed, chickens make great pets as well. After 2 or 3 years though, they slow down in the egg production, and you end you having to eat them.

sojourner-1 on September 04, 2012:

I haven't looked into this yet, but I would love to be able to have a few egg producing chickens in the city limits.

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on September 04, 2012:

@sunlightseer: Starting out with 5 or 6 chickens is a good way to begin without investing too much money. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils are one of my all time favorite groups! Thanks for taking time to comment.

sunlightseer on September 04, 2012:

I want to have a few chickens for eggs when we are able to move to a bigger place. I had no idea there was so much to consider. Thanks for all the info. LOVE the "Chicken Train" song and video

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on September 04, 2012:

@junecampbell: I remember watching my grandmother and great aunt pick out 2 live chickens and have them butchered, cleaned, fried and on the dinner table in a couple of hours. Best fried chicken I have ever ate!

June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on September 04, 2012:

I came from a farm where we raised chickens for personal use and for sale. They are an interesting species, to be sure.

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on August 15, 2012:

@flinnie lm: Thanks for the visit!

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on August 14, 2012:

Hi I enjoyed reading about the many breeds of chicken. I love having my little flock, they are such fun, and the fresh eggs can't be beat.

anonymous on August 07, 2012:

Great lens, squidliked and pinned, well done.

BeadCatz on July 31, 2012:

Great lens. Chickens are wonderful animals. Not only do they supply us with fresh, organic food, they also make good pets and are very educational for kids. Of course I have to mention my favorite bird, the Orpington.

I have a website devoted to chickens. I'm in the process of putting together a breed chart for it: http://thebackyardchickenfarmer.com

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on January 20, 2012:

@julieannbrady: That sounds like a whole new lens idea there, Julie! Maybe I better start researching the local wing joints and check it out!

julieannbrady on January 20, 2012:

Holy Smokes > who seriously knew or really thought of the fact that there could be so many different chicken breeds!!! Which breed makes the best wings?

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on January 18, 2012:

@Anthony Altorenna: Very nice! Very big selection!

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on January 18, 2012:

@anonymous: Yes indeed, that always helps. Thanks for stopping by!

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on January 18, 2012:

@GenesisLabs: Can't beat them fresh eggs. We love them too!

GenesisLabs on January 16, 2012:

We absolutely love are chickens. We have some Rhode Island Red's and Bard Rock's. Can't go back to store bought eggs after having fresh eggs. Store bought aren't even close. :) Nice lens.

anonymous on January 16, 2012:

good to know what I'm putting into my mouth when I eat it.

Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on December 31, 2011:

Good tips on selecting backyard chicken breeds for your flock. We have an eclectic mix of 18 hens, representing about a dozen different breeds.

TeamZuhl on October 21, 2011:

I'm just beginning my chicken experience and your lens is such a great resource! Thank you so much!

Murphypig on July 10, 2011:

very helpful lens. I have recently added 4 rescue hens to my "zoo" at home and am very pleased with their egg production. I wish I had a bigger garden to keep some of the rarebreeds as well :-)

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on May 09, 2011:

@sockii: Thanks for the comment. My main reason for preferring free range or "home grown" chickens is what they do to chickens on the factory farms. It's pretty bad.

Nicole Pellegrini from New Jersey on May 09, 2011:

Very nice page! My mother raises chickens - some hybrids for egg production, then Cochins for breeding and because they have such great personalities (and are beautiful). I actually like using the Cochin eggs for cooking and especially baking as they are very rich in flavor.

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on March 29, 2011:

@pheonix76: I was just talking with my wife about remembering when I was a youngster my grandma and aunt grabbed two chickens from the flock and butchered and cleaned them on the spot.

We then had some of the best fried chicken I think I have ever ate.

I also remember the warning from grandma "You best stay away from that Banty rooster, he's a mean one." Good advice :)

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

pheonix76 from WNY on March 29, 2011:

Interesting lens. My family has been keeping chickens for eggs for about 13 years and we are hatching more chicks this spring. As for eggs, we've had excellent success with Barred Rocks, Delawares, Buff Orphingtons, sex link, and Black Astralorps. Cannot beat the eggs of free range chickens! Cheers.

Hal Gall (author) from Bloomington, IN on December 02, 2010:

@anonymous: An oldie but a goodie...:)

anonymous on November 05, 2010:

chicken train song brings back memories!