Guide to Backyard Chicken Breeds

Updated on March 25, 2018
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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). | Source

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 | Source

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

A Beginners Guide to Keeping Backyard Chickens - Breeds Guide, Chicken Tractors & Coops, Hatching & Raising Chicks Plus More... (Simple Living)
A Beginners Guide to Keeping Backyard Chickens - Breeds Guide, Chicken Tractors & Coops, Hatching & Raising Chicks Plus More... (Simple Living)

This top seller on Amazon is one of my go-to publications. It has plenty of DIY tips and tricks that I use, especially when deciding on a new breed to raise.

 

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.

Egg Producing Chickens

Also known as "layers", the best backyard chicken breeds for egg production are Ameraucana, Ancona, Andalusian, Araucana, Easter Egger and Jaerhone.

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. | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

Meat Producing Chickens

Some excellent meat producing breeds suitable for backyard operations are Brahma, Cochin, Cornish, and New Hampshire.

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

Dual-Purpose Breeds

Some of the better dual-purpose breeds are Dominique, Dorking, Plymouth Rock, and Wyandotte.

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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) | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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. | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

Ornamental Chicken Breeds

Ornamental rooster
Ornamental rooster | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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. | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source

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

What Qualities Are You Looking For When Selecting A Chicken Breed

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    © 2010 Hal Gall

    Reader Comments - Tell Me What You Think!

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      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        2 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        Thanks!

      • lrdl3535 profile image

        Richard Lindsay 

        2 years ago from California

        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 profile image

        katespetcorner1 

        4 years ago

        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!

      • Gypzeerose profile image

        Rose Jones 

        5 years ago

        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.)

      • profile image

        lionmom100 

        5 years ago

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

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        5 years ago

        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! :)

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        5 years ago from Bloomington, IN

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

      • Brandi Bush profile image

        Brandi 

        5 years ago from Maryland

        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! :)

      • profile image

        lionmom100 

        5 years ago

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

      • GramaBarb profile image

        GramaBarb 

        5 years ago from Vancouver

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

      • norma-holt profile image

        norma-holt 

        5 years ago

        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 profile image

        KimGiancaterino 

        5 years ago

        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 profile image

        Elsie Hagley 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

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

      • Jo-Jackson profile image

        Jo-Jackson 

        5 years ago

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

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        5 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        @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 profile image

        AllThingsPotter 

        5 years ago

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

      • Countryluthier profile image

        E L Seaton 

        5 years ago from Virginia

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

      • floppypoppygift1 profile image

        floppypoppygift1 

        5 years ago

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

      • profile image

        RinchenChodron 

        5 years ago

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

      • golfgpswatch lm profile image

        golfgpswatch lm 

        5 years ago

        I can tell you are a real expert

      • vinodkpillai lm profile image

        vinodkpillai lm 

        5 years ago

        Exhaustive list and useful tips. Thanks for sharing

      • sheilamarie78 profile image

        Sheilamarie 

        5 years ago from British Columbia

        Great details about chicken breeds. Thanks!

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

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

      • FallenAngel 483 profile image

        FallenAngel 483 

        5 years ago

        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.

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        5 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        @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.

      • profile image

        sojourner-1 

        5 years ago

        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.

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        5 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        @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 profile image

        sunlightseer 

        5 years ago

        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

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        5 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        @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!

      • junecampbell profile image

        June Campbell 

        5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

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

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        5 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        @flinnie lm: Thanks for the visit!

      • flinnie lm profile image

        Gloria Freeman 

        5 years ago from Alabama USA

        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.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        5 years ago

        Great lens, squidliked and pinned, well done.

      • profile image

        BeadCatz 

        5 years ago

        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

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        6 years ago from Bloomington, IN

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

      • profile image

        julieannbrady 

        6 years ago

        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?

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        6 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        @Anthony Altorenna: Very nice! Very big selection!

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        6 years ago from Bloomington, IN

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

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        6 years ago from Bloomington, IN

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

      • profile image

        GenesisLabs 

        6 years ago

        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.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

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

      • Anthony Altorenna profile image

        Anthony Altorenna 

        6 years ago from Connecticut

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

      • profile image

        TeamZuhl 

        6 years ago

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

      • profile image

        Murphypig 

        7 years ago

        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 :-)

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        7 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        @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.

      • sockii profile image

        Nicole Pellegrini 

        7 years ago from New Jersey

        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.

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        7 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        @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 profile image

        pheonix76 

        7 years ago from WNY

        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.

      • vineliner57 profile imageAUTHOR

        Hal Gall 

        7 years ago from Bloomington, IN

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

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        chicken train song brings back memories!

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