Whether it's the sweet and docile Dominique or the intelligent white Leghorn, any of these different breeds of chicken will make a great addition to your backyard flock, especially if you're new at this.
These 10 chicken breeds are the most popular and recommended breeds for beginners.
Whether you are planning to get chickens or already have your backyard flock, take a look at our list of the 10 most popular breeds of chickens for beginner backyard chicken owners. All 10 breeds are not only popular, they are recommended breeds for new chicken owners for reasons varying from laying a good number of eggs to ease of care and personality.
It's important to carefully consider breeds and your circumstances when selecting your flock. Rural or urban flock location, a hot or cold climate, the size of your chicken coop and backyard, and how friendly you expect your chickens to be are all factors to consider in choosing chicken breeds.
No matter what breed or breeds you choose for egg production, you will discover the joy of a raising pet chickens and a productive pet flock that produces fresh eggs for breakfast. We've also included three bonus breeds that are popular, but that beginners should probably hold off on.
Australorp chickens are a great choice for any flock owner. They are dual-purpose birds (useful for both eggs and meat), are friendly, and hail from Australia. The Australorp is an excellent layer and very hardy. Australorps lay about 250 large brown eggs a year and are available in black, white, or blue. They are good foragers as well as good layers. You cannot go wrong with the popular and easy to care for Australorp.
Orpington chickens are fluffy, friendly, and beautiful. A dual-purpose breed, they are quite hardy, and come in many colors (blue, lavender, buff, black, and white). Orpingtons lay about 200 light brown eggs a year. Buff Orpingtons are a wonderful shade of gold. Beware: the lighter colors of white or buff Orpington chickens may make them easier targets for predators.
3. Easter Egger
Easter Egger chickens lay very colorful green, blue, or pink eggs. They are not really a breed, but a chicken that lays colored eggs and doesn't conform to breed standards for Ameraucana or Araucana chickens. Easter Eggers are charming and colorful hybrids. They vary widely in appearance, and they may have fluffy beards, ear muffs, or crests. Colorful egg laying chickens generally lay fewer eggs than other breeds.
4. Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock chickens are one of the most familiar dual-purpose heritage farm breeds, particularly the Barred Plymouth Rock. Barred, black frizzle, blue, partridge, buff, columbian, silver penciled, black, and white colors are available. They are calm, love to free-range, and are very hardy. They are good layers, with about 280 pinkish-brown eggs a year.
Sussex chickens are dual-purpose inquisitive and sweet birds and lay about 250 eggs annually in varying shades of light brown. In the United States, the Speckled Sussex chicken is more popular than the red, buff columbian, brown, coronation, buff, silver, light, or white Sussex chicken.
Wyandotte chickens have some beautiful laced color varieties (gold, blue, and silver). Wyandottes also come in many other colors. The Wyandotte is a dual-purpose breed and lays about 200 tan or brown eggs annually. They have a sweet or docile temperament.
Brahma chickens are large, calm, and hardy chickens. Brahmas do well in cold or damp climates. They have feathered feet, and they lay about 150 brown eggs a year (originally developed for meat production). Brahmas make excellent pets, and they are a popular breed in northern climates.
8. Jersey Giant
Jersey Giant chickens are, in fact, very large! These blue, black, and white giants are the largest of the pure breeds. Jersey Giants are dual-purpose chickens and lay about 260 brown eggs a year. They are calm, docile, and excellent for beginner flocks.
Leghorn chickens are productive layers (about 280 white eggs a year) and can be flighty, meaning they may startle easily and are not calm or docile. However, they are very productive egg layers and do particularly well in warmer climates due to their large comb (that can be either a single comb or a rose comb) and slight build.
While the white Leghorn is what usually comes to mind when people think of the chicken breed, they actually come in several different colors!
Also known as BlackStar and RedStar, Star chickens (or "sex-links") are not formally recognized breeds. They are popular productive hybrids. It is easy to tell whether a Star chick is male or female at hatch. Males and females have distinctive coloration differences at hatch. They lay about 260 brown eggs a year and are calm and docile and are an excellent chicken breed for flock owners new and old.
Bonus Breed: Delaware
Do you want to have a rare breed? Delawares are a dual-purpose chicken, lay about 280 brown eggs a year, and have a calm temperament.
Three more breeds to consider when you have a bit more experience:
1. Rhode Island Reds
Rhode Island Reds (or RIR for short) are very popular. We do not recommend them for beginners because they have a reputation for bullying each other and bullying other breeds. Not all Rhode Island Reds are bullies, of course.
Silkie chickens are adorable and very popular. Silkies are the teddy bear of the chicken world. We do not recommend Silkies for beginners, particularly new backyard chicken owners with flocks of several breeds. Silkies are sometimes picked on and pushed around by bossier breeds and may need an experienced eye to watch out for them.
Polish chickens have a feathered crest. Polish chickens may get targeted by other breeds in your flock due to their unique appearance and inability to always see clearly through their feathers. Like Silkies, Polish chickens may need a more experienced flock owner to watch out for them and trim their crests when necessary so they can see.
These are the ten most popular and best chicken breeds for new flock owners, and three more popular breeds to steer clear of until you have a bit more experience.
When choosing chicken breeds, you should always consider your climate and environment too. For example, do you need a chicken that can adapt to cold weather or is cold hardy? Do you want a chicken that lays blue eggs? What about a dual purpose breed (eggs and meat)?
Other types of birds not mentioned here are Marans (Marans lay dark brown eggs), Welsummer, Barred rock (my fave), Old English Game hen, Japanese Bantam, Sebright, Cornish, New Hampshire chicken, Cochin, the Belgium-native Belgian d'Uccle, New Hampshire Red, Langshan, Dorking (Dorking hens can go broody easily), the Dutch breed Barnevelder, and Minorca. There are so many chicken breeds! Other great birds include: the Naked Neck (named for the absence of any feathering on the neck), Cream Legbar, Andalusian -- even though this breed is said to be friendly but by no means are they docile, the pretty Faverolles, the gentle Houdan chicken, Derbyshire Redcap, Pekin chickens, and Fayoumi chickens.
We'd be happy to answer questions about any breed of chicken as we live with quite a few!
Didn't see your chicken on the list? Let us know your breeds on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!
This article was originally published May 28, 2019.