If you’re new to chicken keeping the number of breeds available can either be overwhelming or you’ll feel like a child in a sweet shop.
There are literally hundreds of breeds available and it can be hard to find the right breed for you. In fact, it can seem a bit like trying to find a partner!
You need to think carefully about what you can offer your new feathered friends and what you want them to give you in return for delicious food and a warm chicken house.
Some questions to consider when choosing a breed of chicken include:
- Do you live in a rural or urban environment?
- Do you live in an area with a temperate climate or do you get extreme weather?
- Are you interested in keeping chickens for meat or for eggs?
- If you’re interested in chickens for their eggs, do you might how attractive the breed is?
- Do you have children and do you want them to be involved in chicken keeping?
- Do you want to show your birds?
So, now you’ve answered those questions, which breeds might be suitable?
Best for families
In our opinion, if you want a breed of chicken that will be suitable for the entire family then you can’t go wrong with the Pekin Bantam.
The pint sized Pekin is active, friendly, and docile so they’re perfect for children to handle. They don’t mind being kept in an enclosure and their tiny, feathered feet won’t do as much damage to your garden as a larger breed would.
Find out more about the Pekin Bantam here.
Best for eggs
Let’s face it, most people start keeping chickens because they want eggs and the Rhode Island Red is a brilliant layer of large brown and cream eggs.
They’re an attractive, intelligent breed and produce around 200 eggs each per year. That’s 600 eggs per year if you have a trio of hens!
You can contact the Rhode Island Red Club by calling Mr Richard Everett on 07809 112920.
Best for shows
If you’re looking to take part in shows and exhibitions then you can really have some fun with chicken breeds.
Our favourite show bird is the Polish Bantam, a striking looking bird known for its impressive head feathering. They are available in a range of colours and also lay a reasonable number of eggs, although this isn’t what they were bred for.
Because of their unusual feathering they can need a higher level of care and you can find out more information about this wonderful breed from the Poland Club of Great Britain.
Best for meat
With an increased interest in “growing your own” and the provenance of your meat it’s no wonder that many people are starting to raise their own chickens for meat.
If you want a bird that’s good for the table but will also produce a reasonable number of eggs then a Sussex breed would be a good option. If you’re only interested in keeping birds for meat then the Indian Game, also known as the Cornish Game, would be suitable.
Best for free ranging
If you’re lucky enough to have the space for your birds to free range then you can’t go wrong with a Plymouth Rock. As the chicken keeping saying goes, “You need a Rock in your flock!”
Varieties include the Barred Rock, Columbian Rock, and Partridge Rock. They are active, good foragers, lay large brown eggs, and make great pets. What’s not to love?
They’re also cold hardy, requiring little extra care in the winter, and are one of the most popular breeds in the world. Find out more at the Plymouth Rock Club of Great Britain.
If you’re wondering which chicken breed is right for you we’d love to hear from you and see if we can help!