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Pets make a great addition to family life, and in recent years, people have been moving away from the traditional companions such as dogs, cats, and goldfish, to embrace animals usually found on a farmyard.

The popularity of poultry keeping comes as no surprise to us. After all, they’re fantastic company, and who wouldn’t want fresh eggs for breakfast everyday?

If you’re considering welcoming some feathered friends to your outdoor space, here are some reasons we think you’ll be making an egg-cellent choice:

Eggs, eggs, and more eggs

The most obvious benefit of keeping chickens is the eggs. As part of a healthy diet, eggs contribute to strong muscles, brain health, energy production, and a healthy immune system.

Eggs are easy to turn into quick and delicious meals, so are the ideal ingredient to get budding chefs into the kitchen.

Finally, let’s not forget that eggs are also a key component of cake


Children learn responsibility and empathy

Having animals at home helps to teach children fantastic life skills such as taking responsibility and having empathy for others.

Smaller children can fill feed bowls, collect eggs, and check that the water is clean. Older children can really get stuck in with hands-on chicken care by cleaning out the hen house and shutting the hens up at night before they get ready for bed themselves.

Teaching children how to handle chickens safely builds their understanding of empathy and encourages discussions about emotions and behaviour. Chickens may not speak but their body language and vocalisations ensure they make themselves understood!

There are brilliant breeds to choose from

There are so many breeds of chicken that you’re sure to find one that appeals to your family.

Silkies, Buff Orpingtons, Polish, Wyandottes, and Warrens are all breeds which are popular to keep as family pets.

Chickens also lay a variety of different coloured eggs. If you’d like something more unusual than the eggs you find in the supermarket, consider a breed such as the Araucana, who lay blue eggs, or the Black Copper Maran, who lay chocolate brown eggs.

Chickens offer many opportunities for education

As well as the practical and emotional skills children can learn from chicken keeping, you can also incorporate more academic subjects into chicken care.

Children can develop their mathematical ability by counting eggs and chickens or working out how many days a bag of food will last.

Allowing your children to name the chickens will spark their imagination and they can learn to spell the names they’ve given their new pets.

Chickens are the ideal way to spark conversation about where our food comes from, animal welfare, and the environment.

chicken maths

Pets are good for mental health

Studies have shown that when we stroke or cuddle a pet our bodies release the “feel good” hormone Oxytocin.

With time and patience chickens can become very friendly and will come running when they hear their names called (or they know you have treats!)

Many families who keep chickens report that their poultry are firm favourites and often find their child cuddling their preferred hen and sharing tales of their day.

When people first start keeping chickens they usually choose breeds that they can easily source and are fairly cheap to buy. Hybrid breeds are a popular choice and often people will pick the same breed as the person who inspired them to keep chickens in the first place has.

However, as any poultry keeper will tell you, chicken keeping is an addictive hobby and it probably won’t be long before you’re looking to add to your flock!

Your average breed of chicken will lay brown eggs, ranging from a pale tan right through to a dark brown. But there are many other colours, in fact depending on the breeds you keep you could have a whole rainbow of eggs.

So, here are the best breeds of chicken if you want coloured eggs:

Ameraucana – blue eggs

You can now get the brilliant blue eggs that this bird lays in your local Tesco, but where’s the fun in that?

The Ameraucana is one of only three breeds that lay blue eggs (Cream Legbar and Araucana are the others) but blue egg laying chickens are reasonably popular so you shouldn’t have trouble finding them.

The breed was first developed in the 1970s in America and is an attractive breed with a “beard”. They’ll lay around 250 eggs per year so you’ll never run out of blue eggs!

ameraucana chicken eggs

Andalusian – white eggs

If you’re looking for pearly white eggs then the striking looking Andalusian is the breed for you.

Originating from Spain this breed is calm and active, so they prefer to free range and are good foragers.

They’ll lay around 160 eggs per year and usually continue to lay through the winter and blue-bred White hens are said to lay the biggest eggs.

Andalusian chicken eggs

Olive Egger – green eggs

This is more of a variety of chicken than a breed that were developed when birds containing the “blue egg gene” were crossed with a “brown egg gene” bird.

Olive Eggers produce green eggs that can range from having more of a blue tinge to more of a brown tinge as a result of the crossed colours. The birds themselves are bearded and don’t look dissimilar to the Araucana, Ameraucana, and Easter Egger which has led to some confusion among even the most expert chicken keepers.

olive egger chicken eggs

Black Copper Maran – chocolate brown eggs

For a truly dark brown egg the Black Copper Maran is an ideal choice.

The breed is active, likes to forage, and prefers to free range or have a larger enclosure. They are also good in colder climates and a hardy breed so they’re perfect if you’re new to keeping chickens.

Their chocolate brown eggs are so popular that some unscrupulous breeders will sell birds called “Black Copper Marans” but if they don’t produce dark brown eggs they aren’t from a pure strain of the breed.

black copper maran chicken eggs

Plymouth Rock – pink eggs

If you want a hen that will lay you eggs with a pinky tinge then the Plymouth Rock is a great bird.

They’re one of the oldest and most popular breeds of chicken so you shouldn’t find it hard to purchase a few. They come in a variety of colours and should continue to lay throughout the winter, although produce will slow down.

plymouth rock chicken egg

Posted on 31 January 2018 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , , , ,

There are chickens on almost every continent and each country seems to have at least one breed of chicken to be proud of, some have many more.

There are small chickens, big chickens, chickens which are excellent egg layers and other chickens which lay only a few eggs, but have many other qualities that make them well worth keeping.

So, let’s go around the world in eight chickens!

#1 UK – Sussex

We’ll start in our home country with a chicken that has many fans across the country – the Sussex.

This large, heavy breed of chicken is a dual purpose bird (meaning it’s good to eat and lays plenty of eggs) and also makes a lovely pet. The breed was developed around the time of the Romans and is now available in eight colours and as a bantam variety.

They’re known for their excellent temperaments and lay around 4-6 large brown eggs per week.

#2 USA – Jersey Giant

Now we’re off across the pond to the United States of America and looking at the Jersey Giant – the largest breed of chicken in the world (so you’ll need a big chicken house) and named after the state of New Jersey where the breed was developed.

They are calm, docile, and make good back garden pets. They’re also good egg layers – roughly 3-5 very large brown eggs per week – and are known to continue throughout the winter.

They’re not a particularly common breed but their fans will tell you how fantastic they are to keep.

#3 Switzerland – Appenzeller Spitzhauben

It’s over to Europe and snowy Switzerland to look at the Appenzeller Spitzhauben – a striking breed with a feathered crest in both hens and cockerels.

They’re largely an ornamental breed, although they were originally bred as a farm bird, so they lay a decent number of eggs (3-5 per week).

The Appenzeller is a recognised breed in the UK and there is now a movement to get the breed recognised by the American Poultry Association and improve the breed’s popularity in the USA.

#4 Poland – Poland/Polish

This is another breed with a distinctive look, and one of our personal favourites. The dome shaped crest of the Polish chicken makes them instantly recognisable and increasingly popular both as a pet and as an exhibition bird.

They’re a bright, friendly breed that suits being kept both in enclosures and free range. Their small size also makes them a brilliant family pet, although their feathered crest can require some additional care.

They lay small, cream coloured eggs – around 2-4 per week and rarely go broody.

#5 Belgium – Antwerp Belgian Bantam

Another breed that is named after its country of origin – the small, very pretty Belgian bantam is an incredibly popular show bird and is also known as the Quail bantam.

It is a true bantam, meaning that there is no large counterpart, and one of the oldest bantam breeds in the world.

In Belgium there are an amazing 29 colour variations recognised and a beard of feathers that covers the earlobes. They’re not brilliant egg layers, producing 2-4 per week, but are friendly and don’t mind not being able to free range as long as they have a big enough enclosure.

#6 China – Cochin

It’s time to go over to Asia and look at another large breed of chicken – the Cochin.

The chicken was exported to the UK and the USA in the mid-19th Century and created a craze amongst chicken keepers because of the Cochins’ size and beautiful plumage.

They’re calm, friendly, and quiet making them ideal for the back garden, especially if you have children.

#7 Japan – Japanese bantam

From large to small it’s time for the pint sized, but perfect, Japanese bantam. This breed is available in many colours, as well as frizzle and silkie varieties.

These birds have extremely short legs and have been known to live for up to 13 years with proper care and attention.

Their good looks make them the ideal ornamental breed and they only lay around 1-3 eggs per week, so if you just want an attractive chicken, this might be the breed for you.

#8 Turkey – Sultan

Finally, to Turkey to look at the Sultan, another small, ornamental breed known in the original Turkish language as “Serai-Tavuk” – or “fowls of the Sultan”.

They are an incredibly decorative breed with long tails, large crests, beards, and foot feathering. There are three colour varieties – Blue, Black, and White – although White is the most well-known colour.

The Sultan lay around 1-3 eggs per week and can be better suited to being kept in covered enclosures to protect their plumage from the elements.

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