Did you know there are well over 100 breeds of chicken being bred in the UK? Each breed has its’ own characteristics, attributes, purpose, and personality. The question is, how do you choose a breed that suits your lifestyle and needs?
Chicken breeds break down into three categories – chickens for meat, chickens for eggs, and chickens that are dual purpose. The majority of beginners want chickens that will produce eggs and are easy to look after.
Here are the top things to look for in any breed of chicken:
Is your chosen breed friendly and easy to tame?
Is this breed easy to care for?
Is this breed quite common? You’ll find it easier to get help and advice if your breed is well known.
If you want to keep chickens for eggs – is this breed known for high egg production?
If you want to keep chickens for meat – is this breed known as a good table bird?
If you want to keep chickens as pets – is this breed known for being docile and having a good personality?
Our top chicken breeds for beginners
This breed ticks all the boxes as they’re pretty, practical, and produce great eggs. Not only are they incredibly friendly and placid but they’re also great layers so you won’t be short of eggs.
If you’re looking for a chicken breed to enhance your outdoor space then you’ll be pleased to hear that the Wyandotte comes in 14 different possible plumage variations in the UK.
Whether you choose the large fowl or the bantam Orpington you’ll find you’ve got a great pet – especially for children. They’re not always great layers so if you’re looking for high egg production then this breed isn’t for you.
You’ll also need to make sure that your chicken house pop hole is big enough for the large fowl variety and consider keeping them separately if you have mixed breeds as the Orpington can be subject to bullying.
This is the most common hybrid breed of chicken and people will recognise Warrens as a classic brown hen – seen here in the popular Mercedes-Benz advert.
They’re friendly, docile, and love human interaction making them the perfect pets for adults and children alike. Originally bred for battery egg production they really are laying machines so you’ll never need to buy eggs again!
If you’re not worried about egg production and you want a pretty pet then this breed is ideal. Silkies are small, incredibly tame, and have great personalities. They also have some unique features with black skin and bones and five toes rather than four.
They’re great mothers so if you’re looking to start breeding and want a broody hen to sit on eggs then get yourself a few Silkies.
If the Orpington isn’t quite big enough then the Brahma is even bigger! They might not lay a lot of eggs but they are one of the friendliest breeds of chicken. They’re great if you have children but standing at up to 30 inches tall they might be a bit big to sit on your lap!
As with the Orpington, you’ll need to make sure your chicken house can accommodate these gentle giants – you might even want to consider a bespoke design.