Chickens are the perfect “pet” for the backyard hobby farmer. They are relatively low-maintenance and provide not only great fun and entertainment, but also eggs, fertilizer, and even meat if you’re so inclined.
It’s important that you choose the right chickens for your backyard coop – and this will depend on why you want your chickens in the first place. Some breeds make better pets; others are better egg layers. Some look stunning, while if you seek chickens for meat as opposed to “pets”, then a different breed again will be right for you.
There are more than 400 breeds of chickens. For Example-
- Araucana chickens are active and lay beautiful blue eggs.
- New Hampshire Reds are robust, lay well, and look great.
- Pekin Bantams are great family pets for kids.
- Australorp looks stunning and lays well.
- Silkies are calm with fluffy silver feathers but don’t lay very well.
- Wyandottes are quiet, calm, and stunning to look at.
Reasons for Keeping Chickens
- Do you want backyard chickens for your kids?
- Do you predominantly want chickens for eggs?
- Are your chickens for breeding to produce tasty meat?
- What’s your local climate like?
The answers to these questions will play a big part in the selection of the right breed of chickens for you.
How Many Chickens Should I Get?
This will depend very much on your location, your available space, and the council regulations covering your area. You want your chickens to have plenty of space to be happy and healthy.
Chickens are social animals – so you need to have at least three or four together for them to be happy and to thrive.
Many councils have limits to ten hens or fewer. Many urban and suburban councils have restrictions on having roosters – so bear this in mind if you intend to have breeding chickens for meat – this likely won’t work in a lot of areas. You also need a lot more space for breeding chicks as your flock grows.
Those chickens who are happiest in a smaller space include Plymouth Rocks, Orpingtons, Australorps, and Silkie Bantams.
Will Climate Conditions determine which Breed of Chickens I can Keep
Some chickens do better in hot climates while others are hardier in cold and frosty conditions.
Which Chickens Make Good Pets?
Chickens make great pets! They are ideal for kids, teaching them responsibility and where (at least some) of their food comes from i.e. eggs. (Be warned, if you have kids, chickens as “pets” don’t translate well to meat chickens!)
Chickens interact with humans, have their own personalities and quirks, and most don’t mind being gently handled. Some will even come when called, welcome you home, and run to you at feeding time.
Choose from these breeds for a friendly, loving chicken that will snuggle with you, be docile and not easily stressed by younger kids:
The Best Egg-Laying Chickens in terms of Volume of Eggs Laid Include:
If, however, you also want eggs that are beautiful in color and appearance, choose from these breeds:
- Blue Eggs: Araucana
- Cream-Coloured Eggs: Polish, Sussex
- Brown Eggs: Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds, Delawares, Wyandottes, Plymouth Rocks
- Reddish-Brown Eggs: Welsummers, Barnvelders
- Pinkish-Brown Eggs: Plymouth Rocks, Salmon Faverolles
- White Eggs: White Leghorns
- Dark Brown Eggs: Marans
- Aqua, Pink, and Olive Eggs: Easter Eggers
Know that hens lay best in their youth and the first laying season is by far the most productive. Some heritage breeds can lay well for up to six years.
Chickens for the Table
If you seek to raise chickens for the dinner table – don’t get too attached! The best meat chickens include Brahmas, Leghorns, Faverolles, and Houdans.
Those that are also great for egg production prior to becoming dinner themselves include Australorps, Rhode Island and New Hampshire Reds, Orpingtons, and Wyandottes.
What are the Best Chickens for Beginners?
You need to do some research. Much depends on how often you’re home, as well as the abovementioned considerations. But for absolute beginners, you can’t really go wrong with breeds such as Rhode Island Reds, Australorp, Buff Orpingtons, Leghorns, Plymouth Rocks, Sussex, Easter Eggers, or Jersey Giants.
Always choose chickens from reputable breeders/sellers and make sure they come with appropriate, authentic vaccination documentation.
Enjoy your chickens – they really are a wonderful pet to welcome into your world.