When backyard hobbyists first start raising chickens, they are sometimes astounded by the number of different chicken breeds that are available. A quick perusal of your favorite hatchery’s catalog will reveal several hundred chicken breeds. After several millennia of domestication, it’s no wonder that there are so many types of chickens out there. Choosing the right chicken breed can be difficult. Thankfully, several breeds standout and make excellent additions to any backyard poultry flock.
- The Plymouth Rock: The Plymouth Rock — a breed that comes in several varieties, the most popular varieties being white and barred — is a docile and friendly breed that makes a great starter bird for new hobbyists. They reach a considerable size of up to 9.5 pounds, which makes them excellent meat birds. They are also great brown egg layers. For this reason, Plymouth Rocks are considered a dual-purpose breed, a term denoting breeds that can be used for either meat or egg production.
- The Rhode Island Red: These rust-feathered chickens are the quintessential backyard chicken breed and can be found in many hobbyists’ collections. While they do not achieve as great a weight as Plymouth Rocks, the Rhode Island Red is also a dual-purpose breed and lays brown eggs.
- The Leghorn: The Leghorn is one of the best chicken breeds for those raising chickens for eggs. Originally from Italy, Leghors have one of the highest rates of lay out of any chicken breed. This is largely due to specialized breeding. Leghorns may be more flighty and noisy than some other breeds.
- The Jersey Giant: Aptly named, this American breed can achieve an astounding weight of up to 13 pounds. Thus, Jersey Giants are a popular backyard breed for those raising chickens for meat. There are several varieties of this breed, all reaching the same average size.
- Ameracaunas: This breed is easily recognizable due to the fluffy feathers around its head. Ameracaunas are perhaps most known for raising blue eggs. They make great pets and also relatively good egg layers, though they aren’t intended to be raised for slaughter.
Whatever breed of chicken you choose, you will find that each breed has unique characteristics and will add its own personality to your backyard chicken hobby.