When considering taking on the task of raising chickens, one may be surprised to find out that there are different breeds of chickens to choose from. There are literally hundreds of different breeds with differences that include feather color, egg color, number of toes, size…you get the point.
Here we will discuss the best breeds to consider and the difference between them. The first thing to consider when you begin thinking about getting some chickens is what their primary function will be. Are you looking for a cute pet for your kids? Do you want access to fresher and more nutritious eggs on a daily basis? Or are you just trying to have a fresh rotisserie every now and then?
This guide will help you be familiar with the various breeds of chickens and what their differences are. This way you can make an informed decision before investing in the purchase of a chicken and ensure that the chicken you buy provides you with exactly what you want with minimal to no surprises.
Food-Producing Chicken Breeds
Many people may not know, but some chicken breeds are better than others when it comes to egg production. Also, depending on their body structure and genetics, some chickens are better for being served up on the dinner table. Here are a few chicken breeds that would be great options if you’re looking for something to help with the sustenance of your household.
1. Araucana: Meat / Eggs
The Araucana chicken is native to South America. It is distinguishable by its lack of a tail and the special tufts of feathers that can be found on their cheeks. This breed of chicken has a wide range of different feather colors including silver, black, golden, and white to name but a few.
The Araucana chicken is known to be “high-energy”, and will therefore do well in a bigger landscape that will allow it a larger area to run in. On average, this breed of hen should produce somewhere between 150 to 250 eggs each year (around 3-5 per week).
One thing that is especially notable about the Araucana hen is that it is one of three chicken breeds that produce eggs that come with a beautiful blue shell. They are excellent foragers, too, which will help reduce the upkeep required to feed it.
2. Marans: Meat / Eggs
This breed of chicken comes from France and is perfect for a compact yard as they do not require very much room and are pretty docile as far as their temperament goes. You can expect around 200 eggs a year (around 3 to 4 per week) that are a very dark chocolate brown in color.
They’re definitely one of the prettier breeds of chickens as their colors can range anywhere from blue to gold to black, or even a mix of all three. The Maran is also an excellent choice for those looking to fetch a pretty penny at the butcher block for their meat.
3. Plymouth Rock (or Barred Rocks): Meat / Eggs
If you’re just starting your chicken raising adventure, this may be one of the best chicken breeds to pick. It’s typically a very calm fowl breed and produces around 4 eggs per week (which is over 200/year). Its eggs usually feature a light brown colored shell.
They also have a relatively sturdy frame which leads to a nice-looking chicken on the dinner table. What really makes the Plymouth Rock hen different is its coloring. Their feathers typically feature an alternating black and white scheme (think zebra-like pattern). They’re originally from Massachusetts and are also well-known for their longevity.
4. White Leghorn: Eggs
The white leghorn chicken is known as a master egg-layer and a great option if you’re planning to raise it for poultry meat production. It’s easily distinguishable by its all white plumage and bright red comb. This breed can reliably produce 200-300 white eggs every year and is at its peak maturity (read: ready for the butcher block) at around just 4 months.
They are fairly self-sufficient when it comes to feeding themselves, so not much is required on the owner’s end except a roomy coop for ultimate egg production and clean water. These chickens hail from various regions, but most notably Italy, Great Britain, and Denmark. If you’re looking for more of a companion fowl this may not be the one for you as this breed tends to be a bit skittish and flighty.
5. Frizzle: Eggs
There’s speculation that the Frizzle breed is from India and has been around since the 1600s. It’s a unique looking breed of fowl to say the least.
It gets its name due to the style of its plumage. Most chickens have feathers that lay flat against their bodies, but when their feathers begin frizzling, or curling upwards and outwards, it creates a new look. Imagine Animal from The Muppets and you can get a pretty good idea of what a Frizzle looks like.
Many prefer to use this chicken for breeding as they can produce some really cool looking crossovers. They don’t lay too many eggs, maybe 3 per week (so around 150/year), but if you’re looking for a unique bird to keep in your backyard, this might be the way to go.
Made Your Mind-Up Yet?
As you can see, there are numerous different breeds when it comes to chickens. Not all chicken breeds offer the same benefits and they don’t all have the same temperament. Some breeds require more special care than others, too. Heck, they don’t even all look the same.
Every aspect should be taken into consideration before introducing a new chicken to your flock and family. Consider narrowing down your list to a few types of breeds you may be interested in that will fit your current situation. Make sure to be familiar with the breed’s overall food-producing and ornamental value when ultimately deciding which works best for you and your home.