Guide To Chicken Breeds
Ain't nobody here but us chickens! If you're starting your very own hobby farm, raising chickens is a great way to provide food for your family or as a second income selling eggs and meat at your local farmer's market. Check out the list below to make sure that you select the right breed for your farm's purposes.
The Austra White is a cross between a Black Australorp rooster and a White Leghorn hen. They were first developed in the early 1900's. This cross produces offspring that are very good layers throughout the year and lay a large off-white/cream color egg. The Austra White pullet will be white with little black specks in some feathers. This cross is considered to be a heavier breed and their disposition is calmer than the pure Leghorn chicken breed. There are many benefits raising baby chickens from this cross. These hens will lay a lot of large eggs; have good feed to egg production ratios and good for backyards.
The Barred Rock is an excellent winter/summer brown egg layer. It is great for backyard poultry production and is a very kid friendly chicken. The Barred Rock is a single comb (straight comb) and has a straight pattern in the barred feathers.
The Black Australorp chickens originated in Australia, were bred for egg production but also are good for meat. Known for their shiny rich black feathering, this chicken breed makes an excellent winter laying hen. Just make sure you have a wind break and dry bedding in your chicken coop or chicken house. Always make sure you have shady areas for the Black Australorp chicken so they do not overheat in the summer.
The Cochin Chicken (Chinese Shanghai Fowl) has a long history and arrived in England and America in 1845. Noted for massive size in appearance, profusion of soft like down in the under fluff of feathering, leg feathering, toe feathering, gentle nature and kid friendly temperament. With their gentle disposition and fluffy appearance they make excellent pets for children and show chickens. This chicken breed is very docile and makes a great broody hen for raising baby chicks. The Cochin chickens handle colder regions well and are cold tolerant.
Buff Laced Polish
The Buff Laced Polish chicken breed is a beautiful and unusual bird whose feathers are a rich buff color, and each feather is laced with creamy white color. The chicks have a cute topknot and feathery beard right from the start.
Buff Orpington Chickens originated in England. These "Golden Chicken Beauties" are a large, stately chicken of a quiet disposition. Buff Orpington chickens are one of the best chickens for eggs and for chicken meat. They are white skinned, plump, and juicy for a great dressed out eating meat chicken. Even though the Buff Orpington chicken becomes a very heavy and large bird, this does not always mean a larger egg. The Buff Orpington will lay a medium size egg. They also make for excellent egg setters and mothers for baby chicks.
The Cinnamon Queens are one of two modern day production brown egg laying strains from hybrid breeding that produce fast body development, fast egg production and rich brown egg shell color. These strains will start to lay eggs at a younger age than most standard breeds and produce big large/extra large brown eggs. They are also color sexable as cockerel chicks are white, and the pullet chicks are more brownish red in color. Feathering color varies with brownish feathers and white feathers on the adult hens. In the adult rooster feathering color varies from totally white, to white with light, to dark red feathers in shoulder feathers.
The Cornish Cross Chicken is a cross between the Commercial Cornish chicken and a White Rock Chicken. They were developed for the commercial meat chicken market and have been dominating it for the past fifty years. They are a rapid grower and Cornish game hens for sale can reach 4½ pounds by 6 weeks of age and cockerels 6 pounds by 6 weeks of age. They grow so fast that their legs may give out from their weight and it is not recommended that they be kept for breeding. You can take away the chicken feed at night to restrict the feed intake to slow the growth of the chicken. This will allow the bones and tendons to catch up with the rapid growth of the Cornish boiler or as some call a game hen. However, do not use small particle bedding (like saw dust or small shavings) because when restricting their feed they will eat too much of their bedding material and cause sickness and death. This breed is bred specifically to butcher or harvest and is not recommended for a pet and only for chickens for meat production. Generally, if the Cornish broiler chicken is NOT butchered/dressed it will have health issues with the heart, bones, muscles, tendon and sores from sitting all the time. This breed is your best option for efficient feed/time to butcher weight and is the best choice for raising chickens for meat. It is recommended to harvest this chicken broiler between 4-10 weeks of age depending on desired weight. It takes roughly 14 pounds of feed to get 1 chick to 8 weeks of age. At 8 weeks the expected average weight (averaging for male and female) is 6½ pounds of live weight. Raise these chickens in a free range chicken coop.
The "Easter Egg Chicken" originally came from Chile in South America, discovered by the Araucana Indians. The true pure Araucana chicken is rumpless (tailless), has a small curling tuft of feathers next to each ear and come in different pure color types. The true pure Ameraucana chicken has a tail, full beard and comes in pure color types. The Easter Egg Chickens are different because they have a full beard under the beak rather than a tuft and have a tail rather than rumpless and do NOT have pure color types. The "Easter Egg Chickens" have a wide variety of feather colors, feather color patterns, feather combinations of colors with a full beard under the beak and high egg production of colorful egg shells. The color of their egg shells vary from pale blue chicken eggs to dark blue to various shades of green and a few light brownish/pink eggs. The meat is delicious and it has a taste similar to quail. The Easter Egg chickens are great chickens for backyards, chicken coops, larger chicken houses and for raising free range chickens.
Originated in Wisconsin in 1880, The Black Laced Golden Wyandotte chickens are a docile bird, clean legs, mostly black laced golden feathers and black tail; Red rose comb, earlobes, and wattles. They will on occasion go broody and they make excellent mothers. They work well in confinement or free range and make a great back yard type chicken.
The Lakenvelder chicken breed dates back to the 1830's in Germany. These are one of the most beautiful in appearance of any of our rare varieties with their striking black and white markings and slate colored legs. Very quick and active, foraging widely if allowed to run. The hens lay white eggs and are non-setters.
Originated in Asia and brought to this country in the mid-1800's. Light Brahma chickens are exceptionally quiet, gentle, and easy to handle. Their small pea comb, great size, and heavy plumage make them almost immune to cold weather. They have feathered legs. The hens are good layers of brown eggs, excellent brood mothers and very children friendly for pets. The Light Brahma Chickens are a mostly white coloring but has black tail feathers and neck feathers have black in them.
Rhode Island Red
Originated in Rhode Island, and is the state bird of Rhode Island.The Single Comb Rhode Island Red Chicken is one of the most popular breed for brown egg laying production. They are a popular chicken choice for backyard chicken flocks because of their egg laying abilities and hardiness. Rhode Island Red chicks are a good choice for raising baby chickens naturally and raising baby chickens for eggs. The Rhode Island Red is a true heritage chicken breed picked as a great choice for chicken breeds for eggs.
Silver Lace Polish
The Silver Laced Polish chicken is the most striking in appearance of the "Poland Fowls". Their plumage is silvery white, each feather laced with lustrous black. Hens lay white eggs and are non-setters.
Silver Laced Wyandotte
Originated in New York State and is the parent variety of the all of the other Wyandottes. The Black Laced Silver Wyandotte chickens are a docile bird, clean legs, mostly black laced silvery white feathers and black tail; Red rose comb, earlobes, and wattles. They will on occasion go broody and they make excellent mothers. They work well in confinement or free range and are a great back yard chicken.
This chicken originated in the county of Sussex and is a very old English breed. The Sussex is a very gentle and colorful bird. This variety of the Sussex breed makes for a good backyard chicken and dual purpose for meat or egg production. This bird is a very good layer and handles confinement well. Their speckled coloring makes them blend in with the background and camouflages them from predators such as coyotes, and foxes. They molt each year and more speckles appear so they become even more colorful the older they get.
White Leghorns are good layers of white eggs, laying an average of 280 per year and sometimes reaching 300–320. They have originations from Italy, Denmark, and England. This breed is very athletic, hardy, non-sitters and lay very nice large/extra large white eggs. They have a good feed-to-egg conversion ratio, needing around 125 grams per day of feed. This chicken breed is great for free range chicken farming or organic free range chicken eggs. Leghorns rarely exhibit broodiness and are thus well suited for uninterrupted egg laying. The Leghorn is a light breed that matures quickly and is not considered a viable meat producer. Leghorns are active and efficient foragers and are one of the best for free range chickens that can avoid predators. They typically avoid human contact and tend to be nervous and flighty.
The White Plymouth Rock Chicken is a good dual purpose chicken, a good pet chicken, a member of the Plymouth Rock family and known by their short name as a white rock chicken. They lay large to extra large brown eggs and the cockerels make very good fryers. White Rocks hens have similar characteristics as the Barred Rocks, except they are pure white in color. As chicks however the chick fuzz can be white to all shades of dark smoky color turning to white feathers as new juvenile feathers emerge. They are graceful, inquisitive, friendly and easy to manage. White Rocks hens are not as popular as the barred rocks, they have soft feathers and a dawn like undercoat, making them very cold hardy. White rock hens start laying eggs on average at about 5 months after hatching and are among some earliest maturing laying hens.
White Silkie Bantam
A miniature sized chicken known for their nearly black skin, turquoise ear lobes, hair like feathering and fifth toe. They are credited to origination from Japan and China. They are kid friendly, good mothers and one of the most popular breeds at poultry shows. They are extremely broody and are often used to raise chicks of another breed that is not broody. They make excellent pets and backyard chickens as they take confinement well.