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The Best Backyard Chicken Breeds for Kids

A whole new generation of youngsters is falling in love with flocks of fowl and is eager to learn more about keeping them healthy and happy.

| December 2015

  • The Australorp is curious, friendly, and outgoing.
    Photo by Sally Smith/Alamy ©
  • The Australorp has black feathers that shimmer iridescent green in the sun.
    Photo by Adam Mastoon ©
  • Brahma are friendly, not skittish, and trainable and are good birds for children to show.
    Photo by Simone Van Den Berg/Dreamstime ©
  • The Brahma have feathers on their feet.
    Photo by Adam Mastoon ©
  • The Plymouth Rocks are gentle creatures who do very well with people and get along with other pets.
    Photo by Amy Kerk/ ©
  • The Barred Rock, shown here, looks a little like a zebra with its black-and white striped feathers.
    Photo by Amy Kerk/ ©
  • The Buff Orpington is curious and incredibly lovable, and they enjoy being held.
    Photo by Amy Kerk/ ©
  • Originally from England, the Buff Orpington are large, friendly birds with golden feathers.
    Photo by Debbie Smirnoff/ ©
  • The Cochin can adapt to living in a coop for their entire life but also free-range well.
    Photo by Cheryl Barnaba ©
  • These fluffy-feathered Cochins even have feathered feet. Some have frizzled (curly) feathers.
    Photo by Adam Mastoon ©
  • Easter eggers' appearance can vary, but they carry a genetic trait that means their eggs can be tinted in hues of blue, green, olive, and pink.
    Photo by HedgehogWhisperer ©
  • Easter Eggers get their ability to lay colored eggs from either an Araucana or Ameraucana parent, but the other parent can be another breed.
    Photo by Mars Vilaubi ©
  • Faverolles are incredibly docile, making them particularly suitable for younger kids.
    Photo by Gerald Lacz/FLPA/Minden Pictures ©
  • The Faverolles stand out by having five toes instead of the usual four, fluffy cheek feathers (called muffs), and a feathered beard.
    Photo by Sarah Rowland/FLPA/Minden Pictures ©
  • The Polish is a friendly breed with an unusual look.
    Photo by Custom Life Science Images/Alamy ©
  • Some people say that the Polish's poufy head feathers can cause issues, such as problems with their vision and feather picking from the other hens. The feathers can be gently trimmed to help with vision, and if Polish chicks are raised with other breeds, problems usually don’t arise.
    Photo by Daydreams Girl/ ©
  • The Silkies are tiny, lightweight, and easy to handle, and they have a few unusual features.
    Photo by Wescott/ ©
  • The most noticeable feature of the Silkie is that their feathers, which come in many colors, are fluffy instead of smooth.
    Photo by Keller + Keller Photography ©
  • Chock-full of personality, the Wyandotte can be domineering and are typically the head hens in their flocks.
    Photo by Linda Steward/ ©
  • The Wyandotte come in many colors, but the Silver and Golden varieties are the most readily available. They have either a white or gold lacing pattern between the black on their feathers.
    Photo by Edward Westmacott/ ©
  • Chickens make wonderful pets, and Melissa Caughey provides all the information kids need to raise healthy chickens and have tons of fun doing it in "A Kid's Guide to Keeping Chickens."
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

Melissa Caughey, award-winning blogger and owner of Tilly’s Nest, makes it easy for kids to master the basics of chicken raising in her new book, A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens (Storey Publishing, 2015). The following excerpt is from Chapter 2, “Choosing the Best Chickens.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS STORE: A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens.

Here are the 10 chicken breeds that we have found work well for families and tend to be the most docile, friendliest birds. By no means does this list include all the possible breeds: There are hundreds of different ones out there! You can always do more research to find out about breeds that aren’t included here.


• This Australian breed has black feathers that shimmer iridescent green in the sun. As the birds age, sometimes the tips of their feathers become a bit speckled with brownish gray.

• These hens often establish themselves at the top of the flock.

• They are homebodies and handle confinement well.

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