What is Your Favorite Backyard Chicken Breed?

| 4/3/2009 3:40:03 PM

Tags: poultry, chickens, backyard chickens,

Backyard Chickens


There are chickens and then there are CHICKENS! The modern factory-farmed chicken breed is a Leghorn. That breed’s ability to become broody and set a clutch of eggs to hatching stage has just about been bred out of them. Chickens that are hatched in incubators, as factory-farmed chickens are, do not need to know how to incubate and care for a brood of chicks.

However, most of the heritage breeds of chickens, those breeds that have been successful free rangers for generations, make great moms. There are also some poultry breeds that produce a slightly higher egg count per year, those that are easier to tame and others that seem to be especially good alarmists when danger approaches.

If you are keeping a small flock of chickens in your backyard or on a small acreage, tell us which breeds you have come to admire and why, in the comments section below.


9/21/2015 9:01:42 AM

I am a relatively new Chicken Mom here in Central CT. My laying flock has one each of the following: Silver Laced Wyandotte, Gold Laced Wyandotte, Columbian Wyandotte, Jersey Giant, Dominique, RIR, Red Sex Link (AKA Red Star or Golden Comet), Partridge Plymouth Rock, Buff Orpington and two Easter Egger crossbreeds. I bought all but the Easter Eggers at our local feed store. I have been looking and looking for a Crested Cream Legbar or a purebred Ameraucana, but so far haven't found any started pullets yet. Most of my girls are friendly to the point of being really underfoot! I am hard pressed to choose a favorite in terms of looks, since they all have beautiful plumage and coloring. I think the most friendly ones are the Buff Orp, the RIR, and the Red Sex Link. Sorry! That's Omelet, Cinnamon, and Estelle, respectively.

cindy barton
5/12/2012 3:46:29 AM

We are about to be chicken owners! We are getting some Silkies and some Mille Fluers. We can't wait.

leslie schwindt
3/5/2012 3:42:35 AM

I have bred and raised barred rocks for several years. I have had as many as 90 laying hens along with 11 roosters and as few as 15 hens/ 2 roosters. I love them! They are usually well manered, do well in hot & cold climates, awesome brown egg layers and tend to be semi-broody however, I do not usually let them sit. I have hand raised all the chickens that I have, so mine tend to be friendly towards people- I can not speak for ones that are not closely reared by someone though. I would not have any other breed to keep around full time- I am partial to the Barred Rocks! :)

8/23/2011 3:09:06 PM

I have 3 Ameraucana's, 1 hen 2 roosters, they are my favorite breed! When I hold one of my roosters, he just closes his eyes, relaxes and lies down on my lap. If I ever had a choice to get any more chickens, it would be the Ameraucana!

ellen walter
2/12/2011 5:07:16 PM

I have kept chickens for about 6 yrs. I use an old sheep? barn as a coop, but all of the chickens free range extensively. I have had roosters, but I couldn't stand for the way they defeathered the girl's backs and basically harassed them. So, no more. I like the Rhode Island Reds because they are plucky and curious and good layers. Also, I am fond of my auracanas- beautiful blue or green eggs. Auracanas can be a bit put-offish, but this current group is friendlier- no doubt because I fed them by hand and held them a lot as they were growing! A lot of the other commenters here are speaking highly of the Buffs, so I am thinking they might have to be my next breed to try!

brenda harvey
1/27/2011 4:51:47 PM

Hi everyone. I have a back yard farm and I love my hens. My best producers are the Americana which lays a pale green large egg with deep orange yolk; and the barred rock, which lays a large brown egg. We had about ten hens starting out, and raised several groups of chicks. We had gotten up to 30 laying hens when a pair of hawks started devouring them. We were down to 2 hens and finally put up a roof of fencing material to protect them at night. The hawks were coming into the pen to kill and eat the birds. During the day, they run loose to eat grass and seeds. We now have seven hens and are in the process of adding more. We also have 2 guineas and a tom turkey and three ducks. I love my animals.

1/18/2011 12:35:23 PM

Amazing and entertaining info for a soon to be chicken keeper! Thanks

12/28/2010 1:40:02 PM

We have 2 Rhode Island Reds and 2 Barred Rock hens. Both breeds are pretty consistant layers. The Barred rocks are a bit bigger bird if meat is a consideration, but I'd say the RIRs lay bigger eggs. I free range my girls and loved the comment about "Raymond" the rooster warning the girls of trouble. I've been avoiding roosters due to the noise, but might reconsider when I expand the flock. Love the comments!!!

7/3/2010 6:54:51 AM

I have 2 Buffs and 2 Black Australorps and they are both great breeds. Im avg 3 eggs a day between the 4 birds (they just started laying about 3 weeks ago).

joy shepard_2
2/28/2010 4:08:32 PM

My family's favorite are the American Production Reds. I hand raised them and they are really sweet. One, "baby" would sit on my shoulder when she was younger and now just follows us wherever we go. I have 4 and all of them see me as their mommy.

frankie odom
2/24/2010 11:35:31 AM

I an a chicken addict. I now have 52 chickens including the six just hatched by a Silkie and the 8 I hatched in the incubator. I started out with the Barred Rock and then got a few Easter Egg chickens. Then bought a couple Silkies. I recently bought Jersey Giants and a white rooster and hen. I liked buying the chicks (better price than adults) and buying on Craigslist means I get to see how the chicks were raised. By going to the seller's home, it gave me a chance to check out cleanliness/health issues and get ideas about how to set up my chicken yard/houses. My chickens are free range but they are in separate chicken yards based on their breed for hatching purposes. I also read you shouldn't have more than 30 chickens in a yard because it causes confusion with the pecking order. I guess my favorite chicken is the Silkie. Great moms and I like smaller chickens. But the Easter Egg chickens intrigue me and I am hatching out as many of them as possible. I also think they are probably better sellers in my area.

2/20/2010 9:35:36 AM

I live in southern Missouri and the first chickens I had were Buff Orphington-twelve hens and one rooster. Then we got RIReds. Both breeds were friendly, hardy, and easy to keep, but the Buffs were my fav. "Raymond" was the most protective fellow, keeping watch all the time. It was amazing when any danger came, he would give a certain sound, and in an instant every chicken would disappear! And the girls would not come out of hiding until Raymond 'told' them it was ok. So cool! The Buffs were as good at laying as the Reds, and being a heavier breed, made great meat chickens. They were also fabulous mothers. My chickens were free range, with kitchen scraps and extra goat milk on the side. The first time my mom came for a visit, I made egg salad for lunch. She looked at it and said "Ewww! What's wrong with this stuff!? Why is it so dark?" Ha Ha! My eggyolks were bright orange, and she was used to the pale, sickly color of store-bought eggs. Too funny. Geez, I miss having chickens!

2/18/2010 8:45:44 PM

I think our red speckled sussex is one of the best backyard breeds - good egg layers, meat birds, docile and good looking birds as a bonus. As far as a "pet chicken", our buff laced polish are the most adored and loved.

bruce westendorf
2/18/2010 8:05:10 PM

I have 6 breeds, the ISA and Black Shaver Sex Links are equal in egg laying (large, brown, and many), the ISA is my pick because they are friendly. Type both into your search engine and you should be able to find out where to get them. I will give a hint. Even though I now raise in South Carolina, I ordered YANKEE chickens.

debbi huskie
2/18/2010 3:56:09 PM

We love the couchins, very easy for my daughter to hold, pet and love. Bantams and Polish were a few of our favorites too....we had many different kinds for the beautiful eggs. I loved raising chickens.

2/18/2010 3:54:43 PM

I live in western Massachusetts and the hens I currently have include 3 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Rhode Island Reds, a Black Australorp, an Americana, a Silver-Laced Wyandotte, a Maran, and a Black Star. I also have a Black Australorp rooster. I will be hatching White Leghorns with my class in March and will be receiving an order of meat birds in the begginning of April.

tina hoak
2/18/2010 10:24:20 AM

I live in a zone 6, Upstate NY. I have had many breeds over the last 4 years. Currently I have: 3 Black Austrolorps, 2 Buff Orpingtons,2 Barred Rocks, a Red Star, 4 Cochins of various colors plus a Cochin rooster, 4 Americunas, 2 Salmon Favorellas , and 2 Speckled Sussex . I am awaiting my spring order of meat birds which will include 4 new girls to add to my "pets": 2 Light Brahmas and 2 black Silkies. The Silkies will be my first Bantams, I anticipate having to make them their own little coop/run. I have also had in the past Sliver laced Wyndottes( sp?) and Delawares. All the breeds I have now are friendly . All except the red star like to be held by me. The 2 "past breeds" I gave away, as to me they weren't friendly enough. I give extra eggs to my neighbors and co-workers. I like the idea someone had about the food bank/shelter but don't they worry about how you have stored them / possible salmonella ? How does that work ? I would be willing to do that with some of my extras. I just truly enjoy my girls . I have had so many laughs raising them !

2/17/2010 10:54:12 PM

I have a mix, 6leghorns, 2RI Reds, My roosters were given to me. So what they are I'm not sure. I have off springs from last yr. But I'm getting eggs aplenty. So with the extra eggs I take them down to the food bank to help out other people. I've been at this for 2yrs., and have learned every step of the way. But I'm have a ball with my girls.!!! One loves to jump on my back and walk around with me. LOL.

carol jackson_2
2/17/2010 10:38:20 PM

We think black Austalorps are great. They are very calm, including our rooster.

2/17/2010 6:10:58 PM

I have raised many chickens and find the Leghorns and Araconas to be the best layers but they are not that friendly. Rhode Island Reds are good layers and very docile. I also currrently have Orps and Wyandottes and a Leghorn rooster. The rooster is agressive and if I didn't enjoy hearing him crow in the morning, he would probably be gone. I have many more eggs than my wife and I can eat (currently I have 5 laying hens giving 4-6 eggs per day in winter) and enjoy treating my friends and family to farm fresh eggs. If your new to chickens, your biggest problem will be predators. After all, everyone loves chicken!

stacy lawrence_1
2/17/2010 5:47:03 PM

We have a 34 acre farm and we love are chickens. We have 25 red star sex link hens and 4 roosters, 4 rhode island red hens and 1 rooster, 15 buff orpington hens, 4 white leghorn hens, 5 ameraucana hens and 4 rossters and we plan to have alot more of thses, 1 speckled sussex hen, 1 pheonix and plan to get more, and 15 we have no clue what they are. Our chickens are so tame and love for us to pet them and they look so nice in the yard as they are free ranged.

2/17/2010 5:00:23 PM

In Easley SC we enjoy the following pullets and hens: 5 Columbian Wyandotte 5 Jersey Giants 5 Red Star Sex Link 8 Barred Rock

deb bicher_2
2/17/2010 4:29:11 PM

We live on 1/2 acre in a suburban setting. I agree with Terry Verstuyft, above, that Buff Brahmas are wonderful, friendly birds. We lost all our smaller banties and aracuanas to local cats, so looked online for the biggest birds we could find and the Buff Brahmas fit the bill. We chose them the chicken book we had (Chickens in Your Backyard, by the Luttmans, listed above) called them the "petting chickens." Kind of like having a golden lab transformed into a hen! They are big, though, and the one rooster we had was a handful once puberty hit -- this from a chick I had raised from an egg! No respect -- we kept the 'rooster rake' by the back door to shoo him off when we went outside. He was a great protector though -- he terrorized any dog that came into the area and fought off the hawks, although it would have taken a condor to lift one of those hens. The hens were good layers, easy to pick up, gentle with the neighborhood kids and would run to jump into my husband's lap when they heard his VW pull into the driveway! I could go on and on, but will end with saying that our Buff Brahmas were the best chickens we ever had -- did I mention they are beautiful and hardy too?

2/17/2010 4:05:03 PM

I love reading about other chicken lovers experiences. I have 2 Rhode Island Red hens, they are little jewels, named Ruby and Pearl. They always run up to greet me and sit at my feet until I pet them. They have been a joy to my whole family. My grandkids love to gather the eggs and help them dig for worms. When you go outside they think you have come just for their entertainment. I will always have chickens in my family.

f.frances fabrega brevis-martinez
2/17/2010 3:49:28 PM

We have Araucana hens and roosters and will be hatching eggs this Spring..I grew up with them as as child in Chile..These hardy primitive breed does excellent in any climate and are great egg layers too. They are easy to care for and very intelligent too....we live in the country with Shetland sheep, Chielan llamas, Araucana chickens and 4 Plymouth black barb hens,cats, dogs and Nigerian Dwarf goats....all farm stock are all primitive breeds and are very hardy to maintain..

2/17/2010 3:13:30 PM

I live in the city so I am restricted to having only a few hens. My favorite girl is my Turken, she is tough, lays great and has a great personality. Friends and neighbors come over just to see her.

terry verstuyft
2/17/2010 1:21:41 PM

Hello All, it's great to hear from so many Chicken people. I have loved chickens since an early age but just started a flock about 2 years ago. my first was a flock of 11 chickens. 10 Buff Brahmas and 1 Buff Brahma rooster. They were excellent layers and mamas as well as extremely calm. unfortunately a bobcat got in and killed all of them. now i have ordered and recieved 25 hens and 2 roosters of the Silver Laced Wyandottes from Murry McMurray hatchery. I live in LLano Texas and i recieved them in one day and all are thriving.i havent lost a single chick. they are now 18 days old and starting to get their feathers. i prefer any brown egg layer and these fit the bill as did my Brahmas. the brahmas were a very large bird.the wyandottes are a very old breed. and quite beautiful. i cant wait to get my first eggs from this batch.

2/17/2010 12:53:17 PM

I live in Mid-Michigan and have a small flock of Silkie Bantams that I've been adding to for the past 4-5 years. I chose the Silkies because of their docile, almost pet-quality temperament as well as their adorable looks. They are an extremely hardy bird and wonderful Mothers. They will even share egg-sitting duty when brooding. I've hatched their eggs in an incubator as well as allowed them to sit. I've had great success with their fertility and viability of healthy chicks! I highly recommend them to any novice poulty enthusiast!

2/17/2010 12:36:27 PM

I love love bantams-we have dutch and dominiques. And we have a pair of couchins. Total of about 16 chickens. They have done very well in this tough winter and have kept up with their laying their medium yummy eggs. The roosters are well behaved and I have a simple shed type coop that I line with cedar chips for keeping bugs and smells at bay-we change out about twice a year-composting it. There is a small yarn attached-but the chickens have run of the backyard-keeping my garden beds tilled and go into the goat paddock to clean after them and hang out by the barn. These chickens are small enough not to damage plants in the garden.

tiffany prather_1
2/17/2010 12:34:03 PM

Hello All. very nice to hear of so many successes with these wonderful breeds. I thought I'd add my own that I raised last. They were a pretty bird called a Speckled Sussex. They're a dual purpose, with nice brown eggs, and incredible black, red, white and mallard green spots on their plumage. Gorgeous shining in the sun! The girls are extremely friendly, though chatty, and they do go broody. The males were too protective for my liking (sneakin' up behind me whenever they could!), but were great in the Rockies where we have every sort of predator coming around. They were also great in the oven! They were coyote smart, and even though they were allowed to run free all day, they would come back in the evening and I could close the gate for the night. The old girls are five years old now, and still laying! Albeit not too regularly. I would definitely raise them again.

2/17/2010 11:08:55 AM

Just moved to the country 3 years ago. Have built a chicken coop and want raise about adozen or more chickens. Have decided on Buff Orphingtons. Can't wait for spring when they arrive, till then we have 3 Peking ducks living in the coop. Anything that I shoud know about the chickens before I get them? Kathy

2/17/2010 10:38:04 AM

I have magpie hens which are maran cross and very resplendent. They also give wonderful large, sometimes speckled eggs all year round! The other hens I have are bluebells which are also very reliable layers all year and start laying early, they give light coloured smaller eggs and are a wonderful blue-grey colour. Both are very friendly breeds and happy to be picked up, they are also very hardy, despite the local foxes trying their luck! Another wonderful little hen I had, but sadly lost last year was a silverlink. Very friendly little hen and reliably laid huge eggs!

jamie k._1
2/17/2010 10:18:38 AM

Part 3 - if you go with any of the dual purpose, large heritage breeds, the culled roosters and old hens still make excellent tasty shredded chicken and broth! Get a HERITAGE breed and save our history. :) I am trying Buff Chanteclers this year - Canada's only chicken breed. Should do well in my cold weather. The "deep litter" method has worked well in keeping the unheated coop warm.

jamie k._1
2/17/2010 9:55:11 AM

Part 1 - Breeds I have had good luck with in a free-range, cold weather system: Ameracaunas (love the robin blue eggs, good mothers), Gold-Laced & Silver-Laced Wyandottes, Buff Orpingtons (gentle, good mothers), Black Jersey Giants, Welsummers (love the dark brown eggs), Black Australorps (gentle, good mothers). All have survived down to -30 in an unheated coop, and lay most of the winter. Barred Rocks are good starter chickens - lay well, gentle, hardy, and good mothers. I am just not fond of the barred color pattern.

2/17/2010 9:39:34 AM

I am back to raising chickens after 30 yrs. My favorite are the Americanas,Rhode Island reds and Banties. I can watch them for hours they are so funny. My husband built a movable hen house and we have 5 acres but they stay close to our house for some reason so we are going to have to fence it off. Having the fresh orange yellow eggs is great. We feed organic layer and they get whatever when they are out. We have 25 now and I want to get 25 more. I am selling the extra to market and friends.

2/17/2010 9:30:32 AM

I hatched the Continental Breed Salmon Faverolle last June. They are the best!! My birds are winter hardy, friendly, and dual purpose. I currently have 6 French Hens and one very gorgeous rooster. We had three other roosters that "had to go". They were delicious! I get 1-5 eggs a day even in the winter. The egg size is large and a very beautiful light salmon in color. I currently have 23 Faverolle eggs in my "egger" for this years expansionof my flock. The breed is an exceptional winter hardy breed and highly recommended.

jamie k._1
2/17/2010 9:20:07 AM

Part 2 - of all the breeds mentioned in my previous post, the roosters have been non-agressive to people, yet good defenders of the flock from predators. They do not harm or chase the chicks. The Barnevelders I am getting are supposed to have roosters that actually take care of the chicks! Breeds I do not like: Rhode Island Red - agressive, noisy, flightly. Golden Comets - although lay alot of eggs, not as hardy in free-range/cold conditions, also nervous around people. Barred Rocks are good beginner chickens - dependable layers, good mothers, hardy. I just don't liked the barred coloring.

angel silverleaf_4
2/17/2010 9:15:34 AM

I am raising Rhode Island Reds and Easter Eggers... I have 18 hens and 3 Roosters... I usually get 12-18 eggs daily!!! and it is winter outside! I love my Easter Eggers with their green and blue eggs... they are a very gentle breed... My Rhode Island Red Roosters are aggressive... and sometimes attack me :-) I feed them Layena and they get spinach, mustard greens, sunflower hearts and no waste bird seeds for treats and red grapes which they love... They are very loved and spoiled chickens!

2/17/2010 9:13:50 AM

I have been keeping chickens since last spring and have learned a lot from my 3 hens. One is a Golden Comet (a hybird) and the other two are heirloom breeds (a Silver Maran and a gorgeous Wellsummer). Of the three, the Comet is definitely the most productive (always a jumbo egg per day even in the dead of winter). The Comet also is the calmest and friendliest of the three. The Wellsummer also lays consistently and is very chatty. The Maran (as far as we can tell) has NEVER laid an egg. Fortunately these are pets so we won't eat the Maran! My family thought I was nuts to get chickens. They thought it was weird to keep chickens. Now my kids love the girls and enjoy showing them off to their playmates. Wish I had the room to get pygmy goats -- they are so cute!

2/17/2010 9:10:48 AM

Cockoo Marans are my favorite. They're pretty, hardy, not flightly, good egglayers (big, dark eggs!) and they are broody enough to hatch their own babies and take good care of them but not so broody that they can't just lay eggs most of the time!

robert johnson_1
2/17/2010 8:25:50 AM

Howdy from the Texas Panhandle We have Denzli long crowers. They pretty well feed themselves covering our whole ten acres everyday. Pretty fair layers, they go back to the chicken house to lay and sleep on their own. We just gather eggs and shut the door at night. The Roosters sing their long crow song all day.

jennifer davenport_2
2/15/2010 4:07:29 PM

I have raised silver-laced wyandottes with good success. They usually laid 6 eggs a week, and I didn't lose any hens to predators until the power went out on the electric fence. I only lost 1 hen. The roosters were slightly aggressive to strangers, but I believe they protected the hens by herding them inside at nght and keeping watch for predators. I do believe the coop should have a little insulation in the ceiling, but it cannot be anything that collects moisture. foil insulation with an air gap works well. Be sure to cover this insulation with 1/4" plywood. The insulation is more for the summer than the winter. In Ohio we have cold winters and hot summers, the summers are harder on the chickens.

2/7/2010 11:00:22 PM

I love Cochins, one entered in a photo contest here:(currently on page 10, goes up with more new entries) here (I have bookmarked the link on my PC for my convenience) Contest Name: 2011 Ford Fiesta Giveaway Contest URL: http://uniontrib.upickem.net/engine/Welcome.aspx?contestid=12876 Would appreciate some votes on the one and only chicken in the contest.

penny howe
1/31/2010 1:20:08 PM

I have Black Astralorps and black Sexlinks...they seem to do really well in the cold and wet Northwest...lots of eggs and very hardy hens...Also have a few Magpie Ducks and they lay lots of big light green eggs

deborah mar
9/5/2009 8:42:37 AM

We are new backyard chicken owners and have a flock of about 20 girls of assorted backgrounds including 5 that are banty mixes, 1 silver speckled Polish Roo, and 2 Ameraucanas. We love the Ameraucanas-they are so friendly and they follow you around the pen like little dogs. Ramon, our Polish is my husband's favorite. Ramon dances for his girls and stands on his tippy toes so that we can hear his crow better.

sandra baird
8/19/2009 12:43:50 PM

Another thought or two. DO NOT INSULATE . You will be inviting every mouse in the county. I started out that way and learned a lesson. Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms.com, makes the point that a "too-warm" chicken is a damp chicken in damp bedding and more apt to get diseases and/or parasites. My chickens now sleep in shed-type enclosures all winter, they are dry, with wind protection, predator protection, but no heating. He recommends a big pile of hay that you turn/fluff-over every couple of days. I have done this for several years and it works great. I use diatomaceaous(?) earth in a flour sifter in the nest boxes, and I hold each hen by her heels and dust into her feathers every once in a while, for parasites. My chickens free-range and eat (about) 99% organic. I add organic treats from the health food store of brown flax seed, alfalfa meal and kelp meal, in small amounts, to my table scraps. All the egg yolks are WAY orange. I vowed, after tasting the 51 rock/crosses that I raised for butcher (bland), that I would use only slow-food chickens (dual-purpose breeds) from now on. They are much tastier in my opinion. I probably have 10 roosters right now, from the straight-run picks at the farm store, and have to reduce down to 3 or 4, but those of you who live in the city, just get hens. You will still get as many eggs. I happen to like waking to the roosters trying to out-do each other. I have some friends who wanted eggs, so they buy their chickens from me and I keep their chickens for them and give them their eggs. KISS

sandra baird
8/19/2009 11:56:32 AM

I live in Zone 3 at 6500' altitude. We stay away from the skinny/hyper mediterranian breeds (large freezable combs). Our flock consists of heavy bodied, small/tight comb breeds. I am staying with heritage breeds and bantams. We provide weather shelter and add a 100 watt light on a timer from early morning until the sun comes up (to equal 14 hours of light) in fall, winter and spring. This light keeps laying as high as it can be in the winter. Don't try an energy-saver light bulb on this project, and don't add the light at night. The chickens will be caught off the roost by the timer. I use game bird feed now, since we also have ducks geese and turkeys and haven't had any picking since I started with that, but I have several quick and easy tips for chickens. If chicks are picking at each other, throw a hand-full of table salt into their water and make sure your heat lamp is red. I add small branches and wiffle golf balls to keep them busy. Isolate any picked chicks, even from each other. I don't lose many chicks. I bought 51 rock/crosses and butchered 51 at 6 weeks. (no food after 5 pm)

6/28/2009 8:12:42 PM

I am planning to raise a few hens next year and have been trying to decide which breed to get. Would it be okay to have each one a different breed or should I get them all the same breed?

6/22/2009 2:28:03 AM

I'm living in chilly NY and planning on getting my first chickens. Very exciting! Just wondering what your favorite cold-tolerant breeds are. And any techniques to keep chickens warm? I plan on insulating the coop as much as possible... I've heard about heat-lamp use. That seems a little dangerous to me. Any insights? Thanks all!

5/27/2009 1:04:05 PM

I've raised "backyard" birds for a number of years and currently have two flocks of layers. While I enjoy many different breeds, I really like the Rocks, paricularly Barred and Partridge Rocks, and Buckeyes. Rocks are great dual-purpose birds and do well in most keeping situations. I also find them to have mellow personalities and are easy to handle (if you put some time in). Buckeyes are probably my favorite breed. I know they are a rare breed and that can mean that they are harder to obtain, but I really like the Bucks. They are also great dual-purpose birds. I live in WI and we have cold winters, but the Buckeyes are built for it and don't seem to mind. They keep right on laying.

marlys delaney_1
5/3/2009 4:10:12 PM

We started a backyard flock of 10 last year and have loved our Black and Red Stars. They are cold tolerant, docile with the kids, friendly, and lay wonderful eggs. I do not find the eggs smaller than any others and several of our girls lay huge, doulbe yolkers frequently. We loved dealing with mypetchicken.com and our chicks arrived happy and healthy! We are going to add some more next spring!

josie elmstrom
4/22/2009 10:43:17 AM

My mom has the best "bannys" around! These little guys are prolific breeders and layers and she doesn't do a darn thing for them. They drink out of the dog's bowl and scrounge around for bugs, worms, and fermented fallen fruit. The only "chicken feed" they get are the fruit and vegetable scraps she throws out there. I've never seen hens fight over banana peelings like these ones do. There's no coop either. The roosters fly up into the trees and the hens with their chicks either kick the dog out of his house or sleep in the bushes. I didn't know chickens could fly so high until my son tried to catch a rooster (destined for the swap meet) and he flew OVER the house. I think she considers all these chickens a nuisance but they breed faster than she can get rid of them. Many times, we ate eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because there were so many. When I saw my mom's number on the caller ID, I knew it was to let me know she had more eggs. Anyone who wants more eggs than they know what to do with should get some little "bannys" and just throw them out there like my mom did.

4/20/2009 8:03:02 AM

I have 2 Dominiques, 2 Partridge Chantecler, 1 Barred Rock and 2 unknown donation birds. My birds free range by day and put themselves in the coop in the early evening. They follow my 3 yr old daughter around like puppies. The Barred Rock is the friendliest, she gets picked up and pet by everyone. Lots of eggs too!. The Doms are a close second. The Chanteclers are great forragers, with no comb to freeze, lay eggs well and are beautiful birds too. On second thought...I like them all!

4/20/2009 2:28:09 AM

I love my Delies (Delawares), they are they clowns of the yard, good layers summer and winter. I have many breeds, my Buffs are super sweet, I have one hen "Cuddles" that demands to be petted or allowed to perch on your leg. But I have my favorite Rooster "Frankie" a Lakenvelder about 3 years old, he's a gentlemen with all the girls, they eat first and if their is anything new to them he chortles and picks it up and drops it in front of them and very handsome. I now have 2 silver hens and one golden hen Lakenvelder, hoping to have little frankies.

erica maniez
4/19/2009 11:38:52 AM

My Black Star is my best layer -- 6 eggs a week, even thought winter. I have two Australorps; one lays almost daily and the other lays in fits and starts, but HUGE eggs. I also have an Ancona who is a reliable layer and very smart.

svaha storm
4/19/2009 9:00:05 AM

I have Siapan Jungle Fowl,with their large size (roosters to 3'tall and up to 20 Lbs) and they can intimidate many predators and are great when it comes to spotting danger from predators,I think it has something to do with their not being a domestic breed till after WWII when they were brought to the US by a service man stationed on the island.

george works
4/12/2009 7:26:58 AM

I live on St. Eustatius, a tiny Caribbean island settled by the Dutch in the 1600s. It's difficult to ship eggs or chicks here, but the island has plenty of wild chickens descended from those brought by the Dutch. Some seem to have interbred with guinea fowl along the way. I caught a dozen for my hen house and they lay plenty of medium eggs. Often one is broody. I find all the eggs under the broody one.

4/8/2009 2:27:43 PM

For attitude and egg laying, Buff Orpington and Buff, Light or Dark Brahmas are the best. I also love Wellsummers for a good dark egg and an exceptional free-ranger. The Orps and Brahmas tend to continue laying even in winter, so that you'll always have a few eggs coming in. For beauty, I love the Ameracauna (others may refer to as Aracauna). They come in so many different color combinations. Mottled black, brown, grey, gold, white have all graced my chicken yard. Also, these are the birds that lay green, blue & pink eggs. Pretty in your egg basket. For eating, I choose the Cornish Cross. These birds grow quickly (begin slaughtering at 6 weeks) and dress out at about 4lbs. Thick breast meat and VERY tasty. Beware, these are the brontosaurs of the bird world. Big, clunky, slow and dumb. They tend to have respiratory and leg problems (because of the quick growth and weight), so you need to be on the look out for mercy kills. Once they beging to struggle, it's best to slaughter, even when they're small they're good eating. This can be avoided by encouraging them to leave the coop at an early age... say 2 weeks.

vicki patton
4/7/2009 12:12:30 PM

I currently have Buff Orpington's, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks and a mix of Banty's with 1 Silver Wyndotte, Arucana, and Black Astrolope. The Buff's and the Rhode Island Reds are by far the calmest and carefree bird. They are on free range and they look for us to come out the front door and follow us around "talking" to us. They follow us through our chores and keep close by.They are good egg layers and good mothers. Several chickens go as far as to lay eggs at our front door and certainly let us know that they have presented us with a gift.

michelle johnson_2
4/7/2009 11:47:39 AM

I have had about 20 different breeds of chickens over the years. By far, my favorites have been my Buff Orpingtons. They are easy-going, healthy birds who are great around my kids and other animals. My least favorites were my Turkens. They tend to fight with other chickens and were often nasty around my kids. Not worth the trouble for me, but some people I know like them.

4/7/2009 11:20:07 AM

i'd be interested in hearing recommendations regarding best chicken breeds raised for eating.

4/6/2009 12:43:31 PM

I live in the city and keep 4 hens. I have a RIR, an EE, a Delaware, and a speckled sussex. My EE and my Delaware are m y best layers by far but the Delaware and the sussex are the most out going and will even sit in your lap.

robin bolton-wilson
4/6/2009 12:09:55 PM

I live in south central Alaska. I have 8 hens and 1 barred rock/araucona cross rooster. Very calm and a good daddy. 1 white orphington hen that is a good brooder, 2 barred rocks, 2 new hampshire, and 2 black australorps and 2 8 year old Wellsumers. The wellsumers are hardy but have never been consistant layers. All the others lay an egg a day. I love Delawares, smart and affectionate birds. I loose 1-2 birds a season to hawks.

4/5/2009 9:50:44 AM

I have had auracanas too - decent layers, but no personality. Thats no fun! I like "frizzles" far better. They are very small and look like they have a perm-gone-bad. It is so funny watching them jump around trying to catch a butterfly (mine never did).

sandra cieklinski
4/5/2009 8:50:18 AM

We love our Rhode island Reds here in Maine.They follow you around like puppies! We also had a triple yolker!

maria b.
4/4/2009 9:39:34 PM

Does anyone have any experience or information with getting your County to change their laws regarding livestock restrictions? My County (New Castle, DE) has a law that you cannot have livestock unless you have an acre of land. I live in a community, with .18 acreage. I would love to have a few chickens to provide fresh eggs. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

ben boyarko
4/4/2009 9:10:25 AM

the araucana and the turken are by far my favorite yard birds. the araucanas are so robust. they never seem to need as much food as the other breeds i have tried when they are allowed to range free. and the turkens are downright wily. they seem a little more aware than the average chicken. also they are very regular layers of large brown eggs. i once had a turken hen that fought off a raccoon, and got sliced open in the process, then healed perfectly over the next couple weeks, and we never saw the raccoon again.

deb pun discoe
4/4/2009 4:14:01 AM

Aloha from Hawaii! My favorite breeds my six huge, golden & tame Buff Orpington hens. I call them the "Golden Retriever or Golden Labs" of the chicken world because my hens cuddle into my lap after 3:30pm after a day's hard work. I ordered my flock from McMurray's in 2006 and discovered they are the most affectionate hens all around. My next favorite are the Plymouth Barred rocks. The hens are not as large as the Buffs, but they are quite affectionate. Visit our photo gallery here http://ahualoa.net/eggfarm/

barbara smith_5
4/3/2009 7:16:27 PM

I have the Black Star. If you are use to the Rhode Island size egg, you are going to be disappointed. Murray McMurray claims they are egg laying machines. They are don't lay any more than any other chicken and the eggs are pretty small. They are a sex-link chicken, not a heritage chicken. My favorite heritage chicken is the Barred Rock.

diane mccullough_2
4/3/2009 6:01:17 PM

When we lived in North Dakota we had many different chicken breeds from Arucana's to Rhode Island Reds and exotics like Polish. The combination we found the best was 1 Arucana rooster and the rest Rhode Island Red. The rooster was not only beautiful, he was the hardest worker I have ever seen. It was very interesting to see a rooster at work making sure he knew where his hens were at any given time. We had 16 acres and the birds were free range. We have now moved to Idaho and have just ordered 25 Black Stars. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, they're still babies. Diane McCullough in Idaho

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