Some Feathery Advice

When I have friends that decide to start their own backyard flock generally the first questions I get are about what kind of chickens to get. I feel bad anytime someone asks me this questions because it’s like my backyard – too many layers. Depending on your intentions with the birds and how many you plan on getting there are a ton of different breeds that would fit all sorts of needs. So if you or someone you know is trying to decide on breeds, whether they’re just getting started, or wanting to expand their flock, the most important question to ask is:

Why are you getting chickens? For eggs? For meat? For pets/fun/decoration? Or even for pest control?

I will lay out some breeds that I have found that were wonderful for each category. That is not to say if you don’t see a breed on this list that they aren’t great birds! If you have any questions on certain breeds feel free to comment below or send me a message and I’ll do my best to help. So let’s get started! In this post I will be posting my favorite layers!

The Egg-cellent Layers

Fun fact: the color of a chicken’s earlobe decides the color egg it will lay! White lobes=white egg, Red lobe=colored eggs

Leghorns

Lays large white eggs

The number one layer is the Leghorn. Made famous by the cartoon Foghorn Leghorn, these Italy-natives churn out eggs like you would not believe. They average over 300 eggs a year and these are generally the layers of the store-bought eggs. While they may be pretty tiny in size, the tiny body, and broad backside actually help them lay more efficiently! If you’re egg-a-day kind of gal this is the go-to for you. In my experience, this breed has been more flighty than friendly to me, but we had a professional relationship and they seemed to want to leave it at that.

Buff Orpingtons

Lays large brown eggs

I cannot say enough good things about this breed. I had a handful of these growing up and I love love love them! I, unfortunately, only have one of the original seven left; however, she is still laying at seven years of age (eight in august!) despite her worsening arthritis.  These are dual purpose chickens (this means that they are good for both eggs and meat) and they are great family pets! They have a sweet, non-aggressive temperament and get along well with most other chickens. My buffs were horrified of my dogs, though; they can scare very easily. Unfortunately, the easy-going temperament carries into the roosters as well so if you’re looking for a protector for your flock, I would look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a handsome boy to serve as your alarm clock but not much else, this is your guy! They are a hardy bird and stand up well in hot and cold weather. I highly recommend these sweethearts! They’ll churn out between 180-260 eggs a year for you!

Rhode Island Red (RIR)

Lays large brown eggs

This breed is near and dear to my heart. My first chicken love was a RIR named Runt and she would follow my father around the yard while he was gardening because she knew digging meant worms! The great thing about these birds is their sweet temperament. These are great pets. From my experience, they do not need a whole lot of room to be happy so if you’re the kind of person that is only looking to keep 3-5 chickens in their yard these might be a safe bet for you. They will lay you upwards of 260-300 (if you’re sweet to them) and they hold up well in the heat and cold. Summers here can reach up to 102 degrees and as low as 18 degrees and they did just fine.

Plymouth Rock Chicken (Barred Rock)

Lays large brown eggs

If you’re the kind of owner that likes to name each and every pet and refer to them by name, I would not suggest getting a full flock of these. They are impossible to tell apart! We had 10 of these and I named them all Clarence (they were collectively the “Clarences” or “Clari”). Besides their physical similarities in appearance, they do like to hang together too. This is another very sweet breed and they will lay upwards pg 280-300+ eggs a year! They are hardy birds, especially being bred in the Massachusetts area they are great in the cold and they survive the east coast heat pretty well but a chilled tomato and yogurt always helped! These chickens would be best suited for someone who is looking for a lot of, and reliable, egg production and friendly birds. These birds do get curious and peck and around and will follow you around. So these are not good birds to be running around your flower gardens!

Black Star Chicken (sex-linked)

Lays large brown eggs

These pretty little birds are one of my top 5 favorite chickens of all time. We had a Black Start that lived to be 9.5 years old. She was always very sweet and never really went broody. I noticed Sex-Linked chickens don’t go broody often so if you don’t want another monthly distraught daughter, these are a great choice. These are extremely hardy birds. We had a black star that had a leg removed by a raccoon and we were able to reach that leg and she did not even limp! They will lay you 260+ eggs every year. Of this list, these are probably the most beautiful birds. They have beautiful golden hackle feathers.

IMG_6310

Here is Egypt, the wonderful Black Start that was family for over nine years, gave us countless eggs, and had her leg re-attached.

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