Choosing a breed of backyard chickens

Jul 15 08:33 2011 Kerry Mundt Print This Article

This article provides information to help would-be chicken owners decide which breed of chicken is best for their backyard coop. As breeds of chicken vary in terms of egg size, egg quantity, broodiness, prettiness and friendliness it can be difficult to decide on a particular breed when trying to choose from hundreds of breeds available.

If you're thinking about getting backyard chickens,Guest Posting you're probably wondering which breed is best for your backyard. As there are hundreds of breeds of chickens to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming when deciding on a particular breed.

Chickens vary in lots of different ways including bodily size, colour of their feathers, extent of feathers, comb type and egg colour. Breeds of chicken also vary in terms of their main use. Some breeds are best known for eggs, others for their meat, some are more for 'decorative' purposes, and some are considered 'multi-purpose'.

In order to determine which breed is best for your situation, this article addresses some of the most common qualities that owners look for in their new backyard pets.

1. Egg size - do you want full size eggs for cooking or are you content with a smaller sized egg?

2. Number of eggs per year - some breeds produce more eggs on average in a year.

3. Mother hens - certain breeds are more likely to go broody and sit on eggs.

4. Family friendly, docile chickens - will your chickens also be pets for your family?

5. Standard breeds versus unusual/ decorative chickens.

Good Egg Size

A major difference between standard and miniature (or bantam) chickens is the size of the egg they produce. An egg laid by a bantam chicken is around a half to a third the size of an average egg from a full sized chicken. Bantams also produce fewer of these smaller eggs in a year. For example, the Isa Brown breed of chicken will produce approximately 260 eggs per year, compared with only 150 small eggs from various breeds of bantam chickens. So if eggs are important to you, it's wise to choose a full standard sized hen.

Number of Eggs

Different breeds of chickens also seem to be able to produce more eggs than others. As mentioned, the commercial hybrid 'Isa Brown' tends to lay more eggs per year compared with other breeds of chicken. Isa Browns will lay approximately 260 eggs per year, compared with 250 eggs from the Black Australorp and around 200 from the Rhode Island Red. White leghorns are also a good higher volume layer laying approximately 195 eggs per year.

Good Breeds for Hatching Chicks

From time to time chickens go broody or 'clucky' meaning that they tend to sit on their eggs in the hope that they'll hatch into chicks. Of course some poor chickens still do this even though they do not have a rooster in their pen to make fertilization possible. When the chickens go broody they will stop laying new eggs and sit on their eggs, or whatever eggs they can find, for up to a month. If a chicken actually sits on fertilized eggs, they have the potential to hatch into chicks after 21 days.

Often bantam breeds such as 'Silkies' regularly go broody, so these are a good choice if you have a rooster want some hens to do the sitting. Other breeds such as Rhode Island Reds or Australorps have had their broody instincts bred out of them, so you have a chicken focused on laying eggs rather than sitting on them. If you decide down the track that you would like to hatch some chicks, purchasing some fertilized eggs and hiring an incubator may be the way to go, because it is unlikely these 'unbroody' breeds will get broody just when you need them to.

Family Friendly Chickens

If you've got children or want to interact more with your chickens, you might like to choose a breed of chicken that does not mind being picked up and cuddled. If you're not too fussed about getting eggs and want the chickens more as pets, then various bantam breeds might a good decision.

'Frizzles' are unusual but attractive looking bantams that have curly feathers that point upwards instead of sitting flat against the body. 'Pekin' is another popular breed of bantam that simply looks like a ball of feathers. They even have feathers on their legs and feet. Both Silkies and Pekins are very placid creatures and are excellent pets for children. Like many bantam breeds, Silkies are great broody hens.

If you want a breed of chicken that is a great layer and also good with children, Australorps are a good choice. These chickens are black in colour with a beetle green sheen to their feathers. They are great with children and other pets and lay a good number of eggs throughout the year.

Standard chickens or unusual chickens?

The choice between getting standard sized, common chicken (such as an Australorp, Isa Brown or Rhode Island Red) or a more unusual breed still comes back to the issue of egg quantity. If you primarily want a chicken that can produce a reasonable sized egg with a good number of eggs per year, it is most likley best to stay with the most common standard-sized breeds. If not, then there are many beautiful breeds to choose from! For something different there are even breeds such as the Araucana that lay pretty blue/ green eggs! You could even get a mix of different standard breeds: some orange, some black and some white just to make your backyard chicken coop look that bit more interesting!

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Kerry Mundt
Kerry Mundt

If you're after a chicken coop that is well made, looks great and is value for money, have a look at Royal Rooster's Australian-made quality chicken coops.

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