Having chickens is one of the greatest things about my little farm. They are easy to care for, provide us with delicious fresh eggs, and have great personalities. So if you’re looking into getting chickens, here are some of the best chicken breeds for beginners.
Over the years I’ve had many different breeds of chickens and I have finally found my favorite breeds.
I went through a period of time where I had mean roosters and mean hens and so when it came time to get my new chicks I had specific guidelines.
I wanted them to be friendly, calm and docile, and good egg layers.
So I did my research and found all the breeds that were known to have those specific characteristics and I placed my order.
In that specific order I had:
Buff Orpingtons, White Wyandottes, and Light Brahmas.
And it was the best backyard flock I had ever had up to that point.
They were all good layers and most importantly they were sweet so I didn’t have to carry a stick with me into the coop every time to protect myself from pecking chickens haha!
So ever since then whenever it comes time to get new chicks I have always kept those breeds.
So whether you are a beginner at having chickens or just want to have better breeds, here are some of my favorites.
Best Chicken Breeds for Beginners
1.) Buff Orpington – This breed was introduced from England in the late 1800s and has become very popular. They are large with a quiet disposition and they lay large brown eggs. They are also great winter layers and excellent setters.
2.) White Wyandotte – These are good brown egg layers and tend to be non-setters which means they are not likely to sit on a clutch of eggs to hatch them out.
This breed is also a great dual-purpose breed which means they are good for egg production and meat if you choose to butcher them.
3.) Light Brahma – This breed is very quiet, gentle, and easy to handle. So if you’re looking for chickens that’ll make great pets this is a great option. They are good brown egg layers, are likely to set on eggs, and will make good mothers.
4.) Speckled Sussex – This breed is very gentle but they are known to be noisier than other breeds so they may not be the best choice for backyard chickens if you have neighbors who don’t want to hear your birds.
They are good layers of light brown eggs and they will set.
5.) White Leghorn – If you’re looking for the best breed for laying eggs this is the one. White leghorns are not my favorite to look at because they are not as pretty as many of the other breeds but I always have some in my flock because they are the absolute best layers.
They also have a very low feed to egg ratio which makes them one of the most cost-effective breeds to raise.
What is Your Reason for Raising Chickens
These are all great breeds but knowing your reason for having chickens will help you better decide which ones are best for you.
Do you want the best egg layers?
All of the chickens listed above are good layers but the White Leghorn tops them all. They lay more eggs than any of my other chickens pretty much all year long.
So I always keep at least a couple of White Leghorns in my flock.
If you’re wanting chickens that are really easy to handle the White Leghorn is not the best option though.
They are sweet and never mean, but they are quick and hard to catch, so if you’re looking for pets keep another breed in your flock also.
The White Leghorn can also fly, so keep that in mind if you don’t have a way to keep them confined.
Do you want them just for meat?
If you only want to raise chickens for meat look into getting Cornish Game Hens or Cornish Roosters. They are bred specifically for meat and will be ready to butcher in about 4-9 weeks.
Dual purpose for meat and eggs?
I don’t typically butcher my laying hens but once their egg production starts to decline it is a great way to still get use out of your hens.
Not all breeds are great for meat though. So if you’re looking for a breed that will be a good laying hen and then be good to butcher as well, the Buff Orpington, Speckled Sussex, and White Wyandotte are all good dual-purpose breeds.
Do you want them to be completely free-range?
I think having a chicken coop is important for many reasons such as safety, shelter, and a specific place for hens to lay eggs. But if you are looking for chickens to only be free-range there are a few characteristics to look for:
1.) Predator wariness, which are the breeds that tend to be more high-strung and flighty. Two breeds include Leghorns and Hamburgs.
2.) Color, chickens with dark and patterned feathers such as the Speckled Sussex blend in better and are less likely to be noticed by predators than a white-feathered chicken.
Although, White Leghorns are one of the exceptions and have the other characteristics of a good free ranger.
3.) Good sight, you want free-ranging chickens to be able to see well. Breeds such as Polish and Houdans with top head feathers should not be free-range.
4.) Ability to forage, you want a free-ranging flock that has the instinct and desire to forage for their food. Some excellent foragers include Old English Game, Egyptian Fayoumi, and Ameraucanas (also known as the Easter Eggers because they lay blue eggs).
To learn more about good foraging breeds check out this article from Hobby Farms.
Just note that good free-range chickens do not mean they will never be taken by a predator. They just have a better chance to survive.
Do you want quiet chickens so they can be kept in town?
Living in town may limit you on the number of chickens you have or what breeds you choose to raise but it shouldn’t prevent you from having chickens all together.
There are breeds that are known for making little noise. Some which include:
Light Brahmas, Buff Orpingtons, and Cochins.
Roosters cause the most noise though so if you don’t keep a rooster that may be all that you need. Hens don’t need a rooster to keep laying eggs, he is only needed if you want the eggs to be fertilized to hatch.
What is Your Climate/Weather Like?
Do you have extreme winters or summers? Almost all chicken breeds can handle the cold far better than they do the heat. So if you live where the summers get really hot it’s important to have breeds that can handle it.
Breeds that handle the heat well include Leghorns, Polish, and Speckled Sussex.
To learn about cold-hardy breeds check out 11 Best Chicken Breeds for Cold Weather. A few of them include Cochins, Light Brahmas, and White Wyandottes.
Do you want the friendliest breeds that would be great with kids?
Even if you don’t have kids around there is nothing worse than mean chickens. I have had way too many mean chickens in the past and so gentle and friendly are some of the top qualities I look for.
Some of the most friendly breeds are Cochins, Orpingtons, Polish, and Silkies.
Why These Breeds Are the Best for Beginners
After going through all the reasons for why you want chickens you may have chosen a breed that wasn’t on my list of 5 which is why I tried to answer all of the most common questions I could.
But I came up with this list of Buff Orpingtons, Speckled Sussex, Light Brahmas, White Wyandottes, and White Leghorns because they all share some of the best qualities.
They are good layers, can handle the heat and cold, and are gentle and friendly with the exception of the White Leghorn, which is not a mean bird at all, just a little more high strung.
Chickens are so great to have around so I hope this article helps you in finding the best breeds to raise.
Do you have more questions about raising chickens?
If so, be sure to check out Raising Chickens for Beginners
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