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Best Chicken Breeds for Beginners

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.

A group of chickens outside in the chicken yard

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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 hens and so when it came time to get my new chicks I had specific guidelines.

I wanted them to be friendly, calm, 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.

And it was the best backyard flock I had ever had up to that point.

So whether you are a beginner at having chickens or just want to have better breeds, here are some of my favorites.

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Best Chicken Breeds for Beginners

Below are some of my favorite breeds I recommend to all!

1.) Buff Orpington

This breed was introduced in 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.) Wyandottes

These are good brown egg layers and tend to be non-setters which means they are not likely to turn broody and sit on a clutch of eggs to hatch them out.

They are 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

The Light Brahma 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 get broody, and will make good mothers.

A Light Brahma hen

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.

A Speckled Sussex hen

5.) White Leghorn

The White Leghorn is one of the egg-laying breeds out there! So if getting fresh eggs is on your list, these hens are wonderful.

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.

6.) Whiting True Green

The Whiting True Green is a breed I more recently added to my flock and I love them! They have a low feed-to-egg ratio which makes them cheaper to raise.

They are also friendly and they are good layers that lay beautiful green eggs.

So if you’d to have a colorful variety of eggs, the Whiting True Green is a wonderful breed to raise.

Different colored fresh eggs on the counter

7.) Rhode Island Red

This is one of the most popular and famous of all breeds! They are excellent brown egg layers and they can tolerate all temperatures.

Of all of the chicken breeds out there, these are one of the best sellers which should make them easy to find wherever you buy your chicks from.

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What is Your Reason for Raising Chickens

The above chickens 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.

If you’re wanting chickens that are really easy to handle the White Leghorn is not the best option though.

They are sweet 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.

But luckily there are many other great laying breeds out there if the White Leghorn doesn’t sound like a good fit.

Hens outside in the chicken yard

Do you want chickens 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 can be a great option to get further use out of your hens.

Not all breeds are great for meat though. If you’re looking for a breed that will be a good layer and then be good to butcher consider,

  • Buff Orpingtons
  • Speckled Sussex
  • White Wyandottes
  • Rhode Island Red

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. These breeds 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 have the other characteristics of a good free ranger.
  3. Good sight. Free-ranging chickens need 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. Free-ranging chickens need 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).

Learn more about the best chicken breeds to raise in my YouTube video below!

Chickens 101 - Best breeds for eggs, meat, pets & more!

Do you want quiet chickens?

If you live in town having quiet chickens is likely a top priority.

You may be limited on the number of chickens you can have or what breeds you choose, but it shouldn’t prevent you from having chickens altogether.

There are breeds that are known for making little noise which include,

  • Light Brahmas
  • Buff Orpingtons
  • Cochins

Although, roosters are the noisiest and so if you don’t keep a rooster that may be all that you need to do.

Hens don’t need a rooster to lay eggs, he is only needed if you want the eggs to be fertilized to hatch.

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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.

A few very heat-tolerant breeds include,

  • Leghorns
  • Polish
  • Ameraucanas

If you live somewhere with extremely harsh winters it may be a good idea to check out some of the most cold-hardy breeds. A few include,

  • Light Brahmas
  • White Wyandottes
  • Cochins

Do you want the friendliest breeds that are 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 include Cochins, Orpingtons, Polish, and Silkies.

A little girl holding a buff orpington hen

How to Choose the Best Chicken Breeds

After going through all the many reasons for keeping chickens, you may have chosen a breed that wasn’t on my list which is why I tried to answer a variety of common questions.

But if you still aren’t sure which breeds to raise consider breeds from the following list,

  1. Buff Orpingtons
  2. Speckled Sussex
  3. Light Brahmas
  4. White Wyandottes
  5. White Leghorns
  6. Whiting True Green
  7. Rhode Island Red

They all share some of the best qualities which is why I have put them on the list of what I believe to be the best chicken breeds for beginners.

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, just a little more high-strung.

Chickens are so great to have around and so I hope this article helps you in finding the best breeds to raise.

Want to dive deeper?

Check out my ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Raising Chickens where I share all of the tips & information you need to raise a healthy flock of chickens!

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  1. 5 stars
    We live in Florida and it is hot, mild winters. I have a mixed flock of 32 hens and a rooster that just showed up here. Can you give advice on round worms? My eggs are organic and I heard the diatomaceous earth doesn’t work and is bad for them and me to breathe. What can I use that won’t harm the eggs but will kill the worms?

    1. Hi Patty,

      Diatomaceous Earth is perfectly safe for both the chickens and humans. I’ve been using it for years and I love it! There is a lot of info out there stating otherwise but it’s completely natural and works effectively. There are also a lot of herbs you can feed that will help with worms such as mint, dill, and garlic 🙂

  2. I live in central Texas, where winters get into the teens, with or without snow, and summers are in the 90’s & 100’s with fairly high humidity. What breed would you recommend? Also, looking for a dual purpose, high egg layer, that has a calm temperament, as the neighborhood kids like to stop by and check out my latest project or to feed the donkey. They will definitely want to “pet” the chickens.

    1. We are new chicken people. My 8 and 6 year olds favorite bird by far is our light Brahma! Next in line is our buff Cochin. We have a naked neck which is my favorite. The kids call her a mean old bird. Guess she is like me. She has never pecked at them but she is territorial around food with the other birds. We held all our birds since we picked them up at two days old. We also have a couple of leghorns and I feel like they are accurately described

  3. Thank you so much for this detailed and interesting overview! I finally made my decision thanks to you: Brahma’s it wil be 😊
    France from Belgium

    1. I love Brahmas. My roo is the boss in my coup. I get the best eggs and they are so friendly. All I have to do is call my rooster Paul and they come a running. He always has to do a head count make sure his girls are together.

  4. We live in France I am a beginner to keeping hens,I am starting with hybrids. Is this good or a bad idea?
    Also I’m a bit worried about how to worm.
    Any help on this wood be great.
    Thank you.

  5. Just my husband and I, two no more than three hens I think would be best. I’ve got your list of hens for beginners. I wanted bantams but understand they are broody. Anyway I can build the coup (I work with power tools often as a hobby). I need a plan for the coup, where is best to get that? Also what do you know about bantams? I’m right now looking at Buff Orpington and Light Brahma if standard. Love the blog

    1. There are lots of YouTubes on diy coops, though most are fancier than what is actually needed. April Wilkerson has a good channel with a coop plan and video of her building it.

  6. I am interested in Barred Plymouth Rocks. How would they compare on this list? Are they quiet or noisy? Do they make docile pets?

    1. Barred Rocks are one of my favorites in my flock! They are so sweet, quiet, and friendly. They lay huge light brown eggs very reliably! Great choice for all purpose reasons!

    1. Depending on where you live, there are many farm and home stores that may sell basic hatchery chicks. There are also lots of hatcheries that will ship to you in warmer weather, here are a few: (cackle hatchery, Hoover hatchery, murray mcmurray hatchery etc). Good luck!

  7. My favorite breeds for egg production while still being friendly: ISA Brown
    Barred Rock
    White Plymouth Rock
    Sapphire Gem
    Buff Orpington
    Ameracauna (lays less eggs than the others but still pretty good, and so sweet).
    Brahma (I’ve had light and buff).
    Breeds I have had and did not like (not friendly for us): Rhode Island Red & Welsummer! Most chickens raised from hatchlings can be raised to be friendly, though, in my personal opinion!

    1. While E Texas is a huge area, here are a couple of suggestions for my spot of E Texas (Gilmer)
      1. Local Tractor Supply store. Currently have at least 8 different types of chicks – plus all the supplies you may need. — and a few Ducks as well.
      2. E Texas Poultry Trades Day. Every 3-4 months here in Gilmer. Next one is Saturday, April 13th. View info on their Facebook site.

  8. For anyone that has children that want a breed that will follow them like puppies, I personally recommend a pair of Belgium Antwerp chickens. They are a small breed and children always seem to like eating those little eggs best.
    I’ve had a few pairs over the years and they are super fun and very human friendly.
    My absolutely favorite alarm/flock watchers are Guinea hens and cocks. If trouble is anywhere near they immediately warn the flock. My male Guineas liked to find a high perch and keep their heads on a swivel.
    When it comes time to butcher they are absolutely delicious. Their breast meat is dark and most like turkey thighs. So delicious!

  9. I’ve had most of the breeds in this article and I agree with most of what I read, but there’s a little chicken that gets overlooked because it’s not “pure bred” and that’s the ISA Brown. I recently added four of those little chickens to my flock as pullets just starting to lay. Although raised in a huge coop they adjusted immediately to my backyard flock and are friendly and follow me all around the yard when they are not laying eggs (which they do daily). Don’r overlook these little sexlink chickens when you are considering a backyard flock for production and temperament.

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