Raising chickens has many benefits, but if you are new to backyard flocks you may be wondering what are the most popular chicken breeds for backyard homesteaders.
There are quite a few popular chicken breeds. And many of them have different purposes. The most common reasons to raise chickens are for eggs, but you can also raise breeds specifically for meat. There are also dual purpose breeds that are good layers and also make a decent sized chicken dinner.
And for those of us with smaller yards, it can be important to raise friendly breeds that make good pets and are easy to care for. There are some very beautiful rare chicken breeds, but they aren’t necessarily the best choice for most of us.
Related Post: What Are The Best Chicken Breeds For Eggs?
Here are the most popular chicken breeds for backyard homesteaders!
The Astralorp is one of the most popular breeds available. These attractive black birds are great layers of brown eggs. They usually lay around 250 eggs or more per year, although some do lay more. Astralorps usually start laying at about 5 months old and are friendly birds and can make decent mothers. They can be a dual purpose bird for both meat and eggs, but they are primarily bred as layers.
Brahmas are very large, but fun to keep around. They have attractive feathered legs and are calm, quiet birds. They make good mothers, and quite hardy. While they are not the best layers out there, they can keep laying into the winter. Traditionally they have been raised as meat birds.
One of my all time favorite hens was a Buckeye. This breed was developed in Ohio and is the only breed of chicken developed entirely by a woman. They are good dual purpose birds, but they would prefer not to be confined to a pen. They forage well when let out. They’re friendly birds and do well in cold weather.
Cochins are large birds that used to be bred primarily for meat, but now are quite popular as pets due to their impressive fluffiness. They’re very hard in cold weather and lay decently over winter. In general they are not great layers, though they usually make good mothers.
Cochins are quiet birds, and we had a lavender colored one named Agnes who was one of my favorites. They don’t mind being penned, scratch up the yard less than other birds, and generally make good pets.
Cornish are not good layers, and they are primary raised and sold for meat as Cornish Game Hens. When they are crossed with Plymouths the resulting cross is the most popular meat bird in the U.S.
If you’d like more details about raising Cornish X for meat check out Pastured Meat Chickens In The City and Will Raising Meat Chickens Save Money.
Delawares were originally bred as broiler birds before the Cornish cross became popular. Now they are used as dual purpose birds. They lay around 280 eggs per year and have calm temperaments.
Most birds sold as a Americauna or Aruacana are actually Easter Eggers, which are hybrid birds that lay green or blue eggs. Having fun colors of eggs is always a perk, and so these novelty chickens often find a place on the backyard homestead.
They often have a bearded face with puffy cheek feathers. They are fairly hardy birds, but their other characteristics can really vary depending on their genetics.
There are two strains of leghorns at the moment. The most common strain is used for commercial egg production. Leghorns are one of the highest producing egg layers. They lay white eggs and are quick to mature and start laying young.
The non-industrial strains are active birds and good foragers although some breeders say they can be flighty. They are productive birds and usually hatch out well.
Orpingtons are one of the most common backyard chickens available. You should have no problems at all finding them in your local feed store. They are good all-around backyard birds. Generally they are calm quiet birds who do well around kids.
They can be friendly and are decent layers. Orpingtons can lay up to 200 eggs a year. At 8 pounds, they large enough to make good dual purpose birds. They can go broody and are good mothers.
Plymouths used to be one of the most popular chickens and now are making a comeback. They are great for dual purpose, growing to around 8 pounds., and still lay 200 or more eggs per year without going broody. They are cold hardy and social. They’ll do well in pen and are fairly quiet birds.
Rhode Island Red
The classic chicken, these lay brown eggs, and are good layers for about 2 years. They are dual purpose birds. The roosters can be aggressive but generally the hens are not.
Silkies are not usually great layers but they certainly are fun! They make good pets as they are calm, docile, and good with kids. I currently have a couple Silkies (and frizzles) and they are fun to watch!
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Welsummers are good little birds. They lay dark brown eggs and are excellent foragers. They aren’t the best layers out there, but they are feed efficient, do well in pens, and are cold hardy.
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There’s a lot of interest in the gorgeous chook on the cover of our latest issue. She’s a Silver Laced Wyandotte, which our chook expert Jessamy Miller says are placid chooks known for going broody often! If you are interested in learning more about these beauties get in touch with the Wyandotte Club of Australia. 📷 iStock #cheekychook #wyandotte #backyardchickens #gardeninginspiration #thehappygardeninglife #gardeninginspo #gardeningtips #backyardgarden #vegetablegarden #lovegardening #gardeningisfun #mygarden #organicgardening #organicgardenermag #growyourown #vegetablegardening #healthylife #veggiegarden #vegetablepatch #abcgardeningaustralia #costasworld #organicgardenermag
Wyandottes come with beautiful laced coloring in gold and silver. They are a heavier bird, and are decent for dual purpose. They can lay up to 200 eggs per year, and do well laying in the winter. Generally Wynadottes are quiet and friendly and are good with kids. However I once had a Wyandotte who was a real meanie. She was gorgeous! But don’t touch her.
These popular chicken breeds are great choices for backyard homesteaders and self sufficient homesteaders. They are good layers and many of them are also dual purpose. You really can’t go wrong with any of them!
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