Backyard chicken breeds: which is best for your family?
So you'd like to keep some backyard chickens but you're not sure which breeds to choose?
Choosing the wrong type of chicken can be as disastrous as choosing the wrong dog for your family.
It's why a lot of chickens end up in rescues - people buy them with good intentions, then discover they're a noisy breed / too "stand-offish" / not good with children / not tolerant of heat (or cold)...
Just like humans, each breed, and each chicken within that breed, has its quirks, its good points and a "could be improved" side. It's important to have that information before you buy.
Otherwise, it might all end in tears...
I'm here to help you get it right before you take the plunge and buy, or add to, your flock.
On this page you'll find links to many different backyard chicken breeds. Each article has detailed information about what each is best known for, together with lots of pictures.
Each one is a breed I've either had myself, or know of through a family member (my sister keeps chickens, too) or a good friend.
I'd like to share my knowledge and experience of their differences with you. It's all information you can trust, so that when you do get your own flock you, your family and your chickens will fit each other down to the ground.
A large heritage breed, the Light Sussex ticks a lot of boxes for families wanting a friendly, gentle chicken who is a good layer of pinky-brown eggs. She is equally happy with human company or sitting quietly with her flock-mates.
At home in both a large open space and a small run, the Light Sussex is a good forager, so useful for anyone on a budget, and makes an elegant addition to the flock.
A reliable layer, the Livorno is native to Italy and very resistant to both heat and cold temperatures.
Not as friendly as other backyard breeds, s/he's a good choice for families wanting a good forager, an excellent egg-layer and a self-reliant chicken.
This article explains the origins, nature and characteristics of a breed I've kept in my flock for several years.
My very favourite of all chicken breeds, the Red Star is not a pure breed, but a collection of different types, mixed over generations to be the very best producer of eggs.
Funny, friendly and inquisitive, they make a great starter hen - and kids love them.
Beware of adding new hens to their flock, though - they can be bullies!
Silkie chickens - the teddy bear of the poultry world! Soft and fluffy, Silkies are the only breed not to have barbs on their feathers. And that makes a big difference to their ability to tolerate the cold.
Gentle, friendly and great for kids, Silkies make one of the best broody hens, too.
But not all chickens who look like Silkies, are. Make sure you know what to look for in a real Silkie before you buy.
Showy and chatty, with feathering that grows more showy as she gets older, the Speckled Sussex is always a hit with backyard chicken keepers.
A friendly, curious breed, she'll follow you round the garden chatting away and doesn't really care if you reply. I know - I've had several for several years!
Her gentle nature, though, can cause problems for her in the pecking order.
A reliable egg layer and one of the most attractive of all backyard breeds, the Wyandotte is a great chicken if you want a bird that forages well.
But her noisy chat can make for problems with neighbours.
Know what you're letting yourself in for before you choose this breed!
When you first start out, it's simply a pleasure to have such delicious, nutritious eggs from your hens. And then, you begin to wonder about how to have some pretty coloured eggs in your collection.
This article deals with which breeds of chicken lay different coloured eggs: from white and cream to chocolate brown, terracotta, blue and green.
And is there such a thing as a black chicken egg? Find out here!
More information you may find useful.