Choosing the wrong breed of chicken can be as disastrous as choosing the wrong dog for your family.
It's why a lot of chickens are ending up in rescues at the moment - people buy them with good intentions, but then discover they're a noisy breed / a "stand-offish" type / not good with children / not tolerant of heat (or cold)...
If you're anything like me, when I first started keeping hens I had no idea there were even different breeds! Today I have a whole mix in my backyard flock, from the showy Wyandotte to everyone's favourite, the Silkie, and my own particular favourite - the very basic, common-or-garden brown laying hen.
Just like humans, they all have their quirks, good points and their "could be improved" side! It's important to have that information before you buy. Otherwise, it might all end in tears...
So I'd like to help you get it right before you take the plunge and buy, or add to, your flock. I've made this series of articles to help.
On this page you'll find links to many different kinds of breeds, together with brief information about what each is best known for. 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, it's as pleasant an experience as it's possible to be.
I try not to have favourites (except I do!) so they're in alphabetical order. Just click on the headline or the pic to go to that page.
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, a good choice for families wanting a good forager and a self-reliant hen.
This article explains the origins, nature and characteristics of a chicken I've kept in my flock for a couple of years.
My very favourite of all chickens, the Red Star is not a breed but a collection of breeds, mixed over generations to be the 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!
Aaaawwww - Silkie chickens - the teddy bear of the poultry world! Soft and fluffy, Silkies are the only chicken breed not to have barbs on their feathers - which makes a difference to their ability to tolerate the cold.
Gentle, friendly and great for kids, Silkies can make the best broody hens, too. 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.
Her gentle nature, though, can cause problems for her in the pecking order.
A good 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!