How to Choose the Best Chickens
Are you planning to add chickens to your homestead? Not sure what breeds are best? I’ve raised quite a few different breeds or chickens over the years and found that some did well for me, while others didn’t. Some breeds do better than others in cold regions and some lay more eggs. The best chickens for your needs will depend on where you live and what purpose your flock will fill. Here is all the information you need to choose the best chickens for your homestead!
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You might be interested in my ebook How to Keep Backyard Chickens for Farm Fresh Eggs: Getting Started with Laying Hens. Check out my Egg Tracker Freebie for a free printable egg production tracking sheet!
Best Chicken Breeds for Your Needs
Do you want laying hens, home-raised meat, or maybe show birds? There’s something for everyone here!
Are you interested in preserving a heritage breed or do you want the most economical chickens to fill your needs? You can get the best of both worlds with some breeds!
Let’s take a look at some potential reasons for keeping chickens:
- Egg production
- Meat production
- Show birds
- Heritage breeds for genetic preservation or self-reliance
- Pest control on the homestead
- Feathers for fly-tying and crafts
Most likely you have more than one reason for keeping hens on your homestead. Most breeds fulfill more than one purpose.
Best Chickens for Egg Production
Some of the best breeds for laying plentiful eggs are actually heritage breeds! You can keep the following breeds and still get great egg production:
- White Leghorn – white eggs (also economical and heat tolerant)
- Rhode Island Red – brown eggs (hardy and heat tolerant)
- Black Australorp – brown eggs (attractive feathers and productive)
If you aren’t concerned about keeping heritage breeds and you just want the best egg production from your birds, try keeping some of these hybrid egg layers:
- California White – white eggs
- Cinnamon Queen – brown eggs
- Red or Black Sex Link – brown eggs
In addition to being economical on feed, these chickens are generally calm and hardy.
Best Chickens for Meat Production
Are you planning to raise meat chickens for your table? Hands down, the most economical meat bird you can raise is the Cornish x Rock! These meaty birds are a hybrid that is ready for processing at 6 to 8 weeks.
Heritage birds just can’t compete for fast, efficient meat production when compared to the Cornish x Rock. If you would like to read more, check out How to Raise the Best Chickens for Meat!
- Cornish x Rock – #1 hybrid for meat production
- Freedom Rangers – slower-growing hybrid meat bird
- Plymouth Barred Rock & White Plymouth Rock – dual-purpose heritage breeds that are better for meat production than most heritage breeds
Chicken Breeds for Show or Fun
If you are mostly interested in keeping chickens for show or for living ‘lawn ornaments’ then you can raise just about any breed that you like! Some of these breeds even provide fancy feathers for crafting or fly-tying:
- Bantams – mini-chickens in many different breeds
- Silkies – ‘fuzzy’ chickens (also good mothers)
- Ayam Cemani – all-black chicken (highly prized and quite expensive)
- Ameraucana – chickens with sideburns that lay green and blue eggs
- Polish – chickens with fancy feathers and ‘topknot’
- Brahma – large chickens with feathered feet
- Plymouth Barred Rock – hardy dual-purpose breed with feathers for fly-tying
- Silver Seabright – fancy feathers
There are many more fancy chickens. They will provide plenty of entertainment as they search for bugs in your yard!
Heritage Chicken Breeds for Self-Reliance
Maybe you’re in the market for chicken breeds that will do well in your area, produce plenty of eggs, and make a nice stewing hen when they’re no longer productive. Many of these breeds will actively forage for pests and weeds, lending a helping hand on your homestead!
There are quite a few breeds that will fill the bill:
- Rhode Island Red – lots of brown eggs, good for stewing
- Plymouth Rock – good brown egg production, good for meat
- White Leghorn – lots of white eggs, good forager
- Icelandic – good breed for raising chicks and self-reliance
If you live in a hot climate, check out How to Choose the Best Heat Tolerant Chickens.
Are your winters exceptionally cold? Check out How to Choose the Best Cold Tolerant Chickens.
Do you want hens that will hatch and raise their own chicks? Check out How to Choose the Best Broody Hens for a Self-Reliant Flock.
Start Out With the Best Chickens!
Now that you’ve read up on some of the best breeds to fill the needs of your homestead, you can get started on your flock! If you aren’t sure where to get chicks, check out How to Start With the Best Baby Chicks!
If you’ve never had baby chicks before you’ll want to read through this awesome guide on How to Care for Day Old Chicks! If you’d like to save money on your brooder setup, check out my instructions for a Redneck Brooder Box. 🙂
Reduce the carbon footprint of your chickens with my Best Guide to Raising Eco-friendly Chickens!
Are you new to keeping chickens? Or are you thinking of adding more chickens to your flock? Leave a comment and tell me what breeds you want to buy!
Check out my Amazon Storefront for helpful products for your flock!