When I made up my mind to start keeping chickens, I had no idea what lay ahead of me. But with my sheer determination and passion for these birds, I gave it a try and I have no regrets. As a beginner, I had to overcome all the hurdles and constraints that come with keeping chickens for the first time and my effort paid off. And here I am, ready to guide you on your quest to finding the best chicken breeds for beginners.
So, what are the best chickens for beginners? The choice of your chickens matters a lot. That being said, you need to go for those breeds that are easy to maintain, lay more eggs, are less noisy and aren’t aggressive.
In my opinion, dual-purpose breeds are a better choice for beginners. These chickens are reputed for being great layers as well as calm or friendly to the owner or the other breeds. Also, there are a few other breeds besides the dual purpose ones that are known to be ideal for those starting chicken keeping for the first time. And that is the main area of our concern in this discussion.
Why do want to Keep Chickens?
Different people have different reasons why they keep chickens. But the main reason could be the need for eggs and meat. Inasmuch as some people would prefer rearing a few chickens as their pets, the bottom line is that they will at some point use them as a source of eggs and meat. Perhaps this should be your priority when acquiring these domestic birds for the first time. However, it’s important to know that there are three categories of chickens and these are:
- Dual-purpose breeds
Whether you are looking for broilers for their meat or layers for eggs, rest assured that you will benefit in one way or the other. Examples of good layers for beginners are the Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns. Dual-purpose can be a better option given that they are raised for their eggs and meat. So, you can include breeds such as Buff Orpington, Plymouth Rock and Sussex and others to your first flock of chickens to see how things unfold. With proper knowledge and enough resources, nothing should stand in your way to achieving success in raising different breeds of chickens in your backyard.
Before you get started, it is prudent to consider your budget and how you are planning to raise your chickens (either as free-range or in a coop). Starting with your budget, you must be fully aware that some breeds cost more than others when it comes to their upkeep. For instance, the rare and exotic breeds are expensive right from the moment you buy them all the way to maintaining them. Maybe as a newcomer in this business, you shouldn’t think of keeping exotic or rare breeds until later after gaining some experience and enough capital.
Some breeds require more space than others and that’s why you need to decide if you are going to raise your birds in a free-range or coup. Therefore, ensure that you match your breeds to what you can offer in terms of coop sizes and roaming spaces.
What are the Best Chicken Breeds for Beginners?
Now, this is the moment you have been waiting for. We have compiled a list of ten best breeds that you can choose to start your journey into raising chickens. Our selection of these breeds was based on a number of factors key among them being the average number of eggs each breed lays in a year, the character and other unique features that make than desirable. Below is a description of the ten best breeds of chickens for beginners that you may find helpful just in case:
Australorp breed of chickens is a perfect choice for beginners. These chickens are dual-purpose, meaning that you can keep them for both meat production and high-quality eggs. Australorp breed is reputed for its friendly nature and hardiness and one of the best chicken breeds for beginners. This excellent layer hails from Australia, hence the name. Australorp hen can lay an average of 250 brown eggs in a year when kept under the right conditions. This breed is well-known for its black, white or blue feathers that seem to shine when in the sun. These birds are good foragers and easy to maintain. So, keeping them won’t be a problem for you regardless of your experience.
Orpington chickens are famous for their fluffy feathers, beauty and friendly nature. This breed boasts of being a hardy dual-purpose breed that comes in an array of colors; lavender, blue, black, buff and even white. They are capable of laying an average of 200 light brown eggs per year. As a beginner, the only thing you should be wary about Orpington is the predators especially for those that have feathers with lighter colors. Otherwise, this is one of the best chicken breeds for beginners that you can comfortably keep in your backyard.
3. Plymouth Rock
Here comes another dual-purpose breed of chickens that every beginner will love to have in their flocks. Plymouth is one of the well-known heritage farm breeds that comes in a variety of features and colors. Don’t be surprised to come across barred, blue, black frizzle, partridge, Columbian, buff, black, white or silver penciled colors within this breed. Their calmness, hardiness, and love to free-range are factors that make Plymouth a suitable breed for new chicken keepers. On top of that, they are good layers with a yearly output of 250 pinkish-brown eggs.
4. Easter Eggers
The unique thing about Easter Eggers is their ability to lay eggs of different colors. These chickens can lay blue, green or pink eggs. However, they’re not a breed as such but a type of chickens that can lay multicolored eggs despite not conforming to breed standards just like other chickens. In addition, Easter Eggers are vibrant and charming hybrids that vary widely in appearance. Some may have ear muffs, while others may exhibit fluffy beards and a few of them may display crests. Despite their amazing physical attributes and ability to lay colorful eggs, Easter Eggers lay fewer eggs compared to other breeds.
Wyandotte chickens are wonderful chicken breeds for beginners and you can easily identify them from their beautiful laced color varieties such as blue, silver and gold. Also, these birds are a dual-purpose breed with each hen laying an average of 200 brown or tan eggs per year. Due to their docile temperament, Wyandotte chickens won’t be a problem for you if you are a beginner.
If you are looking for a calm, large and hardy breed of chickens then look no further than Brahma. These chickens thrive best in damp or cold climates. The most distinctive feature that makes them stand out from other breeds is their feathered feet. Each hen lays an average of 150 brown eggs per year although this breed was originally meant for meat production. Brahmas are excellent pets and a perfect choice for you if you are living anywhere in the northern climates where the temperature can be an issue.
This breed is considered a dual-purpose breed great for the beginner. These birds are inquisitive and friendly, making them a good choice for your kids to play around with them. Sussex breed can lay about 250 eggs per year. Their eggs have varying shades of light-brown and are relatively larger.
8. Jersey Giant
The Jersey Giant is indeed a very large breed of chickens. Its name tells it all and there’s no doubt about it. In fact, most Jersey Giants are dual-purpose breed and the largest among the pure breeds known so far. Some of them have bluish feathers, while others have black or white feathers. Each hen can lay an average of 260 brown eggs in a year. Despite being large, Jersey Giants are docile, calm and an excellent chicken breeds for beginners flocks.
You can call them Red Star, Black Star or to some extent, refer to them as sex-links if you like it. These chickens are not recognized as breeds but are considered to be popular productive hybrids. As a beginner, you can tell whether your Star is female or male by looking at their respective colors. Both males and females show distinctive coloration differences immediately after hatching. Each hen can lay an average of 260 brown eggs in one year. These chickens are docile, calm and are excellent breed for both new and experienced flock owners.
Leghorn breeds are productive layers with the capability of laying 280 white eggs per year. Despite not being docile and easily startled, this breed of chickens can do well in warmer climates. This is because they have larger combs and are slightly build. For a beginner, Leghorns are a good choice to get started.
How much time can you dedicate to caring for your new flock? Time is of the essence of everything we do. This is the same case with raising chickens. Certain breeds need more time and maintenance from the owner while others are hardy and self-reliant, meaning that they won’t need much time required to maintain them. As such, you should observe each breed to know which one needs your attention and which ones don’t.
Do climatic or weather conditions in your area favorable for the breed of chickens you are about to start raising? Chickens, just like other birds or animals thrive best where weather conditions favor them. Some chicken breeds for beginners may survive in colder climates while others may do well in warmer weather conditions. Therefore, take into consideration the climatic conditions of your place before selecting your breed of chickens.
With the right knowledge, attitude, and self-determination, you can succeed in raising different breeds of chickens. What is important, however, is to identify the best chicken breeds that you can include in your new flock and work hard as you gain more experience in this field.