In part 3 we are going to look at choosing the right chicken breed and the best places to find them.
Choosing a chicken breed
With so many amazing chicken breeds to choose from it can get very confusing to choose just one. It is like going to a huge candy store full of amazing sweets, you want to try them all but know it is impossible.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to narrow down your choice:
- How many chickens are you able to house/keep in the space you have available?
- In Part 2 of this series, we discussed how big a chicken coop could fit into the garden which would give you an idea of how many average sized chickens you could keep.
- For the sake of this article, we are going to work on having 3 standard sized chickens.
- Are these Large, standard or Bantam sized chickens?
- For the large breeds, you could still have 3 chickens. The extra-large breeds such as the Jersey Giants and similar it is best to only have 2 of them. Or 1 Jersey Giant and two standard sized chickens.
- For Bantams, depending on the breed you could add an extra 2 or 3 birds in a coop sized for standard breeds.
- See our “Chicken breeds according to size” table to help you determine the breeds size category.
- Do you want a mixed breed flock or are you looking to have only one breed to start with?
- Same breed flocks are always the best for a starter coop. They have the same temperament and will easily fall into a comfortable pecking order.
- Mixed breed flocks can be a bit chaotic if the breeds temperaments do not match.
- Are you looking for chickens that like to forage in order to supplement their feed?
- Some chicken breeds are excellent forages and prefer to find their own fresh food
- Some chicken breeds will forage a little but prefer to have their feed from their food bowls.
- Our guide to “The top 10 free-ranging Chicken breeds” covers the best free-ranging breed along with a chart that covers all the breeds free-ranging abilities.
- Are the chickens going to be around children?
- All children should be supervised around animals no matter what species they are. Accidents and incidents do happen, so it is always best to err on the side of caution.
- There are some chicken breeds that are hardy and very tolerant. Some have even been known to play with the kids.
- If you have children and are looking to educate them on chickens read our article on “The 10 best chicken breeds that are child-friendly”.
- Do you have other animals?
- If you have cats or dogs you may want to look at larger breeds of chickens.
- The smaller breeds tend to be easy targets for predators which include cats and dogs.
- g. Are you wanting the chickens for their eggs?
- If so are they for your own table or are you looking to sell them?
- What is the weekly average amount of eggs you are counting on?
- Is there a particular egg color you prefer?
- Is there a particular size of egg you prefer?
- We have a great chart that lists all the breeds, from the most prolific layers, their egg size, color and the approximate amount of eggs they lay on average a week/year.
- Are you looking to keep them as a table bird?
- You can basically eat any chicken, but you may run into problems like the quality of the meat or not enough meat.
- Some chickens have a yellow skin, and some have a white skin
- Meat on certain breeds gets tough after a certain age
- Are you looking to keep them as a pet?
- There are some chicken breeds that make a great pet
- There are some chicken breeds that are better suited for ornamental purposes
- Some show breeds can be quite standoffish, skittish or really aggressive
- Are you wanting to breed them?
- A few chicken breeds are not recommended for novice breeders
- Some chicken breeds are easy to breed but may have to have various heating lamps, brood hens, etc.
- There are breeds that really easy to breed and do not require the help of equipment or brood hens.
- Read our articles on breeding chickens for advice and guidance.
- Are you wanting then as a poultry show bird?
- Most chicken breeds that are recognized by the American Poultry Association can be shown.
Please see the “The Top Chicken Breeds for Egg Laying” on our site.
Where to buy your chickens
The first place a person could start is with an internet search.
Places such as:
Sell a lot of the chicken breeds, they also have a lot of information about the various breeds.
You can try hatcheries/poultry farms in your area, which once again you will find with an internet search.
There are a few hatcheries that advertise on the internet that may be able to help you find one more local. Most of these places you find on the internet will ship your birds. But as with any internet trading make sure you are dealing with a reputable dealer. Check the fine print of their contracts and it is not hard to find out what other people think of them that have dealt with them. Once again, a simple search about the dealer’s transactions will bring up any problems.
If you are struggling to find the breed you want and or places that sell chicks in your area you can try contacting:
- Your local vet
- Animal shelters
- Animal control
- The American Poultry Association
- The American Live Stock Conservancy
- Local farmers in or around your area
Other great sources of information about find the chicken breed you want are various chicken breed poultry clubs, associations and poultry heritage preservation organizations.
- Poultry Breeders clubs
- Poultry Heritage Preservation Organizations
END OF PART 3
This brings us to the end of part 3 of our 8-part series designed to help the first-time chicken owner navigate their way from start to finish of getting their backyard coop up and running.
In Part 4 we look at Settling the Flock into their New Home