There are many varieties of chickens. Choosing the chicken breeds that are best for you can be done by examining what you want out of your chickens.
Are you looking forward to eating your own home grown eggs? Are you raising meat chickens to harvest and eat? Do you just want to enjoy your chickens and keep them just to look at or as conversation pieces? Whatever your motivation there is a chicken breed for you.
Many backyard chicken owners use their chickens for fresh eggs, including us. There are numerous egg-laying varieties of chickens. There may be some debate though as to what backyard chicken breeds are the best.
Some of these excellent egg-layers include:
Click here to get a more detailed look at the breeds of the best egg-layers.
Some people prefer to grow their own birds to eat. If you do plan on killing them, I've been told that it is easier when you don't name them. I guess killing "that chicken" as opposed to "Bert the chicken" makes a difference. Who knows?
There are also many types of broilers that can be grown and harvested, for great tasting chicken.
Some of these breeds include:
Click here to learn more about these meat chickens.
Some breeds of chicken fall into a dual purpose category as well, which means that they are both good egg-laying chickens, but also have the right body to be slaughtered for meat. Some of these birds are the most popular birds raised by backyard flock owners.
We have focused on some of these birds including:
Bantams are ever-growing in popularity as well. They are miniature chickens that usually are one fourth to one fifth the size of standard varieties of chickens. There are numerous types, colors, and patterns of bantams. They are believed to have originated in the far East.
Everyone needs a few Bantams.
Check out some of the different types and varieties of these Bantams.
Many people also enjoy adding some spice to their flock. There are numerous exotic chicken breeds out there that can do just that. Whether you are looking for birds with top hats or birds with feathered feet, there is a breed out there for you. These interesting birds can be great conversation pieces and can make you the envy of your friends and neighbors. Click here to take a closer look at some of these exotic chickens.
For a look at many other chicken breeds go check out our poultry breeds page.
I live in Wyoming at a altitude of just over 6,000 feet. A friend and I are building a chicken coop and want to start raising dual purpose chickens.
What are the best chicken breeds for beginners that would be cold hardy and lay well in the winter? Egg color is of no real concern to me. Just tasty eggs and chickens.
Answer: Great question and good on you for doing your research. I’ve been to Wyoming and know people that live there, so I know the climate can be quite a challenge.
What I would suggest is that you find a local breeder that has had an established flock near you for several generations.
Some breeds are much more hearty in cold winters than others, but there is nothing like natural selection and blood lines that have been tried and tested in your area.
We have articles about Production Breeds and Heritage Breeds. It would be good to understand the difference.
If you plan to keep a laying flock all year round, and raise your own chicks for butchering and replacements, a Heritage Breed is a wise investment.
If you choose to buy from a hatchery try to find one in a similar Northern climate to Wyoming’s.
Keeping your chickens healthy and happy will help ensure they can make it through the cold temps. I like to have all my roosts at the same height to encourage chickens to huddle together in the winter months.
A good clean coop free of drafts, and possibly a heat lamp can prevent frost bite of toes and combs. Vitamin and mineral supplements are most important through the molt in the fall and the cold months.
Plenty of free range greens, seeds and other forage are important in Spring and Summer.
Heritage Chicken or Heirloom: Heirloom chickens have a long history.