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16 Chicken Breeds for Your Backyard Coop (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

There are hundreds of chicken breeds to choose from, and each has its own benefits. From the friendliness of the Sussex to the egg-laying prowess of the Australorp, you will not struggle to find a breed that is right for you.

When looking for a backyard coop breed, this usually means choosing a breed that is laid back and easy to care for, relatively quiet and mess-free, and that does offer a decent egg yield. Below, we’ve detailed 16 of the best chicken breeds for stocking your backyard coop.

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Benefits of Housing Chickens in Your Backyard

  • Keeping chickens in your yard gives you access to a regular supply of fresh chickens. Expect an average of 150 to 200 eggs a year, but you can get as many as 300 or as few as 100.
  • Chickens make excellent fertilizer. Their manure is a good combination of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium that will benefit your plants and save you money.
  • Some chickens are very affectionate and sweet and can even be trained to eat from your hand. They make surprisingly good pets with unique and individual characters.
  • They will eat leftover salad, vegetables, fruit, rice, and nuts, making them great waste disposal. They will also clear your yard of bugs and insects like slugs and snails.

For all of the benefits, though, keeping chickens does have some drawbacks:

  • They can be noisy. They chatter and make a series of noises. Some people love the noise, others less so.
  • They poo a lot. The fertilizer is great, but it has to come from somewhere, and it is likely that your chickens will produce more poop than you can use.
  • They do require care. Many homesteaders love chickens because they’re easier to maintain than other forms of livestock, but they do require daily maintenance and ongoing care.

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Chicken Breeds

1. Araucana

Araucana chicken
Image Credit: Tamsin Cooper, Flickr

Weight (lb): 4 – 5 lbs

Appearance: The Araucana has no tail, no beard, and no muff but may have ear tufts. Available in various colors, they have puffed out cheeks.

Temperament: Some claim the Araucana to be the friendliest breed. Others say the opposite. Ensure regular handling as a chick for the best temperament.

Egg Production: The Araucana lays beautiful blue eggs and produces between 150 and 200 eggs a year. She won’t usually lay in winter.

2. Barred Rock

Barred Rock Chicken
Image Credit: Thomas Kriese, Flickr

Weight (lb): 7 – 10 lbs

Appearance: The Barred Rock is a large chicken with a triangular body. Color can vary, but the Barred Plymouth Rock has black and white barred feathers.

Temperament: Commonly described as being calm and mellow birds, Barred Rock chickens get along with everybody.

Egg Production: The Barred Rock lays up to 280 large eggs a year, including during winter.

3. Rhode Island Red

rhode island red chicken
Image Credit: Pixabay

Weight (lb): 6 – 9 lbs

Appearance: With a long rectangular body, the Rhode Island Red has orange eyes, yellow feet, and dark red bodies.

Temperament: Hardy animals, the Rhode Island Red is a good bird for inexperienced breeders because they can handle questionable conditions and an imperfect diet.

Egg Production: Expect between 200 and 250 eggs a year, with fewer in winter.

4. ISA Brown

ISA Brown
Image Credit: Guttorm Flatabø, Flickr

Weight (lb): 4 – 7 lbs

Appearance: This medium sized chicken has a brown, rectangular body with some white feathers in the tail. They can be quite plump.

Temperament: Docile, friendly, and sweet mannered: a good all-round choice.

Egg Production: Prolific layers, yielding up to 300 or more eggs a year.

5. Australorp

Australorp Chicken
Image Credit: Palauenc05, Wikimedia Commons

Weight (lb): 6 – 11 lbs

Appearance: This medium to large breed has black feathers, although blue and white varieties exist. It should be upright with a tall tail.

Temperament: Shy initially, the Australorp will follow you around the yard and will appreciate edible treats.

Egg Production: The breed lays up to 250 eggs a year. The eggs are light brown in color and medium in size.

6. Maran

Marans Chicken
Image Credit: seppingsR, Wikimedia Commons

Weight (lb): 6 – 10 lbs

Appearance: Many varieties exist including the black-tailed red and the Rooster, both of which are named according to their physical appearance.

Temperament: Hardy animals that will thrive in any conditions, the Maran is a docile and relatively quiet breed.

Egg Production: 150 Dark brown eggs a year, with some varieties laying chocolate color eggs.

7. Buff Orpington

Buff Orpington Chicken
Image Credit: Pete Cooper, Wikimedia Commons

Weight (lb): 7 – 10 lbs

Appearance: Fluffy feathers, low stance, and a broad body, the Buff Orpington is the most common color of the Orpington breed.

Temperament: They are gentle giants and enjoy a little attention from their humans. Suitable for schools and families, too.

Egg Production: Orpingtons lay up to 280 large, brown eggs, every year.

8. Barnevelder

Image Credit: PaulsRarePoultry Paul Pleece, Wikimedia Commons

Weight (lb): 6 – 9 lbs

Appearance: The Barnevelder looks slim and agile. It has yellow legs and feet. Hens have a unique brown feather with double lacing that gives an arrowhead.

Temperament: Docile and friendly, the Barnevelder is considered a good breed for children to raise.

Egg Production: The Barnevelder will lay up to 200 eggs a year. The eggs are dark chocolate and can be speckled.

9. Leghorn

Leghorn Chicken
Image Credit: Dejungen at German Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons

Weight (lb): 5 – 8 lbs

Appearance: The aerodynamic Leghorn has yellow skin and legs. Different varieties come in different colors, including the popular White Leghorn and Cream Leghorn variants.

Temperament: The intelligent Leghorn can find most of its own food if left to free-range. They will remain active and busy and are good at flying.

Egg Production: The Leghorn produces around 280 eggs a year. Eggs get bigger each year, are white and can be extra-large during her final years of laying.

10. Easter Eggers

Easter Egger Chicken
Image Credit: Amanda DeVries from Ottawa, Canada, Wikimedia Commons

Weight (lb): 3 – 6 lbs

Appearance: The Easter Egger is a hybrid breed, but hybrids can make the best pets. Usually small, the Easter Egger will take on the appearance of its parents.

Temperament: The Easter Egger is usually friendly and sweet. They like treats and can sit in your lap. They are a good choice for family homes.

Egg Production: Producing approximately 200 a year, the Easter Egger can lay eggs in any one of a rainbow of colors, which is another reason for their popularity.

11. Silkie

Silkie Chicken
Image Credit: eloneo, Pixabay

Weight (lb): 2 – 4 lbs

Appearance: Silkies are very small chickens that are covered from head to toe in soft feathers. Usually white, some Silkies have a beard while others do not. They have five, rather than four, toes on each foot.

Temperament: Described as calm and docile, even the roosters are known for being friendly little animals. They can make a great addition to a home coop.

Egg Production: The Silkie is not a prolific layer, producing around 100 eggs a year. The eggs are a cream color and are considered small in size.

12. Welsummer

Image Credit: Eryne, Flickr

Weight (lb): 5 – 7 lbs

Appearance: The stocky Welsummer has a large tail and is usually brown in color with a gold looking neck and upper body.

Temperament: The Welsummer is friendly and easy to handle. He likes being free-range and is considered a decent chicken for family coops.

Egg Production: The breed is sought after for its large, dark brown eggs, and you can expect up to 200 a year from this breed.

13. Wyandotte

Golden Laced Wyandotte and Sicilian Buttercup Chickens
Image Credit: Merrimon Crawford, Shutterstock

Weight (lb): 6 – 10 lbs

Appearance: The Wyandotte is a large bird that comes in different color varieties. It is a popular show breed, and while it is easy to find this breed, it can prove more difficult if you want show quality birds.

Temperament: Described as docile and friendly, the Wyandotte is a good choice of backyard bird.

Egg Production: You should get around 200, large brown eggs, a year, from your Wyandotte.

14. Sussex

Speckled Sussex chicken
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Weight (lb): 6 – 10 lbs

Appearance: Another large breed, the Sussex is a graceful chicken with wide shoulders. Colors include red, speckled, brown, and silver.

Temperament: These are docile but happy and friendly birds. They will follow you around, usually I the hope of betting some treats.

Egg Production: You should get between 200 and 250 eggs a year, including during winter. Eggs are large and brown.

15. Cochin

Credit: furbymama, Pixabay

Weight (lb): 8 – 11 lbs

Appearance:  The Cochin is a large breed and it looks even larger thanks to fluffy feathers from top to bottom. The length of their feathers means feet and legs should be hidden.

Temperament: Calm and friendly, the Cochin is a well-rounded bird that will do well in a backyard coop.

Egg Production: Although this breed unusually prefers to lay during winter, they are not prolific layers, giving around 180 small to medium brown eggs a year.

16. Polish

polish chicken
Image Credit: Jason Riedy, Flickr

Weight (lb): 4 – 7 lbs

Appearance: The Polish is a small chicken, popular for its unique appearance. It has a prominent head crest of feathers that make it stand out from any other breed.

Temperament: Considered a calm chicken, the Polish can be inquisitive. They can be nervous, so you should whistle or talk to alert them to your approaching presence.

Egg Production: The Polish chicken will lay around 180 white eggs every year so are not considered a prolific layer.

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How Much Room Do Chickens Need?

As a general rule, the more room you can give your chickens the better, but you should provide approximately 3 square feet of indoor space and 10 square feet of outdoor space, per chicken. This ensures that your flock has enough room. If your birds do not have enough space, they will be prone to attacking one another and they may suffer stress, cannibalism, and pecking. Smaller chickens do require less space, while those that prefer to free-range will prefer greater outdoor space and will enjoy being allowed to roam around the yard.

Considering Your Climate

Different chickens were bred in different countries and climates, and they usually prefer the type of climate they are accustomed to. Wyandottes do well in cold conditions, for example, while other birds prefer the heat. Many hens will not lay eggs during the winter months, but your climate should be one of the first and most important, deciding factors when choosing a chicken breed.

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Choosing the right chicken brood for your backyard coop means finding one that matches your requirements and desire to get a chicken. It should also be suitable for your climate and conditions, and because it is going to live in your yard, you will likely want a chicken that is friendly and docile. The breeds listed above are good choices for the backyard coop.

Featured Image: furbymama, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.