Although no one has a specific count as to how many chicken breeds there are in the world, there are said to be hundreds of breeds. The American Poultry Association, however, only recognizes 65 of those breeds. So, from common to the ridiculous, there are breeds out there that are never going to be recognized.
Believe it or not, the chicken breeds that are used by commercial egg producers aren’t on the American Poultry Association’s recognized chicken breed list either.
From laying chickens to chickens people keep as pets, there are at least 65 recognized breeds out there. While we’re not going to talk about all 65 breeds in our blog, we’ll undoubtedly touch on a few of them and even give you a few tips on choosing the best chicken breed for egg-laying, as a pet, dual purposes, or whatever you might be looking for in a chicken.
Best Chickens for Egg Laying
The Ameraucana is mainly used for egg-laying, but they’re also a delight to look at. They have a multi-colored plumage and a fluffy look. Fully grown, the hen will weigh around five pounds, though you can get them in Bantam size as well.
They usually lay around 3 to 5 eggs a week and are best known for the fact that they lay blue eggs. The Ameraucana is calm enough to keep in any setting, intelligent, great around children, and a bit curious and friendly.
These chickens do well in any climate and are an excellent choice for someone who is a beginning chicken keeper.
Another good chicken for egg-laying is the Cinnamon Queen, also known as the Red Sex Link Chicken. This is because you can tell the sex of these chickens when they hatch. This chicken is excellent for egg-laying and usually produces five to six eggs a week.
The yearly egg production of the Cinnamon Queen is 250+ eggs. The eggs laid are brown, and this chicken is quiet, so you should be able to keep it about anywhere. It does well in any climate and is considered a docile breed that anyone can handle with ease.
Best Dual Purpose Chickens
If you’re searching for a breed of chicken that produces meat or can lay eggs, we’ll give you our top two choices below.
The Barnevelder chicken was made in Holland for the sole purpose of laying dark brown eggs. You can expect three to four large brown eggs from this hen a week, even during the winter months. Since this is a mix of several different breeds, they are considered dual-purpose chickens also.
They have a normal noise level, so it might not be a good idea to keep them in an urban setting. However, they’re a good breed for a beginner to start out raising. Topping out at about five pounds when they’re grown, this is a fantastic hen to have.
This curious, friendly breed prefers free-ranging but can do well in a confined environment. This breed does well in any climate and lays between 175 to 250 eggs a year.
The Catalana is also a dual-purpose chicken, but it’s not quite as calm as the Barnevelder. In fact, this breed is quite skittish, loud, and doesn’t do well in colder climates. On the other hand, they aren’t broody and lay four large white eggs weekly. Their yearly egg production is around 175 to 250, but they aren’t a good choice for someone who is only starting to raise chickens.
This breed is active, independent, but sadly, it isn’t available in the United States yet, though you can find them in Latin America and Spain.
Best Chickens to Keep as Pets
There are some out there who just love their chickens and want to keep them as pets. Below we’ll talk about a couple of the best chickens for pets, in our humble opinion.
This large breed makes a great pet because of its friendly nature and the fact that they love to be lap birds. They caused the hen fever in the 1800s because they were new and crossbred with just about every chicken breed known to man.
They are quite popular as pets today but aren’t great at egg production, so if you’re looking for a pet chicken that lays eggs, this isn’t the right choice for you. The breed is large and covered with head-to-toe feathers. In addition, you need to keep them protected in an enclosed environment due to them being slow and easy pickings for predators.
They can live in any climate and are perfect for beginning chicken owners and produce around 100 to 170 brown eggs a year. In addition, they are quiet, so they can be kept just about anywhere as well.
One of the best chickens to keep as a pet, especially for children, is the Polish chicken. You should have no problem identifying this chicken, as it has a very distinct appearance. The boys constantly have bad hair days, and the girls’ hairdos look like pom poms.
Also called the Paduan or the Tophat chicken, this breed is friendly, gentle, and quiet enough to keep about anywhere. Able to adapt to any client, the Polish chicken can lay up to three or four large white eggs a week for a 100 to 170 egg production yearly. So, with this chicken, you get a pet and a layer at the same time.
Now that you know a little about the breeds of chicken out there, our next section will give you some tips on finding the right chicken breed to suit your needs.
The 4 Tips for Choosing the Right Breed
There are a few things that you should consider before making a final decision on what breed of chicken you want to keep.
1. Do Your Research
While you might already know what type of chicken you want to keep, you need to do your research before making a final decision.
For example, if you want a docile, friendly, and calm chicken, avoid descriptions such as independent, shy, or aloof, as these words tell you the chicken is not great for a pet. The last thing you want is a pet chicken that’s actually bred to fight.
2. Consider Your Time
You need to know ahead of time that you can take care of your chickens in the summer and the winter months. While chickens are certainly not demanding creatures, they have certain needs, so you need the time and patience to take care of those needs, no matter the season.
There are some breeds that require extra care and consideration, so make sure the breed you choose to keep is a breed you have the time to take care of.
3. Know Your Budget
There’s more to keeping chickens than just throwing them a bit of feed in the mornings and evenings. You should know your budget, not only for purchasing the chickens but for keeping up with their care and feeding as well. You need a coop, a feeder, and quite a bit more to even get started. On top of that, some breeds can cost up to $100 per chicken, so be prepared for that.
4. Know the Law
It’s essential that you know the law on keeping chickens in the state and county you live in because everywhere is different. The last thing you want is to get your chickens, set up housekeeping, and then find out you can’t have them.
We’ve determined that there are quite a few chicken breeds out there to choose from. Whether it’s as egg layers, pets, or chickens that serve a dual purpose. While we didn’t go into all 65 recognized breeds, these few should be enough to get you started on chicken keeping if that’s what you want to do.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay