What Is The Best Backyard Chicken Breed?
If you are starting to raise your own eggs or chickens, you might wonder what chicken breed is the best for a backyard, Ultimately, this is a personal decision. There is a very diverse and long list of chicken breeds to choose from. Many people choose a breed based on appearance alone. Knowing why you want to raise chickens is probably the best place to start when trying to determine which breed is right for you.
Why Are you Raising Chickens?
People raise backyard chickens for different reasons. Maybe you want to have a supply of fresh, healthy eggs or meat for you and your family. Maybe you are looking for an environmentally friendly method of controlling weeds and insects. Maybe you are looking for a source of fertilizer for your garden. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of taking the blue ribbon at the fair for your prized show chicken. Or, maybe you just like chickens, and want to wake up in the morning to hear a rooster crowing outside your window.
Chickens will provide all of these benefits — and provide you will hours of entertainment and enjoyment. They really do have delightful personalities (although some roosters can be downright mean!). One of my favorite parts of every day is walking in the yard with a trail of 15 or more hens following along behind me.
Are You In It For Just The Eggs?
Determining what your goal is will also help you determine how to set up your flock. If you are only raising chickens for eggs and/or meat to eat, they you don’t need a rooster. The only reason you really need a rooster is if you specifically want fertile eggs for hatching. Your hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster. If you do want fertile eggs, or you just like the idea of having a rooster in your flock, make sure you keep the rooster:hen ratio in line. Generally, one rooster for every 10 to 12 hens is sufficient. You definitely don’t want less than 8 hens for every rooster, or your flock will suffer. The hens will be in too much demand, and the roosters will begin fighting among themselves.
Why you want chickens will influence which breed you choose. Basically, chickens can be categorized as meat birds, layers, novelty, or dual purpose. A couple of breeds which are considered good meat producers are Cornish and New Hampshire Red. Some good egg layers are Leghorn, Ancona and Rhode Island Red. Brahma, Silky and Buttercup are good show birds.
Good Breeds Are the Donimique, Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, and Dorking.
If you are planning to have a small backyard flock, your best bet is probably a dual purpose breed, although I initially started out with a commercial broiler breed. Some good dual purpose breeds are Donimique, Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, and Dorking. We’re partial to the Golden Comet Chicken.
Where You Live Is Important In Raising Chickens
Other things to consider are the climate and temperature in your area. I would check with other chicken farmers in your specific part of the country to determine which breeds are the most successful.
If you are still undecided about what type of chickens you would like to raise, you might want to check into raising heritage or heirloom chickens. These are chickens which are considered rare or endangered. If you would like to help save a breed, plan on raising a flock of about 50 chickens, including some roosters, to ensure fertile eggs that you can hatch or sell to others for hatching and help protect an endangered breed.