Who says you need a large farm to raise chickens? More and more animal lovers (and egg lovers) are keeping chickens right in their backyards. Before you bring home some feathery friends, though, be sure you're ready for the responsibility and commitment of keeping chickens, and make sure you have enough time and resources to take care of them properly. You should also confirm that keeping chickens is legal in your area – many cities have restrictions on barnyard animals. OK, with that out of the way, read on for our recommendations for the best chicken breeds for beginners.
Rhode Island Reds
Rhode Island Reds are some of the most popular backyard chickens around, and for good reason. These chickens are great egg producers and it's relatively easy to take care of them. They're strong birds that don't require a ton of space (i.e., they're great for backyards!), and hens of this breed are very friendly.
Buff Orpingtons make great pets due to their super friendly nature – they'll even sit in your lap for attention. They're known to lay a decent amount of eggs but not quite as many as some other breeds. In addition to their friendly demeanor, Buff Orpingtons are very hardy and do well in cold weather, making them a great pick for any novice chicken owner.
If you want to raise chickens for eggs and you're not really looking for a pet, you might consider a Leghorn. These chickens lay a large amount of eggs and do well in warmer weather. That said, they can be nervous birds and they're not known to be very friendly or tame. And if you live in an area with cold weather, you'll need to protect their beaks and combs during winter months.
Plymouth Rocks have a lot going for themselves: they're friendly, hardy, and active and they produce plenty of eggs. They're also known for their distinctive black and white feathers, and do well in cold weather. All in all, Plymouth Rocks are a good fit for first-time chicken owners. Silkies If you want to raise chickens just as pets, Silkies are a great choice. These are some seriously cute chickens, known for their puffy, feathery appearance. They're also very tame and friendly, and they make great moms if you decide to hatch fertile eggs or care for baby chicks. Silkies do need extra care during cold weather, but their adorable charm make it more than worth it.
It's best to stick with one of these more common breeds as a beginner. More unusual breeds can be difficult to care for – and costly. Also remember chickens are social animals so you need to have at least two in order for the birds to be content. Once you've picked a breed, be careful and do your research before mixing them with another breed – problems might arise and the two breeds could even attack each other. Good luck on your backyard farming adventure!
About the Author
Jay Matthews has been writing professionally for over a decade. He's been an animal lover for even longer. When he's not creating articles or copywriting, he's slowly chipping away at a science fiction novel. He lives with his family and their cat Koko in Los Angeles.