Returning to Our Roots // Which Chicken Should I Pick?
If you follow us on Instagram, then you know that I've been posting a lot about chickens lately! That's because we're getting closer and closer to our first "flock"! Ah!! I use quotations because we can technically only have a few on our property. We live in town, so that means we have an ordinance for the amount of chickens we can raise. I was hesitant to announce whether or not chickens would be a reality for us this spring because we weren't sure if there would be enough money and time to build an entirely new coop, let alone the coop of our dreams! Of course, we wanted one that the humans of the family were able to walk in because that would make it easier to clean and much better for pictures! There was a lot of debate. We had settled on building the greenhouse first (which is currently in progress!!!) so that we could get the garden started. The garden was and is first priority. We're hoping it sustains a majority of our vegetables for the rest of the year! So we decided that we could maybe build a super tiny coop, one that was mostly a little box house and then a small run, if we had time.
Then my dad had a genius idea - why didn't we just turn the potting shed into our coop? Behind the original studio (we now work in a second studio!), there's a small tool shed/garage attached that holds our gardening tools, the mower, and is what we planned on making into more of a potting shed. We'll be storing the mower and other power tools somewhere else anyway. The chickens could be housed there! We'll build a few feet out from the back wall to create a coop and then attach the run to the outside of the studio. Genius! Then we can walk in, take great photos, and not have to worry about building an entirely new structure. We're officially raising chicks this spring!! Hooray!
With that being said, what kind of chickens should you get? There are several different breeds out there! Where do you start? I decided to do a little digging and put together two lists, Kid-Friendly + Best Egg Layers, for you on which types of chickens to get if you are a backyard farmer like us - ha!
KID FRIENDLY CHICKENS
Plymouth Rocks make excellent backyard pets. They live a long time, are gentle, and get along really well with other pets and their owners. They're friendly, great layers, and can withstand cold weather - something that's a must for us! Plymouth Rocks come in several different colors and plumage patterns. They are smart, plucky, and docile. They lay four to five pink-brown eggs a week.
You'll read this everywhere, but Buffs are most well know as the "Golden Retrievers" of all chicken breeds. They are the best pick for first time chicken owners, as they are extremely friendly, curious, and enjoy being held. They like to follow along with you in the yard, calm and patient, these birds are extremely sweet. Their eggs are large and brown, and they lay about three a week. This is the best breed voted by far for backyard farms!
One of the most calm and gentle chickens, Australorps make great pets for families with young children. These hens like to become the heads of their flock with a firm yet gentle hand. They are homebodies and can handle confinement well. Curious, friendly, and outgoing, the Australorp lays around five medium brown eggs per week. They are peaceful and dignified, sweet and shy, recommended highly to anyone who would love to have a pet chicken.
Known for their fluffy toes and Chinese heritage, Cochins are your best bet for huggable, lovably chickens! They are well suited for living in their coop their entire lives - perfect if you live in a city. They are not great layers, but are most popular for their sweet nature and excellent mothering skills. This was Queen Victoria's favorite chicken! They are peaceful, friendly, easily handled, and are happy to wander about the yard in a lazy manner.
The Wyandotte is extremely friendly and is generally picked as a favorite among backyard chicken owners for their fun personalities, easygoing nature, egg laying, variety of gorgeous colors, and hardiness. They tend to be very dominant in their flocks.
Best Egg Layers
Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Reds are pretty much a common staple when it comes to backyard chickens - they're always the first breed to be mentioned to us when we ask for opinions on which type we should get. However, I'm not convinced that they're that great when it comes to keeping a pet. While we do want our chickens to lay pretty eggs for us, the community we live in is filled with farms offering fresh eggs (I mean, really fresh!) for an incredible price. We don't really feel like these guys fit us! They are a dual purpose bird, meaning they can be used for egg laying or meat. Their incredibly hardy, known for being tough, and are amazing egg layers. Rhode Island Reds can lay around 250 eggs a year and 5 eggs a week! They are well suited for self care and are generally easy going.
Leghorns hail from Italy and are that classic white + red chicken of your dreams! They can also lay around 250 eggs per year. That's a lot of eggs! They are extremely shy and difficult to tame, but are also quite active and intelligent. The Amish country store we usually purchase eggs from have lots of Leghorns, and they are always very nervous around us. Tad likes to try and offer them little grass scraps from the other side of the fence, and they will only try it if he throws it some distance off. But - they lay eggs every day. Wow! Some owners have reported that they can be quite sweet.
These are also dual purpose birds. They are very calm and are happy to just free range around your yard, without destroying it, which sounds nice! They can be tamed easier than most and will eat from your hand if offered. Sussexes are calm, confident, curious, and quite mellow. They are great for winter climates as they will continue to lay through the cold.
If you're looking for a surprising color, the Maran lays dark brown eggs, or chocolate eggs as they are most well known! They are dual purpose and can lay up to 200 eggs a year. They are very similar to the temperament of Plymouth Rocks and do not need a lot of space to roam. Marans are very gentle, but do tame well and do not make very good pets.
Anconas are strange, I mean, look at that comb! They are active but do not enjoy human contact a whole bunch. If you're more a recluse, then this might just be the chicken for you! They will lay 5 eggs a week and are really great foragers. This bird is hardy, skittish, and will need its feathers clipped often because they like to escape their cages!
There are so many great choices out there! Of course, we'll probably be looking more to the kid-friendly list. We want chicken pets rather than egg layers. It's funny how people's perspectives differ, as a lot of people are just more concerned with how many eggs they will be getting! I hope this list helps you out if you are looking into getting chickens of your own. Can't wait to share more!