When you’re new to chickens, life’s a whole lot easier starting with a chicken breed that’s perfect for your needs. But there isn’t one true breed that is the best chicken breed for beginners.
With that being said, depending on your purpose for owning chickens, we’ve got a few recommendations for what we’ve found to be great chicken breeds for first-time owners.
Read on to learn more about the three breeds we recommend.
Best Chicken Breed for Lots of Eggs
The Rhode Island Red is a great heritage breed for those who want a prolific egg-layer. In fact, these rust-colored chickens can 200-300 eggs per year!
The Rhode Island Red is a very popular chicken; it’s actually a best-seller for most hatcheries in the United States. Amazingly, it’s also one of the oldest chicken breeds in the United States and was developed in the late 1800s.
Not only is the Rhode Island Red a beautiful egg-layer, but it’s also a fairly friendly bird. Some even say it’s one of the friendlier breeds despite the bad reputation Rhode Island Red roosters have gotten over the years. (don’t pay too much attention to this, because each bird is unique when it comes to personality).
This chicken has a very curious temperament, and will usually follow you around the yard, just being nosey.
Additionally, the Rhode Island Red is quite hardy and can thrive in most climates well as long as it’s provided the shelter necessary to survive extreme temperatures.
The Rhode Island Red lays medium-sized brown eggs, nearly daily, except for the winter months or under poor conditions. So, if you’re in the market for a prolific egg-layer, the Rhode Island Red is the chicken breed for you!
Best Breed of Chicken for Meat Production
When it comes to raising chickens for meat, the best breed to raise if you’re short on time is the Cornish Cross. They grow fast and big.
But if you want something a little less modified, you might consider the Ranger chicken.
The Ranger is a breed that also grows quickly and becomes quite large. However, it does not suffer some of the same health issues the unnatural growth of the Cornish Cross might experience, if managed incorrectly.
We recommend starting with the Ranger before jumping into the Cornish Cross for meat production purposes. The only true downside of the Ranger is the color of its skin, which is yellow. With that being said, it’s important to understand that this is purely an aesthetic issue and in no way changes the quality or taste of the meat.
Best Chicken Breed for Kids
The truth is, there are many excellent breeds of chicken for children and new chicken owners. But if you’re looking for a friendly, calm, breed that is both an egg-layer and a meat chicken, you might want to look to the Orpington.
The Orpington currently comes in Buff, White, Blue, and Black (these are the colors the American Poultry Association APA recognizes) but you can also find plenty of flashy colors, including our favorite, the Lavender Orpington.
The Orpington has been a fan favorite since its development, in the 1800s. And there’s a very good (many) reasons for this!
For one, it’s an excellent egg-layer, laying up to 150-200 brown eggs per year. These pretty brown eggs will range from light to medium brown.
Secondly, the Buff Orpington is a dual-purpose breed, meaning it’s the perfect meat chicken as well. And while the Orpington doesn’t grow as quickly, or as large as the Cornish Cross broiler, it can be butchered at around 22 days.
With that being said, we know this breed is quite docile, and will most likely become a family favorite, especially if you have children who are excited about raising chickens.
The Orpington is hands-down the calmest chicken breed, making it the best breed for kids. It’s often referred to as the Golden Retriever of the chicken world…that’s how reliable and friendly the bird is!
Lastly, the Orpington is both cold and heat tolerant, which makes it well-suited to most regions of the world.
Which Chicken Breed is Best for You?
When it comes down to it, many factors come into play when choosing the right breed for you and your family. Aside from purpose, other things you might want to consider are color, flight abilities, foraging abilities, and on and on the list goes.
So go ahead and shop around, and learn as much as you can about the different breeds of chickens. Then, pick the birds that suit you and your family the best!