Are you interested in starting or expanding your own backyard chicken coop? If so, you’re probably wondering which birds would work best for your flock. Every chicken breed comes with its own unique characteristics, which means the best fit will depend on what you’re looking for. Do you want hens with extremely gentle temperaments? Are you raising your chickens for delicious and bountiful farm-fresh eggs? Perhaps you’re more interested in beautiful or unique-looking chickens for your backyard. Fortunately, no matter what your reason for raising chickens is, there’s sure to be a breed that’s perfect for your coop. Learn more about the best chicken breeds for your backyard coop with this guide.
If the idea of a gentle giant appeals to you, then Brahma chickens are the way to go. These birds stand about two and a half feet tall and can weigh up to eight pounds, making them one of the larger chicken breeds out there. Despite their size, Brahma hens are calm and gentle. Their friendly nature makes them great choices for families who want to raise chickens. These chickens are also quite beautiful, with feathered feet and a variety of possible colors. Brahmas are hardy creatures that do well throughout the winter, even in northern climates. As far as egg production goes, these birds produce about 120 to 150 brown eggs a year.
Originally hailing from Australia, Australorp chickens boast beautiful coats of soft, shiny black, blue, or white feathers. Chicken-lovers favor these birds for both their meat and their eggs. They can lay over 250 light brown eggs a year. Australorps are a gentle breed that does well in confined spaces, making them excellent, manageable choices for first-time chicken-owners. These birds are excellent foragers and among the hardier chicken breeds. All of this makes them an easy, accessible breed to start off your backyard chicken-keeping career.
Orpington chickens come in many gorgeous colors, including black, white, blue, and even lavender. Among the most popular, however, is the golden-yellow coat of the Buff Orpington. The coat of soft, billowy feathers isn’t the only perk of this breed, either. Orpington hens are excellent layers, producing over 200 light brown eggs a year. These birds have tame, easy-going temperaments, which means they’re wonderfully family-friendly options. Their British origins mean they’re heavyset and hardy, able to survive even the coldest English winters. Despite their durability, however, lighter color variations make them easier targets for predators. If you choose these friendly birds for your flock, make sure you have the proper predator-proofing in your coop to keep them safe.
Leghorn chickens also have several color variants, but the most popular by far is the White Leghorn. Many people favor these purebred birds for their classic all-white bodies and bright red combs. Leghorn chickens can be shy and flighty. Despite their easily startled nature, Leghorns are an active breed that enjoy their outdoor space. Their flighty temperament might not make them the best family pets, but these birds are expert egg-layers. Leghorn hens can lay over 250 white, medium-size eggs a year.
This popular breed has a notable black-and-white striped pattern on its feathers. Plymouth Rock hens are calm and hardy—perfect choices for your first backyard chicken breed. They also make excellent family pets, given their friendly nature. You can even train them to eat out of the palm of your hand. Plymouth Rock chickens are known for their longevity and fantastic egg-laying skills. You can expect around 200 to 250 light brown, almost pinkish eggs per year.
Another larger breed, Sussex chickens get their popularity from their calm nature, beautiful color varieties, and egg-laying skills. Like Plymouth Rock hens, Sussex chickens make excellent family birds because of their gentle and friendly disposition. Sussex hens are also extremely curious—don’t be surprised if you catch one of these hens following you around the backyard just to see what you’re doing. For this reason, Sussex chickens make excellent companions for you and any other member of the family. As far as egg production goes, these birds will lay an average of 250 eggs per year, their color ranging from brown to a creamy white.
If you’re looking for a beautiful flock to adorn your backyard, look no further than the Wyandotte breed. These chickens come in a variety of laced colors, including blue, silver, gold, and even brassy reds and browns. These birds are heavyset and compact. They also have an easygoing temperament that makes them ideal for beginner chicken-keepers. Combine that with a laying average of 200 tan or light brown eggs a year, and it’s easy to understand why Wyandottes are one of the most popular chicken breeds for your backyard coop. From attractiveness to usefulness, these birds are great additions to any flock.
Laying only around 100 eggs a year, Silkie hens don’t stand out as amazing egg-layers. Instead, they more than make up for a lack of eggs with their unique, eye-catching appearance. Fluffy, poofy plumage covers these birds—even at the top of their heads. Silkies come in a variety of colors, each of which stands out as an iconic, adorable addition to your coop. Silkie hens are great choices for beginner chicken-keepers because of their charming and friendly nature. However, their small stature often makes them the target of bullying from other chickens, so be careful when mixing Silkies with other birds.
Rhode Island Red
These chickens have more than earned their spot as the state bird of Rhode Island. Hardy and robust, Rhode Island Reds can withstand and thrive in nearly any environment. Whether you see a lot of rain throughout the year or bitterly cold winters, you can rely on your Rhode Island Reds to make it through with an abundance of spirit and grit. These birds come in a variety of colors, ranging from rusty reds and browns to black. They can produce upward of 250 brown, medium-size eggs a year. Rhode Island Reds are capable of fending for themselves, but this trait has given them a reputation for bullying. It might take a little more experience to keep these hens from pecking at each other, but this breed’s qualities far outweigh its complications.
Now that you know a little more about some of the most popular chicken breeds available, it’s time to make sure you have the perfect home for your new birds. Make sure your coop is ready for your newest flock members with our chicken coop netting and other coop supplies.
Which chicken breeds do you have in your backyard coop? Share your favorites with your fellow chicken enthusiasts in the comments below!