Would you like to raise your own chickens in your backyard? For the majority of the people, the primary incentive of raising backyard chickens is a fresh supply of eggs.
Apart from just harvesting eggs, backyard chickens are also great for meat and as pets.
There are numerous varieties of chicken breeds. Some are exceptionally good egg layers, while other breeds are better for meat since they don’t lay many eggs.
Further, certain chicken breeds like American Game, Old English Game, Java Chicken, and Saipan Jungle Fowl are notorious fighters and they will charge at anything that comes in their way. So, unless and until you have a large backyard, with plenty of areas to roam, you should not consider having these chicken breeds, even as pets.
If you are looking to start your own flock of backyard chickens, below are some suggestions for you. It’s a comprehensive list of top 15 backyard chicken breeds for chicken lovers like you.
From the most popular ones to the rarest ones, the list provides you with an insight into the chicken breeds to help you establish your coop and make your flock a success.
Let’s get started.
1. Plymouth Rock
If you are a beginner raising your first flock, Plymouth Rock is a great chicken breed. They are popular with seasoned farmers and beginners alike because the breed is responsive, glorious, and relaxed.
Introduced in the 1900s, this wonderful breed of chicken can make any coop loving and fun place to be. They are excellent egg layers – laying large eggs 200+ times a year!
This makes them one of the most popular chicken breeds for your backyard. The best part, they make an excellent pet, as they love companionship, affection, and cuddles. If you have kids, they would definitely love Plymouth Rock chickens.
2. ISA Brown
ISA stands for Institut de Sélection Animale, the French company which developed the crossbreed in 1978. This breed of chicken is known for its high egg production.
This makes them the popular choice for backyard chicken keepers. They are gentle in nature and adore human company. This affectionate chicken breed loves to get to know their family.
They like to be touched and cuddled and can tolerate even the clumsiest of hands.
These chooks were explicitly bred for egg production. With the right care and diet, a single ISA Brown can provide you with up to 300 delicious, nutritious eggs every year.
Now, that’s a lot of eggs!
The fabulous Australorp is a popular backyard chicken breed, especially in Australia, due to their brilliant blue, white, or black plumage, and exceptional egg laying capability.
Native to Australia, there is something special about this chicken breed. For starters, it can lay up to 300+ eggs in a year (250 eggs – average). The eggs are not only delicious but high in protein as well.
The most fantastic thing about this chicken breed is that they go incredibly well with other chicken breeds as well, including their human companions.
These chooks are hard as a rock and can withstand any hard weather conditions and climate.
Barnevelder is a Dutch chicken breed known for its distinctive yet attractive personality. It is a popular backyard chicken breed for its quirky character and unique plumage.
You can expect to get 200 eggs per year from a single chook. What’s impressive is that the eggs they lay are beautiful, chocolate-brown in color that are nutritious and tasty.
When we talk about their personality, they are not as active as your Plymouth Rocks or Australorps. They have a laid-back personality (sort of lazy), making them perfect suburban backyards.
They have a vibrant iridescent green feathering that can make the other birds, as well as your neighbor coop owners, go envy.
The fluffy, courteous, and cute Orpington chicken is considered the best mother in all the animal kingdom. The Orpington chicken is known for fostering chicks of other chooks as well.
Orpingtons are maternal by nature. They were created by British poultry breeders. Their fluffy feathers protect them from harsh winter conditions.
So, if you live in a region that experiences extreme cold, raising this chicken breed in your backyard would be a good idea.
Harsh weather conditions don’t stop Orpington chickens from laying eggs. They can produce roughly around 300 eggs a year. These chickens are great as pets and will never let you feel alone.
6. Naked Neck
When you first see the naked neck chicken breed, it is possible that you will find them bizarre. Well, there’s nothing wrong with this chicken breed. Their distinctive, featherless neck is what makes them unique.
Some say that they are a result of a cross between a chicken and a turkey. They are native to Transylvania and are an all-season chicken breed that can tolerate tough summers and freezing winters.
However, when we talk about broodiness, naked necks aren’t that much into it. Instead of warming their eggs, they prefer grazing in the backyard or playing with other feathery friends.
With that said, they are not good egg layers and only lay 120-150 eggs a year.
7. New Hampshire Red
The New Hampshire Red is a robust chicken breed that doesn’t disappoint you when it comes to producing eggs. Developed in 1935, the New Hampshire Reds are gentle and elegant hens that can fit anywhere. They can produce up to 200 eggs a year.
The primary reason why most coop owners love to have this breed is that if you are considering raising some chooks from eggs, they are the wisest choice.
They play the perfect foster moms and don’t discriminate between their own eggs and other chooks’ eggs. New Hampshire Reds are robust and reliable and you can expect them to produce eggs all-round the year, it doesn’t matter the weather and climate.
If you have a thing for fancy chickens and love the idea of them roaming freely in your backyard, then look into the Silkies.
Known for its puffy and fluffy plumage, the Silkie chicken breed has got style in spades. They have a calm and composed nature and only weigh a pound or two.
While they don’t produce many eggs (100-120 a year), they are excellent brooders. If you are looking for a chicken as a pet, go with Silkie.
They are like dogs. This chicken breed loves cuddling, affection, and some scratching on their heads.
9. Belgian d’Uccle
Native to Uccle in Belgium, Belgian d’Uccle is one of the cuddliest, loveliest, and sweetest chicken breeds in the whole world. They come in different sizes and colors with some mesmerizing feather features.
Belgian d’Uccle is perfect for those who want to keep chickens as pets but not for the eggs. They only produce 100 eggs a year. You can add them into the mix with other chickens and create a diverse chicken coop.
They are stylish chooks with beautiful feathery beards and feathery boots. Belgian d’Uccles are gentle mothers, though. They love curling up on top of delicate and precious eggs.
Another fancy chicken breed to add to your backyard coop is the Frizzle. Unlike other chicken breeds, the Frizzles have feathers that curl outwards instead of lying flat.
For some, these chickens may seem like they had an unfortunate blow dry. Well, that is not the case with them. Their frizzled locks are what make them unique, and this might be the reason why they are expensive as well.
First originated in Asia in the 18th century, this chicken breed has now found a home in households across the globe.
Crazy on the outside and calm on the inside, the Frizzles can lay up to 150 tinted or cream eggs a year.
The Polish chickens are one of the most popular chicken breeds celebrated for their fashion sense. These glamorous chickens are one of the most beautiful of all the chicken breeds. They have gorgeous feathery crests that look like a crown.
They are show chickens that take part in competitions with their owners. With that said, if you are considering having these chickens in your backyard coop, you must pay extra attention to their diet and grooming.
In order to maintain their feathers, you must keep them from getting wet and dirty. They are non-broody and only lay 100-120 eggs a year.
12. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is easy to care for. They are healthy chooks that can tolerate any environment, no matter the weather.
Rhode Island Red is probably one of the hardiest chicken breeds we have mentioned in this list. Their red-colored plumage and bright yellow legs create a combination that other chooks envy.
It is a large breed of chickens, where an average chook can weigh around 6 pounds. They are a busy chicken breed that spends most of their time curiously investigating your backyard.
They are a perfect breed for those who want year-round eggs. A single Rhode Island Red can lay 300 eggs annually.
Leghorn chickens are known for their excellent egg-laying capacity. They can lay 300+ eggs in a single year. Leghorns are Italian chicken breeds. True to their Italian heritage, these chickens are classically beautiful.
They have a unique style since their plumage comes in different patterns and colors. These hens are quite a sight to behold. They can weigh around 4 pounds and make for an excellent chicken breed.
Most importantly, they are excellent flyers. That means they need a good-sized fence. The breed demands a lot of care. They cannot tolerate extreme hot and cold. Hence, their coop must be designed accordingly.
Cochin chickens give you the feel of luxury. With their feathery legs, buxom bodies, and friendly nature, they are a popular chicken breed.
They are beautiful big birds that can weigh up to a whopping 11 pounds. However, they are not good egg layers. They will only lay 90-100 eggs annually.
This fancy chicken breed is bred for show and competition purposes. But their warm nature and activeness make them an excellent backyard chicken breed to have.
They are excellent as pets but do follow a special diet. Farmers use Cochin chickens as foster mums for eggs, including eggs of ducks and even turkeys, due to their large size.
Araucana is a breed of fancy chickens that always leave an impression whenever you see them. These are curious birds that love to roam around the free space. They help in keeping the backyard clean as they eat all the weeds, worms, insects, and other wiggly wonders out there.
Now, what’s fascinating about these chickens is that they lay mind-expanding blue eggs. Their eggs can range from blue to olive color, to more often blue-green.
They are natural beauties and can lay up to 180 vibrant eggs a year. Araucanas are also good foster moms. They will foster abandoned eggs as their own.
However, one sad thing about this breed is that the successful hatch rate of Araucana baby chicks is quite low. This is what makes them an expensive breed to have.
These are the most popular chicken breeds out there for your backyard. If you have previously owned chicken, then you know what it takes to care for them.
The chicken breeds on the list are great for beginners, as well as seasoned professionals. You can learn more about the breeds, diet, and how to care for chickens by reading these books.