Are you thinking of taking on chicken keeping but are overwhelmed by the choices of chicken breeds out there? I was too, and after many years of trial and error, have put together a list of the top choices for beginner chicken breeds.
The chicken breeds on this list are ideal for anyone stepping into raising chickens for the first time. They’re friendly breeds that are easy to handle and low maintenance.
If you’re a beginner chicken keeper, we have some fun tips for you on which breed to choose for your first backyard flock.
There are several things to consider before choosing a breed:
There’s more that goes into choosing chickens than just their personalities. Where you live, what reason you’re raising chickens for makes a great deal of difference when picking breeds. Before you bring home those baby chicks, check out the following links and make sure you know exactly what kind of chickens will suit your needs.
- Climate – Do you live in an especially cold or hot climate? This absolutely matters when choosing a chicken breed!
- Egg-laying – Is it important for you to replace your grocery store eggs, or are your chickens going to simply be pets with benefits?
- Dual Purpose– Are you planning to use your chickens for both eggs and meat? You’ll need dual purpose breeds!
- Pet Qualities – Do you want cuddly chickens who’ll sit on your lap? Be sure to choose friendly chicken breeds!
Top 10 Chicken Breeds for Beginners
We did all the research for you and here are our Top 10 Best Chicken Breeds for Beginners!
All of the breeds on this list are appropriate for people who’ve never had livestock before. They tend to be easy-going, friendly, and very simple to care for.
1. Rhode Island Red Chickens
Rhode Island Reds were my very first chickens, and so, of course, they had to be number one on the list. These beauties are hardy in all climates and lay 250-300 brown eggs a year.
Rhode Island Reds are also a great choice if you have young children. They’re well known for being docile and easy to handle, even for little hands.
They are active foragers, and their feed to egg ratio is excellent. They are also a dual-purpose chicken meaning you can use them for both egg production and butcher to eat if that’s what you’re looking for in a chicken.
Once you meet this friendly variety, you are going to fall in love.
Australorp chickens are also one of the top layers averaging 250 light brown eggs a year.
They have an unusually docile temperament, perfect for backyard flocks, and excellent for families with young kids.
Known for being hardy in colder climates, Australorps do not do as well in severe heat. Their dark black plumage is stunning in the sunlight with hues of purple and green. They are dual-purpose and a great addition to a mixed flock of chickens.
Australorps are one of my favorite friendly breeds, they’ll sit right on your lap and love to ‘help’ with yard work. Ours used to follow us around in the garden, begging for worms!
3. Buff Orpingtons
This fluffy jewel is perfect for children and anyone wanting a lap chicken. They are the most docile of the Orpington breed with high egg-laying capacity at 200-280 per year.
The large size of this bird also makes them dual purpose, but the real show stopper with this breed is their hardiness, they’re a wonderful choice for cold climates. The plethora of buff feathers not only make them beautiful as they glide across your yard but protects them from cold.
Buff Orpingtons are also known to be broody, which means they’ll want to sit on and hatch eggs. They tend to make excellent mothers!
Once you experience raising these friendly birds, you’ll always want at least one in your flock.
As Foghorn Leghorn would say, “Pay attention to me about this breed” because it’s not only famous for being on TV but is also known for laying large to extra-large white eggs in the numbers of 280-320 per year.
If your main goal for getting chickens is to fill your fridge with fresh eggs, this is your breed!
Leghorns are intelligent and are great foragers. Due to the fact that Leghorns tend to be flighty, they are not great pets, especially for children. They do well in both warm and colder climates.
Leghorns are a great option for beginners because they’re hardy birds with zero aggression issues and will fit into practically any backyard flock. Their smaller size makes them perfect for a tiny urban flock and they provide maximum egg production to boot!
Read more about the Leghorn on our breed spotlight!
5. Barred Plymouth Rock
These black and white chickens are not only beautiful to look at but are considered the watchdogs of a flock.
Plymouth Rock chickens are a dual-purpose bird that lays 4-5 large brown eggs weekly, and just like a dog will follow you around the yard.
This breed is friendly as they come, they are great lap chickens and do well with children. Barred Rocks also play well with other chickens, and do very well in a mixed flock.
6. Jersey Giants
The largest of the best breeds for beginners, the Jersey Giant are definitely “gentle giants.”
This dual-purpose breed comes in a variety of colors, but all are calm and docile. They lay around 150-200 extra-large brown eggs per year and aren’t particularly broody.
One of the downsides to raising Jersey Giants is the cost of feed to egg ratio is higher with this bird. It takes a longer time to grow them out for meat production. Jersey Giants are a wonderful choice if you live in a cold climate, as they’re a hardy breed that thrives in harsh winters.
7. Easter Egger
You are in for a treat with this popular breed!
If you’re looking for a bird that will delight your children and wow your neighbors, these chickens will be sure to please. Their beautiful plumage comes in a range of colors and shades. Not only do the hens all look different from each other, but their eggs do too! This breed is full of surprises.
Easter Eggers, as their name suggests, lay 4 large eggs a week in a variety of different colors from aqua to pink to olive and blue. They make an excellent addition to a family flock and are hardy in both cold and warm climates.
They do not qualify as show chickens, however, because they are not a recognized breed.
In our experience raising Easter Eggers, this breed needs to be handled and socialized with people a lot as chicks. They can tend towards being flighty and fearful of people when they grow up if you don’t take this important step.
Sussex chickens are inquisitive, sweet chickens that can thrive in any habitat and love following humans around to beg treats.
Sussex are dual-purpose chickens which lay 4-5 eggs per week even through the winter months.
They have a high feed to egg ratio by being great foragers. Sussex thrive more in colder climates than warm. The Speckled variety is the most popular.
One important note about this breed: They are known for being very vocal. If you have cranky neighbors or don’t like noise, this is not the breed for you!
Silkie chickens are a delightful breed cherished by all who own them. Silkies are known for being very friendly and getting along well with other breeds of chickens. Silkies are also well known for being great mothers, so if you want to hatch chicks with a broody hen, you can’t go wrong with this breed.
Silkies are perfect for beginners or those wishing to have chickens as pets. The only real downside is that they lay few eggs, and because they’re a bantam breed, their eggs are small, and they tend to lay fewer eggs than the other breeds on this list.
Even with the few downsides Silkies have, they’re a wonderful breed that make excellent pets for beginner chicken keepers.
Cochin chickens are known for being sweet and docile, the perfect choice for a beginner chicken keeper. They are also exceptionally beautiful with their fluffy feathers and many distinct looks.
Cochins are good layers, laying around 4 eggs per week. They also tend to go broody and make excellent mothers, so if you want to hatch some chicks at home, this is your breed!
It’s good to know ahead of time that cochins are large breeds that need a lot of space. They may not be a great choice for an urban homestead or a small space.
There you have it! A complete list of the Top 10 Best Chicken Breeds for Beginners! We’d love to know which ones you pick for your first flock, share your story in the comments below!