Choosing the Right Chickens to Keep

Keeping chickens can be a good business venture and should therefore be done with care so that one does not run at a loss. In deciding what chickens to keep, you really need to consider what you want the chickens for.  You may wish to keep the chickens for:

  • Meat;
  • Eggs;
  • Sale;
  • Show; or
  • Pets.

Once you know why you want chickens in the first place, you need to understand that some breeds of chicken are easier to keep cooped up in the backyard than others. Some chicken make good pets for young children, are able to tolerate humans handling them and can cope well in a coop.  On the other hand, most chickens known to be high egg producers do not make ideal for rearing in the backyard.

Breeds ideal for egg production

For the light brown or dark brown colored eggs, the Rhode Island would make an ideal chicken to keep. The Bantam, also known as the Barnevelder chicken, is considered a high egg producer with it laying about 180-200 eggs each year. The people who prefer the white eggs with a light tinge on them should opt for Dorkings as the chicken to keep. One thing one ought to take note of is that Dorklings can only produce eggs which are medium sized.

On the other hand, if one is seeking the exotic eggs with a dark chocolate brown shell, then the person should get the producer known as the Maran.

Breeds ideal for keeping as pets

The Barnevelder is not only a good egg producer but it also makes a good pet chicken. On the hobby farms, it is considered as a prized bird because it is able to produce good looking yellow chicks that take about weeks without their chick look changing. It is amazing how such beautiful chicks are able to grow large and also strong enough for babies to handle them as pets. They should be handled properly so as to keep them in good shape.

Another chicken which is an ideal pet due to its friendly nature is the Anacona, an Italian chicken breed which is lighter, rounder and not as aggressive as many other chickens. Another chicken breed that has been branded specifically as well a mannered pet is the Australian Austrolope.  For years, this particular breed of chicken has been well regarded as a popular backyard pet.

But when it comes to keeping chickens in the backyard, not all breeds are created equal.  One should avoid the Old English Game breed of Hens, originally referred to as cock fighters since they are naturally aggressive.

Breeds ideal for eating

If a chicken farmer is keeping chicken for the purposes of eating them, then the Sussex is the most ideal breed, mainly because it is a heavy bird that therefore provides a good amount of breast meat. Also suitable for eating is the Wyandotte chicken is a dual purpose bird making it a favorite for many people. This breed will lay brown eggs and when it comes to its value as a chicken breed suitable for eating, it is known to have very juicy meat.

Durable breeds for colder climates

If you desire to keep chickens, then it is wise take into consideration the classification of the breed.  In other words, is it a hardy breed or not. A hardy breed is the type of breed which is able to withstand cold weather. If this is an important requirement, then the best breed to go for is the Rhode Island Red which is a more durable type of breed. Another breed which is classified amongst the most durable and hardy birds in existence is the Dorking. This is mainly because it is able to live in a cold coop and at the same time be able to bear with being penned in a dark space that has a roof covering. They are broody and are ideal setters.

Breeds suitable for showing

The best chicken to show off at an exhibition is the Bantam type of chicken. The miniature Bantam breeds are a show stopper for many people at exhibitions, especially in the UK and Canada. One other breed of chicken trendy for exhibitions is either the white or the black Orpingtons, originally from Australia.

There is a massive passion to show off the current game chickens such as the renowned Old English cock fighter.  For show, owners will often groom them in a manner that is suited for fighting.  As such owners will cull the comb of the cock.

And finally…

It is good to identify the chicken breed you want simply because there are some which are cross breeds and as a result may have some behaviors which may not be impressive to the owner. At the same time, there are breeds which are not able to resists diseases effectively and hence require more attention than others. It is of essence to know the best qualities to look for in chicken breeds before you start keeping chickens. Chicken have a maximum life span of approximately fifteen years meaning they can offer a relatively long period of companionship.