Successful backyard chicken breeding is largely dependent upon the breed you choose to raise at home. Some breeds just aren’t cut out for backyard breeding, which is why you need to do your homework before choosing what breed.
Generally chicken are very interesting creatures and will require attention and love, but not all breeds were created equal. Some are better suited to backyard breeding than others.
Making the right chicken breed decision is easy once you determine:
- What you want backyard chickens for, e.g. eggs, meat, pets, etc;
- What qualities you are looking for in a chicken;
- How much you want to spend on the chickens; and
- How much time you want to spend maintaining and caring for the birds.
We’ll now look at each of those factors.
Purpose of Rearing Chickens
Identifying the main reason why one should raise chickens in the backyard must be the first consideration for anyone who is planning to raise chickens in the backyard. The reasons why one would want to breed chickens differ.
Chickens can be bred:
- For their eggs;
- For meat;
- For farming purposes – chicken droppings are ideal for the soil and make perfect manure and fertilizers; or
- To help eradicate pests, weeds and insects.
The Best Backyard Chicken Breeds
Once you know why you want to breed backyard chickens, you can find the breeds most suited to the purpose.
One of the most popular chicken breeds is the Rhode Island Red. This breed of chicken has rusty feathers, which is typical of most backyard chicken breeds. This breed is believed to have originated from the New England region of the United States. The Rhode Island Red is appealing as a backyard chicken breed because it has the ability to readily lay legs and provide good quality chicken meat. Add to this the fact that it is a robust breed, capable producing healthy brown eggs even when subjected to dietary restriction and poor housing, and it’s little wonder the Rhode Island Red is a popular backyard chicken breed.
A Rhode Island Red cock usually weighs 7 – 9 pounds, a hen will weigh 6 – 7 pounds and pullets typically weigh 5 – 6 pounds.
Another popular breed is the Leghorn, which is suitable for individuals who want to keep chicken for egg laying. Leghorns were originally from Italy, but right now, the breed is so widespread in different parts of the world. This breed is renowned for laying so many eggs and this is because it is a specialized chicken breed. One feature that distinguishes this breed from the others is the fact that it is very erratic and noisy.
Another thing one needs to know about the Leghorn is that it may suffer from frostbite, if bred in very cold conditions.
Among other ideal chicken breeds that one can comfortably rear in the backyard is the Jersey Giant. This particular chicken breed can weigh over 13 pounds, making it an ideal choice for backyard chicken breeders looking for a good meat producing chicken. The Jersey Giant originated from New Jersey in the United States. This breed is very healthy and can adapt well if it’s being raised in the backyard. It has a unique color made up of a combination of black and white.
The Plymouth Rock is also one of the best and popular chicken breeds that one can breed in the backyard. The breed was developed in the 19th century in the New England region of the US, where it was a very popular homestead breed and it continues to be popular among backyard breeds of chicken. The Plymouth Rock breed comes in different colors but the most common ones are the white, bur, barred and silver penciled breeds. This is quite a friendly bird and it has a nice calm nature, which makes it simply a perfect breed to rear in the backyard since one is assured that it will not make noise or disturb the neighbors.
Weight of Chicken
It is important to note that most backyard chicken breeds have dual abilities of both laying eggs and meat – and this is why the Plymouth is so popular. When one is selecting a chicken breed to be kept in the backyard, it is necessary to consider the weight of the breed since breeds with more mass produce more meat and can lay bigger and healthier eggs. One has to consider the ability of the breed to adapt to homestead conditions. Apart from the above breeds, other suitable chicken breeds to rear in the backyard include Ameracaunas, New Hampshire Reds and Delewares.