A Quick Guide on How to Choose a Chicken Breed

Updated: 18 August 2021

So, you’ve made the easy decision to become a chicken mama or papa. Next, the hard decision is choosing a breed! 

What kind of chicken breeds are there in Australia? Did you know there are over 400 different breeds of chickens?

Considering how many there are, it’s challenging to decide the types of chickens that suit you, your family and your backyard chicken coops.

So, how do you decide?

First, it’s important to note that, as a general rule, a hen will either put her energy into:

  • Creating beautiful feathers, or
  • Creating eggs. 

Tight feathered, sleek breeds such as Anconas and Hamburgs will outlay the Silkies and Pekins with loose feathered bodies and fluffy boots.

However, there is one thing more important than the breed. 

Bloodlines.

The Importance of Bloodlines

A chicken breed’s history and bloodlines (strains) become more important than the actual breeds of chickens, depending on your reason for choosing that particular breed. 

For example, not all strains of Australorps are good layers. Nowadays, they are bred for other characteristics, such as size, shape and feather quality. 

And, not all Leghorns and Anconas are flighty!

Things to Consider When Choosing a Chicken Breed

backyard chicken eggs

Eggs

Bantam chickens, for example, don’t typically lay as often as standard chickens—and their eggs are smaller in size.

However, Anconas, Australian Langshans, Hamburghs and ISA Browns are great little layers.

Broody Hens

Choose a breed that’s likely to sit if you want to hatch chicks. But a broody chook can be a pain if you don’t. 

Chicken breeds known for broodiness are Australorps, Wyandottes and Silkies.

Scavengers 

Araucana, Hamburgh and Silkie chicken breeds are good foragers. They love to free-range and are busy little garden workers.

Disease and Cold Weather Resistance

No birds are 100% disease resistant, but some are a little ‘hardier’ than others. Backyard chickens that do well in cold weather include Leghorns, Wyandottes, Orpingtons and Brahmas.

Temperament

Friendly and tame chickens breeds that like to be held are essential if you have children.

Rare Breeds

Cool rare chicken breeds include Ancona, Araucana and Hamburgs. Choose these breeds if you can have a rooster and want new chicks.

Flying Birds

silkie chicken in the backyard

If you want well-behaved chickens, choose birds that can’t fly.

Climate 

What are good chicken breeds for hot conditions? Frizzles will handle heat waves better than a large Sussex. The opposite is true in snow and frost-prone cold climates.

Predators 

When your ladies are free-ranging, they may be exposed to predators. Silkies and Polish, for example, often struggle to see eagles and other predators.

Fluffy Feet

Feathered feet on a Pekin or Belgian bantam can be a challenge in climates with seasonal wet weather.

Meat Quality

The size of the bird is vital if you want your own roast chicken.

Want to Compare Chicken Breeds of Australia?Best chicken breeds for backyards comparison chart 

In my article, The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Backyard Chicken Breeds, I detail breeds for laying, children’s best breeds and the most popular breeds for Aussie backyards.

You can also find out where and how to buy backyard chickens in Australia, here.

 

I’d love to hear your success stories! Tag me on Instagram or Facebook, or send me an email at - elise@chickencoach.com

Want your chickens to be the healthiest and happiest they can be? I offer backyard chicken workshops, online programs, phone coaching, and in-person support to families, schools, and free-range egg farmers. Visit my online shop for natural, tried-and-tested poultry supplies in Australia.

We’ve got more tips for raising backyard chickens beyond the basics. Become an egg-spert and follow my online guide to raising backyard chickens 101

Elise McNamara, Chicken Consultant & Educator.

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