Choosing Your Next Chicken Breed: Things You Need to Know

There are many factors to consider when choosing your next breed of chicken.

As a general rule, a hen will either put her energy into creating beautiful feathers, OR put her energy into creating eggs. This is why tight feathered, sleek breeds such as Anconas and Hamburgs will outlay the Silkies and Pekins with their loose feathered bodies and fluffy boots...However more important than breed, is bloodlines.

The importance of bloodlines

It is important to note that strains (bloodlines) are more important than the actual breed of your chicken if you are choosing that breed for a particular reason. For example, not all strains of Australorps are good layers these days, because they have been bred for other characteristics, such as size, shape and feather quality. Not all Leghorns and Anconas are flighty, either!

Things you should consider when choosing a breed

  • Egg laying ability.
  • Broodiness – a breed that’s likely to sit is great if you want to hatch chicks, but can be a pain if you don’t.
  • Scavenging abilities if you’re wanting garden workers.
  • Disease resistance.
  • Personality – friendliness is important for children.
  • Rare breed status – consider a rare breed if you can have a rooster and want to have new chicks.
  • Ability to fly, or lack of, if you want well behaved chickens.
  • Climate adaptability – Frizzles will handle heat waves better than a large Sussex, and the opposite is true in snow and frost prone cold climates.
  • Ability to escape predators (in open free range), for example Silkies and Polish can struggle to see eagles and other predators
  • Fluffy feet - feathered feet on a Pekin or Belgian bantam can be a challenge in climates with a lot of seasonal wet weather
  • Meat quality and quantity and size of bird (if you want your own roast chicken).

Want to compare breeds? 

For a limited time, get my eBook, Simple Steps to Successful Backyard Chickens for free. RRP $16.95. On page 10 there's a table comparing the characteristics of some of my favourite breeds for Australian Backyards. Grab your copy now!  

Best chicken breeds for backyards comparison chart 

Want more info on getting started with chickens? Check out my eBook, Simple Steps to Successful Backyard Chickens or join me for an online or in-person chicken workshop.


Yours in healthy and productive chickens,   

Elise McNamara
Poultry Consultant
Helping families, schools and egg farmers to keep healthy, productive hens. www.c



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