Choosing the best backyard chicken breeds: The ultimate guide
Updated: 2 December 2022
With so many breeds of fowl in Australia and around the world, choosing the best chicken breeds as pets and layers can seem like one of the biggest problems with backyard chickens.
Panic not, hens, we have heard your cries and answered your question: “What are the best backyard chicken breeds in Australia?”
Take a breath, and have a sticky beak at our ultimate guide.
We’ll talk about the best egg-layers, raising backyard chickens for beginners and the most kid-friendly chooks.
Let’s dive in.
What are the best egg laying chickens?
One of the benefits of raising backyard chickens is having delicious eggs for breakfast.
But, I am often asked, "Except for ISA Browns, what's the best layer?"
When it comes to egg lay, it's important to remember that bloodlines are very important— arguably more important than the breed.
A common misconception is that all Australorps are egg-laying machines. Read more about why Australorps are not the best layers here.
While Hy-Line Browns and ISA Browns are incredible layers, and many are very friendly, they have a shorter lifespan and will lay very few eggs after their second year.
Some of the best breeds for eggs are:
- Australian Langshan
Looking for more information on how to raise backyard chickens for eggs that are healthy and delicious? Or you want to know ‘what do backyard chickens eat?’ See my blog on what to feed your backyard chickens.
What's the best chicken breed for kids?
Breeds such as Silkie, Polish and Pekin are typically great for kids, but not all birds like being cuddled by them!
Whatever chicken breeds you choose, the trick is to get pullets when they're young (ideally 7 to 16 weeks) and teach your kids to move around them quietly and build trust.
Treats also help!
The all-round best backyard chicken breeds
Wondering what kind of chicken breeds are there in Australia?
In no particular order, these are my favourite breeds of chicken for Australian backyards:
These lovelies leave a lasting impression inside and outside the coop with impressive plumage and energetic personalities.
Anconas love to perch in tall trees, wing trimming is essential to help avoid this. Their quirks will keep one entertained for hours. Anconas do best in a large chicken run with deep litter and a roof, or foraging on a large block or acreage. If left to forage all day in a small backyard, they could get curious and try to visit your neighbours!
But for people wanting lots of eggs, they're fabulous. They're excellent layers of medium sized white eggs.
They will live and lay for a long time.
My 7 year old Ancona hens are still laying around 70 eggs each per year.
These birds thrive in hot and cold climates and are generally very hardy.
These ladies are no ordinary chickens. They also love to chat, which can become very noisy!
In addition, these chicken breeds are good foragers—they love a peck around the garden and lay incredible blue eggs.
Australian Langshan Bantam
This variety of bantam feature feathered feet, large eyes and are ripper little layers.
They're incredibly calm and docile, and brilliant for any backyard.
Their feathered feed are beautiful, are slightly more maintenance when it comes to parasites, but they are an all-round robust, productive and pretty little bird.
These beauties are one of the most popular backyard chicken breeds as they are generally quite gentle, docile and full of relaxed Aussie personality.
They are a heavy breed and in my experience eat like Labradors! Because of this, extra special care is required to keep them cool during Australian summers.
Many Australorps bantams are cracking little egg layers.
Hamburghs are hilarious and very pretty.
They're also excellent layers of small to medium sized eggs.
The drawback is that, like Anconas they like to fly if bored of their backyard. They cope well with hot summers and enjoy free-ranging and foraging.
This bold chicken breed is known to go broody (clucky), and they make great mothers.
Their beautiful plumage and happy-go-lucky personalities make them one of the best backyard chicken breeds and are average layers of medium-sized eggs.
This stylishly ornamental breed features black skin and fine fluffy feathers (silk) - which often catch children’s attention.
They are small in stature and poor flyers, which can be an advantage!
I would categorise them as poor layers, but the eggs they do lay have the most amazing sheen.
Like Wyandottes, they have a tendency to go broody but are my favourite breed for hatching and raising chicks.
ISA Browns are not a breed but a hybrid commercial layer.
If you’re wondering, ‘what chickens like to be held?’ These humble types of chicken are most often very docile and easily handled by children.
They are among the best chickens for backyard chicken coops and egg farmers due to their resilience and egg-ceptional egg-laying abilities.
Before you decide what are the best backyard chickens for you, don’t forget to consider:
- Are eggs a priority?
- Do you have small children?
- Does your area experience extreme heat waves in summer?
Get cracking chooks, and bring home the perfect breeds to roost in your chicken coop.
Don’t buy anything before you read my blog of things to consider and where to buy chickens in Australia! And check out my egg-laying FAQs.
Once you decide on your breed, follow my guide on what to do when bringing your new chickens home.
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.
Grab my free guide, The First 8 Steps To Naturally Healthy & Happy Backyard Chickens now!
Elise McNamara, Chicken Consultant & Educator.