The Zen of Choosing the Best Backyard Chicken Breeds
Updated: 26 February 2021
With so many international and Australian chickens breeds out there - how can you possibly choose which are the best chicken breeds as pets and layers?
Panic not, hens, we have heard your cries and answered your question: “What are the best backyard chickens in Australia?”
Take a breath, and have a sticky-beak at our list of the best backyard chicken breeds in Australia.
The Best Chicken Breeds for Eggs
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 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.
Ancona, Australian Langshan, Hamburgh and Isa Browns (hybrid commercial layers) are my top picks.
The Best Chickens for Beginners and Kids
What are the best backyard chicken breeds 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 them young and teach your kids to move around them quietly and build trust.
Treats also help!
The All-Round Best Backyard Chicken Breeds
In no particular order, these are my favourite backyard chicken breeds in Australia:
These backyard chickens love to perch in tall trees - wing trimming is essential to avoid this. Choose these types of chickens if you have a good-sized backyard as they need space to free-range and forage.
They also love to chat, which can become very noisy!
If you live in a colder climate or have potential predators lying in wait, this chicken breed is a great choice. They are robust chooks that can detect danger and make a quick getaway compared to more docile chicken breeds.
Their quirks will keep you entertained for hours, and they will lay up to 220 medium-sized white eggs per year.
These ladies are no ordinary chickens. With impressive plumage and energetic personalities, these backyard chickens leave a lasting impression inside and outside the coop.
They love a peck around the garden and they lay blue eggs!
This variety of bantam feature feathered feet, large eyes and are efficient little layers.
These frisky beauties are full of life and Aussie ‘tude. They are one of the most popular backyard chicken breeds as they are generally quite gentle and docile. They are a heavy breed and unlikely to fly.
Extra special care is required to keep them cool during Australian summers. Australorps are cracking little egg layers.
Hilarious, pretty and like to fly when they’re bored within their backyard. Hamburghs cope well with hot summers and enjoy free-ranging and foraging.
Due to their intense energy, we don’t recommend them as pets for the youngins’, but you can enjoy over 200 eggs per year.
This bold breed tends to be 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 - which often catch children’s attention. They are small in stature and poor flyers, which can be an advantage!
Isa Browns are not a breed but a hybrid commercial layer. These humble types of chicken are most often very docile and easily handled by children. One of the best chicken breeds for backyard chicken coops keepers and farmers due to their resilience and egg-ceptional egg-laying abilities.
If this breed appeals to you - see our blog on what to feed these beauties.
Before you decide what are the best backyard chickens for you, consider:
- Are eggs a priority?
- Do you have small children?
- Does your area experience extreme heatwaves in summer?
Get cracking chooks, and bring home the perfect breeds to roost in your chicken coops.
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.
Become an expert in Backyard Chickens 101 and check here for the latest tips and trends all about chooks.
Elise McNamara, Chicken Consultant & Educator.