Choosing the Best Backyard Chicken Breeds: The Ultimate Guide
Updated: 18 August 2021
With so many international and Australian chickens breeds out there—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 chickens 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.
Which Chicken Breed is Best for Eggs?
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 Australorps are egg-laying machines. Read more about why Australorps are NOT the best layers here.
While chicken breeds 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.
The best breeds for eggs are:
- Australian Langshan,
- Hamburgh, and
- ISA Browns (hybrid commercial layers).
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 is 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 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, here is a list of what kind of chicken breeds are there in Australia:
Anconas 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!
These backyard chickens like cold weather. So, 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. Instead, these lovelies leave a lasting impression inside and outside the coop with impressive plumage and energetic personalities.
In addition, these chicken breeds are good foragers—they love a peck around the garden and lay blue eggs!
This variety of bantam feature feathered feet, large eyes and are efficient little layers.
These frisky beauties are one of the most popular backyard chicken breeds as they are generally quite gentle, docile and full of Aussie ‘tude.
However, they are a heavy breed and unlikely to fly. Therefore, extra special care is required to keep them cool during Australian summers.
Australorps are cracking little egg layers.
Hamburghs are hilarious, pretty and like to fly when they’re bored. They cope well with hot summers and enjoy free-ranging and foraging.
Due to their intense energy, I don’t recommend them as pets for the youngins’, but you can enjoy over 200 eggs per year.
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 - 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.
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 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 my blog on the best feed for ISA Browns.
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.
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.