Naturally, the perfect chicken breeds mean different things to different people.
My perfect chicken would not only lay the egg but scramble it and serve it in bed to me. While I enjoyed breakfast in bed, she would do housework!
So, for me, the perfect chicken sadly doesn’t exist, but truthfully I think chickens are nearly perfect anyway.
For those of you who have more realistic expectations of your chickens, we have put together a complete list of the most popular chicken breeds around from A-Z.
Around the same time that Orpingtons were being developed as a breed, Australorps were as well. Australians liked the black Orpingtons that were being brought over from England and valued them for their egg-laying ability. With maximum egg production in mind,
Australians continued to develop their own distinct breed. The breed went by many names, struggling to distinguish itself from Orpingtons, and finally settled on Australorp in the 1920s.
These birds are known for their excellent egg production. You’ll easily get 250 light brown eggs per year. The record-holding hen laid 364 eggs in a 365 day period, without the assistance of artificial lighting!
Barnvelders are named after the Dutch town of Barnveld. They are a medium-sized, dual-purpose bird. They are hardy and make good foragers. They lay a fair number of dark brown eggs, are good winter layers, and have a calm disposition.
The original and most well-known variety of this breed is the Double-laced pattern. They have beautiful plumage, with each feather having copper, black, and metallic green coloring. They make an excellent addition to a backyard flock, and are quite the conversation piece!
The Bielefelder is a modern breed, developed in the early 1970s in Bielefeld, Germany. Poultry breeder Gerd Roth used genetics from a number of breeds including the Cuckoo Malines, Amrock, Wyandotte, and New Hampshire. The Bielefelder managed to retain the best qualities of all these breeds. Consider this breed another example of extraordinary German engineering. They check off all the boxes on your “perfect chicken” wish list.
This dual-purpose breed is autosexing so males and females can be identified immediately upon hatching. Females have a chipmunk strip on their backs, while males are lighter in color and have a yellow spot on their heads. They mature to have a complex feather pattern which is best described as cuckoo red partridge.
Birds are very friendly and seek human interaction. They have a large frame that holds plenty of meat. Roosters can weigh 10 – 12 pounds! Their size and camouflaging feather pattern makes them perfect for free-range conditions.
Hens can produce upwards of 230 large eggs per year. Their eggs are a unique shade of brown with pink undertones that you won’t find anywhere else.
BLACK STAR / RED STAR
Red Stars and Black Stars are hybrids that have been bred to have their color at hatching linked to the sex of the chicken (pullet or cockerel). This makes chick sexing an easier process, and you as the purchaser are less likely to be surprised! Ever had a pullet started to crow one day? Not with these birds!
They’ve also been developed to be extremely good egg layers. Don’t be surprised if you see 300 eggs in a year! Egg color and size will vary, depending on the cross-breeding.
Black Stars are a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Barred Rock hen. Red Star’s are a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and either a White Rock, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Rhode Island White or Delaware hen.
Often referred to as the “King of All Poultry”, the Brahma chicken is appreciated for its great size, strength, and vigor. By 1901, birds were documented to have reached the incredible weights of 18 pounds! This breed, together with the Cochin, fueled what became known as “Hen Fever” – a national obsession for poultry that hit both America and England around 1850.
Brahmas are an excellent addition to a backyard flock. They are hardy chickens in winter climates, they cannot fly over low fences (because of their size), and they have calm and docile personalities. The best part, they lay the majority of their eggs October thru May! That means while the rest of your girls may slow or even quit production for the winter, your Brahmans will keep the egg cartons full of large, medium brown eggs.
One thing to keep in mind, Brahmas are not ideal for hot climates. Their anatomy makes them susceptible to overheating. So, if you keep Brahmas, make sure to keep them cool in summer!
The Buckeye breed was created by Mrs. Nettie Metcalf in Ohio in the late 19th century. In fact, the Buckeye is the only American breed of chicken developed solely by a woman. She crossed Buff Cochins and Barred Plymouth Rocks to create a large, lazy fowl, and then added some Black-Breasted Red Game birds.
Buckeyes are a dual-purpose breed of chicken with lustrous red color. They have pea combs (distinguishing them from Road Island Reds), are cold-weather hardy, and adaptive to a variety of living conditions. These active, friendly birds are well-known for their abilities to hunt and catch mice!
In 1907, a monk, Brother Wilfrid Châtelain, noticed that no breeds of chicken had yet been established in Canada. All the birds were from Europe or America. He set out to change this and create a practical chicken that would be suited to Canada’s climate, and be an excellent dual-purpose bird. By 1918, he debuted the Chantecler.
Chanteclers are large birds with white plumage that lays tight against the body. They have exceptionally small cushion combs and wattles, which attributes to them being one of the hardiest breeds. They are fairly tame but do not thrive in confinement, so consider this breed for free-ranging. They lay about 200 brown eggs annually.
Delawares were developed in 1940, in Delaware, by George Ellis. They were originally known as “Indian Rivers.” The breed originated from crosses of Barred Plymouth Rock roosters and New Hampshire hens. Although originally intended as a meat bird, Delawares make an excellent dual-purpose bird. They are known to have a calm and friendly disposition and lay jumbo brown eggs – about 4 per week in ideal conditions. Plus, let’s not forget to mention their beautiful plumage!
The Java is the 2nd oldest chicken breed developed in America, going back to 1835. Its ancestors come from the island of Java in the Far East. Javas are an excellent breed for free-ranging homesteads and are known for their egg production and table qualities. Javas come in white, black, mottled, and auburn. The Black Java is known for the brilliant beetle-green sheen of its feathers.
The Jersey Giant chicken was developed between 1870 and 1890 in New Jersey. You can probably guess that these birds are pretty big! Roosters weigh in at 13 pounds, and hens can easily grow up to 10 pounds! They are the largest purebred chicken breed.
They are known to be fairly good layers compared to other large breeds and are good winter layers. Expect about 260 large brown eggs per year.
Marans originated in western France and were imported in the 1930s. There are 9 recognized colors: Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Black, Birchen, Black Copper, Wheaten, Black-tailed Buff, White and Columbian. If you find Marans chicks at a feed store, they will most likely be the Black Copper or Cuckoo variety. Hens are active and enjoy free-ranging, and also have friendly, outgoing personalities.
Marans are renowned for their dark chocolate brown eggs. If you’re looking for unique eggs, these are quite the conversation piece! You’ll get about 150-200 each year in your nesting boxes.
The Naked Neck is a breed of chicken that is naturally devoid of feathers on its neck and vent. The breed is also called the Transylvanian Naked Neck, as well as the Turken. The name “Turken” arose from the mistaken idea that the bird was a hybrid of a chicken and the domestic turkey.
They make for a good dual-purpose utility chicken. They only have about half the feathers of other chickens, so they are easier to pluck if raised for meat. They also lay a respectable number of eggs. They are very good foragers and are immune to most diseases, plus they are pretty fun to look at!
The Orpington chickens were developed in the town of Orpington, England of all places! During the late 1800s, William Cook wanted to create a new breed that was dual purpose, but had white skin, which the British preferred for meat. Within 10 years, Orpingtons were a favorite in both England and America, and came in a variety of colors – black, white, buff, jubilee, and spangled.
Orpingtons lay about 200 eggs per year. If you’re thinking about adding some to your flock, we suggest the Buff Orpington. They are known for being very docile – they make great pets!