Figuring out which chicken breed is right for your family needs is important. Chickens come in a wide selection of breeds. A separate article lists all the breeds and traits to help you sort through ones that appeal to you.
Today, we are focusing on how you determine which chicken breed is right for you.
It’s easy enough to look at a picture and think it’s a pretty bird and you want one. But will that bird meet your family needs? To really know the best breed for your family, you need to ask yourself a list of questions.
Some questions we ask people when they ask us what breed to get are:
- Do you want chickens for meat, eggs, or both?
- Does your family require a lot of eggs or only a few?
- Do you want chickens that will be good moms one day?
- Are friendly chickens important or will it matter to you if they keep to themselves?
- Do you prefer a small bird or a large bird?
God made chickens for a purpose and like most animals, it helps to know why you want them.
Understanding the reason why you want chickens is essential to determining which breed will meet your family needs.
Four categories classify chicken breeds. These categories are meat birds, egg layers, dual-purpose birds and ornamental. If you’ve not seen these categories before I’ll explain them to you.
Meat Birds: These are chickens are fairly large birds. Their main purpose is to provide meat for your family. Not all chicken lovers want to harvest their own birds, so if this is you, a meat bird is probably not your best option. Meat chickens are known as broilers. They range from 4-6 pounds and will provide a hearty meal for your family. A common meat bird is known as a Cornish Cross.
Egg Laying Birds: An egg laying bird is pretty self-explanatory. Aren’t all birds egg laying you might ask? Yes, but the size eggs they lay and the frequency with which they lay differ from breed to breed. If your family needs 3-4 dozen eggs a week you’ll want to go with a breed that has a high laying rate. Most egg layers are measured by how many eggs they lay in a year. 200 is average for most breeds, but some breeds lay as many as 300 eggs a year! A good egg laying bird is a Leghorn.
Dual Purpose Birds: These chickens are typically medium in size and are great for both laying eggs and eating meat. Most backyard flocks have dual purpose birds. We keep our hens until they no longer lay eggs and then we harvest them and use them for meat. Most dual purpose birds will lay about 240 eggs a year and will weigh approximately four pounds. A great dual purpose bird is a Rhode Island Red.
Ornamental Birds: Ornamental birds are just that, for looks. There are some fun and crazy looking breeds out there and if you’re like us you’ll be drawn to these chickens. They are beautiful! But these birds are not made for egg laying or meat. They will lay eggs, but generally smaller eggs and less of them. Ornamental chickens are primarily meant to be pretty. So as long as you know when selecting an ornamental breed you’ll be fine. Silkies are one of the most popular ornamental breeds.
Next time we chat, we’ll go over specific terms for types of breeds with you. In the meant time, you answer the questions listed above and figure out your family needs when it comes to chickens. You’ll find knowing which purpose you have in mind will make your breed selection much easier!
~Until Next Time,
Question: If you know which kind you want, list them in the comments and tell me why!