Best Chicken Breeds for the Absolute Beginner

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If you are completely new to the world of poultry, you may think that, except for size and color, one chicken is much like another. Nothing could be further from the truth! When choosing the right breed, you will want to consider what you want out of your efforts. Characteristics to weigh include egg production, meatiness, and even temperament. Your expectations may be much different if you’re looking for a pet than if your looking for a meal. Here are a few of the easiest birds for beginners with a range of qualities.

White Leghorn

Producing about 300 eggs per year, the White Leghorn is a great choice for those looking for high yields from their hens. The eggs themselves are naturally large and creamy white. However, this bird is also known to be somewhat temperamental and nervous, and does not carry much meat.

Cornish

Cornish hatchlings grow to adult size quickly, and are heftier than the average chicken, making them popular with those raising poultry for food. While they do not lay frequently, hens can weigh up to 8 pounds, and roosters 11 pounds.

Silky

This diminutive ornamental breed is probably one of the best for those looking for a pet. While the hens do lay about 150 small eggs each year, they are very broody. However, their downy, attractive plumage and friendly demeanor make them perfect for children; they even enjoy being held.

Rhode Island Red

In recent years Rhode Island reds have become increasingly common on small-scale farms and in backyard coops. They require relatively little care, and can tolerate cold and heat well. They lay about 200 eggs a year, are generally friendly, and don’t require much space.

Barred Plymouth Rock

One of the most popular backyard breeds, Barred Plymouth Rocks have distinctive checkerboard plumage that makes them stand out. Whether you are looking for a meat bird or a layer, these birds are a great choice for a beginner. They grow quickly, have a long lifespan, and are generally quite docile.

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