Chicken Breeds

Chicken Breeds

Chicken Breeds - Which ones?

Firstly you don’t need a cockerel in order for your hens to lay eggs. As with most birds the cockerel does often have more beautiful plumage than the hen – however what he has in looks he looses in the nuisance factor. He will crow at some unearthly time in the morning and some may be quite vicious. So unless you intend to breed and hatch chicks (see hatching eggs), don’t bother with a cockerel!

There are about 160 chicken breeds. Hybrids (a cross between two breeds) tend to be more productive than thorough bred. Breeds are divided into light or heavy breeds. Light breeds include Anconas, Leghorns and Welsummers. They tend to be good egg layers and are less likely to go broody, however they can be flighty. Heavy breeds include Marans, Orpingtons, Sussexes, Wyandottes, and Rhode Island Reds. These breeds are slightly less productive as they were bred for eating, however they have a very good temperament and therefore make good pets for children.

Bantams have become increasingly popular chicken breeds and in particular as pets as well as for show purposes because they are smaller and have more varied and exotic colours and feather patterns than other chickens. For each of the chicken breeds there tends to be a bantam version. Because they are smaller they are suitable for smaller gardens as they do not need as much space as other breeds. Bantam hens are also used as laying hens, although Bantam eggs are only about one-half to one-third the size of a regular hen egg.

A few of the more popular chicken breeds

 

Leghorn

Leghorn - White

Characteristics

They comprise a group characterized by great activity, hardiness and prolific egg-laying qualities. The females are non-sitters, very few of them exhibiting a tendency to broodiness. They are the best egg layers of the Pure breeds. It featured strongly in the production of the hybrid laying birds that are now used commercially.

Breed Tips

n/a

Purpose

Egg layer

Classification

Light / Soft feather

Origin

Mediterranean

Egg Color

White

Egg Numbers

200 per annum

Ancona

Ancona

Characteristics

Available large and miniature. Can be flighty. Bold active birds excellent foragers. Very good laying average with a good food / egg conversion due to light body wieghts. This is a non-sitting fowl. They are excellent layers of white shelled eggs and have yellow skin.. The cockerels are slow and difficult to fatten.

Breed Tips

Supreme layers in relation to food consumption

Purpose

Egg layer

Classification

Light / Soft feather

Origin

Mediterranean

Egg Color

White to cream

Egg Numbers

160 / 180 per annum

Welsummer

Welsummer

Characteristics

Welsummer Chicken is one of the premier 'Brown Eggers' Producing eggs of a rich dark terracotta colour. Both males and females look attractive. Many people describe them as 'What a farmyard chicken should really look like'.

Breed Tips

Good family and children friendly chicken.

Purpose

Egg layer

Classification

Heavy / Soft feather

Origin

Holland

Egg Color

Brown

Egg Numbers

160 per annum

 

Marans

Marans

Characteristics

The barring means that if the female is mated with males of unbarred breeds the chicks have a spot on their heads to indicate sex linkage.

Breed Tips

As a breed very quiet or very stroppy so watch with smaller children until character of your birds are known.

Purpose

Dual

Classification

Heavy / Soft feather

Origin

France

Egg Color

Dark brown

Egg Numbers

180 per annum

 

Orpington

Orpington

Characteristics

Orpingtons are birds which like to be free range. They have a very strong tendency to go broody and therefore make great mothers. Their eggs are small and pinkish. They are greedy birds and need exercise to keep fit. Their wingspan is short therefore they can be kept in areas with low fences.

Breed Tips

n/a

Purpose

Dual

Classification

Heavy / Soft feather

Origin

Great Britain

Egg Color

Light brown to dark brown

Egg Numbers

160 per annum

Sussex

Sussex

Characteristics

The Sussex chicken is an alert but docile breed that can adapt to any surrounding easily. They are good foragers. Whilst they are quite happy to be free range, they will also be fine if kept in a confined space. They can occasionally but not very often go broody. The speckled is the most likely of the breed to do this.

Breed Tips

n/a

Purpose

Dual

Classification

Heavy / Soft feather

Origin

n/a

Egg Color

Brown

Egg Numbers

180 per annum

Wyandotte

Wyandotte

Characteristics

Wyandottes are docile birds and the hens are excellent broodies and make good mothers. They lay well and chicks tend to be strong and are quick growers. Their attractive curvy shape, generally good disposition and many attractive colour patterns make them a good choice for fanciers as well as farmers.

Breed Tips

Very docile. Good mums and dads.

Purpose

Dual

Classification

Heavy / Soft feather

Origin

n/a

Egg Color

n/a

Egg Numbers

180 per annum

Rhode Island Reds

Rhode Island Reds

Characteristics

Rhode Islands are classed as a heavy breed, but are active. They enjoy foraging on grass. They are bright and alert but at the same time quiet. They make great pets and are relatively hardy. They will produce a large amount of brown eggs a year.

Breed Tips

n/a

Purpose

Dual

Classification

Heavy / Soft feather

Origin

n/a

Egg Color

Brown to dark brown

Egg Numbers

180 per annum