If you’re thinking about keeping chickens, one question you’re bound to ask is: what are the best chicken breeds to keep at home? The answer, unfortunately, is not so simple and it’s unlikely that you’ll get two poultry experts giving the same opinions. The reason for this is that people keep chickens for different reasons and some breeds are more suitable for some things than others.
Before you start to make your choices you will need to think about what you want the chickens for and what your personal circumstances are. When you ask most people why they want chickens, their first answer is normally: ‘to lay eggs’. However, every healthy hen in its prime will lay eggs on a regular basis. But, do you also want them as pets? Do you have children and want your hens to be docile and friendly? If you’re new to keeping hens do you want hens that are hardy and take less looking after? Do you want to sell the eggs and have hens that lay more frequently than others? Do you want your chickens for the kitchen table? Are you interested in showing pure breed hens? The answer to which breed of chicken is the best will, therefore, depend entirely upon your answers to these kinds of question.
Once you’ve made decisions about why you want hens, the lists below may point you in the right direction:
Best Egg Laying Hens
White Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, Goldline, Speckledy, Amber
Most Hardy Hens
Light Sussex, Black Rock, Orpingtons, Rhode Island Red
Most Friendly / Docile Hens
Plymouth Rock, Light Sussex, Orpingtons,
Best Egg Layers for the table
Light Sussex, Dorking
There are many breeds of hen available in the UK, especially when you take hybrids into account. All of them have their good qualities and if they are kept in the right conditions and looked after with care, they will all lay eggs and be friendly. As for hardiness and propensity for hatching chicks – if the various breed hadn’t been hardy or hatched and reared young in the wild, they wouldn’t be around for us to domesticate them today. If you are looking for hens to buy, check out our post: what to look for when buying hens.
If you have your own personal recommendations for would be hen keepers, leave a comment below and share with us your favourite breeds. You can find a comprehensive list of chicken breeds at the Poultry Club of Great Britain.