What are the best chicken breeds to keep at home?

rhode island red

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.

4 thoughts on “What are the best chicken breeds to keep at home?

  1. The Delaware is a breed of chicken originating in the U.S. state of Delaware. It was once of relative importance to the U.S. chicken industry, but today is critically endangered.

    Primary use: meat
    Egg production (annual): 280
    Egg size: Large
    Temperament: Calm
    Recognized variety: White
    Egg color: Brown

  2. Thanks for your comment, William. I think it is really important that people keep endangered breeds. Maintaining diversity is absolutely crucial and no one wants to see any breed of chicken die out completely. Hopefully, if anyone is out there looking for a new breed to look after, they might be able to take on a few Delawares. Looks like they have a good temperament and are reasonable egg layers.

  3. I have just got my first ever six chickens we have only had them 3 days but they are very reluctant to come out of the coop. They do come out to me when I start talking to them and they follow me around the pen but go back in as soon as I leave the pen it has been raining very hard, is it they wont come out in the rain or do they spend most of the time in the coop? they have a very large pen for the moment but we would like them to roam free in our garden we have 3/4 of an acre, we want them to be happy hens and for them to have a nice life. Jan Dorchester Dorset

  4. I had to get rid of my hens when I went travelling, I just couldn’t find anyone that would drop over 4-5 times a week, pick up eggs (they could keep all of them, I just wanted them to check food and water

    Some wanted £100 a week to check on them, the longest time they would have spent is an hour, each visit (I have trays that collect the droppings, so very easy to clean out once a week

    I cant get more hens as I am travelling more and more these days, but I miss my hens (and those that bought the eggs miss them as well, but none of them wanted to feed or water them

    I never made money from eggs, enough to nearly cover the cost of feed, its more of a labour of love keeping hens

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