Today we are going to go through one of the questions we get asked a lot – chicken breed recommendations!! Everyone has a different situation and need so its important to get the right breed. There are so many chicken breeds available so let’s get into the most popular. I’m going to categorize the breeds by need. If you have chicks, click here.
Most Popular Meat Breeds
Raising your own meat birds is super easy and can be done with minimal space. If you are looking to do this for your family its important to decide how long you want your grow out time, and check to see that breeds are available locally.
Cornish Cross (White Rock)
The most popular meat birds known for their speedy growth, every hatchery should have this breed. These birds are dinner plate ready at 8 weeks. So it’s a quick turn around time if you want to do a couple of batches of homegrown birds. However, they do come with some health problems from over breeding. (See pic below).
Rustic Ranger (Freedom Ranger)
Most hatcheries should have this bird in stock as well, sometimes it’s called a few different names. This birds is a much healthier bird all round but takes a few more weeks to grow out, dinner plate ready at 12 weeks. They are, however, a little hardier than the White Rock. (See the first pic).
Most Popular Egg Laying Breeds
There are so many chickens that lay eggs, but here are some of my favourites for reliability, the yearly number of eggs, and ease of finding them locally. Keep in mind egg layers don’t start laying eggs until they are approx. 15-25 weeks old, depending on the breed, so if you buy chicks for laying eggs be aware of the timeframe.
Red Sex Link
Much like the Cornish Cross are to meat birds, the Red Sex Link is to egg layers. They are very easy to find and will lay between 250-300 brown eggs per year! However, they tend to look a little rough around the edges, feather wise and aren’t the best foragers. (See pic below).
Rhode Island Red
Another popular egg-laying breed, they look a little richer in colour than the Red Sex Link and are better foragers. They lay up to 260 light brown eggs a year.
An all-round hardy bird that is an excellent forager. They lay about 280 brown eggs per year, and are always reliable! Also a great meat bird.
If you want blue eggs, this chicken is for you! I like to have a few of these in the mix to get a variety of colours! They lay between 250-280 blue eggs per year.
Best Dual Purpose Breeds
Most dual-purpose breeds are great for egg production and are very hardy. If you are raising them for meat they will take approx. 16-20 weeks to grow out.
One of the first chicken breeds we got! I love them. They are friendly and come in beautiful colours like lavender, buff, white and black. (See yellow rooster pic below).
Probably one of the hardiest chickens out there, especially for winter, the Icelandic chicken is a great homestead breed.
Another beautiful heritage breed! Very hardy and is a great forager. We also had these as our first chickens! (See black and white chicken below).
A dark coloured wonder. Great egg layers and good meat birds as hens or roosters.
Things to Consider
Depending on your landscape, and how much feed cost you want to put into your birds, choosing a breed that can forage on their own is super important. It’s free food and the chicken is doing what it does best!
Think about the timeline of meat grow out times, 8 weeks vs. 12 weeks vs. 16 weeks, and what works best for your budget, time frame, and landscape. Also, consider getting chickens that are already laying regularly off Kijiji instead of buy chicks and waiting 20 weeks before getting eggs.
I’d love to heat what breeds you have or are thinking about getting in the comments below!!