There are so many breeds of chicken available, well into the hundreds! For the beginner or novice chicken keeper, it can be hard to know what may be the best breed to keep, but read on for a few tips about what breed may be right for you. This guide is aimed at keepers wanting to keep laying chickens.
As a beginner, the breed you choose needs to be easy to care for, adaptable, robust and the right size for the space you have. Some breeds are more docile and tractable than others, and therefore easier for a novice to handle and gain confidence with. So here are the top choices for beginners:
Think of a chicken and the image of a Rhode Island Red is likely to pop into your mind. Very popular with beginners, this breed is very hardy and robust. It is has the advantage of having an even temperament coupled with an excellent laying rate. It is no wonder they are one of the most popular birds in the UK today. It is estimated that the average Rhode Island Red can lay up to 300 eggs per year!
This is an adaptable, bright yet docile breed who are at their happiest in a free range system, being excellent foragers. They also have a reasonable egg laying potential.
If you are going for a high laying rate, then Leghorn breeds tend to average over 300 eggs per year. They are smaller birds on the whole, but can be more 'flighty' and nervous meaning that they are not always a great choice for the more nervous keeper.
These large and friendly birds are a great choice for a beginner. They rarely show any nervous disposition and are usually quite happy to be handled. Due to their large size, they are also not the greatest fliers in the world, so escape attempts will be few and far between! They are easy to tame and will learn to come to your hand for food very quickly. They lay around 200 eggs per year on average.
Typically, hybrid birds tend to be crosses of the above 4 breeds of chicken and usually take the best qualities of each! While they will not win you any prizes in local competitions, cross breed birds have a vigour and robustness of health that few recognised breeds have, and therefore are a good choice for the beginner, as well as being easier to obtain and cheaper to buy.