This list is my own. You won’t see it airing on any Farming Channel or blasting Coast to Coast on CNN. It’s based on my own experience and my own preferences. If you have a favorite chicken, though, that I didn’t cover, then please, by all means, Cluck or Crow about it under the Comment section.
Please also, note, this list is not in any particular order. Meaning, just because it’s #1. doesn’t mean it’s my favorite of all chickens. It’s just how I typed it up. I guess, though, you can say that all ten of these chickens – as of this date – are all my favorites.
#1. Rhode Island Reds
This is Reba and at one time, in the beginning, she was one of twelve sisters. That was my first attempt at chickens—owning them myself, I mean. I was so excited. I bought this cute little cedar, barn-red house for them that Bears used as toothpicks AFTER they ate most of Reba’s sisters. What the bear didn’t feast on, my step-father’s dog had a bite of. Didn’t know I had a bear problem. Funny thing about chickens, when you get them, you soon learn about all kinds of problems you didn’t know you had. Just for surviving all that, Reba is one of few chickens, I will never Cull. She has earned the right to live out her old age right here with me.
While the Roos can be super aggressive, I’ve never had a moments trouble out of any of my hens. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a Rooster, though. I don’t mind them when their bucky. That’s what I want in a Roo. Some people, though, don’t like a mean bird.
Still, while the Hens are excellent layers (5 or more eggs a week), this is a classic American dual purpose bird. That means you can use them for their large, brown eggs or eat them. Roosters get to be about 7-7 & 1/2 pounds while Hens are around 6.
They do great in hot and cold climates and can be confined or free Ranged.
RIR’s have proved to be a quiet and trouble-free bird for us.
#2. Barred Rock
To your right, is KFC. (My son named her and actually three others who each were named a letter of K, F, C. The bears must have had a thing for the, fried chicken chain, because they ate all but K. In memory of her sisters, she now holds the initials of her siblings—K.F.C.)
Roosters and Hens weight the same as the Rhode Island Reds. This is also another dual purpose bird. They are very good layers, meaning they can give you 4-5 eggs a week. Eggs are brown, medium sized. They handle cold weather very well. They do well confined or free Ranged. None of my Hens have ever been mean towards us but I did have a couple that bullied the other girls in the Coop quite a bit. Still, they are very docile in nature and a good and easy bird to keep around.
#3. Black Australorps
These birds can give you up to 5 or more eggs a week. Considered to be an excellent Layer as well as a dual purpose bird. Roosters top off around 8 & 1/2 pounds and Hens at 6. They mature early, which is great for those who do want to use them as meat birds, but also, are a quiet and easy going breed for those who want to keep a bunch around for eggs and such.
Please note, though, some people confuse or sell these birds as New Jersey Giants. When I was first getting into chickens, I read up on these. After some long deciding, I was off to a farm to buy some. Unfortunately, what I got was not what I wanted. I should have heard the guy who sold them to me laughing as I drove away.
How to tell the difference? Its all in the feet. The bottom of a Jersey Giant’s feet are yellow. An Australorp is white or pinkish white on the bottoms.
If you are wanting to breed baby chics without an incubator, an Australorp may also be for you. They tend to go broody, which is a good thing.
#4. Black Cochins
Meet Shaneequa, my plump, feather-footed, sassy, soul-girl. The picture doesn’t do her justice because when you see her sized up next to the rest, her “Big Momma” attributes make her stand out much more than one may realize—unless you have one, of course. She is a good Hen who comes from a breed that is known to be a fair layer of brown, medium-sized eggs. (2-3 eggs a week, although Shaneequa usually gives me 4-5.) She is a consistent layer and even preformed in winter and had no trouble at all with the cold. She is friendly but not one to cuddle on my lap like some of the other chickens like to do. Still, when I walk outside, she comes a’ runnin’ knowin’ I usually have some treats. She doesn’t really take any crap from the other Hens, either and can hold her own when dishing it out. Usually, she just does her own thing, foraging and such even though this breed can Free Range or maintain Confined.
This could be considered a dual bird since the Roosters can get to be 11 pounds and the ladies reach up to 8. Cochins in general come in various colors. White, Blue, Silver-laced and partridge. Blue Hens can produce Black and Splash colors. These Hens can go Broody, too, which maybe something you want if you would like to create new generations. And the breed also comes in Bantam size—which I had. I call the group Shaneequa and the Shanaynays – my little Motown Girls. While Ive never had a full-sized Cochin Roo, I can say my Bantam Cochin Roo is the sweetest most loveable boy I’ve ever had. However, he also puts all the other full-sized Roos in their place and keeps all the Hens in check.
Which brings me to my next favorite breed…
#5 Bantam Cochins
Above are all my Bantam Cochins—mini chickens-as I like to call them. The first is Butterbean, the sweetest little cuddling chicken ever. The second, I call Hitler because out of all six that I bought, she was born actin’ like the devil. Loves bein’ near me but can’t act nice to save her life. The third, is Scrappy, my little Roo and the last is a golden-laced, Amber.
They are all feather footed and don’t get very big. The males only reach about 32 oz. and the females 28. Aside from Hitler and whatever crawled up her fat, feathered bottom, they are normally sweet and very gentle birds. As I said above, my Roo comes to me everytime I walk outside. If the other regular sized Rooster tries to flog me, Scrappy puts him in his place. He sits on my lap. In fact, I have an iron table outside and if Im in the yard and don’t sit down, he flies up onto the table and crows until I go plop a squat and give loverboy some attention. Butterbean is just as sweet and gentle and while Amber is skittish and doesn’t like to be held, she always follows me around and lingers when I’m stationary.
They are not excellent layers but give me 3 eggs (sometimes more) a week. The eggs are small and creamy. I think they are adorable and my daughter loves them as they are “just the right size” for her.
There are many colors and kinds to choose from when it comes to Bantams. You have Frizzle Bantam Cochins of many colors, Mottled, Black, Barred, Red, Blue, Golden-Laced, Partridge and Buff. They are great birds for someone who has little space. They even do great in the house. I’ve had Scrappy wondering around ours many times. Beware, though, their combs are prone to frost-bite. Hitler lost most of hers last winter and Scrappy got a few black spots on the tips of his.
As far as Bantams go, though, there are many in various breeds. You do not just have the Cochin-kind. There are old English, Polish, Sebrights and many more. Some breeds are flighty, though and must be in confinement. My Cochins Free Range with the rest of the chickens, but I’ve had a Sebright and that girl was nuts!
Polish chickens come in all sorts of colors. They are known for the long feathers sprouting about like the hats of Vegas Showgirls from the tops of their heads. Since I am a Hairstylist, I have to admit to having these birds because they just make me laugh. That being said, their eye-sight can be hindered by their big wigs, and they can be jumpy birds. My Polish are sweet birds, though. They sit on my lap and follow me around. The buff laced at the far right (above) was my absolute sweetest until someone’s little boy nailed her with a basketball then chased her with a stick. Skittish now, she still comes to me whenever I go outside. She wont sit on my lap like she once did but she will hang out by my feet.
Chickens have long memories, folks. Remember that.
Not broody birds, their eggs are white—small to medium. They lay 2-3 eggs per week and while they say Polish do poorly in cold environments, mine gave me no trouble here in Virginia last winter. My Roo (far left) is a bit spiteful when it comes to my husband but if he learned to put him in his place like I did – (picking him up and carrying him around for a few minutes every time he tried to flog me), then he’d probably have no problem at all.
Roos get to be 6 pounds and Hens around 4 1/2. They are quiet and not much trouble. They do great in confinement – and confinement is often recommended–but I Free Range mine with no problems whatsoever.