I Want My Free E-Book On Egg Laying Chickens

14 Best Chicken Breeds for Foraging

best chicken breeds for foraging featured image

Foraging is a natural and necessary behavior for chickens, and it can provide many benefits, including reduced feed costs, more nutritional eggs, and healthier chickens.

However, not all chicken breeds are created equal when it comes to foraging.

Some are better suited for free-ranging and finding their own food than others.

In this post, we will share with you the 14 best chicken breeds for foraging, so you can make an informed decision when picking the right chicken for your flock.

Chicken Breeds for Foraging: Can They Survive on Just Scouting For Food?

Chickens are omnivorous and will eat almost anything they encounter.

They can survive on only foraging as long as they have access to everything they need.

When foraging, they will eat insects, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Chickens also like eating greens such as clover, dandelions, and grass.

But for that to happen, you must ensure that your backyard has plenty of food sources for the chickens.

A large yard or an open field would be ideal, as chickens like to roam freely.

You may also consider planting some fruit and vegetable trees to supplement their diet.

Chickens will also need access to fresh and clean water.

Benefits of Foraging and Free-Ranging Among Chickens Free Range Hens

Free-ranging allows chickens to access a variety of proteins, minerals, vitamins, and other vital nutrients found in grass, bugs, and insects.

Foraging provides added nutrition from a variety of greens, berries, seeds, and nuts.

Some studies have found that the yolks of free-range eggs contain more vitamin D3, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids than eggs from chickens that are confined to a coop.

Chickens that are allowed to run free have the opportunity to explore their surroundings and indulge in their natural behaviors.

This can also help reduce boredom and aggression, as they can peck, scratch, and dust-bathe.

On the other hand, birds that are confined to coops or small spaces tend to display more aggressive behavior, decreased egg production, and in some cases, even result in feather picking.

Allowing chickens to forage and free-range helps to reduce their dependence on formulated feed.

This may not only reduce costs but also has a lower environmental impact since chicken feed production requires water, energy, and other resources.

Using less feed also reduces the quantity of chicken litter that needs to be disposed of or composted.

Ideal Characteristics of Chicken Breeds for Foraging and Free Ranging

Not all chickens are equally suited to a life of free-ranging and foraging.

However, there are some characteristics that can help.

Wariness of Predators

The first characteristic that free-ranging chickens should possess is an innate wariness of predators.

Chickens that have never encountered predators may not immediately recognize danger, which may put them at risk and not thrive while free-ranging.

The instinct to alert others of danger is crucial for its long-term survival.

A chicken that can instinctively spot a hawk soaring above them or a raccoon sneaking through the tall grass can save not only itself but also its flockmates.

It is essential that chickens be vigilant, watchful, and on alert while foraging and free-ranging.


Curious chickens will always explore, peck, and scratch for new and exciting things to eat.

They are also more likely to find and take advantage of new resources.

Curiosity is key to any chicken’s survival in a range setting because it encourages them to engage in active movement and to learn about their surroundings.

Ability to See Well

Good eyesight is also an important characteristic for free-ranging chickens, as it allows them to detect potential predators in the area better.

Free-ranging chickens must be capable of quickly identifying and reacting to potential danger, and they cannot do so without good vision.

Chickens with poor eyesight may not be able to spot predators approaching, and these types of chickens will not do well in a free-range environment where danger may lurk around every corner.

14 Best Chicken Breeds For Foraging

Not all chickens are created equal when it comes to foraging.

Here are some of the best breeds, or the leaders of the pack, if you will.

1. Sussex Chicken

A foraging Speckled Sussex - best chicken breeds for foraging

The Sussex chicken breed originated in England and has become a favorite for homesteads worldwide.

These chickens are medium-sized and come in a variety of colors, such as white, speckled, red, and blue.

They are known for their dual-purpose – meat and egg- and can provide up to 230 eggs per year.

Sussex chickens are friendly and easy to handle, making them a good choice for beginner chicken owners.

They are excellent foragers that have a high tolerance for both cold and hot weather.

Sussex chickens can eat lots of grass, weeds, and insects all day long and still have enough energy to lay eggs.

2. Egyptian Fayoumi

The Egyptian Fayoumi is a unique chicken breed.

It is among the oldest breeds of chickens in the world, tracing its roots to Egypt.

These chickens are small and lightweight, which makes them economical for smaller farms.

They are famous for their high foraging ability and are perfect for free-range farming.

Egyptian Fayoumis are resilient and can adapt quickly to any environment.

They also mature early, making them an excellent choice for small-space farmers who want to breed more chickens.

These chickens are also known for their hardiness, living up to ten years.

3. Leghorn

Leghorn chickens originated from Italy and were first introduced to the United States in the 1800s.

These chickens are small to medium-sized and have distinct white feathers.

They are great egg-laying chickens, producing around 280 eggs per year.

Leghorns are versatile and can adapt to a wide range of climates.

They are also great foragers with a hearty appetite.

Leghorns have a natural tendency to hunt for insects, which is excellent if you want healthy vegetation in your garden.

They are also lively and enjoy social interaction with humans.

4. Plymouth Rock

Free-range Plymouth Rock - best chicken breeds for foraging

This breed was originally hailed from America and was bred for both meat and eggs.

Being a hearty breed, the Plymouth Rock can tolerate a variety of climates and is a great forager.

They are active birds that like to roam around, making them excellent at finding their own food.

Having a calm disposition, this breed is great with children and pets.

They also lay large brown eggs, which is perfect for those who want fresh eggs every day.

5. Silver-Spangled Hamburg

A breed that originated in Germany, the Silver-Spangled Hamburg is a beautiful bird that is excellent at foraging.

They are active and curious birds that enjoy pecking and scratching around.

Silver-Spangleds are quite noiseless and make an ideal pet for those who live in suburban areas.

They are also known for their unique coloration, making them quite a sight to see in a flock.

They lay small, white eggs, which is great for those who don’t need a lot of eggs at once.

6. Golden Buff

The Golden Buff, also known as the Red Star, is a breed of chicken that is a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Rhode Island White.

They are known for their docile temperament, which makes them great for pets.

Golden Buffs are also excellent foragers, which makes them ideal for those who like to let their chickens run around and find their own meals.

They lay brown eggs consistently, which is great for those who like to have a steady supply of eggs for cooking.

7. Wyandotte

Wyandotte chickens are large, muscular birds that make excellent foragers.

They are known for their broad bodies, feather patterns, and striking red or black combs.

Wyandottes are incredibly resilient, adaptable, and eager to roam the yard in search of insects and vegetation.

As natural scavengers, they are not picky eaters and can thrive on minimal feed when free-ranging.

Wyandottes are also highly productive layers, producing large, brown eggs throughout the year.

8. Rhode Island Red

<yoastmark class=

Rhode Island Red chickens are one of the most common and popular breeds for backyard flocks.

They are medium to large-sized birds with a striking mahogany color and a distinct personality.

Rhode Island Reds are known for their hardiness, adaptability, and excellent foraging skills.

They are active and curious, constantly scratching and pecking the ground in search of food.

They are also prolific layers, producing large, brown eggs year-round.

9. Ancona

Ancona chickens are a rare Mediterranean breed highly prized for their beauty, personality, and foraging skills.

They are medium-sized birds with striking black and white feathers, bright red combs, and wattles.

Anconas are incredibly active, and they love to roam and forage for insects, seeds, and grubs.

They are natural explorers and can easily adapt to free-range living, often wandering further afield than other breeds.

Ancona chickens are also highly productive layers, laying large white eggs consistently.

10. New Hampshire Red

This breed is known for its friendly and easygoing personality, making it a popular choice for backyard chicken enthusiasts.

But what sets it apart is its ability to forage.

The New Hampshire Red is a great forager with a strong instinct to scratch and dig for food.

This makes them ideal for free-ranging in your backyard.

It is hardy and able to withstand cold temperatures, making them a great choice for those in colder climates.

Some other positives of New Hampshire Reds include their good egg-laying abilities.

The hens lay around 250 eggs per year, and their all-around usefulness as a dual-purpose breed for meat and eggs.

11. Minorca

This Spanish breed is another great option for those seeking foraging chickens.

The Minorca is a large, active bird that is an excellent forager and loves to scratch and dig in the dirt for bugs and other tasty treats.

One unique aspect of this breed is its striking appearance, with a tall single comb that can grow up to 6 inches long.

Minorcas are also hardy birds, able to withstand heat and cold, which makes them suitable for a variety of climates.

Plus, Minorca hens are prolific layers, with some hens producing up to 300 eggs per year.

12. Olive Egger

<yoastmark class=

Olive Eggers are a unique and popular breed renowned for both their stunning blue-green eggs and their impressive foraging abilities.

These chickens are a cross between a dark brown egg-laying breed and a blue or green egg-laying breed, which makes them wonderful for cross-breeding to create new egg colors.

However, their outstanding foraging abilities are what make them stand out from the crowd.

Olive Eggers love to roam, pecking at every blade of grass or leaf they see, and are not afraid to venture far from their coop.

They are natural foragers and thrive when given access to a variety of plants, insects, and other small critters to supplement their diet.

13. Buckeye

Buckeyes are a heritage breed developed in 1896 by a woman named Nettie Metcalf in Ohio.

These chickens are known for their calm, friendly nature and their excellent foraging ability.

They are a hardy and adaptable breed that can handle both hot and cold weather, making them ideal for backyard flocks.

Buckeyes have a muscular build, which makes them great foragers, and they love to scratch around in the dirt to find tasty bugs and grubs.

They are also incredibly active and curious birds that will explore every nook and cranny of their environment.

14. Welsummer

Welsummers are a Dutch breed prized for their large, dark brown eggs, but they are also one of the best foraging breeds available.

They are energetic and active birds that love to roam around, pecking at every plant or insect they encounter.

Welsummers can handle both confinement and free-ranging environments, but they thrive in a spacious, diverse environment where they can graze and forage at will.

This breed is intelligent and curious and will quickly learn to find all the best treats in their surroundings.

Tips for Helping Chickens Survive on Just Foraging

It is important to note that chickens may not get all the nutrients they need from just foraging.

For example, they may lack calcium which is crucial in laying eggs and may show signs of deficiency, such as weak shells.

To prevent this, you can always provide the chickens with some additional feed or supplements, such as oyster shells, to add the much-needed calcium to their diets.

Another factor to consider is the seasonality of food sources.

During winter, food may be scarce, and your chickens may need some additional feed to supplement their diet.

While during the summer and spring months, food sources are abundant, and your chickens would have no problem foraging for their sustenance.

Chickens are also prone to predators, and the risk is heightened when foraging.

They may be at risk from foxes, hawks, and raccoons.

To protect your chickens, it is important to have a secure coop for them to return to at night.

The coop should be predator-proof, spacious enough, and well-ventilated.

When foraging, chickens will roam around in search of food, so it is important to supervise them to reduce the risk of predators attacking.

Free-range Chickens

Chicken Breeds for Foraging: Before You Go…

The chicken breeds for foraging that we mentioned above are highly adaptable, able to handle a range of environments, and will keep your garden pest-free while giving you delicious, fresh eggs.

So why not take the time to learn a little more about each of these breeds and see which one is the best fit for your backyard flock?

Read our recommendations below about chickens and foraging!

Related Articles:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *