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Best Beginner Chicken Breeds

Beginner Chicken Breeds

So hopefully, our post on 5 Reasons to Keep Chickens did its job and persuaded you to keep chickens. The next step is picking the breed of chicken you want.

Picking the right breed of chicken as a beginner can be the difference between thoroughly enjoying every moment with your chickens or questioning why you ever wanted chickens in the first place.

When they start out looking at breeds, most people don’t know exactly what they want or need, so that’s why we’ve decided to write this article today.

We’re going to address exactly what you need to think about before deciding on your breed, explain what characteristics beginners should look for, then recommend our top 5 picks for the best egg-laying chicken breeds.

Beginner Chicken Breeds

Why Do You Want Chickens?

Before we go any further, we’re going to ask you some questions- be sure to either write your answers down or keep them in your head.

First of all, why do you want to keep chickens? Are you looking to keep chickens for eggs, meat, pets, or a combination of these reasons (although the meat and pet options probably don’t go too well together!)?

Certain chickens are delicious egg layers (Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns) and lay a high amount of eggs, whereas other breeds (Broilers) are better for meat but don’t lay many eggs.

The second question you need to answer is, how much time are you expecting to spend with, and caring for, your chickens? Certain breeds require much more maintenance and time from you. At the same time, other breeds (such as Buff Orpingtons) are very self-reliant and won’t require much time from you at all.

If you wonder how much time you need to spend with your chickens, read my plan here.

Thirdly, you need to think about your climate/weather and make sure that it is suitable for the breed you are interested in.

Most of the time, you don’t need to worry too much about this, as most breeds will be fine in all climates. Also, if the chicken is being sold to you locally, then unless the chicken has recently been imported, it will be fine in your climate. However, if you’re buying rare breeds (which we wouldn’t recommend to you as a beginner, but more on that later) and are traveling a long distance to get them, you need to make sure that the climate you are taking them to is suitable. For example, Minorca chickens require hot climates to be suitable in certain areas of Russia.

Minorca Chicken
Black Minorca Chicken on the right © Resak

The fourth question you need to think about is how much room you will give your chickens? Before you answer this, make sure you read how much room does a chicken need.

Are you planning on keeping your chickens in a coop or free-range?

Certain breeds require more room than others, and if they don’t get this room, they can get violent and even start pecking and attacking each other. So make sure you match the breed to what you can offer in terms of roaming space and coop sizes.

The final question to think about is what your budget is?

Most breeds cost a similar amount per chicken; however, more exotic and rare breeds can be very expensive – in fact, they can cost thousands of dollars.

However, as we mention later on in the article, we wouldn’t recommend beginners purchasing rare or exotic birds for their first chicken.

Beginner Chicken Breeds

Typical Chicken Characteristics Beginners Look For

We’ve found that most of the time when people email us asking what breed of chicken they should start with, they are all looking for the same thing.

Most beginners are looking for easy to keep chickens, lay lots of eggs, are docile, and aren’t very noisy.

This is why we always recommend what’s known as dual-purpose birds to begin with. Dual-purpose birds are normally great egg layers and very calm- we will discuss specific breeds later on.

Some beginners email us and ask for rare breeds or breeds which produce a lot of meat. We don’t recommend either of these for beginners simply because they require much more time and are harder to look after. We always recommend avoiding meat and exotic birds until you gain more experience.

Best Egg Laying Chicken Breeds

So if you are like us and want to start keeping chickens for eggs, which breed would, we suggest?

Bear in mind that the suggestions below are ideal for people with little experience looking for backyard chickens, which are easy to manage, require small amounts of maintenance, and most importantly… lay lots of eggs!

1. Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Reds are synonymous with backyard chicken keeping and one of the most popular chicken breeds around (source).

They are friendly, easy to keep, and adamant.

Eggs: Should produce upwards of 250 medium-sized, brown eggs per year.

Character: They are straightforward to keep, don’t require too much space, and lay all year round.

Rhode Island Red Chicken Breeds
© Sammy

2. Hybrid

Hybrid breeds such as Golden Comets have been bred to consume small amounts of food and to lay as many eggs as possible. Whilst this is great for you, this can be detrimental to the hen’s health as their body never rests.

Eggs: Upwards of 280 medium-sized, brown eggs per year.

Character: Hybrids tend to make excellent layers, consume less food, and aren’t very likely to become broodies. They make a great choice. However, make sure you source your hybrid from a sustainable breeder and ensure that it hasn’t been overbred.

Hybrid Chicken Breeds
© Kristine

3. Buff Orpington

Buff Orpington’s are one of the easiest and most popular egg-laying chickens around. They originate from Kent, England, and are renowned for their good looks and sturdiness.

Eggs: Should produce at least 180 medium-sized, light brown eggs per year.

Character: Orpington’s make great pets as they are extremely friendly and soft. However, they do get broody during the summer months hence why their egg production is slightly lower than some of the other breeds mentioned here.

Buff Orpington Chicken Breeds
© Elias

4. Plymouth Rock

The Plymouth Rock, also known as barred rocks, originates from the US and is one of the most popular dual-purpose chickens.

Eggs: They should produce 200 medium-sized, brown eggs per year- they also lay during the winter.

Character: They are a very active bird who performs best as free-range and makes perfect backyard chicken. They are also extremely friendly with humans, so great if you want to train them to eat from your hand!

Plymouth Rock Chicken Breeds
© David

5. Leghorn

The Leghorn breed originated from Italy and was first introduced into the US during the 1800s. They don’t get broody often and are an ideal pick for year-round egg-laying.

Eggs: Should produce upwards of 250 medium-sized, white eggs per year.

Character: Leghorns will be happy in gardens as they are a very active chicken; however, they aren’t very tame, so they aren’t ideal for people with children wanting them as a pet.

Leghorn Chicken Breeds
© Frankie


6. Dominique

If you’re hoping to make friends with your new flock, then the Dominique is the way to go. This compact heritage breed is as friendly and docile as they come.

The Dominique is a threatened breed of chicken, which means it was almost extinct until Dominique lovers stepped up and started conservation efforts.

Eggs: Around 180 medium-sized, brown eggs per year.

Character: Dominiques are a gentle breed and a perfect pet for children interested in chickens. While they are people-friendly, they are also prone to predator attacks due to their laissez-faire attitude around the coop. So if you’re hoping to free-range, make sure your Dominiques have enough protection from predators.

Dominique Chicken Close Up

7. Easter Egger

The name on every chicken lover’s lips lately is the Easter Egger hybrid chicken. These are the hawk-like, bearded birds that lay greenish, or blue, eggs.

Eggs: The Easter Egger is known to lay around 200+ medium-sized eggs per year…and yes, they are the colorful ones.

Character: Easter Eggers range from flighty to friendly. When you have a hybrid bird, you may get fairly unpredictable traits. Many tout the Easter Eggers’ friendly nature, and others will swear they are the most nervous bird on the planet. As with most chickens, there is always room for an exception to the rule regarding breeding behavior.

Easter Egger Chicken

With these suggestions made, it’s important to remember you always get ‘bad-chickens,’ and even the most docile breed can produce occasionally problematic birds.

All of these breeds above should be available from a local hatchery, and we’d recommend at the start not to mix breeds within your flock.

Pick a breed and start off with them. This will help reduce pests and stop them from attacking each other.

Remember, the breed you purchase will require varying amounts of food in their diets, read what should I feed my chicken for more info.

Let us know which breed you’ve picked below. We’d love to see some of your pictures…


Beginner Chicken Breeds

124 thoughts on “Best Beginner Chicken Breeds

  1. My husband and I are moving to some acreage next year, and have already started researching chickens in order to raise some of our own. This is such a great, informative blog! Thank you!

    1. We’re glad you are finding it useful Kay 🙂
      Let us know when you get some chickens we’d love to see them!

      1. This blog was very informative
        We have 2 chickens
        A leghorn and a Turcin(Turkey and chicken)
        The leghorn is very nice but I think that will change after the year old mark
        These chickens were hatched in an incubator

        1. Hi Ella,
          I’m so happy the website is helping you 🙂
          Best of luck to you and your hens!

          1. Your leghorn will probably stay your pet after a year or as long as she lives. I think you generalize too much. I have had all the breeds you mention and there is a great deal of individuality in chickens. Certain breed traits are true, Mediterranean breeds are nervous and flighty and some of the larger breeds like Brahmas, Cochins and giants are calmer, but you will find nervous and calm birds in just about all your dual purpose breeds. I have had Plymouth rock roosters that were delightful and I have known some that were formidable. It is the same with the hens, some are calm and others in the same bunch are nervous and won’t come near you. If I was to recommend a breed for beginners, it would be New Hampshires. I have found my friendliest birds in that breed and it is my favorite. New Hampshires lay lots of large brown eggs. Also, the picture you show of a black Minorca pullet is not a Minorca. Minorcas have white earlobes. All white egg chickens have white earlobes. I like your column because you show a great feeling for chickens and I love them. You should recommend Brahmas. They lay decently and are usually calm birds. I have several dark Brahmas and they are really nice, including my huge rooster, Myron.

        2. Our 2 leghorns are very friendly; but we’ve handled them daily since we got them. They both walk up to me and peck to be picked up 😉

    2. I hadn’t read this before starting, but I got pretty lucky. I incubated my first eggs and they hatched to be very good looking and friendly. I chose a French breed called Barbezieux. My rooster is huge! He is less than six months old and is nearly 9 pounds.. he still lets me pick him up sometimes too! The only downsides: eggs are in the smaller side, and my favorite hen already went broody! She started about 10 weeks after her initial eggs..
      These chickens are meant to be dual purpose breeds, and rumored to be delicious!

    3. Buff Orpingtons are a great chicken to start with. They’re large, pretty, and very friendly. Mine escort me all over the chicken yard, humming and clucking.

  2. I have 3 of the breeds: RIRs, Plymouth Rocks, and Leghorns. Their characteristics are just like you described! My first time with chickens and I’m getting my first eggs now, so, can’t wait to see how production goes. So far, one RIR girl has laid 4 eggs in 5 days starting on Christmas Day! I hope you are also right about laying in the winter! The eggs are so pretty…light brown, nice shape and hard shell!

    1. You have some fantastic breeds there Donna!
      Yes it’s true- those girls just seem to lay all year round don’t they.
      How old are your Leghorns?

    2. Hello, we are getting ready to get some chicks for an urban flock- We can only have 3 hens, but have a large area they can be in through out the day and an even bigger area when we are outside. We have a 3year old boy who is very excited. My question is do Plymouth Rock hens do well with Easter Eggers?

    3. Long as you keep them fresh straw especially in the winter time you want them to be able to keep their feet warm the Rhode Island Reds and the Cornish hens for sure in the winter but just to remember that they can keep there feet warm and they will keep laying even in the coldest months in the year.

  3. I think your blog is very organized and helpful. I was kind of hoping you would have information on all of the chicken’s social ability towards humans. My family is getting new chicks this Spring and I am looking for a breed that is social, easy to train, and lays plenty of eggs. So far I am thinking of getting Plymouth Rocks or Buff Orpingtons.

    1. Thank you for the feedback Cecilia!
      We will have an article written about this soon- so keep your eyes peeled…
      Yes either breed would be a great pick and are both friendly and good layers 🙂

    2. I’ve had a few Plymouth Rocks over the years and they are extremely calm, friendly and non-confrontational. I highly recommend them and Brahmas as they are quite docile as well. The Comets and RIR’s are nice but I like pretty, colorful, friendly, good laying birds and these 2 breeds fit the bill perfectly ! Best Wishes !

  4. My 6 mo old brown Auracana started laying blue eggs, long after the other 6 (2 White Auracanas, 2 RI Reds and 2 Wyandots), who all started laying at about 5 months. She only laid about 3 or 4 eggs over a couple of weeks, then laid an empty balloon type egg, and now has not laid an egg in over 2 weeks. She seems perfectly normal otherwise, active, eats well, and very sociable. The other hens are all laying just about daily. Any thoughts? Thanks

  5. Got rooster to mate with hybrid, eggs fertile, layed 3 so far, but not incubating yet, what should I expect to happen.

      1. What would be a nice small quiet breed of chicken? I’ve been told bantam but what breed of bantam would be good and quiet as to not bother the neighbors ???

        1. Hi Danielle,
          Bantam hens can be very erratic at times and sometimes loud!
          If you want a nice quiet breed I would recommend rhode islands 🙂

        2. I had two Australian Langshan Batams and they were like people. One would come when i called, peck me to tell me to pick her up, or just jump on my lap and sit down for a cuddle. She was extremely loved and lived till almost 10, passed away a month or two before her birthday:( but they were always gems and they both had the best personalities. I have a large black Australorp (who has become the teddy bear now),a blue leghorn (the egg layer), and a silver-laced Wyandote Bantam (the broody one who likes to sit on the leghorns eggs), and the loudest of the lot is the leghorn only when she wants to be let out in the morning or when she’s laid an egg and wants to tell everyone about it haha otherwise chickens aren’t any louder than having a dog so neighbours shouldn’t mind. we are just not aloud to own roosters in my area.

  6. Hello i have 2 white plymouth rock and two silver laced wyandottes. All four cane from the same place and they all get along great. They are about 3 and a half months old. And now im looking into getting 2 blue laced red wyandottes that are 4 months old. Since they are around the same age and the same size do i need to separate them before integrating them into my existing flock.

    1. Hi Justina,
      You don’t absolutely need to- however it’s a good idea to separate them first so you can check to make sure your new hens don’t have any diseases or lice before they mix with your existing flock…

  7. We are just starting out and I’m waiting on 3 buff orpingtons and 3 white polish from a hatchery. If raised together will they likely get along?

    1. Hi Mary,
      Yes- buff orpingtons are incredibly relaxed and should get along with the white polish 🙂
      Enjoy your new chickens,

  8. Hi, I have a small flock, 1 white ameracauna, 2 RIRs and 2 bantams. A couple of weeks ago I got 1 green/blue egg and two brown eggs. I assume from the Ameracauna and RIRs as the bantams are a bit younger. For the past week I have only been getting 1 small brown egg a day. I have been feeding organic layer pellets and changed the brand and wonder if that could be why the Americana and other red stopped laying. Any other ideas would be helpful. The RIRs and Ameracauna are about 5.5 months old. Thank you for any info.

    1. Hi Simone,
      It certainly could be a reason yes. My hens tend to go off lay when I change the feed brand so I don’t change it anymore!
      Also because of their age you should expect them to be intermittent layers for another month or so until they mature…

      1. Hi Claire,
        Thank you for your response and helping to figure out what is going on…happy chickens is my goal! ?
        Also, great site, very informative.

        1. Hi Simone,
          Let’s hope they start laying again soon!
          Thank you for your kind words 🙂

  9. We did not understand the worker at the feed store and so took his advice and got 4 RIR and 2 Guineas. Did not realize the Guineas were flyers so have to be very careful opening the cage to feed. They are almost 3 months old now and was wondering if it is too early to get them on pellets? They seem to be resisting the size change. enjoy reading your blog and have gotten a lot of help. We live in a mild climate-central NC-so is it ok to force them to lay this first winter as they won’t be old enough to lay until Nov-Dec time frame?

    1. Hi Penny,
      It is a touch too early, we normally move them over to pellets at 18 months 🙂
      Good luck on your chicken journey and be sure to email us if you need any help,

  10. Hi Claire,
    We are new to the chicken game and trying to find good friendly chickens that are good layers and can handle the Montana winters. I was thinking of Orpingtons (especially the purple ones) and Araucana’s. Do you think these would be good for us? What are your thoughts on Australorp’s?
    I really enjoyed your site!!!!
    Thank you
    Alissa K

    1. Hi Alissa,
      So happy the website is helping you out 🙂
      Yes I think Orpingtons would be a great beginner breed for you!

  11. “Hi” Just found your site mate and am very happy that I did, Its great fills in a lot paces for me and I find that tell me what I want before I ask you,,
    Have one other problem that I hape you can help me with , I am a Australian and have just built a house in the Philippines to retire and have been looking for a chicken that lays brown eggs , Eggs are so cheap her that most chickens are breed for food and not eggs , And mate if I ask for a chicken that gives brown eggs i get some very funny looks , and no brown egg chicken only have white egg,,
    So can you help me with a breed that is big and gives brown eggs and is good company in the yard, Ha, Ha,, Also what is the best feed for the chickes that gives a dark golden yoke , GrandMother always told me you have to feed them lots of corn,,
    Hope you can help thanks Jeff,

    1. Hi Jeff,
      Thank you for getting in touch!
      You want to get Rhode Island Reds, they will lay nice brown eggs for you with lovely golden yokes.

      1. I got 2 chicks from my local feed store that were supposed to be Ameraucanas but I am unsure because I have looked online and have never seen Ameraucanas in this color. Could these maybe be Easter Eggers? They have beards and muffs and only one of them has slate colored legs.

      2. Long as you keep them fresh straw especially in the winter time you the Rhode Island Reds and the Cornish hens for sure in the winter but just to remember that they can keep there feet warm and they will keep laying even in the coldest months in the year.

    2. Marigold petals are often fed to chickens to help give a better color to the yolk. I haven’t tried it, but by all accounts the chickens seem to enjoy the extra treat.:)

    3. Turkens (Naked Necks) give brown eggs, mature early and mine follows me everywhere- even to feed the cows.

  12. I have one RIR, one blue leghorn, an australorp, Hamburg and Barnevelder. The Hamburg started laying in September and she was a bit sporadic at first but now usually 2 days on and one off, my RIR was as regulate as clockwork and every morning would lay but she hasn’t payed for 2 days now. Should I be worried. My leghorn hasn’t layed at all and I don’t know why. Can you tell their approx age by their comb? Because hers is quite big and floppy and very red. They free range during the day. Should I regularly worm them? Thank you

    1. Hi Allison,
      I wouldn’t be worried no. Unless they stop laying for more than 3-4 days in a row…
      In terms of worming them, I wouldn’t recommend you do it “regularly” no. Instead you can send their fecal sample to a local vet and they will be able to test it for you 🙂

    2. A big friendly breed for Brown eggs would be Barred Rock. Better free rangers then the RIR’s. They are bigger and smarter also.

  13. I purchased 6 RIR chicks in early April and raised them. They are still not laying eggs yet, am I doing something wrong.

  14. I really would like chickens, and I want two on your list, but what are your thoughts on the Colombian Wyandottes and Ameraucanas?

    1. Hi Becky,
      They are good layers, however Wyandottes have a reputation of being ‘diva’ like at times!

  15. I have just come across your website and have found it very helpful. Just a couple of things I wondered if you could help me with please. We were given some chickens by a neighbour who no longer wanted them but did not want to kill them. One of them is a black hen (sorry don’t know the name of the breed) about 4 years old. She had diarrhoea for a couple of months so I took her to the vet who felt that she may have egg yolk peritonitis and gave me Enrofloxacin and Amoxyclav to give her. They made no difference. That was about 9 months ago and she is still walking around and eating and does not seem in any discomfort. She always has a dirty bottom. However, she still goes to the nesting box and sits as though she is going to lay an egg and after a while, gets up and does the clucking thing as though she has laid an egg. Do you know what is going on??? The other thing is I have a Frizzle bantam who is extremely clucky. Can you tell me how to get her out of it as she is starting to be clucky more than not. Just don’t want to her get sick from it. We take her off the nest most days for at least 3-4 hours and then open the chicken coop door again AND IN SHE GOES!!!!
    Thank you so much for your help. Sorry to go on for so long.

    1. Hi Lindy,
      To be honest I’m not entirely sure! I will leave the comment here though and see if anyone else can offer some advice 🙂

    2. I’m responding only to your problem with the black hen with the dirty bottom. For starters, as long as it’s warm out {if it’s cold out and you don’t mind bringing her indoors until she dries} I would clean her up {wash her bottom area thoroughly} and see if she gets herself soiled again. I would also be giving her some cider vinegar in her water to help with her loose stools.
      As for the “fake” laying of eggs, I think she’s probably an older bird. I always seem to get the neighborhood senior birds who don’t lay any more and most of them seem to do the same thing. They’ll sit on somebody else’s nest for a while, get up and start clucking. I guess old habits die hard or they just enjoy taking a stroll down memory lane ! Gotta love the old ladies !

  16. Thank you so much!!! This post has been so helpful! Dad has been wanting chickens for ages and mum and I are finally looking at getting him some (for christmas maybe – or just the coop so he can pick his own). Chickens for mostly laying and slightly pets so this post has really helped my understanding 🙂 I definitely didn’t want to go buying any without knowing more about them!

  17. What about Easter Eggers?
    We are getting 2 and want to know if Barred Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, or Delaware will get along the best with them.
    They will not be free ranged.
    They will be mostly used as pets for my teenagers and for laying eggs, so they obviously need to be friendly. This is our first time with backyard chickens. What breeds that I mentioned will fit those elements the best?
    Thank you.

  18. i am planing on haching RIRs black australorps
    buff orpington and americana do you think these
    are good beginner breeds? ps your web is very

  19. Hello, I live in Queensland Australia and even though I have had my 2 Isa Brown girls for less than 1 week, after reading your good advice I reckon I made the right choice.
    I just need to decide about clipping their wings when I give them free range for an hour or so during the day, how to manage one of my dogs who has become obsessed with these little creatures and how to deal with providing correct nesting and roosting.
    My girls are about 16 weeks, no eggs just yet. They are currently sleeping on the ground even though there is a bar off the ground for them to roost upon. The chicken expert at the local produce store said not put in a nesting box or give kitchen scraps until they start to lay. I didn’t think to ask why.
    I feed them premium mash (which I was told contains adequate shell grit) I have provided them with hay and lucerne even though they can peck at the grass and eat bugs, fresh water and good shelter. The tractor pen is about 3m long and 1m wide.
    I think they are getting to recognise me now. I didn’t really have a main reason to have chickens other than they make a lovely addition to an aussie backyard, provide plenty of in-house manure for the garden and the added benefit of eggs, most of which I will give away.

    1. Hi New Chick,
      I’m happy the article helped you 🙂 All of the topics you mention we have covered within the blog. Be sure to email me any questions which aren’t answered!

    2. I am a staunch opponent to wing clipping ! Most chickens have a rather limited flight ability to begin with but often enough, it can get them into a not so high tree when being chased. They also use their wings to run a little faster when they’re in trouble and wings are good for getting up on the highest roost !
      I am also of the mindset that if I could fly and you took that from me for your own convenience, I’d probably hate you ! You never really mentioned why you wanted to clip their wings……
      I also have Heritage Turkeys who fly as well as the wild turkeys. They love to fly everywhere and their ability to fly has saved them multiple times from unforeseen predators. Despite this ability, they do return to the barn at night and roost among their friends. I would never take that “gift” from them……

  20. I am kind of young (not to share age) and I am obsessed with all things chicken. I thought that the Buff Orpington and the Plymouth Rock chickens were absolutely adorable. They will definitely be one of my first chickens!

  21. I have really learned a lot from reading your site. We are brand new at raising chickens. We live in Arizona were is gets upwards on 110 degrees in the summer. I was looking into the speckled sussex and the Rhoad island red. Will they be ok out here? Also will those breeds get along ok? And finally I have read that Rhode Island red chickens can become mean if they don’t get enough attention from you. Is this true?

    1. Hi Kristen,
      Thank you for your kind words 🙂
      Yes providing you follow our advice regarding the shade and water they should be OK. Both breeds are known for being able to withstand hot climates.
      As for them being ‘mean’ – I personally haven’t experienced this!

  22. I’m looking to get my first chickens soon and while eggs are an awesome bonus, what I would love to know is which breeds perform the best bug control. Are some more avid bug hunters than others? We’ve never lived on acreage before, and I love the idea that my ladies could be taking out ticks and silverfish. ?

  23. If I want three hens for my yard can I get three different breeds? Or should they all be the same/ similar? For Example 1- Barred Rock, 1-Americauna, 1-Rhode Island

  24. Thanks for the help. My sister is getting a chicken for her birthday, and I have to help choose it. She wanted a pretty bird that lays green eggs, but I still think she should get a Rhode Island Red. Thanks for all the help!

  25. Hi! This article was so helpful and I’m really trying to get ahold of some buff oringtons but I definitely do not want any roosters! Do you have any advice on sexing baby chicks? Anything specific to buff oringtons? Any advice would be helpful! Thanks:)

    1. Hi Maddie,
      My advice would be to leave it to the experts 🙂 I still struggle when they are chicks and even for professionals it’s difficult!
      Most places will offer a moneyback/exchange in case they make a mistake.

  26. I am a first time chicken owner and I think I did ok with the pick of my chicks.I have 6 chickens and my partridge rock has turned out to be a rooster. My hens are a Rhode Island Red,1 Buff Orpington, 2 black sex links and 1 golden comet,they are free ranged for a few hours every day and have a large inside outside coop,all are doing well.The 5 hens roost together at night and the rooster roosts by himself,is that normal?

    1. Hi Terry,
      Yes it can be. Do you have separate roosts or does the rooster sleep outside?

  27. I loved my first chickens so much that I gradually got more and more: As babies from the feed store, from nearby people who did not want them, and in May we had our first set of eggs hatch with our Buffs and our Rhodey Rooster as the parents. Now I have around 70. I probably purchased only 10 of them.
    I keep them even when they get old and get new ones to support them and they eventually die of natural causes.
    Is there a way to tell if a hen is old? I know some of mine are, but I cannot tell which among the various breeds is the older one! How can one really tell them apart? I can recognize some, but not all so I can’t remember which name goes to which hen!
    We have Wyandotts, Rhodies, Barred Rock, Brahman, Leghorn, one Silver Spangled Hamburg, 3 Show Girls, a Jersey Giant, Aracaunas, Orphington, and some I do not remember the breed.
    Since some are old nd some young, we get about 3 dozen eggs a day. I sell them so fast that I can’t keep up with the demand!

    1. Tob…. I felt the same way! So far I only have 11, but I just started! I named all of mine and found some distinction on most to be able to tell them apart! But my RIR hens were impossible and my Black Silkies too! I discovered different colored bands/rings for their legs! I only had to band three! Ginger had orange, Rita had red, and Nicole silky had pink, However I removed her band yesterday, and renamed “him” Nicky!
      I bought a pack of 20 colored bands for about $12. Just a thought! Since yours are older, make sure you get the right size! I hope I don’t go that crazy, with my chickens! I’m telling myself 20 should be max! Lol

  28. Hi.love your blog as a newbie to chicken keeping thank you. I live in the UK have 3 chickens one hybrid given to me by a friend when they couldn’t keep her anymore and two bantams. the hybrid lays like clockwork but the bantams having been good layers have now stopped laying completely. nothing has changed. they are free range most of the time and fed layers pellets. plenty of water. any ideas or is it just erratic bantams! they make me laugh so the eggs are a bonus! thank you

    1. Hi Sebby,
      Could be typical erratic bantams 🙂
      Have you read our why is my hen not laying article? This should help you.

  29. Hi I am very interested in rearing chickens mainly for the eggs. I was thinking about the RIR. Are those chicks compatible with black giant chicks. I would be a beginner so was wondering if I should just go with one breed at a time. Any thoughts? Thank you, your article was very informative.

    1. Hi Venita,
      I generally recommend that beginners should start with a single breed; it makes integrating the flock much easier!

  30. i’ve been on so many chicken sites my eyes are crossed. I have to give KUDO’s to yours. Informative is an understatement.
    I just purchased a small piece of land in SW FL and want to farm, back to nature. Chickens is on my 1st list. Having to build a coop and run I’m overwhelmed with options, but like everyone today cost is a major factor. Your site has helped as your followers offer so much experience and suggestions. I can’t go on enough and just wanted to express my thanks and tell you, “You Rock”

    1. Thank you so much Sue! It’s so lovely to hear this; best of luck with your girls!

  31. I’ve heard on many websites that RIR roosters can be aggressive towards people. i currently have 3 RIR roosters and 5 hens, all 8 weeks old. None of them show any aggression. if anything they are really friend and fly towards me.

    1. Your roos are a bit young yet but more than likely there will be problems. They may very well never have a problem with you but they’ll start getting possessive with the girls once they are 3-5 months old. That is when they’ll start fighting with each other over the 5 girls. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll have to rehome at least one if not two of the roosters or they’ll be fighting to the death. It’s NOT pretty !

  32. Upon reading this article last spring we purchased 4 Golden Comets. They have done very well in the coop and have produced 4 eggs a day since they were about 18 weeks old. They are docile and only get loud when laying eggs.

  33. I got my chickens a little over a month ago, I go to two amercaunas (most friendly in my flock, I would highly recommend them). One Buff Orpington, and one Australorp! Your blog has been very informative, thanks so much for all the help you give to everyone!

  34. I have a question that hopefully you or a reader can answer. About 2 months ago I got some more chicks and raised them in the garage since it was still getting cold at night. Now that it is nicer weather I introduced the chicks to my 3 other full grown chickens. I wanted to introduce them slowly so I made a smaller cage inside my big coop and put the chicks in it. I have one full grown chicken that seems have a very big interest in them. By that I mean that it is constantly next to the cage looking in and walking around every side. Doesn’t peck at them. Is this just a motherly hen wanting to take care of them or Is she just waiting for therm to get out so she can attack them? Even late at night I look out and there she is right beside the cage.
    BTW I love your website. I have had chicken for about 10 years and still have learned a lot from here.

    1. Unfortunately, most likely once you open the cage she will peck. Have you tried this?

  35. So far my Frizzle, my Blue, and my Cochin have become broody and I allowed them to hatch their chicks. Perfect. My Wyandotte, Americana, Barred Rock and Polys seem to accept the babies with no problem because they have to come in the coop to lay and thus go right by the babies. Very interested but not aggressive. My question is when do I allow the moms to tale the little ones out into the fenced yard. It will be a couple of months before they will be unable to get through the chain link and I;m afraid if they wander they will die since mom can’t get them back in.Sorry this is long but love your site and hope someone can make suggestions.it is not possible to completely block the bottom of the fence.

    1. I always let the Mother Hen decide when the time is right for everything. When she’s ready, she’ll take them outside. I’ve never had a problem with other hens or roosters attacking the chicks because Mom is ready and willing to kick butt to save her babies. The chicks probably will go through the chain link fence but will always head back to Mom when they’re cold or scared. Mom will also “yell” at them when they go too far, mine always does ! I didn’t care for the babies leaving the pen through the fence so I ended up buying a roll of 2 feet high chicken wire and lined the inside of the fence so the babies had to stay in the pen with Mom.

  36. I live on the coast of WA State. Pacific Beach. Anyway, I plan to purchase a coop at least 10 by 12 with a secured run with roof and hardware cloth tall enough for me to stand up in. I hope to purchase chicks from a reputable hatchery when the coop and run is ready. I do want a sustainable flock for mainly pets and eggs. Here’s what I’m thinking. Only 10 to start. 1 ?, nine hen’s. Welsummer, dark Cornish, buckeye, Dominique, Americauna, cream legbar, Easter egger, barnevelder, new Hampshire. A welsummer or Dominique rooster. Any comments? appreciate it. My email is ed022057@gmail.com. thanks

  37. As new chicken owners with kids, we chose a buff Orpington, an Easter Egger, and an Austrolorp. They free range all day in our back garden and have been great beginner chickens! The Easter Egger is especially friendly, the buff is also friendly, and the austrolorp is always running away (unless we have treats). None of them are mean (no pecking) and they only get loud after laying an egg. Both the buff and Easter Egger are regular layers at 4 months. The austrolorp May be a late bloomer….overall we are very pleased with how friendly, active, and productive our ladies are!

  38. I wouldn’t classify the Buff as a desirable hen but would highly recommend the Black Australorp because they produce all year long and are well adapted to either run or free range, are beautiful to behold, and are somewhat friendly. Much better food to egg ratio than the Buff could ever be. I also do not recommend the Leghorn because as it ages it becomes mean to remainder of the flock. In this case egg production is negated by temperament.

  39. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Australorp in your article. They were recommended to me as my very first chickens. I got 5 of them. They laid eggs right through the winter and are beautiful in the sunlight. They don’t cuddle much, but are friendly and will sit right next to you if you sit down. They will carry on a conversation with you and talk your leg off. They are so much fun to watch, I love my girls. I would recommend the Australorp to any beginner or advanced chicken owner. God bless you and thanks for your site. I keep my eye on it all the time. 🙂

  40. We have different breeds together and they get along fine. Silver Laced Wyandotte,RIR,Black Austrolorp,Easter Eggers and two silkies.Ended up with a mixed flock because someone was moving and going to just let them loose in predator heavy area.I took them instead.Great layers,and they get along fine.Took them a few days to establish pecking order and that was it.They didn’t fight just a lot of noise off and on.They are in an enclosed area,good fencing because of predators.But they have plenty of room and no problem.

  41. Hello! I really want chickens, and I am trying to convince my parents. I showed them your article on five reasons to get chickens and have made lists with everything we would need. However, we have a “summer house”, and would like to bring the chickens with us. Someone there would be willing to rent us their coop, but would the chickens be OK with the transition to the new coop, especially if we had to bring them back after a few months?

  42. We have a little of everything and are excited! So far a think we have a leghorn, a golden comet, and at least one barred rock. One may be an Easter egger, we aren’t sure yet. Right now we are just hoping everyone is a hen.

  43. I am so surprised how much I love chickens! They really are relaxing to watch a listen to their little clucks.
    We have a Barred rock and Barham at 5 wks old established in the coop and hen pen… I just got a 3wk old Silver Phoenix for my birthday. She’s feisty with the other girls, but eats from my hand and roosts on my fingers like a parrot:).
    We have just received 1week old red-shoulder Yokohama & 1week old blue silkie girl in their own brooder. I REALLY hope the introduction of all these different ages doesn’t ruin their attitudes. They are our egg-laying pets. It’s hard to watch the Phoenix girl get feisty at the Barham like she’s putting her in her place:( Barham is such a fluffy friendly girl.
    Wish us luck and…welcome any advice.

  44. I started reading about broody hens. We have an Orpington that we broke within a couple weeks. But we have a black hen that we’re still working on. Your information has helped as just removing her from the nest box a few times a day hasn’t helped yet but I see hope now. We have 10 cinnamon queens or that’s what we were told. We also have 6 young Easter Eggers. The Easter Eggers are not too friendly but I will keep working with them. One got hit in the head with a large hail stone. I thought it had killed her but when I touched her she moved. I kept her separated from the rest for about 3 days because they were pecking at her head. She fine & dandy now. Thanks for your information!

  45. hello Claire
    Im looking to start keeping chickens.
    Your post was great and what im looking for would be some easy to keep,friendly,docile and most importantly low laying (since we dont eat a lot of eggs). I have started looking and I like the silkies and barbu d’uccles.
    please tell me what breeds you would recomend

  46. hello claire
    Im looking to start keeping chickens.
    your post was great and what Im looking for are some easy to keep,friendly,docileand most importantly low laying.(as we dont eat a lot of eggs)I like the silkies,barbu duccles and polish chickens
    please tell me what breeds you would recomend
    (sorry if this pops up multiple times)

  47. I have Easter eggers and I am in the camp of they are very friendly! My 9 year old nephew can come over and hand feed them. All of them come running up when they see me, and most will sit on my lap or shoulder, including my roosters.

  48. I only have one young just laying hen day 9 of eggs i worry about her being on her own as she always runs to the fence when she see me the dogs or cats as a bantem does the slow intro still apply

  49. Wondering why it says to only choose chickens of one breed? If you get them from the same hatchery then they should all have the same exposure to pests. I’m looking at getting a few egg/pet hens, so I was looking at getting an assortment. I was looking at Buff Orpingtons, Wyandottes, and Australorps. Any comments/advice on these?

  50. hello i am a kid me and my family are interested in getting a chicken that is friendly because we are getting it for a pet so we are thinking of getting a leghorn i am getting a leghorn because my friend has one and it is super friendly

  51. What is the best chicken’s to have for a beginner I’m not raising for meat just for eggs not alot and a pets and where to buy them 3 or 4 months old I am fixing to retire so I will have time

  52. Last year we started off with 3 light Brahmas (one ended up being a rooster). Then 4 weeks later we got 3 Blue Australorps. We had a play pen we kept the Australorps and actually built 2 coop houses (more like a Coop Townhouse). We integrated them slowly. And they all got to free-range during the day. They seemed to do fine until they started laying eggs. When I investigate the breeds I had read that they both get along with other breeds and were friendly. We raised them from chicks. Unfortunately one Australorp died of coccidiosis at 6 weeks. When they started laying eggs, Percy, decided there were 2 hens he favored, one was an Australorp. Then the two brahma hens started picking on her. She ended up having to wear a saddle. When the Brahma hens tried to keep one of the Australorps out of the nesting boxes, I ended up rehoming them to a farm that took all 3 Brahmas. About 3 months earlier I had done more research and had ordered 3 different breeds to get (Easter Egger, Barnevelder, and more blue Australorps). We were able to get them all the same day and they have been all raised as chicks. We got 3 novagens 5 days later and they integrated nicely with the other chicks.

    1. Ooops, I wasn’t done commenting. Meanwhile, one of the Australorp hens became egg bound from when the Brahmas woudn’t let her nest and she died, so we were left with one Australorp, who then went broody. The farm that took the Brahmas, brought us 6 fertile eggs and she has since hatched 4 of them (2 didn’t hatch). She is now raising a mix of 4 chick babies.
      The other nine 6 week old chickens have moved out to one of the coop houses and are doing fabulously together. I know it is still early, but they are such a great group this mixed breed flock that I have (2 Barnevelders, 2 Easter Eggers, 2 Blue Australorps, and 3 Novagens). They are also pretty quiet. They come out with me when I work in the garden and have learned to follow me back to their fenced area when I need them too.

  53. my Parents and I are Prepareing to get Chickens and I am Doing the research cause this is goi ng to be the frist time we got chickens tho I have helped hatch chick’s from eggs as q school Project but I know that my family and I w ill not have that kind Of Time so we are getting chicks instead and your website is very helpful

  54. With all the buzz about farm-to-table dining and organic eating over the past few years, chicken coops became trendy. After all, you can’t get more local than your backyard chicken coop! But what does it take to start a chicken coop, exactly, and perhaps more importantly, to keep it going?

  55. Long as you keep them fresh straw Rhode Island Reds and the Cornish hens for sure in the winter but just to remember that they can keep there feet warm and they will keep laying even in the coldest months in the year.

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