Are you considering starting a hobby farm?
Well, there are many things to consider when starting one– and selecting the right chicken breed (or breeds) should be a priority!
Chickens can be an extremely beneficial addition to your small-scale farm.
Choosing the best breed for your particular situation is critical in ensuring they provide full value to your backyard homestead.
In this blog post, we will explore some of the best chicken breeds for hobby farms, allowing you to make an informed decision as to which option works best for your goals.
So pull up a chair, grab something cold to drink, and let’s start exploring these different chickens!
The Best Egg-Producing Chicken Breeds for Hobby Farms
Few pleasures in life are quite as extraordinary, yet simple, as enjoying a freshly brewed coffee with farm-fresh eggs in the morning.
If you dream of picturesque cottage-core mornings where you can eat breakfast and overlook your flock, then you need to choose some chicken breeds that specialize in laying eggs for you.
Here are our favorite breeds for hobby farms.
The Ameraucana chicken is ideal for so many hobby farms!
These sweet birds are friendly and docile, meaning they’re great for beginners.
They are an attractive breed with several unique features, from their muffs and beards to their ear tufts, striking blue-green eggs, and a variety of body colors.
The Ameraucana comes in both standard size (4 to 7 pounds) and bantam size (less than two pounds).
Though they typically don’t mind confinement, these chickens tend to do better in larger outdoor spaces where they can explore more freely and keep a healthy social life with their flockmates.
As far as their laying abilities go, an Ameraucana will produce 3 or 4 medium-sized light blue eggs per week, or about 180 eggs a year.
This makes them perfect for someone who wants a colorful egg basket and a farm-fresh breakfast.
Whiting True Blue and Whiting True Green Chickens
If you’re looking for a unique breed of chicken, the Whiting True Blue and Whiting True Green chickens are interesting options for your hobby farm.
These ornamental breeds have striking plumage with vibrant feathering in blue-green, purple, and blue tones.
They are decorative birds and are fairly friendly as far as pet chickens go, though they aren’t particularly productive egg layers or efficient at converting feed into meat.
As a hobby farmer, this shouldn’t be much of a concern.
The appeal of these two breeds is their stunning egg colors–gorgeous blue and green eggs for each breed.
These breeds should give you 250 to 300 large eggs per hen per year.
The Whiting True Blue and Whiting True Green chickens also make excellent show birds due to their attractive appearance and general docile nature.
So if you grow bored of the farm, you always have the option to take your Whiting Trues out for competitions to learn something new, meet new people, and have a lot of fun.
We believe that a hobby farm isn’t complete without a few brown egg layers, and that’s where the Wyandotte Chickens come in handy.
There are plenty of brown egg-laying hens out there, but we don’t think any of them are nearly as beautiful as Wyandottes.
The five major varieties of Wyandottes are:
- Silver Laced Wyandotte
- Golden Laced Wyandotte
- Blue Laced Gold Wyandotte
- Blue Laced Red Wyandotte
- White Columbian Wyandotte
These birds are bred to be dual-purpose, but it is most common to see them kept for their egg-laying abilities.
You can expect about four medium-large eggs per hen per week.
French Black Copper Marans
The French Black Copper Marans are just beautiful chickens with the richest, most chocolate-brown eggs you’ll ever see.
They really add a lot of impact in the egg basket, and if you’re into chickens as a hobby, it would be a missed opportunity not to have French Black Copper Maran hens in your flock.
The more eggs a hen lays, the lighter her eggs will appear. So high producers have lighter colored eggs, while lower producers will have more of that classic deep and rich brown shade.
This unique chicken breed originated from the city of Marans in western France.
They possess a calm and friendly demeanor that makes them great with beginner hobby farmers, kids, and family pets.
In addition to being docile, they are quiet birds who like free-ranging and do not require much maintenance, saving you time and money on feed costs.
Just because you no longer have to get your eggs from the grocery store doesn’t mean you won’t want some white eggs. That’s where the impressive Leghorn breed comes in handy.
Leghorns are a popular breed of chicken that has a long and rich history.
This breed originated in Tuscany, Italy, where they were once bred to produce various eggs.
These chickens have since been developed as excellent layers, and today, they can lay up to 280 to 320 large to extra-large white eggs per year.
Leghorns are active and energetic birds that are easily identifiable by their slender bodies and white feathers.
They have a tall single comb that is very large and vibrant red, making them unmistakable.
Also, they tend to be more alert than other breeds and are known for shying away from threats or unfamiliar environments.
They’re more adept at evading predators, which is a perk when you’re a new hobby farmer.
In addition to being an egg-producing powerhouse, these birds can produce high-quality meat, making them a worthwhile investment for both backyard farmers and commercial producers.
Sex-Links for Egg Laying
If having a lot of eggs with fewer chickens is important to you as a hobby farmer, then you need to check out these amazing sex-link birds.
These hybrids lay the most eggs and will supply you with tons of eggs all year round.
- ISA Brown, about 300 large brown eggs per hen per year.
- Red Sex Link (Red Star/Golden Comet), about 330 to 360 medium-large brown eggs per hen per year.
- Black Sex Link (Black Star, Black Beauty), about 250 large to extra-large brown eggs per hen per year.
- Bovans Brown, about 300 (or more) large brown eggs per hen per year.
The Best Meat-Producing Chicken Breeds for Hobby Farms
If you’re interested in raising your own meat on your farm, chickens are a great place to start.
Determine how much of your poultry-based diet you want to grow, and then go from there.
If you want to eat chicken once a month, you may only want a dozen or so meat producers. But if you like the idea of two chicken-based meals a week, then you should opt for around 110 meat birds.
The beauty of raising your own meat is that you can raise and harvest all your birds for the year at once to get it done and over with.
Or you can do it in several smaller groups all throughout the year to make it more manageable (and save your precious freezer space).
Cornish Crosses are this amazing hybrid chicken that has become increasingly common in backyard coops and farms of all sizes.
This breed was developed to have an excellent growth rate and robust health, making them the perfect choice for food production.
Cornish Cross chickens have wide bodies, short legs, and massive breasts, allowing these birds to be grown quickly and efficiently.
Six to ten weeks after hatching, they are mature and ready to be processed and put on the table or in the freezer. Each bird should give you at least three pounds of meat.
They are also known for being gentle birds with mild dispositions, making them relatively easy to take care of.
The Best Dual-Purpose Chicken Breeds for Hobby Farms
If you want the best of both worlds, you can have your eggs and eat your grilled chicken breasts too!
Here are our top picks of dual-purpose chickens that are novice-friendly and ideal for hobby farm settings.
Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is an iconic breed of chicken with a long history.
Originating in the U.S., this dual-purpose bird has been used for eggs and meat since the late 19th century.
It is renowned for its good egg-laying ability, laying around 250 eggs per year, as well as its hardiness.
This chicken can cope with cold climates and, whilst they prefer free range, can do well in a small backyard setup too.
It is easily recognizable with distinctive colors of reddish-brown feathers and yellow/green legs.
Often people recognize this breed from seeing them on small farms or in novels about rural life.
Although other breeds have come along to challenge the Rhode Island Red, it remains popular among many poultry owners today for its easy-care qualities and consistent production capabilities.
Hens should produce 260 to 312 eggs per year; most of these birds should weigh 6.5 to 8.5 pounds at full maturity– the meat tastes great.
Delawares were the original meat bird until the Cornish Crosses came along.
Delaware is a dual-purpose breed developed in the 1940s in Delaware, USA.
This breed is renowned for its distinct production of eggs and meat, making it highly sought after by homesteaders and hobby farmers.
Most Delawares weigh six to eight pounds. The hens lay an average of 200 to 220 white or tinted large to jumbo-sized eggs per year.
These are classically bred chickens that vary from white to reddish yellow with white edges around their feathers.
They are excellent foragers and have been known to be quite friendly and docile.
This breed is also known for its high levels of resistance to respiratory diseases compared to other breeds.
All things considered, the Delaware chicken offers good meat, good egg production, cold hardiness, and a fairly calm demeanor.
Your hobby farm will look much better with a beautiful yellow chicken or two added to your flock.
The Buff Orpington is another great dual-purpose chicken breed that we have all come to know and love.
They have a calm, gentle temperament and a hardy nature.
This British breed originates back to the late 19th century.
William Cook developed it with the aim of creating an all-around dual-purpose chicken.
With its large body frame, this breed has a rich golden buff plumage with bright gleaming yellow skin that really stands out!
Due to their potential for producing large quantities of eggs, they are considered a very productive layer with brownish-tinted eggs.
They also reach market weight quickly, making them suitable for commercial meat production.
If you are looking for a steady and reliable breed known for resilience against wintry elements, then the Buff Orpington may be the bird for you.
You can expect mature Buff Orpingtons to weigh six to ten pounds; hens lay 200 to 280 large brown eggs every year.
The Plymouth Rock chicken is a quintessential American breed with a striking appearance and good-natured personality.
You’ll recognize them by their distinct black and white barring.
These chickens can appear quite large but are not to be feared at all.
They are witty little birds who do a good job evading most predators whilst remaining determined foragers.
As far as temperament is concerned, Plymouth Rocks are considered by many to be the friendliest of all chicken breeds and make a wonderful addition to rural backyards or urban lots.
Their hardiness makes them an excellent choice for novice chicken owners; they are pretty forgiving when it comes to many beginner mistakes.
Most Plymouth Rocks weigh between seven and a half pounds and nine and a half pounds; hens lay around 200 eggs annually and may continue laying for up to a decade!
The Best Yard Ornament and Pet Chicken Breeds for Hobby Farms
If you’ve got a hobby farm, then you probably want to form some sort of a bond with your animals.
And if you have children on your hobby farm, well, that’s just all the more reason to invest in some sweet and huggable chicken breeds who will love you back.
Here are some beautiful chicken breeds that are just as unique as they are friendly.
Speckled Sussex Chickens
If you want a beautiful speckled bird to adorn your yard with her beautiful colors, look no further than the Speckled Sussex chicken.
The Speckled Sussex originated in the UK and is one of the oldest breeds of chicken still wildly popular today.
It has a medium to large size body, and its feathers are always spotted with pleasant shades of black, white, and brown.
The Speckled Sussex is more than beautiful; it’s a dual-purpose breed.
This breed is very docile, friendly, and happy to spend time with human companions.
Hens lay 200 to 260 large brown eggs per year; Sussex weighs 7 to 9 pounds as a mature adult.
They are definitely more than “just” ornamental and friendly, and we think all hobby farms could benefit from a few of these birds.
Silkie chickens are probably the best breed you can keep as a pet.
Not only are they pretty unique in appearance, but they are so loving and are highly likely to hop up on your lap, unprompted, for some cuddles and pets.
If you have small children who know how to be gentle with chickens, you should absolutely reward them by adding a few silkies to your hobby farm.
With a little time, attention, and a pocket full of treats, they will soon become your child’s first best friend.
Silkie bantams have fluffy plumage that has a texture similar to satin or silk; from a distance, it looks more like soft hair than feathers.
Their unusual feathers cover all of their legs and toes, giving them the distinct appearance as though they have fur all over their body.
This is a popular bird to enter into poultry shows, so if you’re looking for a great way to educate and socialize yourself or your children, that could be a fun option.
The Frizzle is an iconic and fashionable chicken breed characterized by its feathery, unkept curly feathers that stick up, out, and sometimes backward.
Prized for its unusual feathers, this small bird (roughly 2 – 3 lbs) originates from China and is available in several pretty colors.
Some of the most popular Frizzle chickens are Cochins, though they are available in a few other breeds.
Frizzles have become increasingly popular in the poultry show circuit due to their distinctive appearance and overall good disposition.
They are quite tame and enjoy the company of kind, quiet people.
Keep in mind that the raised frizzled feathers can obstruct the vision of a bird which can lead them into potentially dangerous situations if not properly looked after.
They need a safe enclosure that stays warm in the winter and predator-free at all times.
Polish chickens are a breed of chicken known for their beautiful crest of feathers, which resembles a fluffy.
This breed is surprisingly hardy and can adapt to several climates.
These chickens lay white eggs, and you can expect to see about 150 to 200 medium to large white eggs a year per hen.
They typically live for up to six years with good care, making them an ideal choice for many farms or backyard coops.
If you want a bird that you have to keep as a pet because it’s a bit too small to produce a lot of meat, you’ll like the fact that most Polish chickens are four to six pounds.
Not only are they attractive birds, but they have friendly temperaments too.
This makes them relatively easy to manage, especially for novice hobby farmers.
FAQs About Hobby Farm Chickens
Why Should You Raise Chickens on Your Hobby Farm?
- Chickens provide you and your family with healthy sources of food through their meat and eggs.
- They give you ample pest control for your hobby farm.
- Chicken manure is excellent for composting and in your garden.
- They are companion animals for the entire family.
- Chickens are a great hobby to get into.
We wrote an entire article on this topic; you can check it out here: Why Chickens Are Foundational to Homesteading.
What’s The Difference Between a Small Farm, a Hobby Farm, a Homestead, and a Farmstead?
Farms are classified as such if they earn $1,000 or more in a calendar year from agricultural products produced and sold.
If you sell more than $1,000 worth of chickens, eggs, meat, or chicks, then you have a farm.
A hobby farmer typically isn’t concerned with making a profit from their land or agricultural endeavors.
They do not operate like a business. Hobby farmers see raising animals as a hobby, and it is typically supported by a traditional job or their non-agricultural business.
Homesteaders are usually on a journey to become self-sufficient.
They may or may not sell agricultural goods, but they are trying to use their land and animals to sustain themselves.
However, they can make and sell products and still be considered a homestead.
A farmstead is a homestead that makes more than $1,000 a year by selling agricultural products.
They also want to be self-sustaining like a homesteader; the only difference is how much profit they earn from their farming-related products.
Do You Have to Have Chickens to Be Considered a Hobby Farm?
Even though chickens make for a great hobby, they are not required for you to call your property a hobby farm.
Hobby farms can consist of any animal, chicken or not!
Of course, in our biased opinion, the very best hobby farms do have a few chickens on them.
What Are Some Good Reading Materials on Hobby Farming and Chicken Keeping?
- 15 Best Chicken Breeds for Confinement and Small Backyards
- 16 Best Chicken Breeds You Can Keep Indoors
- 17 Best Chicken Breeds To Keep If You Have a Garden
- 15 Best Chicken Breeds for City Living
- The 10 Best Chicken Breeds for Kids
- What To Ask Breeders Before Buying Your Chickens