Are you looking for the best chicken breeds in New Zealand? Whether you’re living in rural areas or NZ’s lifestyle blocks, raising chickens successfully and enjoying the company and eggs they produce is possible.
But what chicken breeds are suitable for the weather conditions in New Zealand?
In this article, we curated a list of the best chickens you can choose from. In particular, you’ll discover:
- Beginner-friendly chickens
- Prolific egg layers
- And excellent meat producers that can provide your needs
So, if you’re in for the ride and ready to discover the best chicken breeds to raise in New Zealand, let’s get right into it!
Best Chicken Breeds in New Zealand for Beginners
We all know that eggs and chickens are the best sources of many nutrients for our bodies. Regarding how we cooked them, we all enjoyed eating them.
You might think buying them in the market is easier and more convenient. However, others might prefer raising chickens at home to have fresh eggs and meat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
As you know, there are many different popular breeds throughout the world. But, it depends on what region they are known for.
If you’re a beginner living in New Zealand, this breed of chicken below would be great.
1. Red Shavers
For beginners that want more large eggs every year and at the same time have meat, this Red Shaver is one of the most suitable options for you. It boasts a stunning red plumage and a friendly and hardy personality.
It can produce up to 315 eggs per year and grow around 5.5 to 6 lbs.
They are also a quiet and calm breed, so you won’t have to worry because they won’t be noisy and won’t disturb you and your neighbors. But expect an occasional clucking because, technically, they’re birds who cluck, not talk.
This breed is also most likely to be broody. They lay more eggs within a year instead of hatching them.
Another good thing about this breed is that they can tolerate any weather conditions as long as they’re healthy.
Best Chicken Breeds in New Zealand for Egg Production
Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran raising chickens, the following breeds would be a great choice. They have excellent performance in the egg-laying department, so let’s uncover them one by one.
1. Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock, also known as Barred Rock, is quickly gaining popularity in New Zealand, and it’s easy to see why. This breed features a unique barred pattern of feather color, black and white.
It is considered one of the best egg layers because it can lay 200 to 250 large eggs annually.
The color of their eggs is usually brown. And like other breeds, they also have interesting characteristics that fit livestock.
They can lay when they get mature and up to their 10th year. This breed is also hardy, especially in cold climates, and they are safe for all ages, even kids.
2. Easter Egger
Easter Egger has the same characteristic and strength as the Plymouth Rock breed. They can lay more than 200 eggs yearly if kept healthy.
However, the unique feature of this breed that others don’t have is that it can lay eggs in various colors. It can be blue, green, and sometimes pink color.
That explains why their feathers also come in different colors. And it’s one of the reasons why they got the name Easter Egger.
However, this kind of breed doesn’t live long. So, you need to raise them properly and provide the best nutrition to ensure optimized growth. They surely reward you for that.
This breed might be the oldest of all chicken breeds, but it does a lot in egg production. Compared to others, Dominique chickens can produce up to 230 to 270 eggs per year. It means that they lay four eggs per week.
Their eggs might not be large, but there’s only a little difference from large ones. They produce a lot because they don’t usually go broody.
Aside from that, their chick’s gender can be easily determined. The female has small and condensed white spots on the head, while the males have scattered.
The Wyandotte chicken breed appears to come straight out of a comic book, but it performs well in egg production.
Like their name, they have unique yet fascinating features and colors, so they will surely catch your attention, even at first glance.
This breed comes in many colors, including golden laced, blue laced, silver pencil, and many others. Their coat colors were usually characterized by black, red, blue, and white shades.
They belong to the excellent egg producers because they can produce four large eggs per week, meaning more than 200 eggs yearly, and are becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand right now.
This breed fits the cold season in New Zealand because they are hardy yet friendly and docile. However, those aggressive birds often bully them, so you should separate them to ensure it won’t happen.
Like other breeds mentioned above, Sussex chickens also do well in producing eggs. On average, they can lay four to five large eggs a week, gaining more recognition in New Zealand.
But if you prefer more meat, don’t worry; we still got you!
Best Chicken Breeds in New Zealand for Meat Production
The following breeds will be great if you prefer more meat than eggs.
They won’t disappoint you in the meat department, so without further ado, let’s get to know about them individually.
1. Cornish Cross
This breed can only afford to lay 160 small eggs per year, equal to an average of three eggs weekly.
However, what we love about Cornish cross is that they are great meat producers. In fact, it belongs to the best chicken meat breed in the world.
Cornish cross might look thin and small, but this prolific chicken can grow up to 9 pounds or 4 kilograms. So, if they get enough food and nutrition they need, they will surely reach that weight.
However, they tolerate hot weather more than the cold season. But, if you want to raise one, even living in a cold place, you still can do it.
Here are some tips you can do to keep your chickens warm, especially in cold seasons:
- Reduce drafts
- Provide a well-ventilated coop
- Heat their coop by letting sunlight come in if possible, but if not;
- Provide artificial light that emits heat
- Do the “Deep litter method“
- Let them roost
- Prevent them from frostbiting
The next breed worth mentioning that does well in producing meat is from Buckeye State, Ohio, the Buckeye chicken.
Like the Cornish cross, this chicken also has a prolific weight of up to 6 to 9 pounds, equal to 2.5 to 4 kilograms. That is a lot of meat to feed your whole family, right?
They also have calm and docile personalities that are easy to handle. And they’re perfect for New Zealand because they have a high tolerance for cold weather.
3. Jersey Giant
Jersey giants are also known as gentle giants. It’s clear from its name that they are immense breeds. They’re docile, friendly to children, and not flighty, so they’re easier to handle.
This hardy breed can grow to 11 to 13 pounds. That’s pretty big enough for lunch and dinner with your family.
They can tolerate extremely cold weather. However, they grow more slowly than the others.
But it’s not a problem if you’re patient enough for them to produce good meat and eggs.
4. Croad Langshan
Another hardy breed in the cold season is the Croad Langshan or Langshan. This breed was named after its origin in Langshan, China.
They are commonly presented in exhibitions. However, they are more needed in the commercial world.
Like the Austrolorp breed, Langshans have iridescent black color. Despite their dark plumage, they have white and flavored meat that you will surely love.
Best Dual Purpose Chicken Breeds in NZ
Now let’s move on to the dual-purpose chicken breed in New Zealand. These breeds are excellent meat and egg providers, so they’re suitable for homesteading and lifestyle blocks in NZ.
1. Rhode Island Red
First on the list is the Rhode Island Red chicken breed. This breed excels in both meat and egg production.
A mature Rhode Island Red rooster can weigh up to 8.5 pounds, while a hen can reach 6.5 pounds. But their growth depends on how healthy they are.
On the other hand, they are unlikely to go broody, so they can produce from 200 to 300 medium to large eggs a year.
This hardy breed can withstand extreme cold or hot weather. That’s why they perfectly fit in New Zealand.
The Orpington chicken is one of the largest chicken breeds with a calm, placid personality. They are renowned as a gentle giant and a good producer of medium to large eggs.
It is available in many hues, including Black, Buff, Blue, and White. For the past few years, breeders have begun experimenting with and improving this breed.
They add new color schemes and feather kinds that aren’t yet acknowledged by breed standards but are nonetheless interesting. The most popular Orpington color in New Zealand right now is black.
The Delaware chicken is among the most common ones in the country but is now regarded as severely endangered.
This breed is calm, curious, and intelligent, and some will happily sit on your lap even if they’re not known as lap chickens.
It’s still one of the most attractive chickens you can breed for eggs and meat. It is beautiful and very amiable.
Delaware chickens can produce about four eggs per week, and the males weigh 7-8 lbs while the ladies are around 6 lbs.
The breed used to go by dozens of different names and strains. But today, it goes by the name Brahma chicken breed in the United States. This fluffy yet majestic breed is prized for its meat and eggs.
This type of chicken was the main meat breed in America until 1930, making it one of the greatest dual-purpose breeds to consider if you’re primarily interested in meat production.
Brahmas can lay up to 200 eggs annually and grow up to 8 to 10 pounds.
At first, this magnificent breed has an iridescent: the color black. However, through time, breeders in different parts of the world developed a variety of colors.
Unlike the Cornish cross, Australorp can be a great egg producer and, simultaneously, a great meat producer.
First, they can produce about 250 medium eggs yearly, four to five per week. Then they can weigh up to 7 to 9 pounds until they mature.
But, like the previous breeds above, they need proper diet and nutrition to develop that desirable weight and number of eggs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chicken Breeds in New Zealand
What are the most popular chicken breeds in NZ?
The most popular breed that fits beginners is the Red Shavers. However, breeds like Plymouth Rock, Easter Egger, Dominique, Wyandotte, and Sussex are most known for producing more eggs.
On the other hand, the Cornish Cross, Buckeye, Jersey Giants, and Croad Langshans are excellent meat breeds.
And the Rode Island Red, Orpington, Delaware, Brahmas, and Australorps are great in both productions.
What are the best egg-producing chickens in NZ?
The other breeds popular for egg production in New Zealand are the Hyline and Shavers brown. These two breeds can lay almost one medium or large egg per day.
That is why commercial buyers and suppliers aim for them. If you’re to start raising chicken, this breed can be a great choice.
What chickens are native to NZ?
There were no chicken breeds that native to New Zealand. However, as the number of breeds increases, the number of chickens’ popularity reaches New Zealand.
And now, it has become one of the world’s most profitable and consumable livestock.
Final Recap of the Best Chicken Breeds in New Zealand
To sum it up, the best chicken breeds in New Zealand for beginners in terms of meat production are Cornish Cross, Buckeye, Jersey giant, and Croad Langshan.
But if you want to raise prolific egg layers, we recommend Plymouth Rock, Easter Egger, Wyandotte, Dominique, and Sussex!
However, if you want to kill two birds with one stone by raising dual-purpose breeds, Rhode Island Red, Orpington, Delaware, Brahmas, and Australorp are the best options for you.
But if you’re a beginner, consider raising a Red Shaver. They’re easy-to-handle, prolific egg layers, and good meat producers.