One of my favorite parts about living on a farm or off of the grid is getting to work with the animals. Chickens are usually the first animal people get on a farm – or sometimes even in a backyard.
There are literally hundreds of chicken breeds out there. You could look at pictures and decide which ones you want to raise according to looks but I recommend looking into some things. Important factors to consider when choosing a chicken:
- Research the temperament of the chickens before taking them home – chickens with a docile temperament that get along with other animals you may have on your farm/backyard can be helpful. Calm chickens that are friendly around children can also be important.
- Are you raising chickens for eggs, meat, or both? This article will cover chickens that supply both meat and eggs.
- Will you be raising these chickens from chicks? If so, this will require more caretaking for the first few months
- Do you want to raise chicks from the chickens you take home? If so, make sure the types of chickens are broody, meaning they are devoted to their eggs and make excellent caregivers to the young chicks.
- What environment is best for the bird you’re looking into? Are they cold hardy?
- Are you and your family able to make this commitment? Raising animals is an investment of time, effort, and caretaking. Please only make this decision if you have the resources to provide a proper, safe home for any animal.
I know there are many choices to choose from when it comes to chickens so today I’m going to share with you 5 of the best dual-purpose chickens. By dual-purpose, I mean chickens that provide both good quality meat and good quality, large eggs.
- Australorps – These beautiful black birds normally start laying somewhere around 6 months old. They are typically calm and maintain a docile demeanor. The Australorps are typically pretty cold hardy. Hens weigh 5-7 pounds, while roosters range 7-10 pounds.
- Easter Eggers – Easter Eggers are a variety more than a breed. The breeds that make the egg layers are Ameraucana and Araucana. They are called Easter Eggers because of the variation of colored eggs they lay -- variations of blue and green eggs fill their nest boxes.
- Plymouth Rocks – These birds are super friendly and make broody mother hens. The Plymouth Rocks are pretty cold hardy and are popular because they are fairly tough.
- Jersey Giants – This massive bird can weigh between 11 and 13 pounds, which is huge for a chicken! Of course it makes a great meat bird but these big guys are responsible for laying extra large brown eggs, too. Not only are they big, and the eggs are big, but they are beautiful, too. The males can sometimes be aggressive, so you have to watch them.
- Buff Orpington – I personally think these little balls of fluff are adorable. It is said they are one of the tamest breeds in existence and they make lovely garden pets. Very broody when it comes to their eggs and they make great mother hens.
Before rushing out and making any choices when it comes to adding animals to your farm make sure you do your research. Sure animals are cute and they have a lot to offer but there are risks, responsibilities, and things to consider before jumping in. Backyard chickens can be fun but it’s worth it to do your homework.