Wether your a first time poultry keeper or a experienced one looking to expand here are some tips on choosing the right breed for you, first thing to decide is what you want them for. Most common purposes for urban or garden keepers are eggs, showing and breeding and you might want them to look nice or be child friendly,the less common purpose is meat. You might slaughter a spare cockerel or old hen as a meal for you and your family and therefore want a dual purpose breed.
Hybrid or pure breed
Hybrids are generally bred for eggs although some are produced to grow incredibly fast and therefore can break bones and have heart problems. If you have a egg producing hybrid they do lay incredibly well 260 to even 320+ a year! This said hybrids will live considerably shorter lives than purebreeds and due to the amount of eggs they create they can get prolapsed vents and egg boundness lastly the males are slaughtered after hatching but most hybrids are vaccinated against common deseaises . Purebreeds come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of breeds to fit your set up, most purebreeds an be taken to shows and contests if of good quality. Even though they may lay only 100-150+ eggs per year over their lifespan they can provide just as many as a hybrid. Some pure chickens can be rare and therefore breeding or even keeping them can help to preserve them. If you do breed heritage, rare or pure breeds it’s worth having a dual purpose type: the females can lay a reasonable amount of eggs whilst the males can be slaughtered for a nice sized carcass.
Top ten breeds
due to the fact we’ve never kept any meat hybrids I will not review them.
- Rhode Island reds: this hardy breed is the base of many egg laying hybrids due to the fact they are a dual purpose breed and are incredibly friendly, although these birds aren’t rare they are a wonderful heritage breed.
- Orpington: a English breed created by Thomas cook in the village of Orpington, this breed lay well for a purebreed and come in a range of colours which will contrast in your garden perfect if you’d like a pretty bird. Due to their tameness and size they are good mothers and make great pets.
- Serama: tiny little chooks with massive personalitys this true bantam breed originates from Malaysia where they are kept as house pets, a true bantam is a small chicken(bantam) with no large fowl of its breed. The males can be kept in a urban garden since their crow is very quiet and is like a cockadoodaledoo although it sound as if their voice has broken halfway through! The males love their “wives” and are very gentle towards humans.
- Pekin: another true bantam these little chickens also have attitude and aren’t afraid of their bigger flock members. With big feathers on their feet they need to be kept dry or trimmed of, but this feature makes them quite funny when they run its more of a side to side Waddle and the feathers mean they are less destructive to the ground. They make great mothers too.
- Leghorn: this Mediterranean breed are heat hardy and common in hotter countries for this reason aswell as the May eggs they lay, 300+ large white eggs per year. The way they keep cool is by sending blood through their large combs but when it’s cold they can get frostbite but a bit of Vaseline can help if you put a bit on the comb.
- Legbar: created by Reginald Crundall Punnett after the first three arucana hens were brought to England and the male was slaughtered by accident. Punnett cross bred these hens to create the crested cream Legbar which not only lay blue eggs but are sexable at day old the males are lighter with a large spot on the head and the females have dark stripes. Legbars are flighty but can be tamed. Legbars are the opposite of true bantams in the fact they only come in large fowl.
7. Warren: this hybrid is deprived from the Rhode Island Red and light Sussex, used in the egg industry these friendly birds will lay nearly a egg a day and are perfect starter birds, cheaper than purebreeds these are easy to come by.
8. Skylines: these are a crossbred Legbar laying more eggs it too can lay a blue egg, some olive and even a few cream. These birds share the looks of a Legbar but have a cream neck unlike the legbars grey, they also can have a salmon chest or lovely red feathers.
9. Goldtop : this silkieXsussex isn’t bred for eggs but for friendliness and broodiness. Going broody most of the year they lay around 150 eggs, but are extremely friendly and pretty birds, harder to find a breeder of these.
10. Copper black: a Maran hybrid who shares the gentle personality of the purebreed, the glossy black feathers and shiny rich brown eggs but lay more per year and tend to be vaccinated like most hybrids. These also are cheaper and more common than a purebreed.
Which ever breed you choose make sure you read up on the standards and other information and purchase from a good breeder.