So you’ve decided to join the fun and crazy world that is chicken keeping.
With more than 500 breeds of chickens, picking the correct breed can seem overwhelming. We’ve made a simple 5 step process which you can follow to establish which is the perfect chicken breed for you.
Step 1: Space Requirements
Perhaps the most important stage of choosing the correct chicken breed for you is figuring out how much space you have available.
Once you have figured out how much space you have in your garden, you can begin to figure out both how many chickens you can get and also what size chickens. If you don’t have much space you should consider getting bantams as they typically require half the space of regular breeds.
This is important because if you keep large breeds in an area that is too small for them it will cause behavioral problems such as pecking and bullying.
Step 2: Eggs or Meat?
Next you need to decide why you are getting chickens. Some people get them for the eggs, others for the meat, and some just for the companionship. The majority of people get chickens for the delicious fresh eggs which they lay.
If you want to get chickens for eggs then you will want to choose either an egg laying or dual purpose breed. You should avoid broiler breeds as they are meat chickens and will not lay many eggs at all.
Step 3: Flighty or Friendly
Chickens’ personality will vary wildly depending on their breed. For instance Minorca chickens are known for being flighty and skittish. Whereas a breed like Silkies are known for being incredibly friendly to humans. In fact you can keep Silkies as ‘Lap Chickens’.
Most breeds of chicken will be somewhere in the middle with a generally laid back but assertive personality. You should thoroughly research your chosen breeds’ personality to make sure it matches your expectations and needs.
Step 4: Time Commitments
Next up is time commitments. Most breeds of chicken do not require much of your time and are fairly hardy and self-reliant. A good example of this is the Rhode Island Red. However certain breeds such as Silkies will require additional care from you. They have long hair which means you will need to periodically cut it to keep it out of their eyes.
So before you decide on your breed, figure out how much spare time you have to commit to chickens.
Step 5: Budget
The last point to consider is your budget; both your budget to buy your chickens and also your budget to keep them. As for buying them, certain specialty breeds (e.g. Ayam Cemani) can be incredibly expensive to purchase. As for budget to keep them, certain breeds such as Jersey Giants will cost at least double to keep because of their huge feed requirements. You should keep this in mind when choosing your breed.
Once you’ve figured out these five questions you will have the answers you need to find a breed of chicken that is perfect for your needs. With over 500 breeds out there, there is no shortage of choices!