Thinking about getting chickens? Not sure what kind is best? If you're ready to learn which types of hens lay lots of eggs on a regular basis, make good pets, and fit happily in small sized yards, you've come to the right place. This short booklet, which is a companion to my Backyard Chickens for Beginners: Getting the Best Chickens, Choosing Coops, Feeding and Care, and Beating City Chicken Laws (also available as an e-book or in print on Amazon), provides you with information on 12 types of chickens which are best suited for a small back yard flock. As a bonus, I've included 5 more breeds in the Exotic Poultry chapter at the end.
There's a lot of free information online about different kinds of chickens. It's great to have this available, but sorting through it can take a lot of time. When I decided to get chickens, I spent many hours researching different chicken breeds in books and on the Internet. At the time, I had a small yard in the city. The only thing I knew about chickens was that the hens lay the eggs and the roosters make most of the noise!
From my research, I learned that there are as many as 175 different kinds of chickens in the world. However, only 12 chicken breeds met my criteria, which were:
* Regular and prolific egg layers
* Comfortable in an enclosed coop and run area
* Preferably, not too loud
* Friendly around people
First, I only had enough space for 2-4 chickens, so it made sense to choose a kind that would lay lots of eggs. If a hen from Breed A lays an average of two eggs per week, while a Breed B hen averages four or five eggs per week, then why would I want Breed A? That's 100 eggs per year versus 200-250. If I'm feeding these birds and keeping them for egg production, then I want my chickens to be serious about laying. In this booklet, we will cover the most productive types of egg laying hens.
Second, I heard that not all chickens are comfortable in enclosed spaces like the cop and enclosed run area I was building. Some breeds are flighty and nervous, preferring to free range all the time, and often perching on fences and flying into trees if you let them out. But other chickens handle confinement well, remain happy in small spaces, and are likely to stay in a fenced yard when you let them out to free range. I put the happy ones on my list.
While I like to allow my hens to free range in the backyard, I cannot do this all day, every day. Like most of you, I have a day job and am away from home most of the day. When I am gone, our chickens stay in their coop and enclosed run area. When I'm home, I'll let them out into the yard. Getting them down from trees and chasing them through neighbors' yards is not how I want to spend my evenings. Unless you have a huge amount of space, choosing birds that can handle confinement is probably a wise bet for you, too. You will find them in this booklet.
Third, with a small city yard and neighbors close on every side, I wanted to find some quiet chickens. Roosters are the loud ones, and I had no intention of getting a rooster (which are not needed for egg production and are illegal in my city anyway). However, some hens crow a bit also, and this can be particularly loud in the morning or when they announce that they have laid eggs. There is always a chance of getting a loud chicken from any breed, but a consensus has emerged on which breeds are the quietest on a regular basis. This information took me the longest to find, but I will save you time by summarizing it in this e-booklet.
About R.J. Ruppenthal
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Published January 2, 2014
Crafts, Hobbies & Home.