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The Top 18 Chicken Breeds for Your Backyard Flock

Let’s talk about some of the best and most popular chicken breeds that you might want to consider including in your backyard flock! From temperament to eggs, this article will explore key information about the top 18 backyard chicken breeds. However, not every type of bird will be best suited for your climate, family, or yard.

To help you examine and narrow down the chicken choices, here is the low-down on their reputation for demeanor, heat tolerance or cold hardiness, egg color, size, and laying frequency, along with any other notable characteristics.

We have personal experience with many of the breeds on this list. Others are on our future “wish list” because of all the great things we have heard about them. I also included popular breeds that many of my insta-family of crazy chicken ladies love and have in their flocks. All of the descriptions provided below are in reference to the standard large fowl size (with exception of the Millie Fleur), though many of these breeds are also available in bantam (small) size.

What breeds of chicken do you want?

The Top 18 Backyard Chicken Breeds

1) Barred Rock

Barred Plymouth Rocks, or just “barred rocks”, are some of the sweetest, most inquisitive, quirky birds we’ve ever had. They are very friendly, intelligent, and great with kids. I hate to play favorites, but of the nine different chickens we have had now, Dottie and Zoey take the cake. They’re the ones who always come running first, follow closest, and are most inclined to jump up for a cuddle.

Barred Rocks also have a reputation for being talkative, but with a distinct sweet, softer coo and chatter, much different than the others in the flock. These black and white spotted cuties are steady layers of large, light brown eggs. You can expect an average of four to five eggs per week while they’re actively laying. Barred rocks have a large single comb, and are both heat and cold tolerant. This breed can take well to “confinement” but are happiest when they can range freely.

Three photos of a barred rock chicken breed, with black and white stripes and a large red comb. One photo is when it is a tiny chick, sitting in a blue tea cup.
Our Barred Rock girls. On the top and lower right is Zoey, our current gal. On the lower left is Dottie, our OG. She was the most cuddly bird we’ve ever had! If I was sitting down, she was up in my lap, end of story. Heartbreakers, these birds.

2) Marans

This group includes Black Copper Marans, Blue Copper Marans, or Cuckoo Marans.  All of them are known to have the same great temperament. Sweet. Intelligent. Docile. Easily handled. Personally, I have a sizable soft spot for Black Copper Marans. Their bluish black iridescent feathers, copper gold neck feathers, feathered legs, and large red comb and wattles make them extremely striking, gorgeous birds. We had a Black Copper Marans named Luna. We lost her early due to a heart defect, but for the 6 months she blessed our lives with her presence, she was one of the best chickens we’d ever had.

Marans are highly sought after for their dark chocolate brown eggs, which range from medium brown (blue copper), dark (cuckoo), to very very dark chocolate brown (black copper marans). They are good layers, averaging at least 3 large eggs per week. Though they’re quite cold hardy, Marans aren’t said to be especially tolerant to extreme heat.

Four photos of a black copper marans breed of chicken, with dark black feathers, an orange neck, and large red comb. One photo of is a tiny black and white chick. Two are of the adult size bird. In the last photo, a young black copper pullet is being held by DeannaCat.
Black Copper Marans are SO gorgeous, in my opinion. Luna was exceedingly intelligent, aware, and friendly.

3) Easter Eggers or Olive Eggers

Easter Eggers are usually very friendly, docile, and in our experience, maybe a tad ditzy. But what chicken isn’t a little ditzy? Really. Not to be confused with a true-bred Ameraucanas or Araucanas, Easter Eggers are also commonly labeled as “Americanas”. Note the difference in spelling. Certain chicken enthusiasts get very irritated by the misleading nomenclature, because the Ameraucana breed (number 5 below) is quite different.

Easter Eggers are the mutts of the chicken world; they are not a true recognized breed of chicken. But mutts can make for the best of pets! Instead, they’re usually a cross breed, dubbed and lumped into a generic category of “easter eggers” for the colorful eggs they’re bred to lay. The same is true for Olive Eggers. Most Easter Eggers have green legs, which helps make them easily distinguishable from true-bred Ameraucanas, who have slate gray to blue legs.

True to their name, Easter Eggers can lay a rainbow of egg colors! It is most common to get green or blue eggs from Easter Egger hens, though their palette can range from pink to tan to purplish! You can eggspect at least 4 eggs per week from these gals. Outfitted with fluffy cheeks called muffs, or feathery little neck beards, I think these birds are absolutely adorable. They come in a wide variety of colors, including brown, orange, black, blonde, white or blue! We have had three Easter Eggers, Hennifer being our oldest gal in the current flock.

Easter Eggers have small peacombs, making them a good cold-hardy bird. Peacombs do not have as high of a risk of frostbite as large single-comb types. They’re also known to be heat tolerant, and do not commonly become broody.

Two easter egger chickens on a roost. One is brown with yellow neck feathers, and one is more blonde and orange with a blue grey beard.
Check out these fabulous bearded broads! Hennifer, our oldest girl of the current flock, and her little friend Crazy Blue Beard. Okay her name was Darcy, but I like her pirate name better. As you can see, Easter Eggers come in many colors!

4) Orpington

The Buff orpington is the quintessential backyard chicken. Imagine a big ginger-blonde fluff ball lazily meandering around your yard. With a reputation of being very sweet, docile, and patient, these birds are especially good with kids. The buff color Orpington is the most common, though they come in a variety of other color plumage! Blue, Black, White… A Lavender or Jubilee Orpington is on our wish list, most definitely! Orpingtons lay medium to large light brown eggs, averaging one every other day.

Due to their fluffy plumage, this breed is especially cold-hardy. Also because of their heavy stature, they’re known to be less flighty once they’ve reached maturity. Orpingtons may go broody fairly often, and are very good mother hens.

On the left, very fluffy orange buff Orpingtons. On the right, a light grey lavender Orpington.
Look at those fluffy bums! On the left, buff Orpingtons. On the right, a lavender Orpington.
Photo courtesy of My Pet Chicken

5)  Ameraucana

Often confused with Easter Eggers, this recognized purebreed does have a lot of similar characteristics! With fluffy cheek muffs and a beard, their faces couldn’t get any cuter. Ameraucanas lay beautiful medium-size blue eggs in a wide range of shades, with an average of about 3 to 4 per week. But don’t expect eggs right away from this breed. On average, this breed will “come into lay” a couple months later than other hens.

When talking about their Ameraucanas, most folks say they’re docile but very alert and predator savvy. Personality can vary with each unique bird – it seems they enjoy being around humans, but may be a little more on the skittish side, not necessarily enjoying cuddles as much as some chicken breeds.  Plumage color ranges from blue to buff and wheaten to lavender. A lavender or blue splash Ameraucana is on my dream flock list! Like many chickens, this breed is quite cold hardy but not particularly heat hardy.

A pretty light grey mama Lavender Ameraucana hen, and four lavender chicks around her feet. They're on the grass in an open field.
A pretty mama Lavender Ameraucana and her babes. Photo courtesy of Three Little Blackbirds, who sells hatching eggs for these beauties, along with French Black Copper Marans!

6) Crested Cream Legbar

Crested Cream Legbars, or just “cream legbars”, are a rare breed and highly sought after for their bright blue-green eggs. They will lay about 4 to 5 medium-size blue eggs per week. And their amazing little tufted head poufs, and big floppy combs? Yeah. Pretty stinking cute. This breed is known to be very sweet and inquisitive. Some of my friends have super friendly, cuddly CCL’s who love to be up-in-the-business, getting pet and being held. Our girl Phoebe is a little more skittish, but she’s still a quirky, beautiful, welcome addition to our flock.

Cream Legbars are good foragers, and keen to spotting and avoiding predators when free ranging. Being on the smaller side for “large fowl”, they can move quick! They are tolerant to heat, cold, and confinement. One additional awesome trait these birds have going for them is that they’re auto-sexing. That means that as day-old chicks, you can easily tell the two sexes apart. So whether you’re ordering from a hatchery, picking some up from a local breeder, or hatching your own eggs at home, you know what you’re getting into right away! The baby males will have a light spot on the top of their head, which the females lack.

Three photos of a crested cream legbar, two as an adult hen and one as a tiny day-old chick inside a teacup. The adult hen has a large red comb that flops over her eyes on one side, and a crest of head feathers.
Our Crested Cream Legbar, Phoebe. We call her Pheebs. She’s a little cray-cray, but we love her anyways!
We love having this reliable autodoor on our chicken coop, which lets the girls in and out of their protected run each morning and night.

7)  Welsummer

Welsummers are all-around awesome friends to have in the backyard! They are calm, sweet, beautiful, and steady, reliable layers. If you are looking for reddish brown eggs, most often with awesome dark brown speckles, look no further! Four large eggs per week is an expected average for Welsummers.

Backyard chicken keepers have nothing but good things to say about this breed. We love our Welsummer girl, Ginger. She is more gentle in her digging than the others, though Welsummers are good foragers. Ginger is also our least assertive bird, when it comes time to competing for food or in the general pecking order with the rest of the flock, despite the stereotype that they can be more assertive with others. This breed is both cold and heat-hardy.

Two images of a Welsummer. One is a day old chick, very tiny, brown, and fluffy. As an adult hen, she has bright yellow neck feathers, a reddish brown body, and large red comb and wattles.
Our Welsummer girl, Ginger. I call her Ginger-melon. Or Goonga-melon. Don’t ask. She’s a good girl!

8)  Wyandotte

Wyandottes have some of the most gorgeous feather patterns out there. Gold Laced and Silver Laced are the most common plumage colors, though they also come in blue, black, partridge, and more. With humans, Wyandottes are mostly calm and friendly birds, though a little aloof. They are not necessarily “lap chickens”. When it comes to demeanor around other chickens, they often rank high in the pecking order and can be bossy or even a little aggressive.

In regards to eggs, Wyandottes will lay about 4 medium-to-large light brown eggs per week. They’re a heavy breed and therefore not usually as quick or flighty. With a rose comb and full plumage, they’re exceptionally suited for cold climates. Like many other chicken breeds, they’ll will need extra measures taken to keep them cool and comfortable in high-heat climates. They are good foragers and prefer free range.

On the left, a silver laced Wyandotte., with black and white pattern feathers. 
Top right, a gorgeous gold laced girl, with orange and black feather. 
On the bottom right, two stunning blue laced red Wyandottes.
On the left, a silver laced Wyandotte. Photo courtesy of Happy Chicken Coop.
Top right, a gorgeous gold laced girl. Photo from Purely Poultry
On the bottom right, two stunning blue laced red Wyandottes. From the beautifully curated flock of @portlandchickens

9)  Cochin

The adorable factor is so real with these birds. Fluffy feathered pantaloons, anyone? These birds are so fully feathered that you usually cannot see their feet. Cochins are not known to be the best of layers, averaging about 2 medium brown eggs per week. However, for what they lack in egg production, they more than make up for in personality! This leads them to be continually popular with backyard chicken keepers.

Cochins have a reputation for being very friendly, docile, easily-handled, and overall peaceful, good-vibes only birds. Even their roosters are known to be pretty chill. Are you surprised to hear Cochins are on our dream flock list? Probably not. And to be honest, we get way more eggs than we can keep up with from our four “strong” laying hens. I wouldn’t mind some girls that lay less frequently.

Given their heavy statue and immense fluff, Cochins are very cold hardy and easy to contain with minimal fencing. They aren’t aggressive foragers, and prefer the fat and lazy approach.  They’re not super heat tolerant, but that can be overcome with extra precautions like plenty of shade, cold water, frozen treats. In regards to colors, Cochins come in just about all of them! Buff, blue, gold laced, white, black, mottled, brown, red, and more.

A large, very fluffy, Cochin, who is feathered from head-to-toe with grey blue feathers.
Holy junk in the trunk! This curvy bodacious babe of a Blue Cochin is named Sage. She lives with my friend Danielle and many other beautiful, unique birds over at @hotoffthenest

10) Australorp

This is the Australian-origin version of the Orpington, and have many of the same qualities! Australorp plumage can be blue, black, or white. I personally think the black is the most stunning, with an iridescent green, blue, and purple sheen in the right lighting. This breed is well-known for their high-volume egg laying abilities. Several world records for most number of eggs per year were set by Australorp hens. They will lay an average of 5 large light brown eggs per week.

On the whole, Australorps are very docile, sweet, and friendly. Some may be a tad shy. Fluffy and large, these birds have great cold hardiness. As you can imagine, being that they originated in Australia and are very popular birds there, they are also quite heat tolerant.

A beautiful black Australorp with red comb and wattles. This chicken breed has sheens of purple and green on the black feathers.
A beautiful black Australorp. Photo courtesy of Backyard Chicken Coops

11) Speckled Sussex

Speckled Sussex chickens are curious, mild-mannered, and will probably follow you all over. As heavy dual-purpose birds, these chickens aren’t as prone to flying once they mature to full size, so they’re a little less likely to hop the fence into your garden! After each molt, they can become increasingly speckled and pretty. Add one of these to our future “I want you” list.

Speckled Sussex lay about four light brown eggs four per week. They’re likely to lay through the coldest of winter weather. Speaking of winter, this breed is a good cold-hearty breed too. They aren’t necessarily heat sensitive, but also are not know to be exceptionally heat tolerant either.

A fluffy speckled sussex sits on a roots in a yard with fall-colors and fallen leaves.
How sweet is Fern Meadow? I just want to squeeze her. This pretty Speckled Sussex belongs to my friend Tarah @tarahharlin

12) Silkie

Silkies are like the teddy bears of the chicken world. Mostly kept as beloved pets over egg production, these birds are exceedingly friendly, easy to handle, and with their unique fluffy feathers, very adorable. They’re commonly raised as show birds. With Silkies, about 2 to 3 eggs per week is common. The eggs are small to medium size, usually cream in color. Speaking of color, their plumage variations include blue, black, white, grey, buff, partridge, and splash. Despite their fragile appearance, they take well to free ranging, and are quite heat tolerant! They go broody easily and make for excellent mothers.

Due to their unique silky feathers, there are a few things you need to know to properly care for them. First, because their feathers do not stick together, they cannot fly. This makes them easy to confine, but also easy targets for predators. Also because of their feathers, they are not waterproof like other chickens and cannot tolerate overly wet climates without some supplemental heat or blow drying. As a very docile and unique breed, they are an easy target for bullying and feather-plucking by other members of a mixed flock. Therefore, silkies may do best in flocks of their same kind or with similar breeds like Polish.

Two fuzzy silkie hens - one buff and one white - foraging in the back yard.
Two silkie hens – one buff and one white. Photo courtesy of Countryside Network.

13) Polish

Have you seen those adorable birds with pom-poms of feather afros on the their head? That’s a Polish. They are ridiculously adorable. The head pouf can be so full that it might need to be routinely trimmed or pulled back into a “hen bun” to help the birds otherwise impaired eyesight. Like Cochins and Silkies, this is a breed that is more sought after for appearance and cute-factor than egg production. They will lay medium to large white eggs, up to several per week. However, they are known to have more variation in laying frequency and therefore less dependable, if eggs are what you’re looking for. They are not known to go broody much.

Also like cochins and silkies, this breed is very tame, sweet, and will tolerate being held, making them a very good choice for a family with children. They fly well, and also may startle easily, which is thought to be attributed to their sometimes blocked eyesight. They are also very inquisitive and can get themselves into tricky situations because of it. Good thing they tolerate being confined well, because that may be the best option for these birds.  

Polish can be many different color combinations, including blue, black, buff, silver and gold laced, often with a different color poofy crest than the rest of their feathers. They are included on the My Pet Chicken heat-hardy chicken breeds list, and also do well with cold. Like Silkies, overly wet conditions are not ideal. Their crest should be dried if it becomes sopping wet.

When they’re in a flock with other more aggressive breeds like Rhode Island Reds, Polish chickens often fall to the bottom of the pecking order and can be easily bullied. Though adorable, their poofy head feathers can also get them into trouble – they can be irresistible, and other chickens may pick and pluck them. That said, I know of many mixed flocks that include polish and they do just fine!

Two polish chickens with puffy head feathers. One is golden buff, the other is black and white, showing the many color varieties of this chicken breed.
On the right, a buff polish. Her name is Corn, and she lives with the wondrous @drinkingwithchickens crew.
A silver laced Polish is on the right, via Pinterest

14) Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Reds are production birds. They’re valued both for high egg laying frequency, providing about 5 eggs per week, and also for their heavy bodies for meat. Eggs are extra-large in size, brown in color.  They do well in most climates, and are especially cold hardy. The breed is recognized to be good foragers, but also take well to confinement. The Rhode Island Red is the official state bird of… you guessed it… Rhode Island.

There is a persistent rumor around the chicken keeping community that claims RIRs are a bit more rowdy and sometimes even aggressive. Honestly, this prevented us from getting Rhode Island Reds in the past, though I hate to stereotype! Every chicken is different. Rumors aside, upon reading through reviews on various backyard chicken online forums, it seems most folks have very positive things to say about their RIRs! I venture to guess they may have dominant personalities and often emerge as the “top hen” in the flock, but can be very friendly and even downright cuddly with their human companions. People claim they’re a particularly loud breed.

Three Rhode Island Red hens in the grass, a classic and common breed of chicken
Rhode Island Red hens, via Backyard Chicken Coops

15) Mille Fleur d’Uccle

In French, Mille Fleur means “thousand flowers.” This is probably in reference to the hundreds of little black and white flower petal-looking dots that cover these gorgeous, unique birds otherwise-orange feathers. In addition to the speckles, they have full beards and fluffy feathered feet. Millie Fleurs are very attractive-looking, sweet, calm, and enjoy being handled. Combined with their huge personalities, they are perfect pets as well as popular show birds. They’re only available as bantams.

Egg production isn’t their strong suit, laying just a few very small white eggs per week. Because they are small and light, they do well in heat. This also means they’re excellent fliers, so take that into consideration when you are planning their run or ranging space. Keeping them in a flock with larger, more assertive birds may be problematic, similarly to Polish or Silkies. A Millie Fleur has been on my “I want you” list for a long time.

A orange, white, and black speckled mille fleur chicken.
Crazy, or crazy beautiful? Maybe a little of both? Maybe that is why I want one? Photo from My Pet Chicken

16) Dominique

Dominiques are another all-around great addition to any backyard flock. They’re docile, sweet, gentle, and are likely to follow their favorite humans closely everywhere they go. They’re also good layers, averaging 3 to 4 medium-large light brown eggs per week. Like Cream Legbars, this breed is auto-sexing, making it easy to more accurately determine their sex as baby chicks just by looking at them. Head spots on male chicks are more scattered, while the female’s head spot will be smaller and uniform.

Though they look similar at first glance, don’t confuse this breed with a barred rock! Dominique chickens have the same black and white pattern, but a bit more mottled and less crisp than a barred rock. The most obvious tell-tale difference between the two breeds is the Dominque’s flattened rose comb. Instead, barred rocks have a single tall large comb. This rose comb gives them little risk of frostbite and excellent cold tolerance, though they aren’t particularly heat tolerant.

As a gentle, less aggressive breed, they make great companions for the similarly-sweet Cochins, Polish, or Silkies, and could be picked on by other more dominant types. They also make excellent, caring mothers.

A dominique hen, with similar black and white colors as the barred rock chicken breed.
Nope, not a barred rock! Note the difference in her comb. Photo courtesy of the Chick Hatchery

17) Barnevelder

With unique double-laced plumage reminiscent of a Wyandotte, and chocolate-colored eggs, Barnevelders are gorgeous all the way around. They’ll lay about three large medium to dark brown eggs per week. This breed is rumored to be active, good at foraging, and friendly, but also very easy-going, quiet, and will tolerate confinement well. They’re a cold hardy breed.

Since they’re fairly rare, you probably won’t see this breed during chick days at your local Farm Supply store, but are becoming increasingly available through large and small breeders alike. Much like other mellow chicken breeds, these gals can often fall to the bottom of the pecking order.

A barnvelder hen in a field of grass. She is black and gold speckles and hints of iridescent green.
Look at those feathers! Barnevelder hen photo from Omlet

18) Brahma

Last but not least, the Brahma. These are big, “dual-purpose” birds! So much so, they’ve been dubbed “The King of Chickens”. But they’re a gentle giant, known just as much for their calm disposition as they are for their size and productivity. As a fluffy, friendly, quiet, easily-handled breed, this is another great choice for families with children. They average three to four medium-large light brown eggs per week. A quirky trait is that they seem to prefer to lay October through May – the time when many other chicken breeds take a winter break – so they may help bring balance to your egg basket year round!

Brahmas have three recognized feather colors: buff, light, and dark. They are densely feathered, including feathery legs and feet. Due to their heavy body stature, they don’t fly well. Therefore, Brahams are generally easy to contain. Their great size also often keeps them near the top of the pecking order. Other birds don’t wanna check that! Cold temperatures aren’t an issue for these birds. However, being in overly wet conditions often could lead to issues with their feathery feet. As long as they have shade and cold water in the summer, they’re okay in heat too.

Two very large and fluffy, mostly white brahma chicken breed. They have fluffy legs and feet, and some black feathers on their neck and tips of tail feathers.
Two big Brahma mamas. Photo from The Happy Chicken Coop

In summary…

Best egg production:

If a high egg count is your primary motivator for keeping chickens, look no further than Rhode Island Reds, Barred rocks, and Australorps. These are probably the three most “productive” chicken breeds on the list.

Egg Color:

To create a beautiful egg basket full of unique colors, you may want to consider Marans, Easter or Olive Eggers, Ameraucanas, Crested Cream Legbars, Welsummers, and Barnevelders, all of which lay quite regularly as well.

A hand holds four eggs. One is medium brown with dark speckles, from a welsummer hen. One is blue, from an easter egger. The greenish blue is from a crested cream legbar, and the the light pinkish brown is from a barred rock.
Our current egg color collection

Most Calm and Loving:

If you are after absolute sweethearts, mellow birds for a family with children, then the Barred Rocks, Orpingtons, Easter Eggers, Cochins, Silkies, Millie Fleur, or Polish chicken breeds might be among your ideal choices.

Note that every bird will have its own unique demeanor, so some birds within these breeds (or other breeds on the list) may be more or less friendly than “the norm”. A lot of how affectionate a chicken is with its human family greatly depends on the bonding time spent with it from a young age.

Great All-Around Birds:

Speckled Sussex, Barnevelders, Brahmas, and Dominiques are great all-around birds, with a little of all of the above too!


The most heat-tolerant chicken breeds include the Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, Easter Eggers, Australorp, Silkies, Millie Fleurs, and Welsummers. However, with extra measures taken by a diligent chicken parent, most breeds can live happily in hot climates. When temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, preventative measures to keep birds cool must be taken. This is particularly true in humid climates. Read “10 Ways to Keep Chickens Cool in Hot Summer Weather” to learn more!


Given that they’re living, walking, breathing down blankets, cold is not usually as threatening to chickens as heat is! That is, unless they’re molting. Then they may need a sweater. All of the breeds on this list will do similarly well in cold climates, as long as typical winterizing precautions are taken. Chickens with large single-combs and wattles may need extra attention in winter, to ensure their combs don’t get frostbite. Check out “10 Tips on Caring for Chickens in Cold Winter Weather” here.

Most Unique Appearance:

Even though I think ALL chickens are quite beautiful, if you are looking for unique, show-stopping beauties, Wyandottes, Millie Fleur, Polish, and Silkies take the cake.

So what do you think?

Did this help you narrow down your choices, or just make you want alllll of them? The great news about having so many awesome chicken breeds to choose from is it may help you feel less “stuck” on just a few breed types! It is great to be flexible and open up your options, especially if you are sourcing your chicks from a local breeder that might not have all of the exact breeds you were originally hoping for.

If you are a new or soon-to-be chicken parent, you may want to check out this post: What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Backyard Chickens. It covers everything from where to get chickens, coop and run design, predators and safety, and poop! Yep. Poop.

Did I miss any great chicken breeds that deserve a shout out? Feel free to leave a comment, and include a little description to share your experience with others. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with anyone who might find it useful. Thanks for reading!


  • Lorimaribu

    I came here for the sourdough starter, but I’m starting to branch out into your other topics. This pretty much matches what we have found with our chickens, but includes some breeds I didn’t know about that look quite intriguing. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us in such an entertaining way!

  • Mallory Myers

    Thank you for this helpful info! I’ve been reading through all your chicken posts as I’m trying to prepare for getting chickens for the first time! I was wondering if you could share specific websites for where you got your chickens? I checked our tractor supply store and they said they had a minimum requirement of 10 chicks. I’ve also noticed several hatcheries having a minimum requirement. I was hoping to just start out with around 4 for now. I have tried searching for local farms too but haven’t had much luck. I plan to keep searching but have started to get a little discouraged. Thank you in advance for any advice!

    • DeannaCat

      Hi Mallory! We got our girls from Meyer Hatchery. A lot of places will have bigger chick minimums at this time of year because of safety (warmth in numbers) during shipping. However, they usually reduce to 3-4 chick minimum order closer to spring. Unless you live in a really mild to warm climate, you’re going to want to wait to get them until the weather warms up anyways. Does you Tractor Supply do “chick days” in the spring – where they actually have a bunch on site to choose from? Ours do usually April-June or so. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

      • Mallory

        Oh, that makes sense and is good to know😊 Thank you for your help! I’m not sure if they do or not, but I’ll check them out in the spring to see!

  • Kels

    My RIR is by far my friendliest hen, but she’s definitely top chicken in my flock. Thanks for the info- looking for some more breeds to get 🙂

  • Megan


    I have six girls right now and most of them follow with what you said above. My Buff Orpington is one of the sweetest and loves everyone, including my aunt and uncle who watched them last summer while we were on vacation. She is the reason they now want chickens. My RIR has slowly been growing spurs and is the “rooster” of the group, she’s sweet to people (not as much as my Orp) and good to the other chickens, but she’s the watcher of the group. She’s also loud. I have an EE who is the bitchiest one of the group, never squatting (but lays eggs) and runs from people. She’s into everything, in a good way, but doesn’t like people. I also have Black Wyandotte who is sweet, would probably be a good mother, and is an overall good bird. Not a lot of personality compared to the other three though, but just a calm, average chicken. My other two are bantams – one a light grayish color, I call her my pigeon because she’s tiny, and a black fluffy butt. All came as chicks from our local farm store that I’ve raised. I had one more, a beautiful but shy Mille Fluer bantam but I believe a local raccoon took her (or maybe him, it was still really young). It disappeared on a night I had some pots broken off my deck near a fence, so we think something escaped that way.

    Love the other breeds – if I had more space, I’d totally get some of every kind!

  • Paulo

    Your dedication and work is truly inspiring! I am fully tuned in from NJ. Any tips on where I can purchase healthy chicks?

  • Callie

    Loved the post! So I already have 4 hens but I would like to add one or two to my little flock. Have you successfully introduced new chickens to your older chickens? Looking for tips so I don’t stess my girls out!

    • DeannaCat

      Hey Callie! We did add younger chicks in with two older gals. Once the little ones were big enough (over a month old) we started taking them outside near the big girls, but keeping them separated by fencing in the yard. Even once the littles moved outside, we kept their “baby coop” separate from the others by a fence, so they could see eachother but not get in contact. It went on like that for weeks, as we gradually let them be near each other without fencing between. Are you getting adult birds, or young ones? There are sort of different precautions to take with each scenario. There is an outbreak of Newcastles right now (I am not sure of all the locations it is effecting) so adding anything but day old chicks or hatching chickens is risky if its in your area. Quarantine between new and old birds is always suggested, for at least a couple of weeks. When introducing baby chicks or smaller pullets, you need to be cautious of the size difference so they don’t get injured if there is a scuffle. No matter how gradual you try to take it, except scuffles. It happens, as they try to rebalance their pecking order. As long as no one is being OVERLY aggressive and relentless, it is okay and normal. It should mellow out within a couple of weeks. I hope that helps!

  • Jackie

    Rhode Islands are so loud! We love ours, but oh my goodness is she obnoxious. She is actually very sweet, but her singing leaves something to be desired.

  • KC

    In AZ I have had the best luck with Easter Eggers and Red Sex Links for heat tolerance. The Easter Eggers especially seem to be able to tough it out like champs. We’ve had one Welsummer before and she struggled with the heat. Could have just been her. I feel like you don’t read a lot about Red Sex Links (maybe because they aren’t that exciting) but they are quickly becoming my favorite. They are our most friendly and reliable layers.

    • DeannaCat

      You know, our Welsummer Ginger also seems the weakest in the heat here too! And our heat is pretty weak itself! They are listed as a heat-tolerant breed so I included them in that group, thinking it was just Ginger, but I would be curious to hear what other Welsummer parents say! Thanks for that input. And you’re right – Easter Eggers are tough old mutts! Ha!

  • Kristina

    Thank you for this! We bought our first house with a sizable backyard last year and are finally ready to start a small backyard flock. We are looking for 3 hens and this helps me narrow down the list . With three kids and crazy hot Chico summers, they’ll have to be heat tolerant birds. Egg production is second to personality for us, so I’m thinking Australorp, Buff Orpington and a silkie. My only concern is that the silkie is so much smaller and harder to sex….. decisions… decisions…..

    I look forward to using this site as a reference for the months to come! Thank you!!

  • Lacey Daniels

    Definitely gave me things to think about! My husband and I are in the process of buying a house. We’re moving from a small apartment, so we haven’t started our first backyard flock yet and probably won’t until the fall or winter. We’ll need heat tolerant breeds since we get a few months’ worth of over 100-degree days in the summer over here in Central Cali. My family always had chickens growing up, so it’s really dumb that I never really considered the fact that certain breeds tolerate heat better than others. Duh! Thanks for the info, definitely a great place to get started!

    • DeannaCat

      Hi Lacey! Yikes, I remember those kind of summers when we lived in Chico! And yes it’s a sad thing, many people don’t realize just how heat sensitive chickens can be and do lose them to it. However, don’t feel you MUST stick to just the most heat-tolerant breeds. As I mentioned, most breeds will do okay as long as some extra precautions are taken. Lots of shade, cold water, some people set up misters, do frozen treats, etc. There are more tips about chickens and heat in the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Backyard Chickens” post. It all depends on what type of effort you want (or will be able) to make I guess! I am excited for you and your new venture with a new home and property!

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