Breed Selection of Chickens
By: Sabrina Schirtzinger, Agriculture and Natural Resource Extension Educator, Knox County
There are various reasons people raise chickens for eggs, meat, and exhibition or simply just for the caring and watching chicks grow. For some raising chickens is a hobby; and others see it as a sustainable part of living.
So, what are your needs? What is your end goal for raising chickens? These questions will help you to determine what category of poultry you are leaning towards.
Is your goal:
Egg Production– These chickens will lay eggs; however, what color egg would you prefer white, light brown, dark brown or colored?
Egg and Meat Production– These chickens are referred to as dual purpose breeds that tend lay an adequate amount of eggs and get large enough for meat production. American chicken breeds where developed for this purpose.
Meat Production– Chickens that are bred solely for meat production. Chickens reach 4-5 pounds in 6 weeks and 6-10 pounds in 8-12 weeks. The best growth rate will come from a Cornish crossed with a White Rock called a Cornish Cross.
Exhibition of Poultry– Showing chickens have becoming popular in the Midwest. The American Poultry Association (APA) has a publication called, The American Standard of Perfection. This book gives you a complete description of all the breeds and varieties of domestic chickens.
Selecting the best breed of chicken can be difficult as there are many to choose from. Understanding their differences will help you to increase you production, reduce your time and save you money. Within in article you will find a chart highlighting a few aspects producers look for in their flocks. This chart is designed to help you come to a decision about which breed is best for your needs.
|Breed||Varieties||Egg Color||Egg Size||Characteristics||Meat|
|Ameraucana||Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, White||Blue/Green||Large||Medium sized chicken, colorful feather patterns. Excellent egg layers||No|
|Anconas||Single Comb and Rose Comb||White||Extra Large||Known for being excellent large egg layers, non-setting and||No|
|Australorps||Black||Brown||Large||Popular breed for light brown eggs, heavy bird used for meat as well.||Yes|
|Brahmas||Light, Dark, Buff||Brown||Large||Heavy breed will brood and gentle natured.||No|
|Buckeye||Only one variety||Brown||Medium||Originated in Ohio. Heavier and wide breed making them an excellent dual purpose breed.||Yes|
|Buttercups||Gold, Silver||White||Medium||Mainly used for egg production.||No|
|Campines||Silver, Golden||White||Medium||Smaller breed better as an egg layer.||No|
|Cochins||Buff, Partridge. White, Black, Barred, Silver Laced, Golden Laced, Blue, Brown||Brown||Small||Fluffy feather, broody breed, and considered one of the largest breeds.||No|
|Cornish||Dark, White, White Laced, Blue, Brown||Excellent meat chickens||Yes|
|Delawares||Only one variety||Brown||Extra Large||Founded in the state of Delaware. Heavier breed that can be used as meat. Mostly white with barred on the tail and hackle.||Yes|
|Dominiques||Only one variety||Brown||Large||An American white and black barred breed (also known as cuckoo pattern). Adapt well to climates.||No|
|Dorkings-Single Comb||Silver Gray, Colored, Cuckoo, Red, White||White||Medium||Versatile breed used for meat and egg production. Has red ear lobes, but produces white eggs.||Yes|
|Faverolles||Salmon, White||Light Brown||Medium||Dual Purpose breed, mainly used for exhibition and has 5 toes.||Yes|
|Hamburg||Black, Golden Penciled, Golden Spangles, Silver Penciled, Silver Spangled, White||White||Medium||Known for being excellent large egg layers and good foragers.||No|
|Jersey Giants||Black, Blue, White||Brown||Large||Large, heavy breed used for egg production and meat.||Yes|
|Leghorn||Light Brown, Dark brown, White, Buff, Black, Silver, Red, Black Tailed Red, Columbian||White||Extra Large||Prolific egg layer||No|
|Maran||Black Copper, Wheaten||Dark Brown||Extra Large||Known for their very dark brown eggs. Excellent egg layers and may be used for meat.||Yes|
|New Hampshire Red||Red||Brown||Extra Large||Originated in New Hampshire. Dual purposes breed used more for meat production.||Yes|
|Orpington||Black, Blue, Buff, White||Brown||Large||Heavy dual purpose breed and an excellent egg layer. Good winter layer.||Yes|
|Plymouth Rock||Barred, White, Buff, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Blue, Columbian||Brown||Large||Dual purpose broody chickens that will make good mothers, and do not mind the cold.||Yes|
|Polish-Bearded and Non-Bearded||Golden Silver, White, Buff Laced, White Crested Blue, Black, Crested White||White||Medium||Prolific egg layers, similar to Leghorns.||No|
|RedCaps||Only one variety||White||Medium||This breed is a good egg layer, meat chicken and exhibition breed.||Yes|
|Rhode Island Reds||Single Comb and Rose Comb||Brown||Extra Large||Known for being the best egg layer as a dual purpose breed.||Yes|
|Sussex||Speckled, Red, Light, Brown, Silver, Buff||Brown||Large||Dual purposes breed.||Yes|
|Welsummers||Only one variety||Very Dark Brown||Large||Good egg production chicken, cold weather hardy with a docile temperament.||NO|
|Wyandottes||Silver Laced, Golden Laced, White, Black, Buff, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Columbian, Blue||Brown||Large||Dual purposes breed. Cold weather hardy and also make a good exhibition bird.||Yes|
Akers, D., Akers, P., & Latour, M. A., Dr. (2002). Choosing a Chicken Breed: Eggs, Meat, or Exhibition. Animal Science Poultry, AS(518), w, 1-4. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/as/as-518.pdf.
Breeds of Livestock. (1995, February 22). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/poultry/chickens/chickens.html#h Information on breeds.
Murray McMurray Hatchery. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/index.html Information on breeds.
The American Standard of Perfection. (2015, April). Retrieved April 18, 2016, from http://www.amerpoultryassn.com/ Presents the official breed descriptions for large fowl, bantams, waterfowl, and turkeys.
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