I thought it might be interesting to make a list of my ideal poultry breeds, with my own reasons for choosing them. Maybe others, more expert than me, will tear my list to shreds and come up with their own. The world of keeping poultry is always full of good and helpful ideas, so I hope to stimulate some good discussion.
1. Rhode Island Red
This is a hardy and friendly bird, with a good personality and well suited to both hot and cold climates. It tends to produce brown eggs on a consistent basis, and is also good for meat. Great for free range enclosures, as it is tolerant of weather and wind gradients, and also has good disease resistance.
2. Leghorn White
The White Leghorn is a lightweight bird with a generally good temperament, although I find it tends to be the silliest of the chicken breeds I have experienced. But its white eggs are great, and it lays very consistently.
The Silkie is an interesting little bird with a huge following. Being a bantam, it is not really good for either eggs or meat, but it makes a great mother to either its own or other hens’ eggs, being broody for a longer part of the year than most other breeds. It is not able to fly, so is good for low-fenced pens – but watch out for predators.
The Indian Game (or Cornish) hen is a hardy and docile bird with a larger than normal amount of breast meat, but it tends to be a poor layer. For this reason it is one of the most common breeds for the table and, in my opinion, one of the tastiest as well.
The Wyandotte is a large and hardy chicken with a small comb and wattle and plenty of soft feathers, making it able to withstand cold weather better than most other varieties. It is friendly and docile, and comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns, making it an ideal and attractive pet hen. I know I have left out many of the common favorites, such as Marans and Ameraucanas, but these are my choices of the best chicken breeds. One of the good things about keeping hens is that there is so much choice and, if you are new to this business and want advice on the best breed or breeds for you, then you will find a huge amount of support and help from amongst your local chicken farming community.