Chicken breeds for beginners

Normally I write a lot of "how I do things" sort of posts but this one is going to be different. This is about how I wish I had done things when I first started raising chickens. Or more specifically, which breeds I wish I would have started with for my first flock. Some chicken breeds are just friendlier, lay more eggs, or are easier to handle. 

Cochins for first chickens

Unfortunately I did not take that into consideration with most of my flock choices! So while I picked my first flock by looks and availability, here's how I wish I would have picked my flock. 

One of the most important things for beginning chicken keepers is friendly chickens. As you're raising your first flock you will be handling them a lot. This can be intimidating if it's your first time doing all this stuff and your chickens are skittish and flighty! It's much easier to hold a calm chicken.

Another important thing (obviously) is egg production. Some hens lay a lot more eggs than other breeds do. When deciding how many hens to get for egg laying you also need to consider how many eggs each hen will lay. Some breeds lay almost every day, others go broody so often they hardly lay at all. Some hens quit laying the second the weather turns cold and others will lay regularly all winter long.

Related reading: Chicken breeds to raise for pretty egg colors

So it's important to consider how many eggs you need when picking your flock so you can balance the heavy layers with the light. If you want to raise your own chicks every year (or even raise purchased chicks) then choosing a breed known for being broody makes raising chicks a whole lot easier for you!

Best chicken breeds for beginners


If I were to build my flock completely from scratch, these are the breeds I'd chose, and why. I would have a few production egg layers balanced with some broody breeds.

Golden comets

I bought my first comet at a feed store and the only reason I picked her was because I wanted a colorful chicken. I had hatched all black copper Marans and they all looked like little ravens. I couldn't tell them apart yet and I wanted something different. I think that golden comet hen was the best layer I ever had!

Comets fall into a category called 'production' egg layers. Over the years they have been selectively bred to lay more often and be less broody. The golden comet can start laying eggs as young as 16 weeks. She will lay 6-7 eggs a week for close to 3 years. 

The golden comet is a cross between a rhode island red and a white leghorn. They are known to lay up to 330 eggs per year! Unfortunately high production breeds often don't live more than a few years. I really loved my golden comet, she was a friendly chicken that laid an incredible amount of eggs!

White silkie hen

Silkie chickens

I started raising silkie chickens because I thought they were super cute. With their fluffy feathers, they almost resemble rabbits more than chickens. They are very soft and have the sweetest temperament of any chicken I've raised. They are calm and small which is helpful when you're just learning to handle chickens!

My silkies have won the hearts of all the children that visited, letting themselves be carried around and petted for hours...and you'll want to pet them too when you feel how soft their unique feathers are!

Silkies are a great addition to your first flock because they have funny personalities! My silkies are total characters and are actually pretty smart. A silkie roo was the first chicken I trained to walk on a leash and I often took him to events to teach people about raising backyard chickens for eggs. 

Silkie hens lay a small cream colored egg. They are very broody, often hatching several clutches of chicks a year. They don't start laying eggs till at least 7 months old. A hen will only produce about 100 eggs a year because of their tendency to go broody, so you'll also want to raise a few production breed hens at the same time! Silkies are very devoted mothers. They will often raise other hens chicks, accepting them days or weeks after hatch. 

Rust colored Easter egger hen

Easter Egger

Two of my favorite hens were Easter eggers. One was an olive egger and the other was supposed to be an Arcauna but was the typical EE hybrid. That's really common, actually. Most chickens sold as Ameraucanas and Arcaunas are actually cross breeds. I've found that they often have some of the best personalities as far as chickens go!

Most of the blue egg layers sold in feed stores are Easter eggers. They are sort of the 'designer dog' of the chicken world, which is just to say they are mutts with a specific breeding. EE's are cold hardy and are known for their pretty egg colors and friendly nature. They could lay any color of egg from blue, pinkish, green or even a light purple color.

Easter eggers are standard size and come in many different colors, generally depending on what they are crossed with. They are generally cold hardy and lay pretty well. One of mine lived to be 10 years old..which is pretty old as far as how long chickens live

Cochin chickens

I wish I had started my flock with a few cochins. Standard sized Cochins are well known as calm, easy going birds. Even the roosters are pretty chill. This makes them easy to handle and friendly around people...or at least not skittish around strangers. They lay around 160-280 medium sized, brown eggs a year. That's only a few a week in peak production. 

As far as broodiness goes, cochins will go broody a few times a year, though not as frequently as the silkie. They will raise chicks for you yearly though, so if you'd rather stick with standard sized chickens the cochin is your best bet for a good broody! They are super fluffy as far as regular feathers go and also have those adorable feathered feet! 


As your experience with chickens increases you may want to try other breeds with less friendly reputations. A breed that doesn't lay much is not a big deal if you already have several good layers in your flock.

I made the mistake of raising polish fairy early on and they were flighty and hard to manage for me at the time. Especially the roosters! 

Regardless of breeds, chickens are friendliest when they are raised with lots of human interaction. Chickens are very easy to train and are food motivated so just by feeding them treats, you'll encourage them to interact with you.

If you want to learn more about training chickens to be friendly, come when called and more check out this collection of posts I've written on training chickens, guineas and more!

~L


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1 comment:

  1. Love love love your weekly newsletter.

    I just bought a golden wyandott this week. They were my first breed I had. They were so broody and beautiful.

    As for silkies, I have the pleasure of owning 2. And 2 bantam cochins, they are so sweet.

    Last but not least I have 4 of the mixed white productions with red production layers. They have really been great layers. And one super broody hen that is part Americana and red production. I bought her mainly because I studied her broodiness. She is petite. But she has a huge heart for being the best mother yet. I watched her sit on at least 15 eggs at one time. She truly would fight a herd/flock of whatever for her chicks. Thus her name is: Mini, I call her Princess Mini.

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