Today we are going to use your answers to The Chicken Quiz to determine if chickens are for you and what breed of chickens you are interested in owning. We are going to focus in on the first section of the Quiz.
If you want quality eggs: The eggs you gather from your own chickens will be fresher than any you can buy. If your chickens free range or have access to a large run they will also be more nutritious. If this is important to you, you should definitely get chickens!
If you want cheap eggs: Raising chickens for eggs is NOT usually cheaper than buying eggs in the store. If you primarily want chickens for cheap eggs, you may not want chickens 🙁
If you want colorful or interesting eggs: Many breeds of chickens lay interesting eggs. Some breeds to look into might be Ameraucanas (blue eggs), Easter Eggers (blue or green eggs), Marans (chocolate brown eggs), Silkies or one of the many breeds of Bantam chickens (small breeds lays very small eggs).
If you want lots of eggs: You want to find an Egg Laying or Dual Purpose breed that will not go broody and lays the size eggs you want. (Broody hens are hens that want to be mothers, they will stop laying and try to hatch their eggs. Many egg laying breeds have been bred to rarely go broody.) Some popular egg laying breeds are Barred Rocks (and other colors of Plymouth Rocks), Leghorns, and Rhode Island Reds. There are many other breeds that will lay lots of eggs. A good resource to find breeds that fit your needs can be found at Backyard Chickens.
If you are interested in showing chickens: You may want to consider buying adult show quality birds. This is the only way you with be assured of having a show quality chicken. If you raise chicks, you will have to wait and see if they grow into show quality birds. If you want to start with chicks, you will need to find a breeder to get your chicks. The chicks you buy at the feed store or mail order from a hatchery will not likely be high enough quality to win at a show. Where you get your chickens depends on the breed you want to raise, and that is a matter of personal preference. Do a Swagbucks search on the breed you are interested in to find breeders. You can also find show quality birds on Craigslist, though it can be a little more risky. If you can’t find a breeder in your area, you may decide to mail order hatching eggs for the breed you want and incubate them yourself. There will be future posts to help with that if you are interested.
If you are interested in preserving endangered breeds: You might want to look at the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy list. Please note that when you see a breed on this list, it is not talking about hatchery/feed store chicks. These chicks must be purchased from breeders. Hatchery/feed store chicks have had other breeds mixed in to increase their laying. They are not pure breeds for the purpose of preserving a breed.
If you are interested in chickens for entertainment: You are in luck. Chickens can be SO FUNNY! My only suggestion here is that different breeds have different dispositions and tolerance for contact with people. If you want to interact with and enjoy your chickens’ company, go for a breed that is known for being friendly and easy-going, not a breed that is known for being flighty or combative. That said, every chicken is an individual. They do not always behave as they are expected to according to their breed.
If you are interested in chickens for bug control you might actually want to look into guineas. These are not chickens, but another bird related to chickens. They are flighty, loud, and they prefer to free range a large area, but they will gobble bugs like crazy!
If you are interested in chickens for compost for your garden, please be aware that if your chickens free range they will eat the same plants you are trying to grow. You will need a fence to keep chickens out.
Whew – you didn’t know those few questions could result in so much information, did you? Good luck in your search for the perfect breed. Next week we will figure out how many chickens you want to buy.