Best Chicken Breeds for Beginners

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“We see a thousand miracles around us every day,” American clergymen, writer, and Christian radio broadcaster S. Parkes Cadman once said, “What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?” It is indeed an incredible feat to witness. Children can learn so much from the incredible miracle that is an egg hatching into a living, breathing chicken. They’ll learn the value and fragility of life, the importance of responsibility, and how to care for and raise a living being. What is better than that?

If you have the space available and the time and energy to devote to raising chickens, incubating eggs and hatching chicks is one of the most meaningful and amazing projects you can do as a family. With proper care and nutrition, your baby chicks will grow into healthy chickens and entertain and teach your family for years to come. Yet before you purchase your eggs and commit for the long-haul, consider this: some breeds are great for the novice while others are much more difficult to raise. Don’t order a specific chicken breed just because you fancy its looks.

When considering breeds, look for a common breed that is friendly, tame, and easy to care for. If you want a layer, choose a breed known for good egg production. If you want to raise your chickens for meat, choose a broiler breed known to gain weight quickly. Orpingtons are fantastic chickens for families, friendly, productive layers, hardy, and full of personality. Plymouth Rocks, Cornish breeds, and Silkies are also great bets. Other popular breeds include Wyandotte, Sussex, Cochin, Brahma, and Jersey Giant. Do your research to find just the right bird for you. There are many great choices!

Then there are breeds that aren’t quite as promising. While one can certainly be successful, these breeds are not as easy to raise to adulthood. Belgian D’Anver and Sebright chicks are difficult to rear. Japanese Bantam Chickens are beautiful but difficult for beginners; its form and plumage is difficult to achieve, 25% of chicks die shortly before hatching due to an allele combination common in the breed, and the breed is not cold-hardy. Aracauna chickens are great to raise, but a lethal gene combination common to this breed means that some of the chicks will die before hatching. This can be pretty depressing.

Certain chicken breeds tend to be aggressive too, making these poor choices for families with children. Breeds known for aggressive tendencies include Crevecoeur, New Hampshire Reds, Dominiques, Old English Game Fowl, and Rhode Island Reds. Tendencies vary by bird, too, and roosters are more likely to be aggressive than hens.

Raising chickens is a great opportunity for learning and well as a healthy way to bring food to your family’s table. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to purchase the first eggs or fluffy chicks you come across. Looks can be very deceiving. Take your time to find a docile, friendly, easy-to-raise breed and you’ll have a much better chicken-raising experience. Good luck!

Raising Ameraucana Chickens

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If you want eggs like no others, the Ameraucana Chicken may be the fowl you’re searching for. This unique breed was developed in the United States in the 1970s and officially recognized by the APA in 1984. It lays distinctive eggs with blue shells, not brown or white like the average chicken. The Ameraucana Chicken is quite rare and available only from breeders. Yet, beware. The majority of Ameraucana Chickens sold by commercial hatcheries are not true Ameraucanas but rather mixed-breed mongrels. If you have your heart set on an Ameraucana, you’ll certainly have to do your homework!

Breed Specifications

The Ameraucana Chicken is a medium sized bird that comes in a variety of recognized colors: white, black, blue, wheaten, blue wheaten, silver, brown red, and silver. Both bantam and large varieties are available. They are generally cold-weather hardy birds and are docile, although not broody. The chicken has a full tail and a muff and beard. Its legs are blue or black. An egg-laying chicken, the Ameraucana Chicken produces around 250 eggs annually and starts laying at 5-6 months of age. While it lays colorful eggs, the Ameraucana Chicken is not an Easter Egg Chicken. An Easter Egg Chicken is not a recognized breed but rather a mixed-breed bird with a gene for blue eggs. The Ameraucana Chicken is a recognized breed. Breeders and hatcheries sometimes falsely advertise Easter Egg
mixed breed chickens as Ameraucana Chickens, so be wary.

A Short History of the Ameraucana Chicken

The Ameraucana Chicken was the result of much careful breeding, developed from the Chilean Araucana. This unique bird laid lovely blue eggs but had a lethal allele combination that resulted in the death of chicks before hatching or during the incubation period. In developing the Ameraucana Chicken, the blue egg laying capabilities were retained while the genetic flaws were removed.

Buying Your Ameraucana Chicks

As this breed is rare, the Ameraucana Chicken is fairly hard to find. There are many hatcheries selling chicks they claim to be Ameraucana Chicks which are in fact selling mongrels. This is so common that, according to the website, 99% of chickens sold as Ameraucanas or Araucanas by commercial hatcheries are in fact mixed breed chickens. Rather than producing pure blue-shelled eggs, these mongrels lay blue, green, pink, and other colored
eggs. The Ameraucana Breeder’s Club provides a list of certified breeders from which purebred Ameraucana Chickens can be purchased. Their website is: While it isn’t vital that your birds be purebred for your backyard flock, if you want to show your birds you’ll certainly want to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.

Photo by: Lakenvelder
Photo by: Lakenvelder

Caring For Your Chickens

Before purchasing your Ameraucana Chicks, prepare a heated box for your new chicks and take care to keep them warm, fed, watered, and clean. Once they are fully feathered and growing large, you can introduce them to your chicken coop. Your chickens will need a safe coop, a chicken run to protect them from predators, laying boxes for their eggs, and feed and water. Clean out your chicken’s coop regularly to help keep them free from diseases. Allow your chickens plenty of sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. The healthier your chickens, the happier they’ll be and the longer lives they’ll live.

Raising Barred Rock Chickens

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Its speckled black and white feathers are just about as synonymous with the American farmyard as a big, red barn. No other breed has been bred and raised as extensively as the Barred Plymouth Rock Chicken, also known as Rocks and Barred Rocks. Popular for its hardiness, its egg laying abilities as well as its suitability for meat, its broodiness, and its docile temperament, the Barred Rock is a favorite among backyard farmers. Their attractive feathers also make them stand out from the crowd. Raising your own Barred Rock Chickens is simple and rewarding. With minimal care and fuss, this breed can easily provide several hundred eggs per year for the foreseeable future.

Breed Characteristics

This large bird comes in many colors: barred, black, white, blue, buff, silver, Columbian, penciled, and partridge too. The barred coloring is the most well-known, hence the name Barred Rock. Intelligent, docile, and hardy even in cold environments, the Barred Rock chicken is an excellent year-round layer, averaging 4 large, brown eggs per week. It has been recognized since 1874 by the American Standard of Perfection and is considered a heritage breed. The Barred Rock is a member of the Plymouth Rock family of breeds and was first raised in the early 1800s in New England. Up through World War II, the Barred Rock Chicken was the number one most popular chicken breed in the United States. Calm, relatively quiet, and adaptable, this breed is perfect for beginners and children alike.

Preparing Your Home for Barred Rock Chickens

Before you order or pick out your new chicks, make sure that raising chickens is legal where you live and prepare your brooder and chicken coop. You can design your own coop, purchase a coop kit, or buy easy-to-follow instructions and materials lists from us 🙂 Once you’ve built your coop and safely enclosed chicken run, gather all feed and watering supplies. Read up on chicken husbandry and thoroughly educate yourself about raising chickens. The better prepared you are, the more successful your endeavors will be.

Barred Rock Chicks

One can purchase barred rock chicks online from a variety of companies, or from their local farm or farmer’s supply store. After you purchase chicks, you’ll need to keep them warm in a clean brooder, which is a box with a heat source. Your chicks need constant heat, food, and water of the first weeks of life. Keep them safe, clean, watered, and fed and before long they’ll be ready to move into their coop. By about 18-20 days, they won’t need the heat lamp on constantly during the day. When they’re big enough and the weather is warm enough, introduce them to their coop. With proper care, your Barred Rock Chickens will light up your life for years to come.

Caring For Your Flock

Throughout the life of your Barren Rock Chickens, keep their chicken coop clean.
Pick up regularly after your birds; this will make them less likely to get sick. Healthy birds are happy birds. Feed them quality chicken feed and table scraps, avoiding things like rotten or processed food, chocolate, avocados, raw meat, and raw potato skins. Keep a persistent look out for predators. Provide a clean and accessible laying box and plenty of room for your chickens to exercise. The better you care for your birds, the better quality eggs and meat you’ll enjoy later.