Variety of Chickens

There has been an increasing popularity to living independently, becoming less reliant on centralize power sources and commercialized foods.  To the backyard homesteader, one of the best and easiest food sources, aside from growing fruits and vegetables, are the eggs produced from chickens. 

Starting with chickens can be overwhelming, with so many different species requiring different care.  Below, we have put together a list of 35 different breeds of chickens to get you started keeping chickens in your backyard or small farm.

Ancona

The Ancona chicken is a breed of chicken that originated in the Mediterranean, in the Marche area of Italy.  While it might seem that this bird is suited for warm temperatures, it does quite well in a range of weather conditions.  

This is a rustic and hardy bird and can still remain comfortable even in cold temperatures. The Ancona chicken can take flight easily and is not known for being very broody.  That said, this chicken is an excellent egg layer, producing about 180 eggs each year. 

The eggs produced from the Ancona chicken are large and white in color.   Although this bird can be docile and easily handled, it is not one of the friendlier chickens available.  

Araucana

This chicken originates from Chile, and its name is derived from the region in Chile, where it is believed to have been originally developed and bred.  The Araucana chicken is one of only a few breeds of chickens that lays small, blue eggs. 

This bird is very striking compared to other chickens with two very notable characteristics.  First, this bird has large tufts of feathers around the beak that almost make this bird appear to have a mustache.  Secondly, this bird lacks tail feathers and a tailbone, making it appear that it is rump-less. 

Fittingly so, the American name for this bird is the South American Rumpless.  Although some people report this bird as being the friendliest chicken they have ever owned, other owners say the bird is anxious and flighty.  

Australorp

Developed and bred in Australia, the Australorp chicken was bred with egg production in mind.  This bird can lay a whopping 250 eggs per year and was quite popular through the 1920s when this breed of chicken broke world records for the amount of eggs it could lay. 

Typically, this type of chicken is black in color, the only color accepted by American standards, but the Australian standards also accept blue and white variations.  Hardy in the winter, this bird does not do particularly well in the heat. 

Friendly and dignified, this is a calm chicken to add to your backyard coop.  One of the larger chickens available, this bird usually weighs between 7 and 8 pounds.  

Barnevelder

Originating from Holland, this bird is a steadfast and popular breed of chicken.  In fact, the bird is so popular in Holland that the name “barnevelder” has become synonymous with the word chicken itself! 

This type of chicken is sought after for its chocolate brown eggs, which it produces fairly regularly.  Expect about three eggs per week from this chicken.  This bird does well in confinement and is a wonderful addition to your backyard. 

It is lively and friendly, often mingling well with your family.  This bird can tolerate cold temperatures through the winter but does not do particularly well in hot temperatures.  

Belgian d’Uccle

The Belgian d’Uccle chicken originates from Belgium, in a city near Brussels, and is the only true bantam chicken without a fowl equivalent.  This bird has mesmerizing feathers of chocolate brown, white, and mahogany, creating a speckled pattern in differing colors. 

This is an incredibly friendly and talkative bird that frequently follows humans around, hoping for some interaction and attention.  This type of bird will regularly fly to its owner to sit on his shoulder or be quite content sitting on a human lap. 

These birds are not known for their egg production but can still lay about 150 eggs in a year, starting in late spring and continuing through the winter.  These birds prefer warmer temperatures and do not do well in cold climates.  

Black Rock

A hybrid chicken, the Black Rock, was made from crossing the Rhode Island Red chicken with the Barred Plymouth Rock chicken.  This breed of chicken was produced in the 1970s in Scotland and has grown in popularity ever since. 

These are extremely popular with small farmers and homesteaders because of their durability.  This chicken is particularly good at foraging, is a great egg producer, and is tolerant to wild swings in temperature, surviving even harsh winters. 

Plus, the Black Rock chicken also has a very strong immune system, making it healthy and long-lived.  This chicken can produce about 280 brown eggs per year, leaving you with plenty of eggs from just one bird.  

Brahma

While the origins of this bird are unknown, it is a very old breed of bird that has been in existence for centuries.  Researchers suspect that this bird originated prior to the 1800s when it first started to appear in journals and documents surrounding farming practices. 

This bird has been coined the “King of Chickens” because of its whopping size, making it an excellent choice for meat or egg production.  Males will weigh between 8 and 10 pounds, but old records report that this bird was originally between 18 and 13 pounds! 

This is a friendly bird with thick feathers that even cover its legs and feet.  Because of its feathered feet, this is not a good bird for cold climates where the bird would have to walk through the snow.  

Cochin

It is hard not to fall in love with a Cochin chicken due to its amazingly fluffy and full feathers covering its body.  This chicken was originally bred in a small province in French-occupied Vietnam. 

This bird comes in a variety of colors, including black, brown, white, buff, blue, partridge, and silver.  Originally this chicken was a proficient egg layer. However, breeders have focused more on the appearance of this bird, causing its utility as an egg layer to suffer. 

This is a very docile and calm bird that is known for being mellow.  The males rarely fight with one another and are an excellent choice for a community flock in your backyard.  Because these birds are a little more laid back,  they can be prone to obesity, which can cause a range of health concerns.  

Cream Legbar

Developed from multiple birds, this chicken is the result of a team of researchers trying to make a foolproof, easy to care for chicken.  As a result of mixed breeding, they ended up creating a bird that laid blue eggs.  As such, this chicken breed is a favorite in the United States. 

One of the smaller chickens, this bird weighs between 6 and 7 pounds and is usually found in gray, tan, and white colors.  This bird will lay about 230 light blue eggs each year.  It is an excellent forager and can survive a range of temperature swings. 

There is some debate on the temperament of this bird, though, which may be the result of two different genetic strains.  Some say the bird is docile and friendly, while others complain the bird is loud and flighty.  

Dorking

As one of the oldest known breeds of chickens, dating back to 43 AD, this chicken can be both a great egg layer, as well as a fantastic meat bird.  Although this is an ancient breed, it can be difficult to find. 

This is largely due to the fact that it matures slowly, and often fast-growing chickens are preferred in the farming community.  This is a very heavy, stout, and stocky looking chicken with a large body and short legs.  The chicken is usually black and white in color. 

Expect your Dorking chicken to lay about 180 eggs per year, making it an ample egg layer.  This bird is a great forager and a wonderful free-range chicken, surviving a range of temperature conditions.  

Dutch Partridge

Also called the Dutch Bantam, this chicken is the smallest of the bantam breeds.  Although it is small in size, it is still able to lay an ample amount of medium size eggs. 

Expect your Dutch Partridge chicken to lay about 160 cream color eggs each year.  Even though this bird is small, it will need plenty of room to roam in order to be happy and healthy.  This bird can be easily tamed and is quite friendly and docile. 

They can even learn to come and accept food from your hand.  The Dutch Partridge comes in a range of colors, including blue, black, brown, tan, buff, and of course, partridge.  

Faverolles

Often referred to as the comedian of the chickens, the Faverolles is a regular and repeated favorite of the urban farmer or local homesteader. 

This chicken will come running to greet you as you enter the yard and will even jump and dance for treats.  This is a friendly bird that is easy to keep.  This is a larger bird with thick and fluffy feathers in red, tan, and white coloration. 

They even have feathers extending over their feet, which makes them not the best-suited bird for snow and winter conditions.  Expect your Faverolles chicken to lay about 190 eggs per year.  

Frizzle

The Fizzle chicken is an older breed of chicken, first appearing around the 1600s.  Charles Darwin even wrote about this particular breed of chicken in his travels to India, so it is commonly accepted that this is an Eastern chicken. 

This bird has a striking appearance with a large crest of feathers planted atop its head.  Often brown, tan, white, or buff, this is a visually striking bird with plenty of plush and fluffy feathers.  Not known for its egg production, this bird will produce about 120 eggs each year. 

This bird is an absolute delight, with a friendly and docile personality.  This bird cannot fly well, so it is not recommended for free-range care where it can not safely escape predators. 

Hybrids

The idea of a hybrid chicken started around the 1950s and has taken off since.  Often a mix of older chicken breeds, such as the Light Sussex, Leghorn, or Rhode Island chicken, the hybrid chicken is typically made with certain characteristics in mind. 

Hybrid chickens are often more popular for backyard homesteaders or small farm operators.  These chicken have several benefits associated with them.  Often, they are bred for certain characteristics, so you will be able to find an excellent egg layer or meat production bird. 

Further, they tend to be hardier to climate changes and often have boosted immune systems making them particularly long-lived.  These are also wonderful options for chicken beginners.  

ISA Brown

If you are searching for a prolific egg layer, the ISA Brown is your chicken!  This bird regularly produces over 350 brown eggs each year.  This is a favorite bird that originated in France. 

Brown in color, this bird is not only beautiful, but it is friendly too.  Docile and craving human attention, the ISA Brown chicken will regularly follow its humans around the yard.  This is an extremely low maintenance bird that is easy to care for. 

The ISA Brown chicken does well in a number of different climates and is particularly tolerant of both hot and cool temperatures.  

Japanese Bantam (Chabo)

This is a true Bantam chicken meaning that there is no fowl equivalent bird.  The Japanese Bantam has originated in Japan and remains a popular breed of chicken.  This bird has a tall, upright tail that often curls over to touch the bird’s head. 

The chicken comes in many colors, including black, which, brown, and blue.  The bird has very short legs, which are a trademark characteristic for this bird.  Healthy and hardy, this bird can live for up to 13 years with proper care.  They are smaller in size, so they are perfect for a backyard chicken coop. 

This bird will lay a moderate amount of eggs each year, so expect about 160 cream-colored eggs.  Described as being friendly and cheeky, this is a great bird to keep for years, making him or her an engaging family member.  

Leghorn

Probably one of the older breeds of chickens, the exact origin of this bird is unknown.  It is believed that it may have come from a region in Italy, then bred and brought to other areas of the world. 

The original Leghorn chicken was smaller in size, which was not popular with poultry production companies.  Although this bird is commonly seen as a striking white color, the bird also comes in black, brown, rose, and buff. 

This is an intelligent bird that likes to stay active, making it an excellent foraging bird for free-range applications.  Not particularly friendly, the Leghorn chicken remains rather aloof to human contact.  One of the more prolific egg layers, this bird can produce up to 320 eggs per week.  

Marans

With a deep, rich, copper-colored feather, this is a must-have chicken in any coop.  Mostly available in North America, the Marans chicken is popular with many keepers, and for good reason. 

This chicken does well in confinement, making it a good option for urban homesteaders and small farmers.  Further, it does fairly well in cold climates making it strong and durable.  The Marans chicken does not do particularly well in hot climates, however. 

Another great attribute is that this chicken produces a large number of eggs, averaging about three eggs per week, or about 170 eggs per year.  The eggs this chicken produces are a deep chocolate brown color, which is quite sought after.  

Marsh Daisy

Developed in England, this is a very popular chicken.  It is an average size, with males weighing around 7 pounds.  At one point, due to over breeding, this chicken was almost extinct. 

The continual inbreeding of this chicken caused a heart condition to develop in the breed, at one point making the life expectancy of the Marsh Daisy about 3 years.  Luckily, this has been resolved, and now the Marsh Daisy is known as a particularly hardy and long-lived chicken.  This bird enjoys foraging and is an excellent choice for your free-range set up. 

The bird is a moderate egg layer, producing about 160 eggs per year, but can be an excellent helper in the garden.  This bird can be quite helpful in eliminating pesky and harmful insects from the garden.  Friendly and docile, this once rare chicken is an excellent choice to add to your free-range farm.  

Minorca

Originating from Spain, this chicken made its way to the United States and has remained a popular option for years.  This bird has a striking appearance with long black and white feathers.  It has large wattles that drop around the face, almost dangling like a pair of earrings. 

Considered one of the larger Mediterranean chicken breeds, this bird usually reaches about 8 pounds.  Although this bird only lays about 120 eggs per year, the eggs produced are very large in size.  The size of their eggs is what has made this chicken so popular with homesteaders and small farmers alike. 

This type of chicken prefers to be housed in warmer climates and doesn’t always do well in colder, northern areas.  This is a fun and curious bird who is also very intelligent. 

The bird does not do well with confinement and prefers to be a free-range chicken, allowing plenty of time to explore and forage for food.  While they are not the friendliest of chickens, they are quite docile and enjoy working together with humans to forage.

Modern Game

This type of chicken is meant for ornamental purposes only and is not typically used for meat or egg production.  Very small in size and stature, this diminutive little chicken can fit in the palm of your hand. 

It is very small, weighing only 4 pounds, and has a very long and lean appearance.  Coming in a variety of colors, it is common to find the Modern Game chicken in brown, black, tan, white, and buff.  Because of its small size, this bird does not do well in cold weather conditions. 

It does not tolerate confinement well and must be a free-range chicken.  This will give this bird plenty of opportunities to forage for his own food and keep his adventurous personality happy.  It is a friendly bird but also must remain active. 

It is not overly docile and doesn’t bond well with human companions.  Not a prolific egg layer, expect just one egg per week, or fewer, from this tiny and decorative bird. 

Naked Neck

The Naked Neck chicken was bred solely for the purpose of meat production.  This bird has a very definitive look, lacking any feathers around the neck area.  Often referred to as a Turken, this bird looks like it is the result of a chicken bred with a turkey. 

The lack of feathers around the neck area was a popular option for cooks, giving them fewer feathers to pluck.  Despite missing some feathers around the neck, this bird does remarkably well in cold climates and winter conditions. 

Mostly popular in Europe, the Naked Neck chicken is rarely seen in North America.  This bird is easily tamed and pretty docile, making it a friendly member of the flock. 

Although keeping this bird is relatively easy, it does take a special owner to be able to accept and love the unique, partially hairless look.  This bird produces a fair amount of eggs each year, averaging about 100 eggs.  

New Hampshire Red

Although this breed of chicken was originally derived from the Rhode Island Reds, the chicken has eventually become its own distinctive breed.  New Hampshire Red chickens differ from Rhode Island Reds by the fact that they grow and develop more quickly. 

This makes them more popular as a meat production bird, compared to a reliable egg layer.  Although the bird does produce about 160 eggs per year, the general popularity of these birds is for the meat.  Averaging about 8 pounds, this is considered one of the larger and heavier breeds of chickens. 

They are friendly and docile chickens that handle confinement well.  Although they are alright in cold temperatures, this chicken does not tolerate heat well.  

Old English Game

The Old English Game chicken is derived from a breed of chicken called a Pit Game, which was used exclusively for cockfighting.  Although the sport of cockfighting is banned in many countries around the world, this chicken still maintains all of its pugnacious and tenacious tendencies. 

This is a very loud, outgoing, and adventurous chicken that does not tolerate confinement well.  This chicken needs to be a free-range chicken with plenty of room to roam and explore its environment.  The chicken must be left to roam free and cannot be kept as a pair of males. 

Two Old English Game males that are kept together will fight to the death.  The bird can either be cream or copper color and is a moderate egg producer, averaging about 150 eggs per year.  This bird does well in cool temperatures but does not tolerate the heat well.  

Orpington

In the 1800s, England had a severe “chicken fever” where keeping all varieties and types of chickens was all the rage.  At the end of the chicken fever madness, the thought that chickens could be bred and kept for useful qualities started to reign supreme. 

The Orpington chicken was developed at the end of this period and was bred for its egg production abilities.  This bird is capable of producing about 280 eggs in a year, making it a prolific egg layer.  Their personality is calm and endearing unless you have treats. 

This bird is known to happily run to its owner if there are treats to be had.  Although this bird is quite hardy in colder climates, it doesn’t do well in the heat.  This is a quiet bird making it a good choice for an urban farmer.

Pekin (Lemon Cuckoo)

This is a soft and cuddly chicken that is a family favorite.  The bird originated from China and is a decent egg layer.  Expect to get about 100 eggs per year from this fluffy and friendly chicken. 

Very docile and endearing, this chicken will happily greet its owners, especially if she knows they have treats.  This chicken does not lay many eggs but does get incredibly broody. 

This means that this chicken can actually help hatch the eggs of other chickens that are not broody.  The bird comes in black, blue, and buff varieties.  While this bird can tolerate both hot and cold climates reasonably well, it does best when it is in a temperate climate zone without drastic temperature swings.

Plymouth Rock

The most common coloration of the Plymouth Rock chicken is the barred or white variety, each striking and beautiful in their own right.  This is a wonderful, all-around chicken that is great for beginner keepers. 

The chicken is a great egg layer and can produce up to 200 eggs each year.  Plus, while they do well in confinement, they are also happy as a free-range chicken, happily foraging for food.  The Plymouth Rock chicken is heavier in size, often reaching about 8 pounds. 

This chicken is friendly and docile and will often give its owners a good laugh with its outgoing personality.  Equally hardy in warm and cool temperatures, this is a very forgiving and wonderful chicken to keep. 

Polish

The Polish chicken has a striking characteristic crest of feathers that surround the head.  This comes in a range of colors, including, but not limited to,  black, white, and copper. 

The best way to describe this breed of chicken is unpredictable.  Although the chicken is usually rather docile and friendly, it can have sudden personality changes.  This is largely attributed to the times when its feathers inhibit its vision, making it prone to sudden or rash actions. 

As far as egg production is concerned with this chicken, it can be a hit or miss.  Some birds are wonderful egg producers, laying about 200 eggs per year.  Other birds hardly lay any eggs at all. 

This small bird is best kept as an ornamental bird, with no real expectations as far as personality and egg production are concerned.  If you have a wonderful egg producer and a friendly bird, count yourself a lucky Polish chicken owner.  

Rhode Island Red

As the official Rhode Island state bird, this chicken has a lot to live up to.  These birds were once very popular but declined in popularity when small farms were closed and went out of production. 

Luckily, with backyard farmers and the popularity of small homesteads, they are coming back in style, and rightfully so.  Currently, Rhode Island Red chickens can be found quite easily and are an excellent choice for any budding backyard or urban farmer. 

This bird has so many wonderful attributes, which makes it perfect for a first-time chicken owner.  They are wonderful egg layers, great for meat production, and are very hardy in both cold and warm climates. 

The Rhode Island Red chicken is also very friendly and docile and tolerates confinement well.  Expect to get about 200 eggs per year from your Rhode Island Red chicken.  

Sebright

Nearly 20 years went into the production of this chicken, and it is rightfully named after its creator.  The Sebright chicken gathers an almost cult-like following due to its beautiful appearance and small size. 

This bird has striking white feathers that are outlined with a deep brown or black color.  The bird also comes in other colors, but white is the most popular.  They are small, weighing only about 20 ounces, making it tiny enough to sit in a person’s hand. 

This bird enjoys being a free-range chicken with a big personality and has plenty of curiosity.  It loves its humans and will happily be kept as a lap bird. 

This bird is affectionate toward people and is commonly kept as a pet.  Although this bird has many wonderful characteristics, it does not lay many eggs, producing only about 60 eggs per year.  

Silkie

A very old breed of chicken, with a very dramatic look, the Silkie chicken is probably of Chinese origin, dating back to 200 BC.  This chicken is long and slender with very fine and fluffy feathers. 

It has a long striking neck and iridescent blue patches next to its beak.  It has a different feather texture compared to other birds that make the feathers appear very light, fine, and airy. 

Although this bird only lays about 180 eggs per year, they do have the advantage of starting to lay eggs earlier in the year than most chickens.  The Silkie chicken is does surprisingly well in cold temperatures despite their very fine feathers. 

This bird is more well known as being kept as a pet or an ornamental bird.  They are extremely soft and good-natured and are often bossed around if they are kept in a larger flock of varied chickens.  

Speckledy

One of the more modern breeds of chickens, the Speckledy chicken, was only developed in 1992 by England’s largest free-range egg production companies.  This bird was made by crossing the Rhode Island Reds chicken and Cuckoo Marans chicken together. 

Its colors are brown and white in a speckled pattern, which helps to allude to its name.  This bird is larger in size and was bred for its egg production qualities.  Expect to get about 250 very large eggs per year from this bird.  Like other prolific egg producing birds, this also means that the bird has a much shorter life span. 

Incredibly hardy, this chicken does well in a range of temperatures and climates.  Perfectly acceptable to house this chicken in the cool winter. It is friendly and docile.  Although this bird can be kept in confinement, it is equally happy being able to roam free in order to forage for its own food.  

Sultan

The Sultan chicken is a traditional ornamental bird that was once kept by Ottoman sultans in their private gardens.  This bird is very striking in appearance and has several different characteristics that make this bird unique. 

It has a large crest of feathers atop its head, a beard of feathers, and even has feathered feet.  The bird is always a striking white color, which helps to make this stunning bird so beautiful.  An interesting fact about this bird is that it actually has five toes on each foot instead of the traditional four toes that most chickens have. 

This chicken doesn’t do well in cold temperatures but can tolerate some of the hotter climates in the world.  The chicken tolerates confinement well and does well with other breeds of chickens.  This is an incredibly friendly and docile chicken that might actually prefer the companionship of humans. 

It is very calm and quiet and can be easily handled.  Expect to get very poor egg production from this bird, averaging about 50 eggs per year.  People who keep this bird typically keep it for a pet rather than for utilitarian purposes.  

Sussex

A beautiful bird in its own right, the Sussex chick is considered the standard chicken in England.  This bird is a beautiful chocolate brown color with white speckles throughout its feathers. 

It is large-bodied and can work well as both a prolific egg layer as well as a meat production bird.  This bird is incredibly popular and for good reason.  They are very friendly and can easily be handled.  They like people but are curious about nature. 

They enjoy wandering through the yard and will follow close behind their human keepers to see what they are working on at all times.  This bird does well in confinement but will appreciate being allowed outdoors to forage and roam on its own. 

The Sussex chick is very hardy in cold climates and can do well in the coldest winters.  Not particularly heat hardy, this chicken does not do well in hot or humid conditions.  This bird is a very prolific egg layer and can produce up to 200 eggs per year.  

Wyandotte

The Wyandotte chicken is widely popular and regularly kept by backyard chicken owners around the world.  That is because this bird has several attributes that make it so popular.  First, this bird is striking in appearance and comes in a range of color and pattern options. 

The bird is commonly seen in a chocolate brown and copper speckled pattern but can also be found in gray, blue, black, gold, and buff color combinations.  Some of the birds even have feathers with a solid color along the outside of the feather and a darker or lighter contrasting color on the interior. 

This bird also makes a wonderful egg layer, producing a whopping amount of eggs every year.  Expect to get about 200 eggs from your Wyandotte that are large brown eggs.  Further, this is a very hardy and long-lived bird.  The chicken does well in confinement and is tolerable to both hot and cold conditions. 

The chicken can even live quite happily through winter conditions.  Lastly, this is just a friendly bird that is docile and quiet.  The bird enjoys human attention and is a popular member of any flock.