Have you been thinking about raising chickens, but your backyard is small? Once you have decided, you need to choose a breed or breeds that suit the backyard. Below are some popular breeds that will help you figure out the best fit.
- Buff Orpingtons
Orpington is a fairly recent breed. A coachman from England was captivated by the possibility of breeding a dual-purpose chicken that was more productive than other breeds and bigger. This breed rapidly gained popularity in the US for its sturdy full-flavored meat. They are fluffy with smooth, broad feathers.
More overtly, they are friendly, docile, and, attractive hence kept merely as pets. They are very gentle and quiet birds. They are known to glide around the backyard in search of food. Of all Orpington varieties, Buffs are the calmest and like the attention of humans. They enjoy being held.
This chicken can tolerate a range of climates. With impressive feathering, they are exceptionally cold-hardy. However, extreme cold can make them hypothermic, leading to quick deaths.
You can identify Orpingtons by their heavy, broad body with a moderately close posture to the ground. They are well-feathered birds that appear pale yellow or golden. The feathers are fluffy with a short, curved back. The chickens’ beak appears pinkish-white in color. The feet are also pinkish-white and clean to touch.
This breed comes in two sizes – large fowl and bantams. Large male Orpingtons will weigh around 4.5 kilograms while the hen tips the scale at just 3.5 kg. Bantams are much smaller.
One of the best things about this breed is that they are great layers. They do an excellent job of brooding their eggs. A hen can lay up to 300 eggs per year. If you are considering keeping them as meat birds, they are ready at around 5 months. As it is with other domesticated breeds, Buffs cannot fly. At most, they are only able to flap their short wings enough to lift their feet off the ground slightly. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about a large perimeter fence.
- Plymouth Rocks
This breed can tolerate small spaces very well. They are considered one of the Americas’ oldest breeds. It became the nations’ main source of chicken meat and eggs before World War 2. After the war, the chicken industry faced mechanization. Plymouth rock was eventually cast aside as not productive enough.
You can distinguish male and female Plymouth by the barring on the feathers. The males’ feathers end in a dark tip with similar white and black barring. On the contrary, the females appear slightly darker greyish hue with black bars that are a bit wider than the white bars.
There are several accepted varieties of the Plymouth Rocks. The varieties currently recognized are:
Barred and white varieties are the most common.
Plymouth rocks average around 5 eggs per week which equates to approximately 250 eggs per year. The eggs appear brownish and large. Your hens may show a slow decline in productivity as they get old. However, Plymouth Rocks are known to lay into their 10th year. They aren’t the best when it comes to brooding. The chicks mature quickly, and they can be considered broilers at around 10 weeks of age.
If you are looking for a sweet, calm, and docile breed, barred Rocks is a go. They are curious about their environment and always seem to get along with anyone. Rocks tolerate confinement very well, but they prefer free-range.
As backyard birds, they do not require any special care. Rocks are a strong, healthy breed with a good genetic pool. However, they may need special attention if the weather gets cold.
If you want a breed that suits your family setting, this is your bird. You don’t have to build a huge fence because they are poor flyers. Rocks are easy-going and friendly towards children and adults.
- Easter Egger
These are friendly and most popular birds for backyard chicken flocks. They are composed of mixed breeds that do not conform to any standard breed. Eggers lay different colored eggs that vary in shade from blue to green and sometimes pinkish. You have probably heard of a bird that carries a blue egg gene.
Also, Easter Eggers has a wide range of colors and are exceptionally hardy. Their appearance can be a mixture of white to black. Many people tend to confuse Ameraucanas and Araucanas with Easter Eggers. The two breeds descended from Easter Eggers and are now accepted into the American Standard of Perfection. Currently, Eggers isn’t classified as a breed.
These chickens are small and delicate and certainly not a bird you would consider for meat production. The roosters weigh approximately 2 Kg while hens tip the scales at just 1 Kg.
One hen can lay around 250 eggs per year. That means 5 colorful eggs every week! In the winter, short daylight hours can slightly reduce production. Even though your Eggers carry a blue gene, you should not expect every hen to lay colored eggs. You’ll need to purchase a chicken bred specifically to lay blue eggs.
You don’t have to worry about feeding and nutritional needs. Because they are a fairly small breed, Easter Eggers do not consume much food. They are perhaps a close to perfect breed for many chicken keepers due to their excellent production and feed efficiency.
Eggers are quite smaller than other chickens. They, therefore, do not require much space. At least 3 square feet per bird is ideal to avoid crowding. Free-range is also advised because they do well foraging.
As it is with other birds, Easter Egger is specifically susceptible to a genetic disease well known as Scissor Beak. This disease has no known cure. It may range from mild to extremely severe. If your birds are affected, some may survive, especially in the flock with mild Scissor Beak. Very severe cases call for euthanasia. As a chicken keeper, you ought to make decisions based on circumstantial matters.
Althoughthey are quite bizarre, the polish chicken breed is beautiful and super charming. This breed is wonderful. They have a calm demeanor and are known for their top hat of feathers. The feathers may obstruct the vision of these charming birds. If you intend to raise Polish chickens in your backyard, you should trim the feather to fix the obstruction. However, if you want to keep the feathers around the eyes for any personal reasons, you can help your chickens ease their nerves by whistling gently or talking as you approach. This, in turn, lowers their static demeanor.
Perhaps, Polish chicken is popular due to its unusual appearance. They have a beautiful crest with a small bright red V-shaped comb. Their wattles are also bright red and smaller. Moreover, you can identify Polish chicken by their white skin and a gray shade for the legs.
This breed is mostly kept merely for exhibition, but they are good in production. You will find that some birds in your flock are better layers swerve as they approach broodiness. Polish chickens lay around 150 eggs per year on average. They occasionally go broody.
If you want to increase the productivity of your chicken, here are some tips you can incorporate to stimulate natural laying:
- Prepare a net of boxes and put an egg or a golf ball in each box for every hen.
- Ensure that the boxes have soft bedding with extra privacy.
- Induce a calcium supplement to their diet.
Cochins are popularly known for their friendly balls of fluff and feathers. The feathering gives them a rather large appearance. A full-grown hen weighs about 8 pounds. It is a very distinct breed. It originated from China in the early 1850s. Today, it is one of the largest domestic chicken breeds.
You can identify Cochin chicken by their soft, immoderate plumage that covers beaks to toes. They also have yellow-colored skin and legs. The eyes are golden yellow. A five-point comb gives Cochin a unique appearance. The comb should be red, as are the ear lobes and wattles. The color of beaks varies with the birds.
Cochin chickens are known for their calm, friendly, and maternal nature. This makes them excellent when brooding. If you want a bird that lays many eggs, Cochin is not among the good layers. They are often merely kept as pets. Hens weigh approximately 4kg on average, while male Cochins are slightly heavier at around 5kg. They tend to be submissive when kept with aggressive birds.
The Australorp perhaps has made a major impact by taking over the poultry world by storm. It would be best if you considered raising this eminent breed. Here is what you need to know about this breed.
The American Poultry Association acknowledges the original color of blue-black. The black Australorp is by far the most common variety. They are quite remarkable due to the beetle-green sheen that makes them appear iridescent in broad daylight. The blue Australorp has small amounts of lacing on the feathers.
Mature Australorps are huge with soft, close-fitting feathers. Their earlobes, wattles, and combs are similarly red. You can also identify this breed by a dark-colored beak and jet-black eyes that give them a peculiar appearance.
A regular-sized chicken, the Australorp is weighty, with hens weighing around 8 pounds and males weighing roughly 10 pounds. This breed also has a bantam variety but is less common.
These chickens are known to be active with a peaceful demeanor. However, they are prone to obesity when kept in confinement. It is indeed important that you ensure a free range for your chickens.
Australorp is one of the best chicken breeds that you can raise for egg production and meat. They can lay up to 250 eggs per year. The production significantly depends on their disposition. The eggs are medium-sized with a light brown color. You will find that the hens are consistent in production from 24 to 28 weeks of eggs.
If you consider raising Australorps, there are few health problems to note. The chicken has dense feathering that needs to be groomed and inspected regularly. Do this to keep an eye on internal and external parasites.