8 Employee Favorite Chicken Breeds March 13, 2015

As you probably know, what chicken breed works best for your family will depend on what you’re looking for, as well as where you’re located. For instance, if you live in Minnesota and want a hen that lays brown eggs, you’re not going to like cold intolerant, white egg laying Leghorns very well! On the other hand, if you live in the desert southwest and want heat tolerant birds with spotted plumage, you’re not going to care much for, say, Black Cochins. That in mind, we recently asked our employees to officially share their personal favorite–and least favorite–chicken breeds or varieties.

The list is fascinating–we both agree and disagree with each other! You may notice some employees have the same favorite chicken breeds for (seemingly) schizophrenic reasons. That is, when a variety is among the favorite chicken breeds because they’re not overly friendly AND because they’re lovey-dovey, how do you make sense of that? I reconcile it two ways:

  • First, individual birds have individual personalities.
  • Second, maybe they just give you the affection you’re open to! 🙂

Interestingly, there were also a few varieties that made both lists. We attribute this to the fact that our employees telecommute and live across the country, with flocks in vastly different conditions. Varieties that made both list are in BLUE. 

So… first, we’ll share our MPC favorite chicken breeds.

Favorite Chicken breeds of MPC Employees

(in alphabetical order)

1. Cochin

Jordana: “I know eggs are great, but I adore the huge, fluffy, gentle giants! They sit on my feet when they are small to ride around the yard!”

Favorite chicken breeds

Mottled cochin

2. Easter Egger

Sam: “They are such beautiful birds with calm and interesting personalities. Of course, the colored eggs are a bonus as well! One of my youngest will always fly to my shoulder when I ‘put them to bed’ in the evening and attempt to nestle into my hair. She’s so loving even my husband is a target for night time cuddling!”

Laree: “Great in the heat, lays all summer long, doesn’t need to be snuggled.”

Lauren: “I love their colored eggs and how hardy they are.”

Favorite chicken breeds

Easter Egger and Lavender Orpington

3. Faverolles

Lissa: “The roosters are brilliant, calm and genteel, and the hens are sweet and peaceful. They make good mothers, too. They’ve been hardy with me, and lay like crazy even in oppressive heat and humidity. The only problem is that they seem to get picked on sometimes, so I rarely keep many aggressive breeds (like Wyandottes or RIR) in my flock.”

4. Orpington

Judi: “These hens were just designed for egg laying with those big fat fluffy butts, and the hens love people and treats, making it a favorite in the flock.”

Laree: “Hardy,friendly, and reliable layers.”

5. Plymouth Rock

Mary Ann: “They are friendly, even as chicks—can be top of the pecking order, but not aggressive to flock mates. One of my oldest two hens was a Barred Plymouth Rock and was still laying 3 times a week at 4-1/2 years old. (I had to rehome my flock when I moved, and found her a forever home with [another MPC employee] Laree).”

Favorite breeds

Barred plymouth rock bantam hen

6. Polish

Judi: “To me, they are extraordinarily beautiful, their coloring is so unique, and with their top hats, they are always easy to catch.”

Marigold, Judi's Tolbunt Polish

Marigold, Judi’s Tolbunt Polish

7. Silkie

Lauren: “I love watching them run around together looking like they are wearing little pants with their feathery legs. They are really good with my daughter too.”

Karen: “I don’t really want to love a breed that takes forever to determine males from females, but I do. They have that comical, Muppet-like appearance, but they earned their place here because they’re such good broodies. My husband doesn’t care for indoor chick raising and my barn does not have electricity, so what is a hatching addict to do? Utilize the power of broodies to raise chicks for me, of course. I also enjoy how easy they are to contain behind a fence, since their wings are ill-adapted to flying.”

Favorite chicken breeds

Silkies are an all-time favorite chicken breeds

8. Speckled Sussex

Joyce: “They are smart and keen on keeping track of everything that goes on around them. They always seem to place themselves in position that is to their best advantage, which is often in your lap.  Friendly, curious, smart, beautiful and so willing to be held. What more could I ask?”

Me: “I LOVE Speckled Sussex! They’re gorgeous, personable, curious, and they’re smart enough to hang out and let you forage for them–tossing them the occasional grub–while you garden. They great foragers on their own, too, and they do well avoiding predators. Somehow the Sussex have always been the lap pets in my flock, too. Plus, they lay tons and tons of eggs.”

favorite chicken breeds

Joyce and one of her Sussex hens

Now we’ll share some of the varieties that didn’t work very well in our flocks.

Least Favorite Chicken Breeds of MPC Employees:

1. Andalusian 

Sam: “My one hen REFUSES to sleep in our spacious and comfy coop at night, instead flying high into the trees where I have no hope of retrieving her. Regardless of weather she insists on being independent. Honestly, I think she may just want to be the first to eat breakfast, wily little thing!”

2. Brahmas

Lauren: “Mine just aren’t very personable plus they are constantly jumping the fence. I quit chasing them down and they now know how to jump back over the fence to get back into the yard. ”

Me: “Despite their reputation for being friendly, good layers and foragers, in my particular situation, they just don’t seem to be any of those things. They do well in the heat, but seem to get irritable with the other girls. Also, some of them–just the Brahmas–really hate my husband. What’s up with that?”

3. Faverolles

Laree: “Delicate, weak constitutions, icky personalities, and even if you can get them to adulthood, they croak as soon as it is 100 degrees. ”

4. Leghorns

Shannon: “[T]hey can be flighty. We have children in our family and neighborhood who enjoy the ability to pick up and interact with out chickens, and leghorns don’t seem to enjoy being a child’s pet.”

(That said, while Traci didn’t participate in our survey, we do know that she feels Leghorns get a bum rap!)

5. Polish

Mary Ann: “Nothing against them in particular, except that their puffy top knots were always getting pulled out by their flock mates leaving huge bald spots—even my usual go-to, Hot Pick Spray, couldn’t prevent holes in their head feathers.”

6. Wyandotte 

Joyce: “Even though they were handled a great deal and friendly toward me, they were too dominant toward other chickens.”

 Do you have most and least favorites? Do you think people who disagree with you are crazy, or are they just having a different experience? Please share your favorites below–and let us know what varieties you’re hoping to get next!

 

12 Comments
Suzi March 13th, 2015

Yep…that about covers it!

Brenda Cannon March 13th, 2015

I absolutely love the Cream Leg Bars I bought from MPC in September. They are such personable girls and lay the prettiest eggs. Myra & Elvira are out-standing in my flock. I’m sold on these girls 🙂

Lissa March 14th, 2015

Brenda, Legbars are on top of the list of breeds many of our employees are wanting to try next! Maybe a similar survey in future years will see Legbars among the favorites. 🙂

Natalie March 14th, 2015

Dominques are my absolute favorite. Out of all of the different breeds I’ve had at this point, my Dom is the only one that really acted like a pet. I love my Speckled Sussex, my Buff Orpington, and my Salmon Faverolles, but none of them have been as personable as my Dom.

Meg March 31st, 2015

My Blue Wheaton Americaunas were such pets, lining up to have a brief lap sit every morning, one at a time. Oddly enough my Speckled Sussex were flighty, unfriendly, and just not my favorite. I’d love to try Cream Legbars!

jenny October 24th, 2015

Love my mille fleur duccles!! So friendly and love the colors. Very smart bantams. My hen lays all summer long.

Izzy November 4th, 2015

I do agree with you all on Brahmas, they are all of the good things but are pretty aggressive on the other girls, but I do love them for their friendliness towards me! Black stars can be mean towards my other girls as well but I do love barred Plymouth rocks and Opringtons. I am hoping to get some Speckled Sussex’s and Polish, too.

Don Strausbaugh December 11th, 2015

I am wanting to raise around twenty five ? Roosters for meat only .a larger breed ,good old fashion taste . What and how should I accomplish this goal ?

Lissa December 14th, 2015

Don, as our name “My Pet Chicken” implies, we’re chiefly concerned with helping people keep chickens as pets. In fact, we don’t even sell “meat” breeds. So my first advice would be to contact a hatchery that sells breeds raised for meat. Of course any chicken can be eaten, but most egg laying “backyard” breeds grow so slowly that by the time they’re large enough to process, they’ve cost a great deal in feed, and they produce tough meat–and very little of it–only worthy of being stewed. By contrast, modern breeds designed for meat production like the Rock Cornish Cross grow so large so fast that after 6 or 8 weeks their skeletons and hearts can hardly bear the stress of their own growth, and their legs may break underneath them, or their hearts may give out. So my second piece of advice would be to contact a hatchery that sells something “Colored Rangers.” They grow to size slightly more slowly, so they tend to be much healthier. Further, because they’re able to walk around and forage, they have more flavor and texture than the Cornish Crosses.
.
Again, we don’t sell meat breeds, and can’t really advise on how to raise chickens for slaughter. But that said, we do hear from people who have, without research about the best breed for their situation, bought the meat crosses rather than egg layers, and have been devastated to find out they are sickly and don’t live very long. Commercially, they’re often fed a steady diet of antibiotics to increase growth and help them live long enough to process. For that reason, we can advise avoiding the Rock Cornish if you can, or at the least to be prepared for the health issues they’re likely to experience.

Linda March 10th, 2016

My very favorite breed of chicken is the Barred Rock they are not flighty birds, the ones I’ve had were very tame and would love to play with my toes when I would come in the summer to see them. Has anyone heard of a fry pan chickens. The local feed store had some I can’t find information about them. Please don’t tell me they are chickens to eat.

Lissa March 11th, 2016

Hi, Linda! Yes, unfortunately, some varieties of chicken that are bred to grow very large, very quickly, are often referred to as “roasting chickens” or “fry pan chickens.” Those are usually a hybrid variety that are more accurately called Cornish Rock Crosses or Cornish Rocks, and they are bred solely for meat. It’s nothing to do with their personalities; by all accounts, they’re very sweet and docile birds. It’s just that commercially, they’re “designed” to be raised only to eight weeks or so, when they reach size. They grow so large so fast that they tend to be very short lived and unhealthy with issues like congestive heart failure, and sometimes their bones can’t even support their weight. We don’t recommend adopting them as pets unless you’re prepared to closely monitor them and limit their feed intake with veterinary advice. Even if kept as pets in a home where they receive excellent care, they seldom live very long. My Pet Chicken does not sell Cornish Crosses or any chickens kept specifically for meat production. (Of course, any breed of chicken may be eaten, and if you’re going to eat chickens, those raised in small flocks are certainly the humane way to go. But regular backyard breeds would disappoint most people because they are not what folks are used to: small, skinny, dark, tough, etc.) But the bottom line is, Linda: if you are thinking of adopting the “fry pan” chickens from your local feed store for your flock of pet chickens, we’d recommend against it.

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