Choosing chicken breeds—a guilty pleasure? November 30, 2012

Bearded chickens. When it comes to choosing chicken breeds, I go for beards. Why do I love them so much?

Choosing chicken breeds- bearded chickens

Oh, yes. Now that I look at this Easter Egger, I remember why I love bearded chickens so much. Because… They. Are. Awesome.

I’m not sure quite why, but bearded hens to me look especially lovely. Seems a beard might make a girl look masculine, but not in the case of chickens—at least not to me. The fancy feathers are sort of like a fancy collar–I love bearded birds. I’ve had bearded Faverolles, bearded Easter Eggers, bearded Silkies and bearded Ameraucanas, and I adore them all.

To be fair, I love ALL my chickens, bearded or not. I adore my Welsummers and Speckled Sussex, and they don’t have chicken beards. And I have a new-found fondness for my Black Copper Marans (also no beards). I didn’t expect them to be pretty—since they are mostly black birds— but they are surprisingly attractive with their red-gold hackles, bright eyes and lightly feathered legs.

Even though I enjoy these other birds, I still find that when I think of my prettiest chickens, I tend to think first of my bearded girls.

Choosing chicken breeds for a mixed flock

Just look at these Favaucanas, for example!

That’s also what I think of when it comes to choosing chicken breeds. And I don’t appear to be the only one with chicken breed preferences!

It’s no surprise that a lot of people gravitate toward certain things when it comes to choosing chicken breeds. Some people want only the best layers, or only birds that lay unusual egg colors. Or maybe they only want chickens that are good foragers or do well in heat. None of those things should be surprising because when choosing chicken breeds, you want to make sure you’re choosing breeds that will do well in your area. So–when some towns limit the size of a backyard flock to just a very few birds—choosing chicken breeds that lay well and will give you lots of eggs is important. It’s no surprise that people would want a carton full of beautiful, unusual color eggs, either. (Every time you reach for an egg, it’s a reminder of just how lucky you are to be raising chickens—and it’s fun to show off to neighbors and friends, or anyone you share eggs with!)

But there are also people like me who have a fondness for bearded breads. Others may like large crests like Houdans or Polish have. Some may like feathered legs while others like unusual plumage like silkied or frizzled feathers. What’s strange is that I’m usually more of a practical sort. I would have pegged me for someone interested chiefly in sustainability. And I am… but I also have this not-so-sectet-anymore love of breeds with beards. It’s like a guilty pleasure. Like admitting that I like Cheet-os. I don’t really want anyone to know!

Hi. My name is Lissa, and I like bearded chickens.

There, I said it.

So, what qualities do you favor when choosing chicken breeds–and why?

Are your reasons chiefly practical or aesthetic—or both? If you were in a different situation (warmer/cooler climate, more reasonable chicken regulations), would you be choosing chicken breeds differently? Please share your thoughts in the comments!




Marina November 30th, 2012

Well, I go for bearded dogs–I have two (so far)! But with my chickens I’m all over the place. I have bearded, feathered legs and regular with fancy feather patterns. Mostly egg laying capability and then climate and aesthetic. Good post, thanks for sharing.

Amanda November 30th, 2012

I like heritage breeds. I enjoy the variations, the rich colors and the different patterns that come with them. Pretty much any heritage breed chicken is welcome in my flock. I mostly go for variety so to choose one breed or trait would mean I would have to give that up.

Evelyn Qualls November 30th, 2012

My husband goes mostly for the egg laying abilities. Me, however, I just like all the breeds. We have RIR, New Hampshires, Red sex link, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Easter Eggers (for colored eggs) a Dominique rooster in one lot. Then, we have
some young French Black Copper Marans almost ready to go outside in their own small lot and Lavender Orpington chicks and Australorp chicks also. So far, the
FBCM’s seem to be the friendliest and I love their “greeting peep calls”, so sweet!
I guess I am hooked on chickens too!!!

Erica November 30th, 2012

We go for cold weather breeds and good foragers. We like Easter Eggers and Russian Orloffs the best. We also have a number of unbearded breeds but try to stick with birds that have small combs and wattles: Welsummers, Sumatras, and a Silver Spangled Spitzhauben Appenzeller. Also a bunch of guinea fowl. 🙂

Aurelia December 25th, 2012

Rare good looks fancy eggg layers that’s what I look for

Pamela January 14th, 2013

I really love the bearded girls-Out of my 4 hens, my blue Ameraucanas is my favorite because she is so pretty and very quirky. Unfortunately, she is on the bottom of the totem pole, so I keep a close watch on her.

Paul January 16th, 2013

Personally I perfer barred rocks. My barred rocks are increadable hearty, good egg layers and are very docile. I love my barred rocks even though they do not have a beard.

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