If you've never kept backyard chickens before, you may wonder what the best way is to choose the best chicken breed for you. As we often explain, there is no One Best Breed for everyone. Some people may want only the best layers, while others prefer only the friendliest chickens... or the most cold hardy chickens... or chickens that lay amazing colors like blue, olive or chocolate, and so on. So how do you choose?
The truth is there are a few ways to go about choosing the best chicken breed.
3 ways to choose the best chicken breed for you
1. Dream over a hatchery website, book, or catalog.
When you like window shopping, this method is probably for you. Especially if you like the ultra rare or unusual, you'll want to look at everything available from your hatchery of choice, whether day old baby chicks, or fertile hatching eggs. If you like to dream over garden catalogs in the spring, you may also enjoy dreaming over photos and descriptions of chicken breeds.
Take a look at our alphabetical chicken breed list... or you can see some additional designer breeds and varieties among our hatching eggs and chickens for sale. Those are organized by egg color, hardiness, rarity and that sort of thing. Our book, My Pet Chicken Handbook, offers a large chart outlining all the different qualities of the breeds you may be considering--and many hatcheries offer print catalogs to page through and dream about. No matter if you're online or in print, browse away and create your dream flock!
2. Use the Chicken Chooser breed selection tool.
Are you a straight-in-and-back-out-with-what-you-need kind of shopper? You may prefer simply entering your requirements or preferences--broody? great egg layer? hardy?--and then seeing a list of the breeds that meet your needs. If so, you'll probably prefer using our chicken chooser breed selection tool to choose the best chicken breed for you. There's very little shopping involved; you'll just have to choose between the breeds that the selection tool gives you. Since they all meet the needs you've shared, you can choose the one whose looks you like the most.
3. Visit a friend and see what the breeds are like in person.
I have a beer brewing buddy who, on visits to our farm, has been watching my flock avidly. "What breed is that one?" he'll ask. "How do they lay? What are the roosters like?" To be fair, he's had chickens before (maybe even before I was born). But it's been a few years, and until recently, there weren't that many breeds easily available. Farm and feed stores would typically carry Barred Rocks, Leghorns, and Rhode Island Reds or Sex Links... but little if anything else. So what are these unfamiliar breeds really like? If you have a chicken keeping friend, you probably could not please him or her more than by asking about the chickens they keep! Chicken lovers love to talk about their chickens, after all. (I know I do!)
My friend has settled on Black Copper Marans as the breed he's going to keep this time around--the best chicken breed for him. I think he was charmed by the magnificence of our big, gentle rooster Gerard.