Types of Chickens

Buff Orpington

What Does the Term "Types of Chickens" Refer to?

We're referring to the overall function, look, shape, temperament, behavior and other specific defining characteristics, traits, or behaviors of the many different chicken breeds.

As you're about to see, there are quite a few different type of chickens, each with a certain area that they excel in due to genetics and or breeding.

We'll also see some good and some not so good characteristics that help to differentiate between types of hens and their benefits as well as the role they'll fulfill in your family are outlined here.

Chickens as Pets – Many chicken breeds make great pets and are great with children and families.  Pet chickens are docile, friendly, playful, entertaining, often have beautiful feathers and adapt well to human contact. 

Breeds of chicken that make good pets include:

  •  Australorp
  • Silkies
  • Barnevelder
  • Brahma,
  • Dorking
  • Faverolles
  • Delaware
  • Houdan
  • Jersey Giant
  • Orpingtons 
  • Phoenix
  • Araucana
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Sussex  

Egg Laying Chickens – One of the most popular types of chickens chosen for most small backyard flocks. These chickens are known for their superior egg laying ability.

Some breeds that are popular for their egg laying production are:

  • White Leghorns
  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Barred Rock
  • New Hampshires
  • Black Australorps

These egg laying breeds often come into maturity fairly early and can often be laying eggs by 5 to 6 months of age, often laying more than 300 eggs a year. 

Raising Chickens for Meat – The Cornish Rock also known as the Rock Cornish is a solid meat producing type of chicken. The Cornish Rock is small to average as chickens go. There is also a Cornish Rock Cross that is said to grow fast and taste great, but these birds seem to have a high mortality rate (30%) by the time you're ready to harvest them

Many of the meat chicken breeds grow large and fast.

Depending on their intended use; roasting, broiling or frying; they can be ready for your family’s table by as young as six weeks old.

Other breeds suitable for meat production include:

  • Orpingtons (Buff Orpington pictured above.)
  • Brahma
  • Cochin
  • Jersey Giant 

Dual Purpose Chickens - Dual purpose chickens are just that. They provide both eggs and meat. They do both well, but aren't particularly great at either.

Note: Dual Purpose Types of Chickens are great for families just getting started raising chickens. 

Dual-purpose breeds are the old-time, classic breeds raised on the farm in early America. 

The average egg production from a dual purpose type of chicken is four eggs a week.

Some popular dual purpose breeds include:

  • New Hampshire Red
  • Orpingtons
  • Delaware
  • Brahma (check out the American Brahma Club, They've been around since 1945!)
  • Barred Plymouth Rock
  • Rhode Island Red

Easter Egg Chickens  You're probably used to seeing the basic white and brown eggs at the grocery store, but depending on the breed, some chickens will lay blue eggs, others green eggs, some will lay a dark chocolaty brown or cream colored eggs. These type of chickens are sometimes referred to as Easter Egg Chickens or Easter Eggers. Easter Eggers are not a specific breed, but instead are a mixture of breeds.

Fun Fact: Did you know that you can tell what color eggs a chicken will lay by looking at its earlobes?

These breeds can help provide a colorful egg basket for your family:

  • White eggs: White Leghorns, Anconas, Minorcas, Andalusians, and Campines.
  • Blue eggs or blue/green eggs: Araucanas, Ameraucanas
  • Cream-colored eggs: Polish and Sussexes.
  • Deep reddish-brown eggs: Barnvelders and Welsummers.
  • Very dark, chocolate brown eggs: Marans.
  • Pinkish brown eggs: Plymouth Rocks and Salmon Faverolles.

There is no nutritional difference between different colored eggs.

Rare Chicken Breeds -There is a recent growing interest in heritage and heirloom chicken breeds.

In fact, the continuance of hundreds of rare "heritage" breeds of chickens ultimately depends upon family backyard flock owners. Perhaps your family might consider raising heritage breeds for your own flock?

These breeds have a lot to offer. They're rare, beautiful and often these breeds are more hardy than current day egg producing breeds.

They also show more conventional chicken behaviors like frequent roosting, they tend to be good foragers, and they're good egg setters (they go broody easily).

Rare Chickens Breeds include:

  • Lemon Pyle Brahma
  • Purebred Araucanas
  • Dominiques
  • Dorkings
  • White Faced Black Spanish
  • Buckeyes  
  • Asils

Show Chickens – These chicken breeds, also referred to as exotic or exhibition birds. They are not bred for egg or meat production specifically, but for showing.

One of the coolest things about these types of chickens is their amazingly colorful plumage! You can get them with just about every feather shape, design and color you could dream of.

Great examples of Show Chickens are:

  • Araucana
  • Buff Orpingtons
  • Chochins
  • Cubalaya
  • Favorelle
  • Langshan
  • Malay 

And there are lots more. So even if you don’t want to show them competitively, they are still a beautiful addition to any backyard!

These are just some of the choices you have when it comes to the type of chickens your family can choose to raise.

NOTE: Not all chickens breeds are good around people or make good pets, so do your homework about any breeds you're considering raising to be sure they'll be a good fit with your family.

As you can see, you have a lot of options to choose from when picking your favorites from the many different types of chickens available. 

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