Chickens- Some Breeds we Enjoy

P1040189We love raising chickens. It’s something we have done almost the whole time we’ve been married- so, about 10 years. Tim has raised chickens most of his life.

We also love that our kids won’t remember a time that chickens weren’t part of the backyard. As I’ve said before, I was afraid to touch or pick up a chicken for a long time. But my kids won’t have that problem. Chickens have just been a part of their lives.

And, of course, we really love the fresh eggs. I never knew how pale the yolks of store-bought eggs were, until I ate our fresh eggs for a while, and then used a store-bought egg. The difference was startling! I love that if we are out of eggs in the kitchen, I can run out to the chicken house and grab the eggs I need to finish the recipe.

Over time, we have come to really enjoy a few specific breeds. So, i thought I’d just share those that are in our flock right now and why we like them.

Tim’s favorite pick:

Rhode Island Red

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Rhode Island Red

This breed is your American-classic red chicken.  They have a moderately high egg production- offering dark brown eggs- and fairly easy-going demeanor. Their chicks are not yellow, but more tan, often with black markings. Tim loves these birds. They are pretty easy-going and easy to handle.

Rhode Island Red Rooster

Rhode Island Red Rooster

Below, is “Junior”, our purely Rhode Island Red Rooster.

I’ll admit- he’s a bit of a pest, as he has a tendency to “challenge” me and the kids when we come to the chicken lot. (Rarely will he do that to Tim) He’ll bristle up and “charge” our legs. One day I walked in the lot and all the sudden felt something slam into my leg. “What in the world was that??” I thought. I looked down and saw that it was Junior challenging my leg. Uggg…

Now, in defense of other red roosters, I must say that this is not something all of them are prone to do. We’ve had plenty of others that were nice and friendly.

My Favorite: Buff Orpington

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Buff Orpington

I love this breed. They are a beautiful golden color and moderate- layers of light brown eggs.  But what I really love about these sweet birds, is their very gentle personality. They are very docile and people-friendly. If you are new to raising chickens and want a bird that is likely to let you handle it easily without a lot of fuss, I recommend Buffs. They are also a great breed for kids. My kids have enjoyed this breed as well. We have had several “Rosies” and “Buttercups” that were this breed.

My 2nd Favorite Pick: Barred Rock

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Barred Rock (adult)

I also really love this breed- mostly because I think they are so beautiful. I like their colorings and shape.

This chicken pictured above is our ‘Grandma’ of the bunch. We have had her for years and years. Really, she should be culled from the flock. She still lays semi-frequently, but her shells are paper-thin, and the eggs are not always the best quality. But, we have had her longer than any other bird, and just don’t want to part with her.

This breed is very hearty- they deal well with colder temperatures. They are also good layers- giving you large light brown eggs, with a slight hue of pink. They are also a “heftier” chicken. “Granny” there is by far our heaviest chicken.

We have not raised many Barred Rocks in several years, other than “Granny”. So, this year I was excited to add several Barred Rock pullets to our flock. They seem to be very docile, as well- making them another excellent choice for backyard flocks.

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Barred Rock (pullet)

White Leghorn

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White Leghorn (adult)

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White Leghorn (pullet)

We began to raise White Leghorns a few years ago because they are a high production layer and we wanted to get our egg counts up. They lay White eggs. Honestly, they aren’t my favorite- I personally think they look a little scrawny,  and they tend to be more on the skittish side, as far as personality goes. But, like I said, they are good layers, which is why we have them. Originally, we had 5 white leghorns, and in their prime, we were getting 4-5 eggs most days.  Production has backed off as they have gotten a little older. We have several more pullets that should be laying by the end of summer.

They are a small breed, and very light. They also seem to be a bit more finicky and susceptible to weather conditions than some of the other birds when it comes to laying.

Red Leghorn

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Red Leghorn

This is a new breed to us, so I can’t say too much about them yet.  We hope they will be good producers like the White Leghorns. Time will tell!

This bird you see here is a miracle really. We usually buy our birds locally, but decided to order a larger amount through a hatchery this spring. However, the hatchery we used sent these birds late in the week, not allowing time for them to arrive before the weekend. We were also not even notified of the shipment until very late on a Saturday night. Tim tried to call the post office, but it was closed. (obviously) Monday morning the post office called to say they had a box of frozen baby chicks addressed to us. The poor chicks had sat freezing in a box all weekend. We were not happy.

Amazingly, some of the chicks still had wee bits of life left in them. After several days of nursing the chicks to the best of our abilities, 4 survived. Their growth was definitely stunted for a while, but they have finally caught up and are thriving now. So, they are our miracle birds.

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What about you? Do you have a favorite chicken breed? What breeds are you raising right now? Or, what breed would you like to raise if you did have chickens?

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2 thoughts on “Chickens- Some Breeds we Enjoy

  1. Heather @ourcultivatedlife June 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm Reply

    Great post! I do so want to begin keeping chickens of our own and this gave me some thinking points on breeds and such. Love it! Thanks Kari:-)

  2. Mary June 28, 2013 at 7:00 pm Reply

    Enjoyed reading this, I think I’ve told you we had chickens at our previous home when the kids were growing up. We had more land there and they were able to have free range. We just had little bantams, the original group were from a local day-care’s incubator project! They lived in the barn with our goats. Many chickens were hatched over the years and they all had names. (We also had a “Buttercup,” one of our first two – the other one was Henny Penny.) The eggs were wonderful! I think one of the most peaceful sounds is hens clucking around in the yard. Nice memories. Your pictures are cute too!

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