When I chose the breeds of chicken that I wanted to raise many factors came into play. My top priorities:
- Cold/winter tolerant
- Temperament and friendliness
- Rate of egg laying (at least 4-5/wk)
- Egg color (I wanted a colorful egg basket)
It was also important they all look different so my kids could tell them apart easily. Our chickens are more like pets to us; pets with a purpose. They all have names (most named after Downton Abbey characters!) and they all have personalities that charm and surprise us. I had another chicken keeper tell me NEVER to names the chickens because my kids will get attached to them and chickens die all the time. Well, I would never have decided to get chickens if my intention was to be careless and let my chickens die all the time! It’s pretty easy to keep a chicken alive. Provide them with fresh water, food, and a SAFE place to live. I go out every nigt and tuck my girls in. I lock them up safe and sound in their fortress so night predators don’t have a chance.
After searching on the MyPetChicken.com website for weeks we decided on the following breeds:
Buff Orpington. This is my daughter’s chicken who she has lovingly named Boo-boo chicken. Boo-boo is very sweet and is a wonderful forager. She is a bit aloof but I don’t believe that is typical for her breed, it’s just her. If my hens are all free-ranging she is the most difficult to get back into the coop. She ignores me completely. She lays 5 light brown eggs per week.
Easter Egger. This is Cybil. She is very quiet and shy but is one of my most reliable layers. When the days got shorter and the cold weather came many of my other breeds stopped laying completely. Cybil continued to lay her normal 5 blue/green eggs per week. She also has a very small comb which makes her ideal for winter weather. No frostbite for this lady! I would absolutely get more Easter Egger chicks in the future. I highly recommend this breed!
Black Copper Marans. This is Anna. She is also very sweet and quiet. She has beautiful copper feathers around her neck and feathery feet. She is my easiest chicken. She comes back to the coop easily (if bribed with food!) and is easy on my gardens. She lays gorgeous chocolate brown eggs 5 times a week.
Dominique. This is Chick-a-lick 3000 named by my son. She is my little sidekick. She is extremely friendly and demanding of me. When she hears the back door open she squawks loudly to get my attention. I believe she also thinks she’s a dog. When I call my dogs in from outside she runs right into the kitchen with them and demands a treat! She is an excellent forager but can be quite destructive in my garden. She lays 4-5 light brown eggs per week.
Olive Egger. Meet Rose. She’s a Cream Legbar x Marans. She’s not my most beautiful chicken but she is a powerhouse. Weather and stress have no effect on Rosie’s production. She’s a big girl and she lays big olive green eggs almost everyday!
Light Brahma. This is Mrs Hughes. She’s the busy-body of the bunch. She comes to my sliding door to look in the family room and see what we’re up to. She’s a big girl and has profusely feathery feet. They look like big feather dusters. She’s very photogenic and she lays 4 light brown eggs per week.
Silver Laced Polish. This is my sweet Cora. She is a small bird but SO beautiful. I had hesitations about this breed. Particularly because they are not known as a winter hardy breed. So far, they have been much easier to care for in the cold weather since they don’t have large combs or waddles. It’s important to keep their head feathers dry so I don’t let them out of their covered run when it’s raining or snowing. Cora is not the brightest chicken probably because her vision is so obstructed by her feathers. She doesn’t lay very well either. She lays 2-3 small white eggs per week.
White Crested Black Polish. This is Mary. She’s a bit of a ditz and is absolutely the lowest on the pecking order. She’s very small, flighty, and unpredictable. When my husband refers to her feathered crest he says “it’s a bad design for a chicken.” If the hens were free ranging and a predator attached she would unfortunately be the likely victim. One day I found her in the middle of the street just standing there looking around. I have to keep a close eye or her and Cora as they tend to stray from the group. She inconsistently lays 2-3 small cream colored eggs per week.
These 8 lovely ladies have made our backyard feel alive and have provided my family with nutritious eggs for six months now. I truly don’t know how I ever lived without them. Their eggs are beautiful and nourishing and I love that we have a protein source right in our backyard. When we get home late from work and there’s no time to make dinner we have eggs. There’s something very comforting in growing and providing my family with wholesome organic food.