Farming is a tough job in and of itself. Being a beginner farmer and trying to farm animals rather than crops just adds to the toughness. However, with patience and some research even this tough job can become easier. So if you are looking at starting a farm or, more specifically, a chicken farm, we’ve put together some great information about the 10 best chickens to raise. Whether you are looking at chickens for egg laying or their meat, we have you covered.
The Egg Layers
Whenever someone mentions the word ‘chicken’ the first thing to come to mind for most people is eggs. Eggs are important when chicken farming for many reasons and most people who farm chickens do so for food. Want fresh eggs for breakfast everyday? If so, it is important that you have chickens who lay eggs regularly. Egg laying breeds are one of four categorical chicken breeds. The sole purpose of this breed is to lay eggs; seriously this is literally what the hens are bred for. There’s quite a few different breeds in this category, so we will go over the top ones.
Rhode Island Red is not only one of the most common egg laying breeds, it is also one of the best ones. Some of these hens have been known to start laying eggs around 16 weeks, but it is most common for them to begin laying between 18 and 20 weeks. When discussing egg output, the yearly average is the basis for how the best egg-laying breeds are determined. With that being said, the Rhode Island Red produces low-end 150 eggs a year and high-end 300 eggs a year. On average they lay five light brown/tan eggs a week. Their eggs are medium to large in size and increase in size yearly.
Leghorn is another amazing egg laying breed. Aside from their egg laying abilities, these hens can do something most hens can’t; fly! They are known to produce roughly 300 eggs a year and even lay during the winter months. Like the Rhode Island Red, they lay almost daily and their eggs are white in color and medium to large in size.
Plymouth Rock hens are what many farmers refer to as dual-purpose hens. They are farmed for both their eggs and meat. These hens lay large brown eggs roughly four times a week. They are good during the winter, like the Leghorn, and have a yearly production of around 200 eggs. While they handle being in a coop very well, they are better producers when they free-range.
Hamburg hens are one of the few who produce eggs sooner than most other breeds. This is because they mature faster than most. This is a positive for the farmer because this means they get earlier access to the daily eggs. Yes! These hens lay daily. The eggs are white and rather small, but are a guaranteed hit for breakfast.
The Maran hen lays a very unique colored large egg. While other breeds lay light brown/tan or white eggs, these hens lay dark chocolate colored ones. They are considered one of the best egg laying breeds even though they only produce an estimated 150 eggs a year. This equals approximately three eggs a week. They are good during the winter and need to be watched a little more closely during the hotter months.
Cornish hens are the popular amongst meat breeds. More often than not the hens used for meat in the United States are actually a cross between the White Cornish and White Plymouth Rock breeds. While they do weigh around 8lbs, due to cross-breeding, these hens have quite a few health problems.
Like the Plymouth Rock breed, Wyandotte hens are dual-purpose. Primarily used for their meat, they usually weigh anywhere from 6.5 lbs when fully matured/grown. This breed is a favorite among farmers because they are not aggressive. However, they tend to be loud so country living would suit them best.
Buff Orpington is another popular breed of dual-purpose. If you are farming for meat this is a great option due to the males growing to be around 10 lbs. They also become ready for processing around the 22 week mark, which is a decent amount of time for chickens.
While the White Chantecler hens are dual-purpose, roosters are what a lot of farmers want. These particular roosters get up to 8.5 lbs in weight which means there’s a lot of meat. Both the hens and roosters are great with cold weather, which is a plus for farmers who have rigid winters.
Lastly, we have the Houdan chicken. This breed is considered to be a dual -purpose breed, however; it is known for its quality of meat. The roosters need several hens due to their excellent fertility. While the hens can sometimes be on the smaller side in regards to weight, roosters average about 8lbs.
While some chickens are better in confined areas or chicken coops, others need more of a free-range area. This is something to keep in mind when deciding which chickens to add to your farm. The great thing about chickens is the variety. While some farmers only want egg laying breeds, the best option if you are undecided or unsure would be to get a dual-purpose breed. There’s no way you can go wrong with the options of both eggs and meat.