There is a virtually limitless number of reasons for wanting to raise backyard chickens, from the profit associated with selling eggs or meat to the simple enjoyment of a fun and interesting hobby.
Fortunately, there are ways to make the selection process a bit less daunting.
Choosing the ideal type of chicken should primarily depend on the owner's goals. This is because certain breeds are better for use as poultry, while others are the best choice if selling eggs is the person's main objective.
Because there are approximately 60 distinct chicken breeds it is easy to become confused.
For this reason, many people are happy to discover that most chickens fall under one of four main categories, which simplifies the selection process.
Egg Laying Chicken Breeds
Egg laying chickens are one of the largest chicken breed categories, and this category includes Anaconas, White Leghorns, and White or Black Minorcas.
These egg laying chicken breeds can be traced back to specific Mediterranean breeds and have been around longer than many other types of chickens.
They are optimal for those whose goal is producing and selling eggs, but are not desirable for meat production purposes, as they have small bodies.
This is because most of their nutrients are directed toward egg production.
Cold Weather Chickens
In regions that are noted for extremely cold temperatures, there are specific chicken breeds that should be selected to ensure the best results.
Chicken breeds that thrive in cold regions include Rhode Island Reds, Sussex chickens and Plymouth chickens.
It is important to understand, however, that there are two sizes in the aforementioned categories, which are standard size chickens and the larger, bantam chickens.
Although larger chickens may at first seem appealing, standard size breeds do better in cold weather.
Meat Production Breeds
Hybrid breeds are best for those planning on raising chickens for meat production. Such chickens are the result of a combination of many different breeds of chickens.
The result is a chicken that grows much faster and develops a larger body than its purebred counterparts.
Among one of the best hybrid chickens for the production of meat is the Cornish Cross breed, with which few other chickens can compete.
This breed is a combination of the Plymouth Rock chicken and the White Cornish chicken and features one of the densest body masses among all breeds.
However, this crossbreeding created a weakness that affects the number of eggs such chickens lay.
Therefore, those who want to produce eggs as well as meat should consider a different breed, as Cornish Cross chickens are incapable of producing high numbers of eggs on a regular basis.
For those who want to produce eggs and also raise chickens for the poultry industry, dual purpose breeds are best.
There are several English and American breeds that produce a reasonable number of eggs, but also grow large enough to be used for meat.
While these breeds are not as ideal for meat production as the hybrid breeds mentioned above, they are still a worthy breed for those searching for a dual purpose chicken, rather than having to raise and care for two different breeds.
Wyandottes and Plymouth Reds are two of the best dual-purpose breeds, but farmers in various regions sometimes crossbreed and create their own hybrid chickens.
Nevertheless, it is best to avoid attempting to crossbreed birds of this type unless one is familiar with the process.
Raising Chickens Successfully
Finally, regardless of the breed chosen, it is important to purchase or build an appropriate coop for raising chickens.
Additionally, chicken owners must learn how to properly care for their flocks to ensure the most successful outcome possible of their endeavors.