Naturally, the best hen you can own is a healthy bird. Before you buy your chickens, know what to look out for. See my post, “Buying Healthy Chickens Checklist”. Over hundreds of years, many breeds of chickens have been developed. Now you need to choose the breed that best suits your personal situation and tastes.

Light Breeds

Good choice as they are usually alert, active and intelligent. Good egg producers.

Heavy Breeds

As it implies, these birds are larger and more docile. Known as utility breeds because they produce eggs and meat.

Bantams

This term can be confusing for a lot of people. Classified as miniatures of a large breed OR, they have no large counterpart. Clear as mud, right? Some of these are among the most attractive and charming you can get. When space is limited, bantams are ideal.

Game Breeds

Strong and powerful birds. These are the gladiators of the poultry world. True show birds.

If you want birds for eggs and meat, choose a utility strain that performs both roles. Don’t choose a breed solely for looks, egg-laying ability or utility purposes if you don’t like the look or the personality of the bird.

What aged chicken should I buy?

If you want an egg producer, get chickens who are approaching the point when she will start to lay eggs. This is called “point of lay”. In ads, you’ll see the abbreviation POL. Hybrid birds will be 16-20 weeks old. Heavy, purebreds can be older. If looking for birds for breeding, you’ll want hens over one year old and past their first molt.

Where do I buy my chickens?

Ask around your region. Check the bulletin board in your local agricultural market. Call poultry farmers for their choices. Do your research. Don’t take any one person’s word for anything. Due diligence is required is buying poultry.

Some choices

The Cochin Bantam is the best-loved of all the true bantams.

For a utility, heavy breed it’s the Sussex.

The Vorwerk is an active, light breed who likes to forage.

Hybrid hens is the way to go if you are keeping chickens for eggs. They are no longer just the standard brown hen you’ve seen since the 1950’s. They are available in an array of pretty colors who lay different colored eggs.

It’s worth looking at the American Poultry Association website to find resources in your area. In Canada, go to Chicken Farmers of Canada.

It takes some time but it will pay off when you have the right type of chicken to suit you!

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