Many factors go into choosing the right chicken breed for every flock and its unique dynamics. Picking the best breeds for your own flock will help you to enjoy your chickens and set them up to thrive on your farm. When you’re considering the best breeds to add to your farm, temperament and disposition is likely a good thing to take into consideration.
If you live on a farm with small children, it would certainly be unfortunate to unknowingly add a breed with aggressive characteristics. Taking all aspects into account when picking your breeds will help make sure you’re a satisfied chicken keeper with a happy flock.
Determining What Behaviors Works Best For Your Farm
Many aspects of your farm life will help determine your ideal breeds for chicken keeping, including things unrelated to temperament, such as your climate and what your intended uses for chickens are.
However, when it comes to disposition alone, there are many things to consider as you choose your ideal breeds. After we discuss some important considerations, we’ll go through ideal breeds to keep based on your unique situation.
1. Foraging Diet
For those keeping free-range chickens, it’s a good idea to keep breeds that have deeply rooted instincts to forage their own food. Heritage breeds were bred with intentions of a self-sustainable chicken that was capable of finding a large portion of their own food. Modern breeds such as White Leghorns weren’t bred with strong foraging instincts, so they wouldn’t be the type of chicken to consider for free-ranging.
2. Predatorial Awareness
Another important consideration if you have free-range chickens is their safety against predator attacks. Once again, heritage breeds have stronger instincts to watch out for potential dangers than a modern breed such as a Polish. In many cases, Mediterranean breeds are also flightier chickens that tend to do a good job avoiding anything that comes at them.
3. Children on the Farm
The other residents of your farm can be especially important to consider when they’re more vulnerable such as a small child. Never underestimate the power of an outraged rooster against a toddler. If you choose to keep a rooster on your farm, make sure to purchase breeds with notably docile hens and roosters.
4. Mothering Capabilities
Some chicken keepers prefer to avoid chickens with a tendency towards broodiness while other farmers want hens with a special inclination to raise her own young.
Depending on your wishes, keeping a breed with a reputation of having good mothers can be a lifesaver for raising chicks. Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with setting hens, make sure you avoid the breeds listed as frequent brooders.
5. Pet Qualities
Certain chickens can be straight-up mean or flighty, which is less than desirable when you want a bird for a friend.
On the other hand, if you choose your breed well, you’ll have a sweet chicken that comes flocking to your lap for a treat every afternoon.
Top Breeds for Free-Ranging Flocks
When choosing breeds for a free-range flock, both foraging skills, and awareness of surroundings will need to be taken into account. Although flightiness isn’t a quality that everyone wants in a pet bird, looking for this trait can be helpful for a bird destined for free-ranging.
Buckeye chickens originated in Ohio in 1896. This breed has a rich heritage and is well suited to free-range life for both their foraging abilities and predator awareness.
Another excellent characteristic of the Buckeye is their dual-purpose qualities which make them hearty producers of eggs and meat.
2. Egyptian Fayoumi
The Egyptian Fayoumi is a Mediterranean chicken that has to be one of the flightiest breeds out there. You might not pick this chicken to be your pet, but if you are worried about potential predators this is one of the weariest breeds you can turn loose to free-range.
3. Plymouth Rock
The Plymouth Rock is a classic breed that isn’t hard to come by and does an excellent job meeting the criteria for a good farm chicken.
Plymouth Rocks are alert and active while free-ranging, but docile towards their caretakers, as well as being champion egg layers.
Best Docile Chicken Breeds to Keep as Pets
When it comes to sweet and gentle chickens, there’s more than just the chicken breed to consider. Even if you purchase the sweetest chicken breeds but don’t socialize them much while they’re growing up, they’ll be slightly wary of human interaction. However, there are some excellent breeds to start with if you want to raise sweet and affectionate chickens.
Silkies are more of an ornamental breed than useful breed, but if you’re looking for a pet, this chicken can’t be beaten. A Silkie has an adorable appearance that you won’t find on any other bird which makes this breed especially fun and quirky.
2. Speckled Sussex
For those looking for an affectionate, dual-purpose chicken, the Speckled Sussex should definitely be in your list of top picks. Speckled Sussex hens are sweet and oh so curious, all while providing you with plenty of eggs.
3. Easter Eggers
Easter Eggers are probably the first breed I’d recommend for those starting out their new flock. These birds lay blue and green eggs at a decent rate and they have sweet and docile personalities to boot.
Children love the inquisitive personalities and colorful feathers of Easter Eggers, making them a very popular family pick.
Breeds With More Aggressive Roosters
Some chickens are just simply not the best picks to have around your farm if you’re worried about aggression.
While any rooster can develop aggressive tendencies, some breeds have a far higher likelihood of acting aggressively than most breeds.
It would make sense that most Gamefowl roosters aren’t going to be the most docile in the world based on their heritage. Although cockfighting isn’t nearly as popular as it once was, these birds still have aggression as one of the main traits they were bred for.
Leghorns are simply not the breed for you if you want a friendly chicken. Both the hens and roosters of this breed are flighty chickens, but roosters have especially aggressive tendencies.
This breed is a top pick for maximum egg production, but certainly not a charming disposition.
3. Rhode Island Reds
While this chicken is quite popular in many backyard flocks for excellent egg production, Rhode Island roosters aren’t too popular for their temperaments.
Hens can be a bit snippy at times, but roosters are especially rude and potentially aggressive.
Best Broody Mama Breeds
Many modern breeds have been bred against broody inclinations due to the fact that broodiness causes hens to stop laying eggs. Because of this, you may have to seek out broody breeds to ensure you’ll have your motherly hens.
Not only does this breed have a strong inclination to broodiness, but they can also sit on a large clutch of eggs. Cochin hens have excellent instincts to raise their young with a protective and nurturing manner.
Orpingtons are a popular breed in backyard flocks for a variety of reasons, one of them being excellent mothers. In addition to their mothering capabilities, this breed is sweet to their human caretakers and lays an impressive amount of brown eggs.
The Brahma is an Asiatic breed with the ability to hatch and raise a large clutch of chicks. Brahmas do very well in colder climates, which makes this chicken the perfect pick if you want a motherly hen in a colder area of the world.
The Right Chicken Breed and Temperament for Every Farm
When it comes to picking chicken breeds, there’s not a “one size fits all” because each farm is unique in what it needs. Knowing the dynamics and workings of your farm will help to make an educated decision on which breeds to add to your flock.
Once you’ve considered all the necessary factors in choosing proper breeds, you’ll be well set up for successful chicken keeping.