Why should I keep chicken as a pet? The most beneficial reason is that there would always be an available supply of fresh eggs. Aside from that, chicken is one interesting animal that is capable of 24 vocalisations used for specific purposes. However, it can be hard to pick the best breed to keep.
Consider the purpose of your acquisition:
- If your aim is to get more eggs, choose a chicken breed that is known for laying eggs.
- If your aim is to raise a flock of backyard chicken as a meat source, choose the breed that gains weight easily.
- If you’re keeping it as a pet, choose a recognised breed that is fairly low-maintenance and is known for having a gentle temperament.
With that, we at UKPets have gathered a list of the most popular chicken breeds that may fit the criteria above.
1. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is a breed recommended for beginners and is one of the most popular birds in the UK. This chicken originated in the East Coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and is recognised by the American Poultry Association. It is the official state bird in Rhode Island.
Is the Rhode Island Red right for you?
- It is popular for its egg-laying abilities. In fact, it can lay around 5-6 eggs a week and 150-250 eggs a year. Although some would say that it can reach as much as 300 eggs a year.
- It is easy to rear and should be provided with quality feed.
- In general, it has a dark appearance with brown and black feathers.
- It is known as friendly and robust.
The Leghorn is known to be the best egg-layer. It originally came from Italy but many were developed in sub-varieties in England, Denmark and America. Its varieties —Single Comb, Rose Comb, Red-Tailed Red, Black-Tailed Red—are now accepted to its standard.
Is the Leghorn right for you?
- This chicken can lay an average of 280 eggs a year and at times may reach 300-320 eggs.
- It is an active chicken with females that are non-sitters.
- It is friendly but at times aggressive.
The Ameraucana chicken is distinct from other birds because it lays colourful eggs. As such, it is also called Easter Egger or Olive Egger. It may lay eggs that come in a variety of colours: blue, green or pinkish/cream, and olive green. This breed was developed in the United States during the late 1970s and was initially called Araucanas.
Is the Ameraucana right for you?
- It appears relatively small.
- It is calm and is very easy to handle that makes it a perfect pet for a family with kids.
- It thrives well either confined or in unenclosed areas.
- It may produce 150-200 eggs a year.
The name ‘Wyandotte’ is an attribution from the powerful Native American tribe that showed friendliness to settlers. This is a popular naturally occurring breed and has no records when it comes to its genetic history. Further, this breed is recognised by the American Poultry Association.
Is the Wyandotte right for you?
- It is said to be a dual purpose breed. It can be kept as a good source of large brown eggs or meat.
- The Wyandotte hen may produce 200 eggs in a year.
- This is a flexible breed that can adapt well to different temperatures.
The Australorp chicken had its name from its origin Australian Orpingtons that were kept for utility purposes. True to its name, it originated in Australia and was soon imported to America in the 1920s and to other areas including the UK. It was once listed under the threatened list, according to the Livestock Conservancy. The good news is that it is now admitted as a recovering breed at present.
Is the Australorp right for you?
- It is a soft-feathered bird.
- It has a docile temperament, and an Australorp hen is known to be a good nest sitter.
- It may produce an estimate of 250 eggs a year.
6. Buff Oprington
This is a favoured breed by royals such as Queen Elizabeth. The breeding of the Buff Oprington was initiated by William Cook from Kent, England with a dual purpose bird in mind. This is a recognised breed in the American Poultry Association with a variety of four accepted colours. Furthermore, This breed was listed under endangered animals until 2016.
Is the Buff Oprington right for you?
- It is known for its non-aggressive behaviour. However, because of this, it should not be mixed with aggressive breeds as it is more likely to be bullied.
- With its sweet temperament, it can tolerate children.
- It has a good interaction with people, thus known to be the best pet chicken.
- It can lay brown eggs approximately 200-280 per year.
The Sussex is one of the oldest English breeds that have earned popularity for its meat and eggs. Moreover, it is amongst the ‘dual purpose’ hens that can be reared for either its eggs or meat.
Is the Sussex right for you?
- It is a calm breed that will roam happily in the garden without making much of a mess.
- It can lay around 250 eggs a year.
8. Plymouth Rock
It was developed in America in the 19th century. It is widely known and was extensively bred until World War II. The Plymouth Rock is a grey chicken distinct with white stripes wrapped around its body.
Is the Plymouth Rock right for you?
- It is a large breed suited to an unenclosed area.
- It is friendly and can be tamed easily making it an ideal choice for beginners.
- It can lay an average of 200 eggs a year.
Did you enjoy our top picks? Read more in our general information blogs.