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Chickens and kids… it’s a requirement here on our homestead. We have two very curious and helpful little girls. While they love to help, sometimes helping turns into a hindrance.
It’s all good, mama. Take a deep breath.
So, in true farm girl fashion, they desperately wanted chickens. Not that I didn’t. I’ve wanted chickens for years. But, they were more excited for this venture than I was. Since we got the chickens, they’ve been obsessed. They go stand by their brooder and watch chicken TV periodically throughout the day. It’s adorable.
They also help me by entertaining the babies while I clean out their brooder box. Constantly ask me if they can get one out and pet it, and subsequently spill chicken feed all over my carpeting.
Ahh… the beauty of having a barnyard in your house….
But, I digress. Having chickens is awesome. I’m so happy we can finally have them. While I was homestead dreaming, I did a ton of research on chickens. During my research, I found some criteria that our future potential chicks needed to have.
- They need to be heritage breed.
- Dual-purpose, good layers.
- Cold hardy.
- Kid friendly, family friendly.
In case you weren’t aware, not all chicken breeds are super friendly. Some are very flighty and uncomfortable with people. Most of these are commercial production breeds like white leghorns and rhode island reds.
Another thing that is important, is to try to teach your kids to take things slow and be gentle with the chickens. I don’t think it so much matters how early chickens are handled, but how they are handled. If your kids take off after them, they’re going to run. If they’re gentle and slow, most chickens will warm right up.
Best Chicken Breeds for Your Family Homestead
Plymouth Rock (barred rock)
These ladies are friendly, and beautiful, heritage breed chickens. They are one of the most popular laying breeds in backyard flocks today and for good reason. They’re great layers of large brown eggs, they can handle cold winters, and don’t need a ton of space. Of course, they love to have space and the more you can give them, the better, but they can handle confinement.
These girls mind their own in our flock. They don’t cause any trouble and they’re not too bossy. They lay a decent amount, too.
Also on the recovering list on the heritage livestock conservancy website, these ladies are laying champs. These hens are record setters for laying. One laid 364 eggs in 365 days! That’s pretty darn impressive.
These ladies are also cold hardy and extremely friendly. They lay large brown eggs and every time I go outside, our black Australorps are the first to the fence line waiting on me to give them whatever goodies I have to bring. Super friendly, these ladies will willingly eat out of my hand.
Ok, I cheated, this particular breed is not heritage. However, they lay colored eggs and the girls really wanted some colored eggs. We have three of these and they are some of my favorites (how do you choose just one?). While all the birds are amazing, there’s just something about these.
These ladies will lay a decent amount. We have one Ameracauna and two “Easter Eggers” which are a cross. Our brownie (pictured above) is a laying champ. She lays some of the largest blue eggs, and frequently. The other two lay decently as well, even in the winter. Though none of them are our top producers. They are a bit skittish and tend to mind their own, but friendly enough and cold hardy.
An absolutely beautiful heritage breed, that just graduated off the endangered list last year! These ladies are extremely docile. They will handle being picked up without much issue… if you can catch them.
These hens will lay light brown to brown large eggs fairly well for you. They can handle cold winters quite well, but they are big birds. They average 6.5 to 8.5 pounds. Our silver-laced are some of my favorites from when they were just day old chicks to now as full-grown laying hens. They are apparently some of our roosters favorite too… but that’s a story for another. day.
Ok, now these are absolutely beautiful and oh so friendly. Their egg production is a bit on the low side, but they will lay in the winter when others don’t. This is also a big breed weighing in up to 10 pounds. This breed is known to be extremely hardy and are pretty good layers considering their size. They will lay large medium brown eggs with the bulk of their laying in the cooler months.
Our rooster is a light Brahma and the hen, Snowy, pictured above. I can say with confidence that she is laying daily with -10 temps going on outside. She wasn’t a great layer in the hotter months, even as a new laying hen, but she’s laying like crazy now. Always in the coop singing her song.
We have some beautiful birds laying wonderfully. After going through this list, I will admit, chicken math is real. I plan to add more in the spring. Just don’t tell my husband.
Must wait until spring and only add a couple… a couple…