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How to: choose a chicken

Claire Bickle is our resident chicken expert.

Here Claire shares some of her wisdom with us so we choose the right chook for our garden, big or small.

Images - Luisa Brimble

Looks like someone has made the right choice.



In deciding which is the right chicken for you, consider your climate and the size of your yard. In a small space, bantams, essentially dwarf chickens are a good choice.Most standard breeds also come as bantams. Remember that a smaller hen produces a smaller egg. Which brings us to the next point: how important is production, or is being good with kids the priority?



Best for eggs

Hybrid chickens are the most productive egg layers for backyards, while of the purebred breeds Rhode Island Red, Ancona, Australorp, Leghorn, Welsummer and Australian Langshan take out the top spots for egg production. The first three can be bought as bantams.


The bigger the hen, the bigger the egg.


Best for pets

Small, friendly breeds such as Pekins, Silkies, Belgian bantams and Frizzles make lovely placid pets, though Pekins and Silkies are not good layers.


White Sussex in the foreground with a light brown Silkie behind.


Best for subtropics

Transylvanian Naked Necks, Malay and Indian Game, Ancona, Frizzles and Araucana tolerate hot weather better than most. As a bonus Aruacana lay blue eggs!

Best for cooler areas

Chickens generally cope quite well with cold weather. Most of the fuller-feathered breeds, such as Faverolles, Sussex, Orpingtons and Cochins, prefer cool climates and don’t fare well in the heat.


Can’t choose?

Maybe a mixed flock is best for you. Hens will sort out a pecking order and get along well enough if they are acquired at around the same time, even when they are of different breeds and sizes. But sometimes it boils down to personality and temperament - welcome to the wonderful world of chickens!


Happy hens lay loads of eggs!


About this article

Author: Claire Bickle