Keeping backyard chickens for the first time can be a daunting challenge.
Perhaps the most important part is making sure that you pick the correct breed(s).
Although there are over 100 different chicken breeds out there, most have difficult personalities and can be hard for beginners to keep.
Beginner friendly breeds must be low maintenance, have peaceful personalities and lay a good amount of eggs.
Below we have compiled a list of the 20 best chicken breeds for beginners. So keep reading to find the perfect breed…
Contents and Quick Navigation
- 20. Silver Dorking
- 19. Plymouth Rock
- 18. Black Australorp
- 17. Welsummer
- 16. Black Copper Marans
- 15. Black Jersey Giant
- 14. Delaware
- 13. New Hampshire Red
- 12. Barnevelder
- 11. Cream Legbar
- 10. Salmon Faverolle
- 9. Olive Egger
- 8. Buff Brahma
- 7. Ameraucana
- 6. Speckled Sussex
- 5. Rhode Island Red
- 4. Lavender Orpington
- 3. Buckeye
- 2. Buff Orpington
- 1. Golden Comet
- Which Is The Best Breed For Your Flock? (Summary)
20. Silver Dorking
The Dorking is an old favorite amongst the English and for good reason.
These peaceful and relatively unassertive chickens are very beginner friendly. They are also relatively hardy and can withstand a wide variety of climates.
You can expect this easygoing chicken to provide you with around 3-4 large brown eggs each week.
Just a word of caution though. Because they are so docile they can be a target for bullying if placed in a flock with breeds higher in the pecking order.
19. Plymouth Rock
The Plymouth Rock is best known for their incredible foraging and pest control abilities.
They are black and white and have very peaceful temperaments.
Their popularity within the backyard chicken community is not solely due to their personalities, however, as they are incredibly dependable egg layers. They can lay up to 5 large eggs a week.
As an added benefit, this docile breed will rarely start or engage in any altercations with others and actually get along well with all their flock mates.
Even the roosters are known to be gentle!
18. Black Australorp
The Black Australorp is best known for their prolific egg laying abilities. However this breed is well suited for all backyard flocks, and here is why…
Australorps are hard working and intelligent chickens that are incredibly well mannered and love to spend time with their keepers.
They are certainly not a lap chicken breed but they are gentle and tolerate being handled.
Black Australorps are so gentle and non-confrontational that, despite their larger size, they can sometimes get picked on by breeds higher in the pecking order.
The Welsummer is best known for laying dark brown, almost red, eggs.
However this is not the only quality that has made them popular beginner backyard chickens.
Welsummers thrive in colder climates, do not get broody often, and have incredibly calm and docile temperaments.
This breed is self-sufficient and low maintenance as they love to spend their free time foraging. This will help bring your feed bill down significantly. Although they prefer to coexist peacefully with their flock mates they will stand up to bullies. This also includes children who may pull at their feathers.
Overall this breed is self-sufficient and easy to handle which makes them suitable for beginners.
16. Black Copper Marans
Black Copper Marans are docile and friendly chickens that get along well with other breeds.
They are incredibly easy to handle and will seek out their owners for treats.
Black Copper Marans are best known for their chocolate-colored eggs and beginner friendly temperament.
A fun fact about Marans is that they were actually first recognized whilst cockfighting on ships for sport in the early 1200s. You should be aware of the gamecock genetics within this breed and be wary of leaving your rooster(s) unsupervised with younger children.
15. Black Jersey Giant
With a name like the Black Jersey Giant, you won’t be surprised to hear that this breed is the largest chicken breed in the world.
What is surprising, however, is their incredibly docile and calm nature.
They are a true gentle giant.
Jersey Giants prefer to free range and they can lay up to 3 brown eggs a week.
You will rarely find an aggressive Jersey Giant and most other breeds will shy away from any sort of altercation with a chicken twice their size.
The Delaware is quickly gaining popularity amongst small backyard flocks and homesteaders.
This is because of their sweet personality and egg laying ability.
Delawares are best described as curious, friendly, and somewhat chatty. Although they are not assertive like the Rhode Island Red, Delawares will stand up for themselves and are considered higher up on the pecking order.
What may surprise you even more, however, is the size of the eggs that these chickens produce. These jumbo eggs are very large and you can expect around 4 per week.
Overall this strong and healthy breed makes a great addition to any backyard flock.
13. New Hampshire Red
Although they do not get nearly as much credit as their cousin, the Rhode Island Red, the New Hampshire does just as well in the production and personality department.
In fact, where Rhode Island Reds are considered more of a bully breed, their cousin the New Hampshires are fairly docile and tolerant of other breeds.
Their worst character flaw is that they can be somewhat of a feed hog.
You can expect your New Hampshire Red to provide you with 4 large brown eggs a week well into the winter months. This chicken has a dense layering of plumage under their feathers making them a cold hardy breed as well as a beginner friendly one.
The Barnevelder is a beautiful and hardy little breed.
They have an incredibly laid-back personality and are very low maintenance.
Although they prefer to free range they also tolerate confinement well. They also tolerate a wide variety of environments including colder climates. This means that they will lay for you throughout the winter months as well, generally around 3-4 dark brown eggs a week.
You will often find your Barnevelders are happy to tag along with you wherever you go, especially with the prospect of treats!
11. Cream Legbar
The Cream Legbar is well known for their blue eggs and independent nature.
This robust and low maintenance breed is also known for their docile and friendly personality.
However their personality can quickly change if they are forced into confinement. Cream Legbars become anxious and flighty when they are confined so they should only be considered for a backyard flock if they are allowed to free range.
In general though the Cream Legbar is a docile and easy to handle breed that will be happy to provide you with 3-4, beautiful blue eggs a week.
10. Salmon Faverolle
The Salmon Faverolle is a favorite among backyard chicken keepers because of their sweet and curious personalities.
Their appearance alone is enough to make you smile.
These chickens are active and you will often see them running into one another as they hurry to check things out.
Overall the Salmon Faverolle is a cheerful and curious little hen that will bring you, at the very least, some entertainment and up to 4 eggs a week.
9. Olive Egger
Olive Eggers are most often sought after for their colored eggs.
They can lay green or olive colored eggs.
Not only do they lay wonderful colored eggs but they are great for beginners looking for a robust and healthy breed with a friendly disposition and tolerance for children.
These chickens tolerate a variety of climates including the cold quite well due to their unique plumage.
Olive Eggers are curious and friendly hens that enjoy being active and foraging.
8. Buff Brahma
The Buff Brahma is commonly known as the King of chickens.
Once you have experienced their low maintenance, calm, friendly and gentle personalities you will see why they got this nickname.
Brahmas are calm chickens and make an easy addition to any beginner flock. Their large size is intimidating enough to other breeds that they will be left alone and there are very few cases of Brahmas instigating anything amongst other breeds.
When your other breeds have stopped laying in the colder months, you know you can depend on your Brahmas to keep laying. They can survive in hotter climates too; just know that their dense plumage can cause some heat stress in warmer climates.
They love to free roam and tend to stay close to their coop.
The Ameraucana seems to do it all.
They are sociable, docile, friendly, quiet, and even lay light blue eggs.
They are neither nervous nor flighty and enjoy human interaction. Although they do not love hands on attention, they show no aggression when handled.
Ameraucanas will be ok in confinement but love to free range and go off independently if given the chance to do so.
This wonderful beginner friendly breed will lay 3-4 blue eggs a week.
6. Speckled Sussex
The Speckled Sussex is a color variation of the well-known Sussex chicken.
They are best known for their egg laying and gentle personality.
This gentle and friendly breed are fans of human attention and are great with younger children. You can expect your Speckled Sussex to be perfectly content to sit on your lap as they chatter away.
Depending on the exact strain you buy, you can expect 4-5 eggs each week.
5. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is one of the most popular chicken breeds in the world.
They are best known for their egg laying ability and can lay 5-6 large, light brown eggs a week.
Rhode Island Reds are generally happy and curious and as low maintenance as backyard poultry go. Not only are they incredibly resilient to varying weather conditions and disease, but they are perfect for beginners looking for good layers.
To make matters even better, this breed is not known to be particularly nervous or flighty. In fact, you can expect your Rhode Island Red to be out in front inspecting everything there is to see as soon as they get the chance.
Something to keep in mind however is that they can bully some of the more docile breeds.
4. Lavender Orpington
The Lavender Orpington is a rare breed from the Orpington family.
As their name suggests they are a color variety of the Orpington.
Just like other Orpingtons they are quiet, low energy, and happy to be left to forage.
They are as friendly as they are beautiful and their docile nature makes them great for keepers with young children.
You can expect your Lavender Orpington to go broody and she will make a wonderful mother if you decide to raise chicks.
Those who experience harsh winters should consider keeping Buckeyes.
The Buckeye is a dual-purpose hen that thrives in the harshest of winters and also forages for their supper if given the opportunity to free range.
It is important that these chickens are given the chance to free range as their otherwise gentle and curious personality may turn aggressive if kept confined.
Although they are not lap chickens they are also not unafraid of humans. They will often congregate at your feet to greet you.
2. Buff Orpington
Are you looking for a calm breed?
Then look no further than the Buff Orpington.
You can expect to see your Buff Orpington calmly patrolling your backyard and searching for treats.
This breed is happy to be picked up and will actually seek out the company of their keepers and other humans.
They are so docile that it can actually make them a target for bully breeds so keep this in mind if you plan to keep this breed with others.
Those interested in egg laying will also be happy to learn that this quiet chicken will provide anywhere from 3-5 medium sized, light brown eggs a week.
The exact amount will depend on whether you get a utility strain or an exhibition strain.
1. Golden Comet
The Golden Comet was initially bred for factory farming but they have recently made quite the impact on the backyard chicken community.
They are a sweet little hen with one of the most endearing personalities out there. The Golden Comet is happy to rummage alongside their owners and investigate whatever is going on. You will find that this breed will choose to spend time with people rather than their flock mates.
Her peaceful and calm personality makes her a wonderful beginner breed.
If you want to keep a Golden Comet then be careful keeping them with more assertive breeds as there is a high chance that they will be bullied.
Which Is The Best Breed For Your Flock? (Summary)
So now that you have gone through our list of best beginner breeds you are probably wondering which is the best breed for you.
You will find that the Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington, Lavender Orpington, Barnevelder, Welsummer, Buckeye, Silver Dorking, and New Hampshire Red are the best breeds for beginners who live in harsh climates (both hot and cold). However, breeds like the Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red, and Delaware are known to bully their flock mates.
These three breeds should not be considered if keepers cannot tolerate assertive and sometimes mean behavior.
If you are looking for beginner breeds with peaceful personalities and child friendly tendencies then you have a wide selection to choose from and should consider breeds such as the Orpington, Lavender Orpington, Speckled Sussex, Black Australorp, Salmon Faverolle, Black Jersey Giant, and Golden Comet.
Those who cannot let their chickens free range should consider more confinement-tolerant breeds such as the Lavender Orpington, Barred Rock, Barnevelder, Salmon Faverolle, and Ameraucana.
It is very common for beginners to want chickens that can lay lots of eggs.
Consider the Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington, Barred Rock, Black Australorp, French Black Copper Marans, Golden Comet, Silver Dorking, Delaware, and New Hampshire Red.
Are you interested in uniquely colored eggs from beginner chicken breeds? Consider the Cream Legbar, Welsummer, Olive Egger, French Black Copper Marans and Ameraucana.
And definitely do not exclude the Black Jersey Giant! Although they are only a moderate layer they are perfect for first timers looking for a beginner friendly breed.
Although beginner backyard chicken keepers are often tempted to get a showier breed, it is important to keep in mind that it is better to get experience first. Showier breeds such as Silkies have greater care requirements and are harder to keep healthy.
Keep in mind that the best egg layers might not be best suited for your location’s climate, or the most weather hardy breed won’t get along well with your young children.
You should consider your individual needs and environment and select the breed that matches these things the best.
All the chicken breeds listed here have their own qualities that make them ideal for beginners.
It is up to you to do a bit more research on the few that caught your eye and make sure they are suitable for your particular coop. Once you have decided on the types of chickens make sure to read our article on chicken hatcheries.
Let us know in the comments section below which breed you picked…
I appreciate the beautiful pictures and bios, and especially the helpful guidance, since I am a beginner in southern California.
Happy to help Susana 🙂