Canberra Backyard Poultry


Which breeds are right for you?

This largely depends on what you are looking for in a chicken. Commercial egg layers and meat breeds are cross breeds that have been bred over the last 60 or so years to maximise production, not for their longevity as a living animal.

Below is a list (by no means exhaustive) of breed suggestions. Most of these can be reasonably easily found in the Canberra region.

Good backyard layers
Won’t lay as many eggs as a commercial cross, but still lay very well, and will lay for many more years than a commercial cross.

  • Leghorn
  • Australorp
  • New Hampshire
  • Dorking
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Campine

Eating breeds
These are much slower to mature than commercial meat breeds (which are slaughtered at 8-12 weeks). This leads to a much better quality of life for the chicken, but does mean the feed bill with obviously be higher, as they will be usually more like 18-20+ weeks before slaughtering age. Some of the slower maturing meat breeds can be up to 30 weeks old before they reach sexual maturity (crowing) so they can grow quite large before the testosterone affects the flavour/texture of the meat.

  • Sussex
  • Indian Game
  • Faverolle
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Rhode Island Red

Dual purpose
Dual purpose breeds were traditionally kept for both eggs and meat. They don’t lay quite as well as egg-laying breeds, or grow quite as fast or heavy as meat breeds, but they are a good compromise between both – i.e. you can keep the girls for eggs and grow the boys to eat.

  • Rhode Island Red
  • Sussex
  • Wyandotte
  • Barnevelder
  • Dorking

Docile breeds (good for pets/children)

  • Silkie
  • Pekin
  • Modern game
  • Sussex

Notoriously broody breeds
These breeds are prone to broodiness, which may be fine if you want to use them to hatch chicks, but not so great if you don’t want to spend much of spring and summer trying to break a broody hen! That being said, broodiness is also highly individual – some individuals in these breeds may make lousy mothers.

  • Silkie
  • Wyandotte
  • Pekin

Breeds less likely to go broody
This is not a guarantee – broodiness depends on the individual temperament of a hen.  This being said, some breeds are less likely to go broody.

  • Campine
  • Leghorn
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Australorp
  • Commercial egg layers

Interesting features
What constitutes an ‘interesting feature’ in a chicken is really what appeals to you, but here are a few stand out examples of the wide variety of features available in chicken breeds.

  • Polish – topknot of feathers on the head, giving them a ‘hair-do’
  • Araucana – blue egg layers, usually have a topknot, ear muffs and beard. When crossed with a breed that lays a brown egg, the offspring will lay various shades of green.
  • French Marans – lay a very dark brown egg, but are very hard to find in Australia as it is a new breed here.
  • Silkie – feathers are fluffy and look more like fur, also has a topknot.
  • Wyandotte – come in a wide variety of colours, including Blue-Laced Gold, Silver-Laced, Black-Laced Gold…
Advertisements







%d bloggers like this: