The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Most popular chicken breeds

Chicken tractorOne way to narrow down the vast array of available chicken breeds is to consider the most popular breeds right now in the United States.  Merging together the data from two surveys (one by Mother Earth News and one by the Backyard Chickens Forum), I developed this list of top breeds from most to least popular:

1. Rhode Island Red
2. Orpington
3. Plymouth Rock
4. Wyandotte
5. Easter Egger
6. Australorp
7. Ameraucana
8. Silkie
9. Cochin
10. Leghorn
11. Brahma
12. New Hampshire
13. Star

Of course, a simple popularity contest combines all of the reasons people might choose to keep chickens: copious eggs, delicious meat, charming temperament, pretty feathers, and so forth.  So a serious homesteader probably won't want to simply pick the top three types of chickens from this list without looking further into each breed.

Murray McMurray Hatchery's starter guide, Chickens in Five Minutes a Day, also bases its recommendations largely upon popularity, but the authors break down their recommendations into the following categories:

SilkieProductive white-egg layers: Pearl White Leghorns, followed by Silver Spangled Hamburgs, Single Comb Brown Leghorns, and Blue Andalusians

Productive brown-egg layers: Red Stars and Black Stars, followed by Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, and Barred Rocks

Multi-colored-egg layers: Araucana/Ameraucana hybrids

Exotic-looking birds: Bantams in general, but specifically White Silkies, Blue Silkies, Frizzle Cochins, Belgian Bearded d'Uccle Mille Fleurs, and Quail Antwerp Belgians

Pets: Cochins and Orpingtons

Some of these varieties won't be appropriate for the self-sufficient homesteader, and some less popular breeds deserve to be more well-known.  But the popularity contest approach at least gives us a place to start.

Want to keep reading about which chicken breeds are best for various purposes?  Thrifty Chicken Breeds is available for 99 cents on Amazon!

This post is part of our Thrifty Chicken Breeds lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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