This is NOT just another list of chicken breeds. This is your no-nonsense guide to all the different types of chicken, whatever YOU mean by type.
You’re a quick read away from knowing exactly where to focus your chicken-pickin’ efforts!
We all have a type. Me? I like a man who is tall, dark, and handsome with a GSOH. However, I prefer my chickens fluffy, friendly, and generous with their eggs.
There are countless different breeds, shapes, colors, and sizes of chicken. There are teeny bantams, gentle giants, skinny minnies, and big-bottomed fluff bombs. Some birds have beards, some have black bones, some grow extra toes, and some lay blue eggs.
There are friendly chickens, grumpy chickens, and born fighters. Some hens are hard-working egg-laying machines, whereas some are fancy-feathered fowl who are best at simply being beautiful.
Some hens make terrible mothers and others would happily raise your toddler for you if they could.
I bet I know what type of chicken you want!
Most of us are after the type of chicken that will make a great backyard or barnyard pet. We want them to look good, lay lots of yummy eggs, be friendly, and behave themselves. It’s not too much to ask for, is it?
Chickens are officially categorized by their breed, their use, their abundance, and their origin. Chicken keepers tend to group chickens into more practical types. We want to know which chickens will lay the most eggs, make the best pets, look the way we want them to, or are easiest to care for.
If - like me - you’re more interested in a chicken’s personality than where its great-grandfather came from, then this blog will focus on what matters to you. We’ll whizz over the formal terminology, then look at the different types of backyard chickens.
Chicken keeping is a two-way thing. Before you decide on your hatch match, ask yourself: are you the right type of human for your hen? Can you offer your chosen chicken the right climate, care, diet, and coop? Are they safe inside your six-foot fence? Do they need more room than you have to offer them?
Perusing a list of breeds isn’t enough. Our friends over at Chickenpedia offers the perfect suite of online courses, advice, and guidance to help you find the best chicken breed for you. Making the wrong choice can lead to disaster for you and your coop troop. So do yourself a favour and do their course, I recommend it to all of my readers.
HOW MANY TYPES OF CHICKEN ARE THERE?
There are hundreds of types of chicken, so knowing where to get cracking can be mind-blowing. Knowing what type of chicken that you want is the first step to choosing the perfect chicken for you.
Breeds are the simplest way to categorize individual birds, and chicken breeds are formally categorized by their size, use, origin, and their abundance. For example, a Dong Tao is a large, rare, Asiatic meat bird.
CHICKEN TYPES – chickens grouped by their purpose
There are four types of chicken - if by ‘type’ you mean purpose. There are laying breeds, meat birds, dual-purpose breeds, and ornamental breeds.
Ornamental chickens are bred simply to look gorgeous. All other chickens are classed as production chicken breeds and they’re there to do a job.
Production breeds include meat birds which are bred to develop fast and used mainly for meat, and layers, which are egg-popping machines. There are also dual-purpose birds that lay well but can also be butchered successfully when needed.
CHICKEN CLASSIFICATIONS – chickens grouped by their origin
There are six types of chicken - if by ‘type’ you mean classification based on their origin. Most breeders use the term ‘class of chicken’ or ‘classification’ when they refer to a breed’s origin. You can read more about the six classes here.
CHICKENS BREEDS – chickens grouped by their characteristics
There are 463 recognized chicken breeds in the USA🇺🇸, though there are hundreds more depending on which country you are in.
There are hundreds of popular hybrids that you can research and purchase that may not be officially recognized as a breed, but are famous amongst fellow poultry people like Easter Eggers, Golden Comets, and ISA Browns.
The 463 APA-recognized breeds can be further categorized into ‘types’ based on their size and color. There are 33 standard-sized breeds made up of 189 varieties, and 60 bantams.
CHICKENS CATEGORISED BY SIZE
There are three types of chicken - if by ‘type’you mean their size category.
The three types of chicken according to size are standard-sized chickens, bantams, and giants. Within these categories, you’ll find further categorization with terms like ‘true bantams’, ‘miniaturized bantams’, and ‘large fowl’.
Bantam chicken breeds are pocket-sized poultry that weigh less than half their standard-sized sisters. They're super cute and they don't take up much space or cost a lot to feed making them perfect for backyard keepers.
There are even different types of bantam chickens.
Miniature bantams were selectively bred from standard-sized chickens to achieve the desired mini-me chickens. Some of the most popular miniaturized bantams are Rhode Island Red bantams, Light Sussex bantams, and Marans bantams.
True bantams are naturally small breeds: they’re not a miniaturized version of a standard-sized chicken breed. There are 26 varieties of true bantam chicken, the most popular include the Belgian d’Anver bantam, the Booted Bantam, and the Japanese Bantam Chicken.
Top 10 Popular Bantam Chickens:
1. Silkie Bantam
2. Pekin Bantam
3. Seabright Bantam
4. Japanese Bantam / Chabo
5. Barbu D’Uccle Bantam
6. Rose combe Bantam
7. Buff Orpington Bantam
8. Brahma Bantam
9. Australorp Bantam
10. Leghorn Bantam
FIND OUT ALL ABOUT TRUE BANTAMS, THE FRIENDLIEST BANTAMS, THE BEST MINI-EGG LAYERS, AND THE TEENIEST OF THEM ALL!
Giant chicken breeds have to weigh over 9lbs on average. They've got big booties! Giant chickens may sound terrifying, but bigger birds are often gentle giants.
Giant chickens tend to be more docile and less aggressive. They have nothing to prove and don't have to defend themselves as nobody wants to pick a fight with them. Giant chicken breeds make for great pets and a productive layer of lovely large eggs. 🥚
Top 10 Giant Chickens:
1. The Jersey Giant Chicken
2. The Brahma Chicken
3. The Cochin Chicken
4. The Cornish Game Chicken
5. The Orpington Chicken
6. The Dong Tao Chicken
7. The Malay Chicken
8. The Australorp Chicken
9. The New Hampshire Red Chicken
10. The Rhode Island Red Chicken
These breeds have had their epic sizes recognized and are categorized as giant chickens. When you're looking for big chickens, don't rule out the sizeable souls who didn't quite make the official giant grade. A well-built Delaware or Barred Rock chicken can tip the scales into giant territory and put a shorty Orpington to shame!
The Jersey Giant is the largest chicken breed in the world weighing a whopping 15 lbs. They’re also big softies and are surprisingly suitable for beginners. The Guinness World Record Breaker, Little John, wasn’t a Jersey Giant though, he was an egg-septionally big Brahma.
FANCY MEETING THE BIGGEST CHICKENS ON THE PLANET?
Chicken breeds with an average weight of between 3 and 9lbs are classed as standard sized. You’ll still hear chickens further categorized within this group as small, medium-sized, or large breeds.
When there is a bantam variety of a breed the standard-sized variety often gets the new title of large fowl. It can be quite deceptive though, as large fowl can be small chickens…just not as small as their bantam buddies.
CHICKEN TYPES - CATEGORIZED BY EGGS
WHICH TYPE OF CHICKEN LAYS THE MOST EGGS?
The Golden Comet is the most eggs-ellent layer in town. She'll pop out an admirable 330 eggs a year. There are some egg-septional runners up though, and if you're looking to locate your very own egg-laying machine then knowing which breeds have the best egg yield will increase your odds of a full tummy. Yum.
Top 10 Egg-laying Chickens:
- The Golden Comet
- The Rhode Island Red
- The Leghorn
- The Barred Plymouth Rock
- The Jersey Giant
- The Australorp
- The Marans
- The Delaware
- The Sussex
- The Wyandotte
WHICH TYPE OF CHICKEN LAYS BLUE EGGS?
Eight types of chicken lay blue eggs. Chances are you’ll have heard of the first four, but maybe not the rarer breeds.
Top 10 Blue Egg-laying Chickens:
1. The Ameraucana Chicken
2. The Araucana Chicken
3. Cream Legbar Chickens
4. Easter Egg Chicken (also known as Easter Eggers, and technically not a breed)
5. Arkansas Blue Chicken
6. Whiting True Blue Chicken
7. Lushi Chicken
8. Dongxiang Chicken
WHICH TYPE OF CHICKEN LAYS BROWN EGGS?
There are lots of brown-egg-laying chickens, with the Marans being famous for laying the darkest, chocolatiest-brown eggs possible. Here are ten types of chicken that will happily add some brown eggs to your basket for you.
Top 10 Brown Egg-laying Chickens:
5. Jersey Giant
9. Rhode Island Reds
10. Golden Comets
WHICH TYPE OF CHICKEN LAYS WHITE EGGS?
White is the most common color for chicken eggs, meaning there are hundreds of breeds to pick from if you want to stock up on those classic cream-colored yolk bombs. Here’s just a handful of the most popular white-egg-laying chicken breeds.
Top 10 White Egg-laying Chickens:
1. California White
10. Sicilian Buttercup
WHICH TYPE OF CHICKEN LAYS THE BIGGEST EGGS?
It’s smart of you to ask which ‘type’ of chicken lays the largest eggs, rather than which breed. Hybrids are often the best egg layers in terms of quantity and size.
“Hybrid layers are developed specifically for egg production, and therefore typically lay large eggs. They include Black Sex Link, Red Sex Link, Cinnamon Queen, Golden Comet, and Production Reds. If you are raising chickens basically for eggs, these hybrids generally lay better than the pure breeds.” (Cackle Hatchery)
Top 10 Large Egg-laying Chickens:
1. Jersey Giants
2. New Hampshire
8. Buff Orpington
9. Speckled Sussex
10. Golden Comet
DUAL-PURPOSE TYPES OF CHICKEN
Dual-purpose chicken breeds lay at least 200 eggs a year and will also provide enough meat to be used as a table bird if you ever wanted to.
Top 10 Dual-Purpose Chicken Breeds:
1. The Wyandotte
2. The Orpington
3. The Rhode Island Red
4. The Black Australorp
5. The Sussex
6. The Plymouth Rock
7. The Brahma
8. The Delaware
9. The Dominique
10. The Cochin
CHICKENS CATEGORISED BY TEMPERAMENT
THE BEST TYPES OF CHICKEN FOR BEGINNERS
If you're just getting started with keeping chickens 🐔 , then it makes sense to start with a less demanding breed. Some of the delightful-looking divas out there can be a handful. Maybe next year.
Beginners tend to favor the same chicken breeds. There's no need to fear being boring though, they’re popular for a reason. There are some stunning breeds to choose from who are easy to live with, give as much as they take in the relationship, and enjoy a little affection.
Top 10 Chicken Breeds for Beginners:
1. The Australorp Chicken
2. The Orpington Chicken
3. The Brahma Chicken
4. The Rhode Island Red Chicken
5. The Silkie Chicken
6. The Barred Plymouth Rock Chicken
7. The Cochin Chicken
8. The Wyandotte Chicken
9. The Sussex Chicken
10. The Ameraucana Chicken
THE FRIENDLIEST TYPES OF CHICKEN
If you're craving a coop-mate who's up for copious cuddles, then selecting a chicken breed with an affectionate temperament is a no-brainer. If you have kids and you want them to get hands-on with the hens, then finding a friendly chicken is important.
Chickens are individuals, and you're never guaranteed a certain character trait, but some breeds are more likely to become your snuggle buddy than others are.
Top 10 Friendliest Chicken Breeds:
1. Silkie Chicken
2. Rhode Island Red Chicken
3. Buff Orpington Chicken
4. Sussex Chicken
5. Cochin Chicken
6. Wyandotte Chicken
7. Jersey Giant Chicken
8. Easter Egger Chicken
9. Faverolles Chicken
10. Austrolorp Chicken
THE MOST POPULAR TYPES OF CHICKEN IN THE US
Without entering a debate of chicken top trumps, I vote that we trust the nation and assume that these most kept chicken breeds are popular choices for a reason. Looking at this list, I can tell you they all have a lot to offer. I think it’s fair to say we have some of the best right here.
10 Most Popular Chicken Breeds in the US:
- The Brahma
- The Silkie
- The Cochin
- The Leghorn
- The Orpington
- The Plymouth Rock
- The Wyandotte
- The Ameraucana
- The Jersey Giant
- The Rhode Island Red
CHICKENS CATEGORISED BY LOOKS
CHICKEN COLOR TYPES
Some breeds only come in one color, like the Ayam Cemani which comes in black, black, or black, and the Rhode Island Red, which is of course, Red.
Most breeds of chicken come in multiple color varieties, some colors might be rarer than others, some might be officially recognized and others aren’t, and there are bound to be some unique color hybrids to be discovered too.
The Silkie, for example, comes in ten color variations but only six of them are recognized by the APA.
10 Most Common Colors for Chickens:
There are also common feather patterns that are seen in different breeds such as laced, penciled, and Partridge.
THE MOST ATTRACTIVE TYPES OF CHICKEN
It’s so true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some of us crave a cute bundle of fluff, and some of us appreciate the detail and definition of a heritage bird. Since it’s so subjective, here are ten impressive chicken breeds that float my boat:
The Top 10 Best Looking Chickens are:
- The Belgian d'Uccle
- The Frizzle
- The Golden Polish
- The Plymouth Rock
- The Sebright
- The Phoenix
- The Silkie
- The Onagadori
- The Gold & Silver Laced Wyandotte
- The Hamburg
THE FLUFFIEST TYPES OF CHICKEN
Silkies are often thought of as ‘the’ fluffy chicken. To be fair, they are undeniably the fluffiest! Silkies have uniquely barbless feathers which means they stay like down-covered baby chicks for their entire lives.
Silkies aren’t the only fluff bombs in the coop though! Some chicken breeds, like the Cochin, are just so big, round, and heavily- feathered that they look like massive feathery cuddle bubbles.
There are dozens of fluffy types of chicken to pick your favorite snuggle buddy from, but not all of them are as snuggly as they look. These are the 10 most snuggly-looking clucks which also make good backyard breeds.
Top 10 Fluffy Chickens:
FANCY SOME COTTON-CANDY CHICKENS FOR YOUR COOP? WONDERING WHAT’S INVOLVED IN KEEPING YOUR VERY OWN POWDER PUFF? WANT TO KNOW YOUR FRIZZLES FROM YOUR SIZZLES? CHECK OUT MY FLUFFY CHICKEN BLOG AND MEET THE TOP 10 FLUFFY CHICKEN BREEDS…IN ORDER OF FLUFFINESS! CUTE!
THE RAREST TYPES OF CHICKEN
We all like to have something a little bit special. Rare chickens need our help to maintain their numbers and keep the rainbow of chicken breeds shining brightly.
They might not be the best layers, or even the prettiest gals and guys, but if you can add a rare breed to your flock, they’re bound to be the talk of the town.
A chicken breed is classed as rare if it's over 200 years old there are less than 1000 birds globally; that's according to The Livestock Conservancy.
10 Rarest Chickens In The World:
1. The Dong Tao Chicken
2. The Sultan Chicken
3. The Brabanter Chicken
4. The La Fleche Chicken
5. The Breda Chicken
6. The Old English Pheasant Fowl
7. The Burmese Bantam Chicken
8. The Scots Dumpy Chicken
9. The Ongadori Chicken
WHICH TYPE OF CHICKEN SHOULD I CHOOSE?
With so many chicken types to choose from I promise you that there are lots of chickens out there – just waiting for you to find them – who are capable of ticking all your (egg) boxes.
Chickens like company. You’ll need at least three chickens in your flock and they don’t have to be the same, breed, size, or color. You can have a little bit of everything you fancy!
Starting a new flock or adding to an existing one needs careful consideration. Introducing a new member to any family is always a bit tricky and some breeds just don’t get along.
Finding the right mix of chickens for your flock will make your chicken-keeping journey more fun than fraught.
SHOW US YOUR CHICKENS!
SHARE A PIC OF YOUR PERFECT POULTRY PAL WITH US.
TELL US WHAT MAKES THEM ‘JUST YOUR TYPE’
Finding your perfect chicken is an important first step on your road to chicken keeping, but there’s a whole journey ahead!
Keeping chickens is super rewarding, but it isn’t for the faint-hearted. 1 in 3 keepers will face the heartbreak of losing at least one of their chickens in the first 6 months. What’s most upsetting is that so many of these losses could be avoided.
Don’t start perusing how to prevent a predator attack after one has already found a way into your coop, or start researching how to keep parasites at bay after your chickens are already infested.
Chickenpedia’s chicken care courses will tool you up to avoid disaster.
Here are just a handful of chicken-wizardry skills you’ll complete your course with:
1. Being able to CONFIDENTLY handle any issues that crop up with your chickens, no matter how inexperienced you might be.
2. Knowing EXACTLY what to do to prevent major issues from arising… so you can spend more time enjoying keeping chickens and less time in damage control.
3. Ensuring the health and quality of the eggs that your chickens produce so that you can keep your family healthy and fed with an unlimited organic supply.
4. ALWAYs knowing what you need to do to look after your flock in as little time as possible
5. Having a coop that practically runs itself whilst you proudly show off your happy, healthy chickens to your friends and family. Don’t delay, check them out today.