Best Chickens for Homesteading: Top 5 Breeds, Benefits, and Tips

If you’ve been questioning which chickens are best for homesteading, then you’ve found an article made just for you.

BEST CHICKENS FOR HOMESTEADINGG

Homesteading is one of the most worthwhile ways to live. You’re entirely self-sustainable, and it can be very fruitful if you allow it. 

If you want to have a good start homesteading, or perhaps you’ve already started, yet want to have some birds, then chickens are the way to go. 

They can act as pets, food, or can even make you money. The problem that some people have, though, is choosing which chicken breed to go with. 

This is why I’ve written this article to guide people just like you to help you figure out which chicken is best. 

I’m also going to cover a few other factors that play a role in choosing and more. Let’s jump into it and see which will suit you best.

Best Chickens For Homesteading: 5 Expert Picks

1: Plymouth Rock

The Plymouth Rock is very loyal, and even though it’s basic in color, it still manages to be a stunning breed. Similar to the previous breeds, Plymouths can lay around 250 eggs per year. 

They are a plump chicken, weighing up to seven plus, so this breed would be exceptional if you plan to use them for poultry. 

Plymouths also make for great pets; the ones that I’ve seen act very confident and will walk right up to you. Most chickens are shy and often run away.

I’d put this bird right up there with the Rhode island red, as it’s high volume egg-laying ability, heavyweight, and overall personality knocks out most other breeds. 

Plymouths are also excellent birds for beginners just getting into raising chickens. 

They are often very broody and will sit on eggs just like Rhode island reds do. They also grow pretty quickly, a little faster than Plymouths.

2: Rhode Island Red

Rhode island reds are inarguably the best all-around chicken for virtually all purposes. They’re a solid bourbon color and typically are very mild-mannered. 

If you are looking for a chicken as a pet for yourself or your kids, this breed is it. Rhode Island Reds also are one of the best for egg-laying due to their fast laying ability. 

They’re also extraordinary meat chickens, as the average Rhode island Red weighs over five pounds. If you’re looking for a bird with minimal health concerns, then the Rhode Island Red wins.

There is a reason why the name is so familiar among homesteaders, and it’s because it’s tough to beat them, at least when it comes to versatility. 

You can expect up to 250 eggs per year, more or less, depending on the particular bird. If you are a novice homesteader, Rhode Island Reds are probably your best bet in the beginning. 

The roosters are some of the best looking chickens you could imagine; I would go as far as saying better looking than all other options on this list, but that’s my personal opinion.

3: Black Star

The Black Star is a hybrid chicken with a little Rhode Island Red mixed in, resulting in a very unique looking bird. 

These chickens are excellent egg layers, laying up to 300 or more eggs per year. If you’re wanting to make some money by selling eggs, this bird is the right choice. 

They’re also very mild-mannered and usually make perfect meat chickens due to their weight of  about seven pounds. 

I’ve had a few of these, and they got along well with my other breeds, so no worries with their temper. The roosters, however, can have tantrums on occasion, but it’s nothing to worry about. 

My favorite part about them, other than their exceptional ability to lay eggs, is their feather design. If you’re looking for a chicken that’ll raise some eyebrows, this should do it. 

They love to roost, so placing something for them to roost on, especially at night, would be a good thing to do.

4: Orpingtons

This is a traditional breed, and it’s probably one of the most recognizable out there. The biggest pro about this breed is that they can easily hatch as many eggs as they are capable of laying.

They’re usually a solid golden color and typically weigh up to seven pounds, making them really good to use as meat chickens. 

The hens usually have a very mild personality, although I cannot say the same for the roosters. 

Because of their ability to hatch eggs quickly, these chickens are excellent to use for selling chicks. If you want to keep the chicks, then expect to have a growing chicken farm very fast.

There is a reason they are so popular amongst the off-grid and farming community, and it’s probably because of their weight and high volume egg-laying abilities. 

Plus, they are great chickens to be kept outside of their pen, as they typically do not wander off far from their home.

5: Australorp

Finally, we have the australorp. This breed is a darker color, with some of them having a very transparent greenish tint to their feathers. 

They are known for their insanely fast ability to lay eggs, and a neat thing about this breed is that it holds the world record for 365 eggs laid in one year.

They’re great to use as meat birds, but I suggest using them for eggs and opting for another breed to use as a meat chicken. 

They typically are super friendly and love to socialize around humans, and this includes the rooster, too. 

Roosters can be a bit hard-headed and avoid humans, but this is not the case with Australorps. They are also a rather healthy breed and rarely fall ill with disease or infections. 

They are great brooders too, which is a very underrated aspect in chickens, as this saves you from needing an incubator to hatch eggs. 

To add to all this, they also have a higher lifespan than most chickens, so if you’re looking for an incredible egg producing chicken, this is it.


What Chickens Can Do For You

They Can Make You Money 

The ultimate bird to have on any homestead is chickens. A big reason is that they can make you money if you play your cards right. 

Chickens can lay hundreds of eggs per year, and considering a carton can sell for up to 3 dollars, if you have enough chickens, it adds up. 

If you opt for a meat chicken such as Rhode Island Reds, selling them as whole chickens can pay off big time. 

The best way to make money with chickens, though, is by raising them and selling them. Chickens sell very quickly at auctions, so if you can raise them, they will sell.

They Can Feed You

If you opt for the larger chickens, then they make for great food sources. 

Chickens usually mature fast, so as long as you continue breeding and do not eat more than you raise, you’ll have an infinite amount of poultry at your disposal. 

I’d suggest waiting until you have a hundred or so before counting on them to be a meat source and recommend having a separate chicken coop for meat chickens.

This way, they can be fattened up and grow into heavier birds. If they are kept in the same pen as the chickens primarily used for eggs, then they will not grow as large.

They Make For Great Pets

I’ve had hundreds of chickens, and although we speak different languages, I’ve befriended several chickens while raising them. 

Some breeds can be much more social than others, but if you want a chicken just as a pet, I suggest the Rhode Island Red. 

They have a super calm personality and are one of the smartest breeds out there. Plus, they have an outstanding appearance. 

Rhode Island Reds also normally do not go far from their post, which means there will be no need to worry about it leaving the property if it’s loose.


Tips On Raising Chickens

How To Provide Shelter

I’ve raised many chickens in my lifetime, and I’ve learned there is a better way to shelter them than putting them in a tiny, small chicken coop. 

I’d recommend at least a 10x10x10 pen for every ten chickens. This is easy to remember, and it gives them plenty of room to roam around and fly on the rare occasion without tearing their feathers apart by the pen being so tiny. 

You should also place something for them to roost on; I like to use a small tree that is a couple of inches in diameter, so it feels natural for the birds. 

I’d also suggest that the roof is made from netting to help shade from sunlight when they’re out from under the primary roof. It’s also a great idea to put some type of fence over the net to ensure that any critters cannot get in.

The Correct Way To Offer Food & Water 

If you’re raising chickens to lay eggs, then you should use layer feeds. This type n jiof meal is jam-packed with calcium, which will help the eggshells develop much quicker. 

For the meat chickens, I’d suggest going with grower feed, which has much more protein allowing the chickens to grow faster and larger. 

For chicks, you should only feed them starter feed. Starter feed is designed to be easily digested while also having less protein. 

As for the water, 16 chickens will drink up to two gallons of water per day; the water should be placed in the shade and should be changed every other day at the most.


Open Questions on Raising Chickens

How Many Chickens Should I Have?

This depends on what your chickens are for. If they are for personal use and are used for eggs, then four or five chickens will drop enough eggs per week to sustain you.

If they are meat chickens, then you should have at least twenty-five or more. It can take months before a chicken grows into maturity to replace the one you butchered.

If they are simply kept for a hobby, then have as many as you want. Just keep in mind the feed cost because if they’re not making you money to replace what you spend, that will come straight out of your pocket.

Do Chickens Recognize Faces?

I’ve known this since I was a little lad, and I’m surprised that most people do not know this: the answer is YES! Chickens can recognize faces.

This could be why chickens are known to be so friendly because we’re not just another tall human walking around. 

We are each unique; this same truth is also a fact towards other chickens, as they can recognize other chickens.

How Can I Keep The Chicken Coop Clean?

Chickens have no choice but to do their business in the chicken coop unless they are free roam chickens. This causes the pen to require a clean-up every week or two at the most.

My favored way to do this is by using a square rake to agitate the ground and rake up any dried pieces of feces, which can then be shoveled and be used for composting.

I’d recommend wearing a mask, though. Disturbed chicken feces has several health hazards, such as salmonella and campylobacter.


Verdict

If you’re brand-new to the idea of homesteading itself, then you probably hear a lot about chickens, which are at the top of the list of animals to have on a homestead.

They can provide an infinite amount of eggs, occasionally provide poultry, and be used to earn an income by raising and selling them.

There are certainly several kinds of breeds out there, and while some are more popular than the five in this list, I know from experience that these chickens are some of the best.

Starting with chickens can be overwhelmingly intricate for novices, but it isn’t nearly as complicated as you may think it is. 

You’ll learn the ins and outs of raising chickens in no time; it’s a pretty basic part of homesteading and an essential one for many as well.



Written by Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. Recently, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide and Paracord Projects For Camping which is scheduled to be released March 2, 2021 Read more of Bryan's articles.