As you head down the path of becoming a homesteader or just wanting to be more self-sufficient, you’ll eventually decide that raising chickens might be a good thing for you. Many cities throughout the United States are permitting citizens to have four to six chickens in their backyard. Backyard chicken ownership is becoming popular, and that means you need the right chicken breeds for urban areas.
What new chicken owners don’t realize is that not all chicken breeds are the same. Some are larger and require more square footage, while others are known for their loudness.
Don’t Get Roosters or Meat Birds
The urban areas that allow chickens typically don’t allow roosters, and we know why. Roosters are loud. They serve a few great purposes – fertilizing eggs and defending the flock from predators.
If you do happen to get a rooster, which can happen because sexing chickens isn’t a perfect science, you will need to find a way to relocate him in the country.
Be sure to check the ordinances of your city as well. Most prohibit at-home butchering, so you need to avoid meat birds as well. Now, all chickens can be dual-purpose, for the most part, meaning they lay eggs and you can eat their meat. Some breeds are meant primarily as meat birds and grow at a much faster rate than others.
The Best Breeds for Urban Chicken Owners
1. Sex Link Chickens
Sex links are a standard chicken that does well in almost any setting, which makes it a favorite choice. An interesting tidbit is that males and females are distinguished at birth due to their color at hatching, which is why they have one of the best sexing rates for hatcheries and stores.
Most sex links are hybrid breeds, so they might have different names at each hatchery.
Wyandottes are a favorite amongst urban backyard homesteaders. They’re hardy – capable of handling extreme weather – gentle in nature, and dependable layers almost year round.
The interesting thing about Wyandottes is that they come in a variety of colors, such as golden, blue, an silver. White Wyandottes are very rare and draw a large dollar amount from breeders.
3. Barred Rock
Barred rocks are a standard sized chicken, one of the most popular bantams. They lay brown eggs steadily throughout the year. Barred rocks handle the cold weather well, so northern chicken owners love this breed.
Barred Rocks are known for being a quiet chicken, but they’re an outgoing breed as well. They like to interact with their owners each day. Best of all, these chickens don’t need a lot of lands. A small or moderate amount of acreage will do for these chickens.
4. Easter Egger
Easter Egger chickens are some of the most desired chickens because they’re a hybrid breed that lays different colored eggs. No two Easter Egger will look the exact same, which is pretty cool!
This chicken breed mostly lays green or blue eggs, but some varieties lay pink, white, or tinted eggs. You won’t know their egg color until they lay their first egg. That is the color that all of their eggs will be; the colors won’t switch throughout the egg-laying cycles.
Easter Eggers handle confinement well, and they handle easily. One thing to note is that these chickens are sometimes mislabeled as an Araucana or Ameraucana breed.
If you want a gentle, sweet chicken that follows you around the backyard, a Brahma is a good choice. Their legs and feet have feathers, giving them a unique funny look. Brahmas are often called the “King of Poultry” because of their size. They’re a heritage breed, so they can weigh up to 14 pounds. Brahma roosters can weigh over 18 pounds, but the average weight for a hen is around 10lbs.
Brahmas lay brown eggs, and they’re cold and heat hardy, but some can lay white eggs. So, you can expect eggs all year-round. This breed is known as one of the best winter layers, laying best from October through May. Brahma hens make excellent broody mothers and great foster moms as well.
If you want a chicken breed that lays the largest amount of eggs possible, consider Leghorns. Brown and white leghorns lay white eggs, but most importantly, they lay reliably.
Leghorns have a lean body, which means most of their feed goes into egg production. So, farmers will tell you that leghorns have a good feed conversion rate.
7. Buff Orpingtons
Buff Orpingtons are a good breed for first-time chicken owners in urban areas. They’re quiet, docile, and cold-hardy. Many chicken owners consider Buffs to be more like a pet than a farm animal due to their incredibly sweet personality. It’s not uncommon for these chickens to come over to you, waiting for some affection and love.
Orpingtons handle confinement and small spaces well. They make a great addition to any flock. Another reason you might want to raise Orpingtons is that they make great broody hens and mothers. Some have been known to foster other chicks.
Another good choice is the Delaware chicken that is hardy and adaptable, adjusting to most climates. These chickens lay a lot of large, brown eggs, and they’re known for being an egg and meat bird which was their intended purpose.
Delaware chickens are mostly white with bits of black along their tail feathers. Homesteaders enjoy this chickens if they handle a small garden size. Confinement doesn’t bother them. On top of that, they’re low maintenance, which is always a plus.
9. Rhode Island Reds
Rhode Island Reds are a true homesteader’s favorite chicken breed for years. While they fall into the category of dual-purpose chickens, you’ll find that they come to greet you when you come with food. They’re docile and rarely cause a ruckus. Reds typically get along with other breeds of chickens, ducks, and, even, guineas. They’re a companionable sort of chicken.
Picking the Right Chicken Breed for Urban Chicken Owners
The best breeds for an urbanite raising chickens are ones that are quiet, calm, and happy. They adjust to the environment that you give them. Most of these chickens don’t need boredom busters, and they’re content laying and playing with each other. The last thing you want is a chicken that makes noise and disturbs your neighbors.