Looking for the best breed of chicken to raise this year? How about a heritage breed?

Heritage chicken breeds may not reach the egg or meat production levels of commercial hybrids, but they are often healthier and hardier, not to mention more attractive. For a free-range situation, heritage breeds can’t be beat.

The Livestock Conservancy has a very helpful and accurate chart to assist new poultry keepers in choosing the best breed for their circumstances. This chart displays key characteristics of each breed in an at-a-glance format:

  • Origin.
  • Conservation status.
  • Purpose.
  • Weight.
  • Egg color.
  • Egg size.
  • Rate of lay.
  • Temperament.
  • Brooding instinct.
  • Recommended experience level.
  • Climate preference.

Additional information is also provided on important considerations, such as hardiness, predator savvy, foraging instinct, mothering ability, meat characteristics, and genetic challenges that breeders may face.

Breeds range from the hardy Ancona to the ornamental Yokohama and include everything in between, such as traditional American favorites like Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, and Plymouth Rocks.

Great resource for beginners and seasoned chicken keepers alike!