Top Chicken Breeds for Beginners

By Kelcie Paulis, Chickenlandia Presidential Advisor

With so many different breeds of chickens out there, it can feel daunting to choose which ones are the right fit for your first flock. Each breed has its own unique set of characteristics, and, similar to dogs, has been bred for specific traits for generations. Some breeds are higher maintenance, some are easier to tame, while others have more skittish, free-spirited tendencies. There are chickens that have great egg production, while others are mostly there to look cute. Choosing the right breeds for your situation can make a big difference with how your chicken-keeping experience goes. I have raised many chicken breeds throughout my life and would like to share with you my top breed recommendations for beginners.

Barred Plymouth Rock

The Barred Plymouth Rock is a classic backyard chicken with striking black & white plumage. “Barred” refers to their color variety and “Plymouth Rock” is their breed, but they are often referred to simply as Barred Rocks (Plymouth Rocks do come in several color varieties but are less commonly available). Barred Rocks are an American breed, originating from Massachusetts in the nineteenth century. There are a few simple reasons that they quickly became one of the most widely kept chicken breeds, first in the United States, and then across the pond as well. Barred Rocks are known for their good egg production of large brown eggs at an average of 200 per year. Their health hardiness and resistance to both cold and heat make them suitable for many environments. They are also early feathering, which makes chicks a little quicker to develop their protective layer of feathers.

Barred Plymouth Rocks have a single comb, and clean, featherless legs. I always think of Barred Rocks as the “Easy Management” Chicken. While they are not known for being broody too often, they do make excellent mother hens when encouraged to set and are usually quite trustworthy when raising their own chicks. But these aren’t their only redeeming qualities. Barred Rocks are generally a docile breed, great for families, children, and backyard living. Their mellow temperament makes them exceptionally tameable and responsive to human interactions. They are naturally curious, making them good foragers and free rangers. Barred Plymouth Rocks are a good fit for almost any scenario.  

Easter Egger

Ohhh, those blue and green-tinted eggs! Many of you probably picture a whole array of egg colors when you imagine collecting a basket full from your backyard birds. And with the majority of chicken breeds laying classic brown or white eggs, it’s those pretty blue and green tints that add some color to the carton. Easter Eggers are the most widely available and beginner-friendly colored egg layers. Often marketed as “Ameraucanas”, they don’t quite qualify as a “true” breed because of the crossing of varieties among hatcheries. This means the Easter Egger’s plumage comes in a wide variety of colors and markings, with no set true color varieties.

With their Ameraucana or Araucana lineage, Easter Eggers sport the same adorable cheek tuffs and beards, giving their faces an extra bit of character.  Easter Eggers have been around for a long time and have continued to gain popularity. They are known for being curious and friendly, are great egg layers (averaging 200 eggs per year), seldom go broody, and are both cold and heat-hardy. Easter Eggers are active birds who enjoy free-ranging, but also tolerate the confinement of backyard coops. I would consider them among the most low-maintenance chickens for beginners. They may not be purebred, but these “mutts” will win over your heart.   

Buff Orpington

Orpingtons were developed in England (Orpington, Kent, to be exact) during the late nineteenth century. Although they were bred to be dual-purpose (good for both eggs and meat), throughout the years they have gained the most popularity in backyard flocks and poultry shows. Orpingtons come in many color varieties, but Buff is the most popular and commonly available.

Buff Orpingtons are the quintessential plump, curvy barnyard hen. Their stately bodies are heavily coated with feathers, making them oh so fluffy in appearance. They have clean, featherless legs and a single comb. Their fabulous skirt of dense feathers makes them extra cold-hardy. As for laying ability, you can expect an average of 175 large, brown eggs per year. Buff Orpingtons are known for having docile and friendly dispositions, making them well suited for families & children. In addition to all these attributes, Buff Orpingtons have a reputation for going broody and making excellent mothers. These large birds do tend to be “lazier” than other breeds, preferring the feeder over foraging. All will be forgiven once you witness their fluffy butts come running for a treat!

Black Australorp

While Black Australorps are the most recently developed breed on this list, they might just be the most well-rounded. In the early 1900s, Orpingtons were imported to Australia in an effort to create a bird well suited for Australia’s unique climate. They were bred with Rhode Island Reds, Leghorns, Minorcas, & Langshans to help improve egg production and gain other desired traits such as hardiness in both cold and hot climates. The result was one of the best backyard egg layers out there (Australorps lay large light brown eggs, at a rate of 250+ per year), with stunning iridescent black plumage. Australorps are inquisitive and curious birds who enjoy free ranging and foraging, but also tolerate confinement well. They have a shyer demeanor than their Orpington cousins, but are not skittish and settle in quickly amongst humans. Their calm tendencies make them an excellent choice for backyard flocks and families.


So what do you think? Will any of these breeds make it into your flock? Let me know in the comments! And of course, if you need more help with your beginner flock, check out our popular online course for beginners and intermediate chicken keepers here.

If Your Chicken is Wounded and You Don’t Know What to Do, READ THIS.

By Kelcie Paulis, Chickenlandia Presidential Advisor

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Wounds are bound to happen at some point in your chicken-keeping experience. Whether it’s from fighting, predators, something in the environment, or simply a mystery, chickens can be a bit thin-skinned. Luckily, chickens are also surprisingly resilient creatures. I’ve seen them heal from all manner of injuries and wounds. Most minor wounds can heal quickly with a little TLC and some savvy First Aid. If your chicken is wounded right now and you’re trying to decide what to do, let’s break it down in a few easy steps.

Note: In Chickenlandia, we aim to use natural products whenever possible. Some of the suggestions below aren’t totally natural, but in an emergency situation, it’s really important to have options. To see The President of Chickenlandia’s mostly natural first aid kit, click here.

First Aid Kit from myfavoritechicken.com

Step 1: Wash Your Hands

Recently, we’ve learned a lot about how germs spread. To prevent new or further infection to your chicken or you, make sure you wash your hands before and after treatment.

Step 2: Stop Bleeding

When you have discovered a wounded chicken, it’s important to assess the damage and clean the area. But you must stop any active bleeding first. Some wounds, like combs, waddles, and toenails, will bleed far more than others. I use Kwik Stop to stop the bleeding but any styptic powder will work. If you don’t have any styptic powder in your chicken first aid kit, don’t worry! Cornstarch or baking flour works as a good alternative. Sprinkle the powder over the area and press it into the point of bleeding. Allow time for it to clot and dry before cleaning the wound.

Step 3: Clean the Wound

Cleaning the wound and surrounding area is important for both preventing and healing infections. If you do nothing else, don’t skip this important step. It’s the best thing you can do to help a chicken with a surface injury. 

It’s not a completely natural product, but a good old soap and warm water rinse with classic Dawn Dish Soap is my first step in wound cleaning. It is safe and gentle, and for small surface wounds you can simply use it with a washcloth. For larger scraps, I rinse the area right in the sink, while being careful not to get the chicken completely drenched. You don’t want to give them a full bath and stress them out. Just get them wet enough to clean the dirt and germs away from the wound. 

Step 4: Apply a Topical Treatment

There are lots of good topical wound treatments that are safe for use on chickens. Here are my top recommendations for this step: 

VeterycinVeterycin is my number one go-to product for wound care and cleaning. It kills 99.9% of germs. Veterycin is incredibly safe and has amazing disinfecting and healing properties. It can be used for virtually anything, anywhere on the body. Veterycin is readily available for purchase at most pet or feed stores, as well as online. And don’t worry about which formula to buy; while they make many species specific labels, all Vetericyn Plus products are safe to use. Generously spray on and around the wound. Repeat daily throughout healing.  

Raw Honey – We like to lean natural in Chickenlandia whenever possible. Raw Honey has great antibacterial properties. It also helps things heal up faster. Any Raw honey will do. Drop on a glob and gently spread it across the wound. Make sure your chicken is separated from their flock when using honey topically.

Hydrogen Peroxide – Many people have this readily available in their home first aid kit. It is a mild antiseptic used on the skin to prevent infection. You can use this on chickens for minor cuts, scrapes, & burns. However, peroxide should not be used on puncture wounds or bites. I apply it to the wound area with a cotton ball. 

Neosporin – Just about everyone has a tube of Neosporin around the house. As long as it doesn’t have any painkiller in it, it’s perfectly safe to use on a chicken wound. Since it’s a triple antibiotic, it can help to prevent or treat infection during a critical time. Simply slather it on minor wounds and rub it in gently.

Blue KoteBlue Kote is another one of my go-to products. It is an antiseptic, germ-killing, fungicidal wound dressing and healing aid. It works to protect animals against common infections and pus-producing bacterias. Blue Kote is for surface wounds and abrasions, but is also effective for fungal infections and ringworm. Blue Kote contains Gentian Violet, which is an antiseptic dye that dyes the area a dark blue color. This dye is very helpful for “covering up” a wound and preventing picking from their flock mates. Anytime I notice a bird with a wound that is being picked, I apply a spray of Blue Kote to the area (be careful, it WILL dye your hands blue for a few days and it does stain clothes).

Step 5: Repeat

Depending on the severity of the wound, you will likely want to repeat the cleaning and topical treatment process for as many days as necessary. For larger wounds I treat 2x a day for the first 3 days and then once a day until they are on the mend. 

Little Stinker after surviving a Hawk Attack

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my chicken need stitches?

Most surface wounds do not need stitches, but some may be large or deep enough to require closure. I usually don’t worry about stitching wounds that are smaller than a US Quarter. If you feel your chicken may need stitches and the wound is still fresh, seek a veterinarian for sutures. The open edges of wounded skin will dry up in the first few days of healing, thus leaving the skin unable to be remedied by stitches. If this is the case, continue to clean and treat. Chicken skin has amazing healing powers and it may still heal up on its own.  

Should I use a bandage?

This really depends on the severity of the wound, but I generally do not bandage wounds. It often bothers the birds more than it helps, causing them to pick at it or scratch it off entirely. It’s also nearly impossible to effectively bandage some wound locations. I do use bandage wraps when dealing with Bumble Foot or Splay Leg. If you do feel the need to bandage a wound I recommend Vet Wrap self adhesive bandages

Should I separate my chicken?

Many wounds will require separation from the flock for a healing period. For small surface wounds I may just apply a layer of Blue Kote to dye the area and prevent flock members from picking at it, but for larger, more exposed wounds, I recommend temporarily separating. A smaller, quiet space will help the chicken destress and heal.  

Stress Management 

Most wounds will be caused by an event that was likely stressful for the chicken. Managing stress is an important part of wound care as well. I recommend following the R.E.S.T Method for situations where a chicken has been through trauma. You can also give your chicken some Rescue Remedy and/or the homeopathic remedy Aconite in a 30c potency to help calm them down. Click here for more on using homeopathic for chickens. For more information on the R.E.S.T. Method, click the play button below! 

A warm & quiet place to rest with some electrolytes and a tasty meal can do wonders for the body’s ability to heal. Once your chicken has successfully recovered they can be reintroduced to the flock and go on living a happy life. You may need to slowly integrate them, as illustrated in the video below.

Disclaimer Notice

The content of the Welcome to Chickenlandia website, blog, vlog, and all social media are for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Dependence on any information appearing on the Welcome to Chickenlandia website, blog, vlog, and social media sites is entirely at your own risk. Please do your own research and make your own informed decisions regarding the health of your chickens.

Homeopathic Options for Respiratory Illness and Trauma in Chickens

Well, it’s been a month of yucky sicknesses here in the Chickenlandia household. I confess to being patient zero and infecting my children and husband with the dreaded cold and cough. When illness strikes, I almost always turn to my trusted homeopathic kits. I’ve been using homeopathy on myself for years, and now I use it on my family. Chickens are family right? That’s why this week, I’ve decided to share some homeopathic options for when chickens fall ill or experience trauma.

Caring for Philippe during his respiratory illness.

Disclaimer: The following is not meant to be a diagnosis or to replace veterinarian care. I fully support the idea of seeking professional help when needed. I also acknowledge that many people do not have that option. Please understand that I am not a veterinarian, doctor, scientist, or biologist. I’m just a chicken lady who has used homeopathics with success and wants to share that experience with you. Results may vary! Please do your own research. 

Chicken keeping is such a joyous experience! That is, until you walk into the chicken coop and find the dreaded scenario: a chicken is sick or injured, huddled in a corner. They can’t talk to you or tell you what’s wrong. You feel helpless and guilty, though you’re not sure why. You’re a good chicken parent! How could this happen?

My first course of action in this situation is to remove the affected chicken from my flock. I bring them inside and put them in a quiet, warm spot with soft lighting (or no lighting if it’s nighttime). It’s likely that both myself and my chicken are pretty stressed out at this point, so I use a product called Rescue Remedy to calm everyone down. I put a drop under my tongue, then put a drop on my chicken’s back and rub it into their skin. Now that I’m a tad calmer, it’s time create an action plan.

Picachu getting a dose of Rescue Remedy and homeopathics during a respiratory illness.

For shock and/or trauma, two homeopathic remedies come to mind: Arnica (aka Arnica Montana) for bruising, injury, and shock; and Aconite (aka Aconitum Napellus) for fright and shock. These two remedies are very popular for human use and should be available at most health food stores. Homeopathics come in different potencies, but I suggest 30c. It’s best to start with one or the other depending on the situation. To dose, I will put one pellet or one drop of each remedy into their water or food. Without getting into how homeopathics work (that’s a conversation for a professional homeopath), each time my chickens drinks that water or eats that food, they get a dose. If they aren’t eating or drinking on their own, I put a drop into their feeding syringe and get the dose into them that way. If I’m not noticing a change, I will try the other remedy. If I notice an improvement, I stop dosing unless I observe a backslide in their recovery.

This year, I had a respiratory illness go through my flock. Each chicken had the same symptom: lots of cruddy congestion in their respiratory passages. For this illness, I dosed them with a homeopathic remedy called Antimonium Crudum. I also placed a pellet in the flock’s community water as a preventative. To my delight, all chickens recovered. I was so encouraged by this outcome, because most of the time respiratory illnesses require antibiotics for the chicken to survive. I did have antibiotics available just in case, but it wasn’t necessary. Success!

My flock roosting together after recovering from their illness.

Homeopathy is a whole science on its own, and I certainly don’t claim to be an expert. My hope is that I can do a video with my professional homeopath at some point, so we can delve further into how to use it on chickens. For now, I hope you’ll take a moment and check out my latest video, which includes an easy tutorial on how to care for chickens in an emergency situation. Feel free to ask me questions here or in the comments on my YouTube channel. I’m happy to share my experience with you!

To read more about Homeopathy, click here.

Boiron USA: click here.

Bach Flower Remedies: click here.

Henny and Roo January 2019 Unboxing!

Not gonna lie, unboxing videos are one of my favorite things to create. I love love LOVE the whole subscription box thing, but I can’t really indulge in too many of them (I mean they do cost money lol!). Thankfully, Henny and Roo boxes always contain very useful and fun items that I know I’ll use. Just look at this scarf that came in the January 2019 box! Full disclosure: Henny and Roo does sponsor these videos. But I would not do them if I didn’t really believe in this company!

Me killin’ it with my new piece of #chickenfashion!

If you get a chance, please check out our latest unboxing video for January 2019. And don’t forget to use the coupon code CHICKENLANDIA for your own Henny and Roo subscription! Details are on YouTube, in the description of the video. Just click here. <3

What do you indulge in? Have you tried out a chicken subscription box? Let me know in the comments!

Chickenlandia Makeover Update plus Halloween FUN!

My friend Julie came again this week to help with the great Chickenlandia Makeover of 2018 and beyond! I’ve also been very busy working on some Halloween fun for Chickenlandia that I’m super excited about. But first, let’s talk about a little problem I have that maybe you can relate with. It’s super scary so it kinda goes with the Halloween theme. Can we talk about CLUTTER???

Keepin’ it real cluttery.

I’m not ashamed to say my house has a little clutter. In fact, I’ve kind of made it a point on my YouTube channel to not hide the fact that I’m an actually person who lives in a house that isn’t perfect, and I’m the proud owner of a chicken yard and coop that aren’t perfect either. I have some neighbors with immaculate homes and I think it’s great, but I have no idea how it’s accomplished. I mean, that’s some special kinda sorcery that I know nothing about.

Me with anything that has to do with cleaning.

But I do admit, clutter can get out of hand. And when it does, it can make you feel pretty darn yucky. That’s why I’m so grateful to my friend Julie who came by again this week to help me with some old Chickenlandia clutter. And when I say old, I mean ANCIENT. There was a plastic container in the yard that I’m pretty sure has been in the same spot, unopened, for about five years. She told me whatever was in it was SCARY. I believe her.

A very BIG spider.

Speaking of scary, I’ve also been working on some fun Halloween stuff for Chickenlandia. Some of you that have been following me for a while might remember the very first creative video I put out on Facebook last year around Halloween. It was a trailer for a movie called Chickoween 2: Second Hatch (which doesn’t actually exist LOL). It’s so funny watching it now after having my YouTube channel for a while. I’ve definitely grown as a filmmaker! To see an update on Chickenlandia’s Makeover, see all my clutter disappear with the magic of my friend Julie, AND see a sneak peek at this year’s Chickenlandia Halloween video, click on my YouTube video below!

If the clutter of your life was a movie, what genre would it be? Horror (yikes), Fantasy (keep dreaming it will go away with magic), SciFi (other worldly), or Romantic Comedy (the fault of your partner LOL)? Let me know in the comments!

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