Want to get yourself some pet chickens? Wondering how you will get chickens that not only produce amazing eggs, but which will be sure to get on with your family too? Well, don’t fret, the truth is that there are a lot of really friendly chicken breeds to choose from and once you’ve read our guide, you’ll be in the perfect position to buy the right one for your family.
The 16 best chicken breeds for pets are Silkies, Plymouth Rocks, Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, Australorp, Cochin, Sultan, Brahma, Wyandotte, Polish, Faverolle, Barbu D’Uccles, Easter Eggers, White Leghorn and Black/Red Stars.
Why Certain Breeds Make Good Pet Chickens
Some will breed chickens for eggs, some for meat but many will also have their eye on whether or not they make for good companions in life.
This means it’s important to not just to consider their productivity but also their personality before you bring home your first chickens.
However, there’s something of a fine line when it comes to selecting a breed because it’s famous for being easy going and picking chickens that are a complete pushover.
You want chickens that will get on with you and your family and which won’t fight each other all day long but which are also capable of standing up to the rest of the flock when push comes to shove.
Sadly, chickens can be real bullies and it’s worth making certain that you’re not buying a flock of natural born victims.
Shout, Shout, Let It All Out
There is no direct correlation between how noisy a chicken is and how pleasant their demeanor but there are breeds which are both quiet and gentle.
Broody chickens will often be more aggressive but if you’re hoping to raise some chicks at home – then broody chickens may be a better choice because they tend to be the best at raising chicks. Some tradeoffs are worth making.
Some of the smarter chicken breeds are a little bit more aggressive too but some are friendly and that means they’re going to be much easier to train – which has a genuine impact on the relationship between you and your birds.
How To Rear Friendly Birds
There are some simple tips to ensure that your chickens turn out as friendly as possible and the good news is that this doesn’t have to be hard work:
When They’re Chicks
As soon as your chicks arrive in your backyard, it’s important to start building a bond. Try not to handle the chicks, they’re very delicate and moving them around can hurt them and hinder their ability to shake off the effects of being transported to your home.
However, you should start talking to them immediately. Use a soft, warm voice.
As they start to grow, you should take some time every day to gently handle the chicks but only for a few minutes at a time. It can be a good idea to put a little chick feed in your hand to entice them to spend time with you at this stage.
Chickens have one form of primary motivation in life and that is food. If you want to help your chickens get used to you – the best way to do it is to bribe them with a little treat when you first start to come close.
If you have an aggressive rooster – start the process with the rooster. Once they are eating from your hand, the rest of the flock will accept you easily. Basically, chickens live in a hierarchical world (it’s chickens that give us the term “pecking order”) and you want to be at the top of that pyramid as the “flock leader”.
We have recently written an article all about chickens pecking order, why not head over and have a read.
Be Friendly Back
You’d think this was fairly obvious but if you want your chickens to play nice with you, you must play nice with them in return.
That means speaking softly, moving in a slow controlled fashion around them and, well, communicating effectively that you’re in charge of the food. The more food your chickens fetch themselves – the less they need you.
So, if you start when they’re chicks and make sure you maintain your approach, you can make friends with your chickens without any real problems.
Our 16 Favorite Breeds For Pet Chickens
We think if there’s a more popular breed of chicken for pets than silkies, we don’t know what it is. They’re everybody’s favorite because they look amazing, they’re very small (and thus fit in nearly every space) and they’ve got temperaments which are as silky smooth as their names.
You can recognize a silkie from a mile away because it kind of looks like a stuffed teddy bear version of a chicken. They don’t all have beards but those that do have beards can rival ZZ Top in their dedication to disguise their faces. Check out their odd shade of blue earlobes too, you’ll be overcome with warm fuzzies.
Unusually, they have 5 toes too. It’s often love at first sight between a chicken owner and their silkies and we can’t blame them. If you want to give your chickens a bit of a cuddle every now and again – you can’t wrong with silkies, they seem to really enjoy being made a fuss of.
If your first priority is how many eggs that a chicken is likely to provide you with then you might want to take a glance at the Plymouth Rock – there are quite a few different varieties of this chicken and you can go blue, buff, silver penciled, barred and black frizzled, if you want.
Their owners are always keen to find they can lay up to 280 eggs in a single year! The eggs come in an unusual pink-brown hue which can really make them a pleasure at breakfast.
They’re not as cuddly and adorable as silkies but they have very placid natures and they enjoy each other’s company as they wander about the yard without fighting. Even their roosters are positively laid back and are very unlikely to fight. If you have small kids, they can be a wonder.
One other thing that might make you opt for Plymouth Rocks is the fact that they are better able to cope with a wide-range of weather conditions than many other types of chicken.
We’ll say this softly because we know that some chicken owners get a bit upset about the idea of consuming their pets, but the Speckled Sussex is a big chicken, and some might suggest that this makes them ideal eating material.
They can weigh in at up to 8 lbs (though hens tend to be a bit smaller than the roosters)!
As you might expect from their name – they’re “speckled” and they have a sort of white snow like effect in their feathering. The speckled pattern is unique to each bird rather like a fingerprint might be to a human being.
They seem to be fine with being held or stroked and they respond really well to human attempts to converse with them in chicken. We know some people bond so well with their Speckled Sussex chickens that the chickens follow them around the year when they’re in the same space.
Another beast of a bird is the Buff Orpington, which is what we can call an all-purpose chicken. They’re very much the epitome of the classic chicken look and that makes them perfect for breeding for show too and many people do just that – which might explain why they have the “classic chicken” look because it’s the one we see most often.
They get along really well with human families and are among the more intelligent of chickens with a gentle nature. They’re hardy enough that they can deal with being outdoors a lot which means they can also be good for schools or clubs looking to branch out with their pets.
You might need to offer them some tasty bribes to win them over in the first place, but they are very patient and chilled chickens which are fine with being manhandled by curious kids and happy adults, alike.
Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is a great bird for the family because they’re very friendly with people and they are extremely easy to look after. They tend to be very gentle even with small children and they don’t mind being held but…
Rhode Island Reds are notorious bullies in the chicken world and that means they tend to do best as a flock of Rhode Island Reds rather than mixed in with other breeds. Bullying in chicken flocks is a serious problem and it can lead to the death of other birds.
One added bonus is that if you live in colder climes Rhode Island Reds don’t stop laying for the winter and that means eggs whenever you want them. They’re not the most productive layers of them all but they’re reasonable.
The Australorp is a big dual-purpose chicken which comes from, as you’ve probably guessed from its name, Australia. It is, in fact, a sub-species of Black Orpington chickens which came over on the first ships with the British and were then selectively bred for years.
Australorps make great flock leaders as they are prepared to define the pecking order without being pushy about things. You won’t find them turning into bullies without severe provocation, at least. This can be really good news if you just want a flock that you don’t need to keep an eye on as much. If you are concern one of your chickens is bullying the others then you should read one of our articles all about chickens pecking order.
They lay well (about 5 times a week) and their eggs are a pleasant brown color. They don’t tend to get distressed in confinement – so if you’re short on space they might be your top pick of chicken. They’re also very good with people and are unlikely to cause any real problems with children or families.
The Cochins are up there amongst the biggest chickens of them all and you might think that this would make them brash and unfriendly but actually, they’re big softies. They’re famed for having a mild and even temperament that gets on with other birds and with the family.
They are one of the few species that seems to genuinely appreciate a cuddle from their owner and if you offer a treat or two, you’ll soon have them hopping into your lap at a moment’s notice.
They’re not the most prolific layers but you ought to be able to get 3 eggs a week out of a cochin without problems. They’re big on going broody but if you want to raise your own chickens this is an asset and Cochins make particularly good mother hens.
However, their big fluffy appearance doesn’t work well in the hottest climates and these birds are particularly prone to heatstroke. Something to bear in mind if your part of the world sees a lot of summer sun.
The royalty of chickens? Well, almost. The Sultans were bred to be the chickens of the courts of the Ottoman Empire and thus they’d have been owned (and eaten by) sultans. They were selected for this honor because of one unusual trait – they don’t scratch at gardens.
So, if you have a prized flowerbed that you can’t bear the thought of your birds getting into – the Sultans are the best possible choice. However, if you also want eggs, you’re going to be disappointed – they lay around 2 eggs a year! Yes, year not week.
They don’t mind being around people at all and are fine to be kept in confinement without any stress and, in fact, are one of the few chicken breeds which is happy to be raised indoors. As you might expect from chickens of The Ottoman Empire – they don’t like cold winters and can become deeply distressed if the mercury falls too far.
The Brahma is a huge bird which is generally kept for its meat. That’s because as a layer it’s definitely a bit under par though it does rather better than the Sultans with about 150 eggs produced per hen per year. However, if you’re looking for a hardy breed – you can’t go wrong with the Brahma.
They prefer cold conditions and are really good in the kind of damp that most chickens loathe. This is peculiar because you’d think the huge amount of feathers on their feet would make them particularly sensitive to damp, if anything.
They have a genuinely friendly demeanor and while they may not be quite as excited to grab a cuddle as some of the other breeds – they still make for excellent pets and children seem to love their fluffy appearance.
Nobody seems to know the origin of their peculiar name, but Wyandotte’s definitely do not have anything to do with the Native American tribe of the same name. They are a hugely popular show breed and are constantly being tailored, from a genetic perspective, to deliver new and exciting looks.
They are one of nature’s best layers too and you can expect up to 200 eggs a year from a happy Wyandotte hen. They’re not the biggest of birds though and you probably won’t want to keep them if you want meat as they only weigh up to 1.5 lbs. in most cases.
They are famed for being docile and friendly and are among the best choices for a pet chicken, there aren’t any other chickens it won’t get along with either. However, they’re also no pushover and if you have any chicken bullies, they may find themselves slapped into place by a Wyandotte who will brook no such nonsense.
Oddly, despite their warm temperament – they prefer to spend their time by themselves mostly and are less likely to chill in groups.
Possibly the strangest looking chicken on our list is the Polish chicken. This chicken has seen a huge rise in popularity in the last few years and we’re convinced that’s because it’s just so odd to look at – who wouldn’t fall in love with this superstar of the chicken world?
Now, it’s important to note that if the Polish chicken’s crest grows out of control, it can end up interfering with its ability to see and that can adversely affect its temperament. So, if you have a bird that seems to be heading that way – you can trim the crest easily and it will be much happier.
They prefer an indoor environment. Probably because they’re more curious than cats are and get into trouble if left to their own devices. If you have kids, they’re quite safe, this bird really enjoys cuddling.
On top of all these pluses, the Polish hen is happy to provide you with
lots of lovely eggs and produces 4-5 eggs weekly.
Our second five-toed breed is the French chicken the Faverolle. You can always tell where they’ve been from the unusual footprints that they leave behind in your garden.
The Faverolle has something of that classic chicken look about them and they’re most easily distinguished by the fluffy muffs (that’s cheek feathers) and their long beards of feathers. You can find Faverolles in many different colors though most people seem to prefer a salmon pink.
They have no issues whatsoever with confinement and are, perhaps, even a little too docile. If you have very young children, you might want to pick Faverolles because they are friendly but also because they are one of the most trainable types of chicken out there.
If you want eggs – they’re good to go and their hens will lay four(ish) creamy colored eggs a week when they’re happy.
They may have the strangest name of any chicken in the world but the Barbu D’Uccles hail from Belgium from the town of Uccle.
They were first bred in the 1900s and were bred for their pleasing personalities. They’re docile and very friendly but also very small and can be easy targets for a flock’s bullies.
The hens make for excellent mothers but on the flip side that does mean they have a tendency to become broody too.
They are a very distinct chicken with many different colors available – it’s their feathered muff, however, that tend to catch the eye.
If you want chickens that you can talk to, Barbu D’Uccles are among the most vocal members of the chicken world and they are very happy to chat with their owners.
Because they were bred to be friends, these chickens are well-known for being happy to perch on their owners and for seeking out cuddles.
They are a very curious chicken and are best kept in confinement.
It’s funny but the Easter Eggers are something of the outcast in the chicken world because they are not a formally recognized breed (which means if you want to show your chickens, this is not the best choice of chicken for you).
They are considered to be “any chicken that lays an egg that is colored but doesn’t conform to any other standard for a recognized breed”. That means their eggs are absolutely lovely and you can get pink, green and blue eggs from many Easter Eggers.
They don’t seem too bothered about their “outsider” status and they tend to have a fairly even keel when it comes to disposition. They’re not big cuddlers but they are easy to train and will get on well with most people, though children may need a little help making their acquaintance early in the relationship.
OK, we had some second thoughts about adding the White Leghorn to our list. Why? Because it has a reputation for being a bit “huffy” and it’s not the calmest of birds. But, it is incredibly bright (for a chicken – don’t expect it to be joining MENSA) and that means it can be trained to get on very well with everyone.
The White Leghorn is the superstar of the laying world and it can deliver nearly 300 eggs a year which is why it’s the number one choice of commercial laying operations around the world.
However, it is a fairly small bird and that means it’s better suited to warmer climates and it really can’t handle extreme cold at all.
These chickens are a hybrid breed and are not meant for showing. They’re the result of bringing together any two recognized breeds to try and produce other favorable characteristics (such as increasing laying properties or weight).
One unusual property of these “sex linked chickens” is that they can be very easily sexed as chicks because they will have a dominant feather color which relates to one or the other of their parents. This makes it super easy to choose a black/red star chicken flock and get the right ratio of hens to roosters.
Of course, two sex-linked chickens can mate but their offspring’s plumage will no longer be sex-linked.
Your average black or red star chicken is a good layer and will output around 260 eggs per year.
They are also often bred for their docility and can make excellent pets.
So, there you have it, the 16 best chicken breeds for pets. As you can see, you won’t be short on options when it comes to creating your backyard flock.
You will need to spend some time with your birds establishing your place in the pecking order and building up a relationship with them but once you do – you’ll find that chickens make for amazing pets.
Here are some of my favorite products for chickens and their coops: