Raising chickens is a delightful hobby and a wonderful way to introduce children to the joys of nature. But which breeds are best for little ones? Well, when it comes to the best chickens for kids, the chickens that you already have are the best. But what if you don’t already have any chickens?
A Gentle Introduction
Introducing children to chickens is a delicate process. Just like you’d select the friendliest dog for your family, you’d want to choose a chicken breed that’s known for its gentle and docile nature.
That means no pecking, no scratching, and a minimum of wiggling.
Remember that the best chickens for kids can be created by giving chicks attention and a moderate dose of handling after a few days in the brooder. You want the baby chicks to have a few days relatively undisturbed in the brooder so they can get their little feet solidly underneath them.
Top Breeds for Kids
These fluffy little bundles of joy are often the first choice for families with kids. Silkies have a sweet temperament and are famous for their soft, silk-like feathers that kids love to pet. Let’s look at them in depth to see what makes this one of the best chickens for kids.
- Feathers: Unlike most chicken breeds, Silkie feathers lack barbicels, which are tiny hooks that latch individual feather strands together. As a result, their feathers look fluffy and feel similar to silk or satin, hence the name “Silkie.”
- Skin, Bones, and Meat: They have black skin, bones, and dark meat – quite contrasting to most other chickens.
- Crest: Many Silkies have a crest or a “pouf” of feathers on their heads.
- Beard & Muffs: Some Silkies also possess a beard and muffs, which provide an even fluffier appearance around their faces.
- Feet: Another notable feature is their feet, which are feathered and have five toes, while most chickens only have four.
Silkies are known for their calm, friendly, and docile nature. They often get along well with other poultry and are particularly gentle with children. Due to their docile nature, they sometimes rank lower in the pecking order when housed with more assertive breeds.
Silkie hens are famously broody, meaning they have a strong desire to sit on and hatch eggs. Breeders often use them to hatch eggs from other breeds because of their strong maternal instincts.
While they’re not known as prolific layers, Silkie hens will lay small to medium-sized eggs. The egg color is typically a shade of cream or tinted.
Health and Care:
Silkies are generally hardy, but their unique feathering requires some attention. Their fluffy feathers can easily get wet and dirty so they might need protection from rainy or muddy conditions. Their crested feathers can sometimes obstruct their vision, making them more vulnerable to predators.
Origin and History:
The Silkie breed is ancient, with roots tracing back to China over a thousand years ago. Marco Polo even mentioned these chickens in his travel logs during the 13th century, describing them as “furred” chickens.
While they are primarily kept as ornamental birds or pets nowadays, Silkie meat is a delicacy believed to have medicinal properties in some cultures.
In conclusion, Silkie Bantams are delightful, with their quirky looks and gentle personalities. They’re perfect for families and hobbyists looking for a pet-like chicken breed. If considering them for your flock, ensure they have a safe environment that accounts for their unique needs.
Noted for their friendly and calm nature, Buff Orpingtons are large birds with a heart of gold, which puts them in the category of best chickens for kids. Their beautiful golden plumage is a sight to behold, and they’re particularly tolerant of children’s antics. Let’s take a closer look!
- Color: The term “buff” in their name refers to their golden-yellow plumage, which can range from light gold to deep orange gold.
- Size: Buff Orpingtons are large birds, with hens typically weighing around 6-8 pounds and roosters weighing a bit more.
- Body Shape: They have a broad, deep body with a rounded appearance. Their stance is quite upright, and their full feathering makes them look even more substantial.
Buff Orpingtons are known for their calm and friendly disposition. Their placid nature often makes them favorites in backyard flocks, especially for families with children. They can, however, be on the lower end of the pecking order due to their docile nature.
- Egg Color: Buff Orpington hens lay large, brown eggs.
- Laying Rate: They’re reliable layers, typically producing around 3-4 eggs per week, though this can vary depending on the individual bird and environmental factors.
Buff Orpington hens have a moderate to high tendency to go broody, meaning they might want to sit on and hatch their eggs. This broodiness can sometimes affect their overall egg production, as a broody hen will not lay.
Health and Care:
- Cold-Hardy: One of the advantages of Buff Orpingtons is their adaptability to cold climates. Their thick feathering provides insulation, making them quite cold-hardy.
- Space Needs: Their size makes them appreciate having enough space to move about. While they can manage in confined spaces, they thrive better when they have room to roam.
- Potential Health Issues: Larger birds might be more prone to issues like obesity if not given enough space or if fed excessively. Regular health checks and a balanced diet are essential.
Origin and History:
The Orpington breed originated in the late 19th century in Orpington, Kent, in England. The “Buff” variety, which is the golden-yellow color, became the most popular and well-known of the Orpingtons.
While they’re primarily known as egg layers in modern times, their substantial size means they were also historically used for meat. In a backyard setting, many families appreciate them for their dual-purpose nature, as they provide both eggs and a potential meat source.
In conclusion, Buff Orpingtons are often celebrated for their combination of utility, beauty, and gentle disposition. They make an excellent addition to any flock, especially for beginners or those looking for reliable, family-friendly chickens.
With their striking black and white striped feathers, Plymouth Rocks are a visual treat and one of the best chickens for kids because they are great companions. They’re easy-going and can be a good match for young chicken ranchers. Let’s find out more.
Plymouth Rocks, often referred to as “Rocks” or “Barred Rocks” (for the most popular color pattern), is a well-respected and widely known breed in the poultry world. Here’s a more detailed look at Plymouth Rocks:
- Color and Patterns: The most recognized variant is the “Barred Rock”, which has striking black and white stripes, giving it a barred appearance. However, Plymouth Rocks come in other color patterns as well, including white, buff, partridge, and silver-penciled.
- Size: Plymouth Rocks are medium to large birds, with hens usually weighing 6-7 pounds and roosters weighing 7-8 pounds or more.
- Body Shape: They possess a broad, deep body with a slightly upright stance, complemented by a single comb.
Plymouth Rocks are renowned for their friendly and easy-going nature. They are often described as sociable, even occasionally seeking human interaction. This temperament makes them suitable for families and mixed flocks.
- Egg Color: They lay medium to large brown eggs.
- Laying Rate: Plymouth Rocks are consistent layers, often producing around 4-5 eggs a week, making them one of the better layers among the dual-purpose breeds.
While Plymouth Rock hens can go broody, they don’t have as strong of a tendency as some other breeds. When they do, they are generally good mothers.
Health and Care:
- Adaptability: Plymouth Rocks are hardy birds, adapting well to various climates. Their dense feathering helps them endure colder temperatures.
- Space Needs: Being active foragers, they appreciate space to roam and scratch around. However, they can also adapt to confined spaces if necessary.
- Potential Health Issues: They are generally robust and not particularly prone to many health issues. Regular health checks and a balanced diet are recommended.
Origin and History:
The Plymouth Rock breed originated in the United States in the 19th century. It’s one of America’s oldest chicken breeds and played a significant role in the poultry industry in the country, especially before the rise of commercial broiler breeds.
Plymouth Rocks are considered a dual-purpose breed. They are valued both for their egg-laying capabilities and for their meat. Their meat is tender and flavorful, and their body size ensures a decent yield.
In conclusion, Plymouth Rocks are a staple in the poultry world. Their reliable egg production, quality meat yield, and amiable nature make them a favorite choice for many backyard poultry keepers and farmers alike. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned chicken enthusiast, you can’t go wrong with adding Plymouth Rocks to your flock.
Caring for Your Chickens
While choosing the right breed is essential, teaching children about responsible care is paramount. Ensure they learn about feeding, cleaning, and providing a safe environment for their feathery friends. And, of course, always supervise interactions to ensure both child and chicken are comfortable and safe.
Choosing the best chickens for kids combines selecting a gentle breed and instilling responsible care habits in the young. With a pinch of patience and a dash of love, your backyard can become a haven for both children and chickens.
Do you have any more questions about raising chickens? Feel free to roam around our blog for more insights!