Selecting the Best Chicken Breeds for Children
Selecting the best chicken breeds to raise with children is necessary for those who are new to raising poultry. Learn the best poultry breeds to choose from when incorporating children and chickens. Seek out gentle chicken breeds which are docile verses breeds that are skittish and standoffish.
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I am a chicken enabler. To those who even breathe the words, “I’m thinking about raising chickens…” I tend to be an in-your-face-shouting-words-of-encouragement kinda person.
So sorry! No, not really.
In all honesty, when it comes to intermingling children and chickens there are a few things that need to be considered. For example, selecting the best chicken breeds. And yes, there is the ‘best breed’ when it comes to children and chickens.
There are many reasons as to why families should incorporate chickens.
Aside from receiving farm fresh eggs, these feathered dinosaurs are a great form of entertainment. Watching them scratch around, come when called, to listening to the song of their people makes for great entertainment.
But chickens do more than this, especially when it comes to raising children and chickens together.
To begin with, by allowing children to raise chickens it teaches them responsibility. Here’s how children can be involved:
- Open and close the coop daily
- Provide feed and fresh water
- Collect eggs
- But more importantly, children can assist in cleaning the coop weekly
Also, when children are allowed to raise chickens it teaches them compassion. Children are quick to learn the importance of good animal husbandry. It instills a sense of responsibility and compassion into their sweet little hearts.
Finally, chickens are the gateway to understanding where real food comes from. This is such a true statement.
These reason alone provide strong life skills to our young ones. What better way to educate child than by allowing them to raise poultry, or various poultry breeds?
Selecting the Best Chicken Breeds based on Egg Production
Because individuals are seeking a cleaner food source, the incorporation of backyard chickens is on the rise. In fact, it is because many families cannot raise larger livestock that they opt to raise chickens.
Aside from selecting breeds which are good for children to raise, it is important to know about egg production among various chicken breeds.
Above all, there is one thing to remember, chickens produce high quantities of eggs up to 2 1/2 years of age. Egg production begins to decline after this age.
Unfortunately, many prolific layers are not kid friendly. These poultry breeds are skittish and do not like to be handled. The Leghorn breed falls under this category.
These particular poultry breeds produce the highest amount of eggs per year. Producing roughly up to 300 eggs annually, with a minimal drop in egg production the second year.
By the end of year two high production poultry breeds drastically decrease in egg production.
Selecting the Best Chicken Breeds for Children
The list compiled below are breeds which we, or friends with children, have raised. Time, and time again, these breeds have proven to be ideal for children to raise.
The list provided is based on egg production in comparison to breed selection, ranging between prolific, average, and below average. But remember, it is the experience between raising children and chickens together which is more important.
Also keep in mind, chickens come in two sizes, standard and bantam. Standard chickens are the most common backyard chickens, whereas bantams are much smaller in size.
This type of bird will lay around 200-300 eggs per year, making it an average of 5 eggs per week.
Australorp – A gentle giant. Not to mention patient, even tempered, and calm. Australorps are sweet birds that lay extremely well and are known to be prolific layers.
Barred Plymouth Rock – This breed is considered to be a good layer and excellent around children and pets. Due to their calm disposition they are great around dogs. Egg production for this breed is roughly 4 to 5 eggs per week.
Speckled Sussex – A favorite breed of ours. This fun loving bird loves treats and will do just about anything to get them! They enjoy being talked to and do not mind being held. Egg production for this breed is roughly 5 eggs per week.
Breeds which fall into this category are, more times than not, better with children. These breeds lay roughly 180 eggs per year, and average 4 eggs per week.
Cochin – Above all, this breed is the most stunning. This sweet, gentle bird will win the heart of children and adults alike. Their feathered feet add to their attraction, and are available in many colors. Cochins produce roughly 4 eggs per week.
Orpington – This breed comes in various colors, but Buff is the more common color sold in feed stores. This gentle, easy going bird is nothing short of perfect for children. Orpingtons are not easily spooked and very docile laying roughly 4 eggs a week.
Faverolle – This French breed is such a unique bird. Faverolles have 5 toes instead of 4, and the most perfect cheek muffs and a beard. They handle being confined to a coop and run quite well, and adapt well in the coldest climates. Due to its extremely gentle behavior Faverolles are ideal for young children. This breed lays roughly 4 eggs per week.
Wyandotte – Wyandottes are available in many colors. They are slow moving, calm, and enjoy being held. Egg production for this breed is an average of 4 eggs per week.
Easter Egger aka Americana – Much like Olive Eggers and Faverolles this breed can be identified by the muffs and beard they have. In addition to their stunning good looks this breed is known to lay a rainbow of eggs! Egg color can range in various shades of blue, pink, green, and brown, hence the use of the word Easter in their name. Easter Eggers are docile and easy to handle. Not to mention, they are talkers! Easter Eggers can lay up to 250 eggs per year, and average 4 to 5 eggs a week.
Java – By far a favorite breed of ours. This gentle dual purpose chicken is amazing in every way. They are slow moving, calm, and do not mind being held. Java hens lay beautiful beige colored eggs, averaging 4 a week.
Low Egg Production
Specialty breeds, or bantam breeds, are low producing in the egg department. These birds tend to lay roughly 100 eggs per year.
Brahma – Talk about a gentle breed! Brahmas are available as both standard and bantam, are feathered footed, and available in many colors. This breed is not skittish and is quite calm, and does not mind being handled. Egg production roughly 3 eggs per week.
Jersey Giants – Much like the other “giant” gentle chicken breeds (Cochin and Australorp) this bird takes the cake. Truly one of the most gentle breeds available. Jersey Giants are solid in shape and like to simply cruise from one location to the next. Not to mention, Jerseys are on quieter side compared to many of the other breeds listed. As far as personality goes, this chicken is perfect, whereas, egg production is not. This breed produces only 2 to 4 eggs per week.
Silkie and Polish – These bantam breeds are not only small but fun to have around for children. However, due to their smaller size children handling these birds should be watched. The silkie’s skull is not fully enclosed, making head injuries common for this breed. Egg production is on the low side, producing 100 small eggs per year.
Unfortunately, the following breeds are specialty breeds, and cannot be purchased through feed stores. Look to purchase these breeds from private breeders.
Marans – This breed is eye candy to those who raise poultry. Not only are they docile, the color of eggs they lay are stunning! Marans come in a variety of breed options and produce eggs in various hues of chocolate.
Olive egger – Another amazing breed to have children raise and handle. This bird lays various shades of olive eggs. Egg production for this breed is on the low side, ranging from 3 to 4 eggs per week.
Children and Chickens – Raising Gentle Chicken Breeds
Children can handle chicks the moment they are brought home. Of course, younger children should be supervised when they are handling and caring for the little chicks. Encourage children to wash hands before and after handling, and always wash before touching chicks in a different brooder.
Encourage Participation in Setting up a Brooder
Selecting the best chicken breeds for children is easy to achieve. Now, are you ready to teach them how to set up a chick brooder? Don’t worry, it’s just as easy!
The Name Game
What’s in a name? Everything! Even if it means naming one chicken Peanut Butter and the other Jelly. Though, if your children need help with names take a look at this list, it has few good ones on it!
Allow Children to Become Entrepreneurs
Raising children and chickens does not have to stop with caring for them. Teach children value of money by allowing the sale eggs. This teaches children ownership in the work they do daily.
Begin by having children learn more about selling farm fresh eggs.
Kids in the Kitchen
Encourage children to learn how to prepare farm fresh eggs. This easy egg custard pie dessert recipe will provide them the confidence to learn to cook.
In addition to the egg custard pie, Dutch baby pancakes are also a great option for children to make. But it is the homemade egg noodles which keep them excited about raising chickens!
With this information in mind, there should be no reason as to why children and chickens cannot cohabitate. Though, if more convincing is needed take a look at these books. Better yet, empower your children by giving them a copy!
- The Homesteader’s Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook: Raising a Healthy Flock from Start to Finish
- 50 Do-It-Yourself Projects for Keeping Chickens: Chicken Coops, Brooders, Runs, Swings, Dust Baths, and More!
- Keeping Chickens: A Kid’s Guide to Everything You Need to Know about Breeds, Coops, Behavior, Eggs, and More!
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