Breeds impact the well-being of your flock

Importantly the breed or breeds you pick will have an impact on the health, contentedness and productivity of the individual hen and the
flock. Some breeds may not be suited to a mix flock or might be too ‘flighty’ to keep happily in a back yard for example.

Keeping a combination of chickens has its advantages as different birds give different things, including look & personalities, plus certain chooks are better suited for different conditions and more disease resistant. It also means that hens go broody or moult at different times so your months of ‘egg laying’ are stretched out. The following is not an exhaustive list, but more the breeds we specialise in here at Schoolhouse Farm. We happily recommend any of these breeds, as long as they suit your circumstances.


✓ Eggs ✓ Easy-going ✓ Duel-purpose ✓ WOW

Barnevelder are a heritage breed, considered a duel-purpose bird. They are a calm bird and lovely to look at. They lay dark chocolate brown eggs, usually with speckles on them (180-220/yr). Good winter egg layers as the birds are very good in cold weather. These birds are very adaptable, they are happy to free-range or to be enclosed in a good yard. A low broodiness factor means no mothering but no broody hen either. Roosters are gorgeous to look , medium size and very gentle too.


✓ Eggs ✓ Can be flighty ✓ Inquisitive ✓ WOW

Most people are familiar with the white leghorn or white leghorn cross (a popular commercially available backyard hybrid layer). The brown leghorn, although not as common, are stunning to look at without losing the egg laying ability. They are very good layers, at around 280 -300 large pure white eggs per year. They are a light framed bird, with a good feed-to-egg conversion ratio. They can be an active bird, so they can be consider ‘flighty’, although we find them inquisitive. They make very effective ‘gardeners’ by the way. They don’t go broody which means they are very reliable ‘consistent’ egg layers. Whilst they are attractive to look at these birds do not like to be ‘petted’ or confined.


✓ Calm ✓ Duel-purpose ✓ Broody/Motherhood ✓ WOW ✓ Pets

One of the gentle giants of the chook world. Total ‘fluff-balls”, profusely feathered, including on the feet. The prolific feathering can make care tricky, particularly in wet weather. They are large heavy birds with hens weighing 3-4 kilos. They are friendly easy-going chooks that, despite their size, are happily contained. They do lay eggs but only 60-100 medium-sized off-white per year.
Cochins are fabulous ‘incubators’ – they are reliably (and regularly!) broody, sitting contently on eggs and are happy to adopt chicks as well. It you want to breed yourself, particularly if you have kids, these birds are a lovely addition to your flock. Because of their gentleness they can find interacting with other hens challenging, so keeping at least two together in a mixed flock is a good idea.


✓ Eggs ✓ Relaxed, self-contained ✓ Duel-purpose

An Australian bred chook, which means they are hardy and good in Australian conditions, including heat waves and frost. They are perhaps the best all-rounder suited to our conditions. These birds are large too, around 3 kilos and good layers, producing around 250 medium to large brown (perhaps a pinkish tint) eggs per year.

The most common colour is the original black with a luscious green sheen, having black legs and large distinctive black eyes too. You can now also get them in shades of blue and ‘splash’ (although not common) All are totally lovely to look at. They are easy going, particularly to their humans, although they can be assertive and often ‘alpha’ in the flock.

Their personality generally means they are happy to be housed, won’t try to fly over fencing and are generally good in a mixed-flock..

Speckle Sussex


✓ Eggs ✓ Friendly/interactive ✓ WOW ✓ Pets

Speckle Sussex remain a relatively rare breed but have a very loyal following amongst those who have them. This is because they are generally charming, inquisitive and interactive, happily following their people around, making hem good pets. This same ‘easy-going’ nature means they are good in a mixed flock too, easily fitting-in but also happy to be independent. They lay well, around 200 medium light-brown eggs per year. Their lighter frame, compared to the more-known Light Sussex means they are not as well suited to eating but are still ‘chunky’ so acceptable for meat. They are hardy in all weathers and do not tend to go broody. A good ‘all-round’ backyard chicken.


✓ Eggs ✓ cheeky/free-spirited ✓ Broody/Motherhood ✓ WOW

Simply delightful characters to have in the backyard. Despite the ‘cuteness’ factor though they are generally highly active and ‘quirky’, which means they don’t always make great ‘cuddle’ chooks. They do, however, lay around 150-200 medium divine blue-green coloured eggs (shell only!) per year, which means kids think they are very cool.

They are not highly broody but when they do decide to sit they make excellent mothers, very attentive to their brood.

They are good garden workers but if you free-range them you should probably consider clipping their wings – they have no respect for fences and ‘no-go’ zones.


✓ Eggs ✓ Easy-going ✓ Duel-purpose

The Welsummer is weather hardly in both hot and cold. They are an easy-going friendly chicken, laying around 150-200 dark brown eggs per year. They are also a heavy ‘chunky’ chicken, which makes them a good meat bird, hence they are considered duel-purpose.

They mix well with other breeds, making them ideal in a mixed-flock. They are excellent foragers too, meaning they will happily explore whenever allowed. They do not tend to go broody but, reportedly, when they do, they sit and mother well.


✓ Calm/Interactive ✓ Duel-purpose ✓ Broodiness/Motherhood ✓ WOW

The Wyandotte is a personal favourite of many because of their appearance. Having said that, they are only moderate layers, laying 120- 170 medium-size cream eggs. These are heavy ‘meaty’ birds with, reputedly, good tasting meat. They are graceful and docile and easily contained. They are not great in the heat however, so they need lots of summer shade and well-ventilated roosting areas. Their renown broodiness and great mothering abilities makes them an excellent choice if you want to breed in the backyard but if you don’t want to breed then think carefully before adding a Wyandotte.


✓ Gentle and calm ✓ Broodiness/Motherhood ✓ Pets

Let’s face it, these guys are very very cute, and yes, they can be cuddled and petted and will happily become part of the family, and so are great for kids. They also make fantastic mothers, raising their own or any other breed of chick. Of course this means they are high on the broody scale, which in turn means limited egg production (60-100 per year small cream to light brown eggs only in spring-summer). They are very light, often weighing less than a kilo.

The upside of their size is that they don’t eat much, can be held in much smaller areas and won’t impact too much on your back yard. They come in a variety of colours too so it really helps when you are going for the ‘United-Nations’ look!