Backyard Chicken Breeds
Isa Browns and Chinese Silkies are considered the best choices for backyard chickens. Both possess a cheerful personality and are docile, tame and produce good quality eggs. Isa Browns are extremely prolific egg layers and produce a lovely large tan coloured egg.
Isa Browns are best for those who are looking for a reliable year round egg supply. Silkies are best for families who are looking to combine family pets with egg laying qualities. A mixed flock of both breeds is a great option for those who enjoy keeping chickens as pets but also want a year round supply of eggs with Silkies providing full time pet potential and Isa Browns a reliable supply of eggs over a 2-3 year long egg-laying life.
Backyard chickens can free range during the day, but should not be allowed to forage in compost heaps or recently fertilised garden beds. They should also be provided with shelter and nesting spots during the day and be returned to the safety of an enclosed pen at night. They should be fed a mixture of layer crumble and coarse mash, including grains, calcium and vitamins, along with grass, clean water and kitchen scraps. Additional vitamins, calcium and other nutrients are required for young growing pullets (see Young Bird Health Program) and to support the egg laying process in backyard chickens (see Egg Laying Health Program).
Isa Browns are cross-breed chickens that are non-broody and recommended for those who are looking to receive a continual supply of fresh eggs. They are tame, hardy and make great pets but their egg laying capabilities are short lived (about 3-5 years). They are most productive as pullets and during their first year lay up to 270 eggs. The number drops to between 190-200 eggs during their second year and from 3 years old egg production rapidly declines.
Health problems are rare during their first 2 years of life but escalate after this time as they begin to experience egg-laying related problems and deteriorating egg quality from 3 years of age. These problems are alleviated by providing them with additional nutritional support as pullets (see our Egg Laying Health Programme). Although Isa Browns are very endearing and have lovely personalities it is often wise to treat them as utility birds rather than pets because of their potential to develop serious health problems from 3-5 years of age when they are not receiving additional nutritional support.
Chinese Silkies are pure breed chickens. We considered Silkies to be the ideal pet chicken. Their life span is up to 10 years and they are remarkably robust, extremely tame, docile, loving and have individual personalities. Because they are a pure bred chickens they are broody and lay eggs during spring and summer. They are less likely to lay eggs during winter or when they are moulting in autumn. Silkies will lay about 90-120 eggs a year. They should receive an ongoing Young Bird Health Programme until they start to lay eggs at 20 weeks of age. After this time they require little care other than the Egg Laying Health Programme.
Most pelleted food is too coarse for Silkies. Instead they should receive chick starter or chick grower, depending on their age. Silkies do best when they are allowed to eat greens (e.g. grasses). Green leafy vegetables (cabbage, endives lettuce etc) should be made available when grass is not available.
Chinese Silkies are our first choice backyard chicken. They are robust, loveable, quiet, lay good quality eggs and make ideal pets.
Our programmes are a simple and effective way to provide your chicken companions with the best possible care.
Click for information regarding our holistic methods for managing chicken diseases.