More and more people are living off the grid, trying to produce their food, electricity, and much more. One of the most common animals that you will find yourself keeping is chicken.
If you are new to this, you might find yourself wondering about the best chicken to keep off the grid.
A good thing about chickens is that they do not need a lot regarding care and maintenance.
They will also provide you with adequate eggs and meat for your family. If you, do it on a large scale, there is a possibility of getting some extra cash out of it.
Which breeds are best to keep? Honestly, there is a wide range of chicken breeds to choose from.
This post highlights 19 Best Chickens For Off-Grid Living. We will also give you information to help you make the best choice for you. Read on!
- Why Do You Need Chickens For Off-Grid Living?
- How To Choose The Right Chicken Breed For Off-Grid Living
- Best Chicken Breeds
- How Many Chickens Should I Start With?
- Wrapping Up
Why Do You Need Chickens For Off-Grid Living?
Before we go into further details, let’s discuss the good things you can get from keeping chicken. First and foremost, keeping chicken will help in food production.
When you are living off-grid, your source of food will depend on the animals and plants you keep.
The chicken will give you some fresh white meat and eggs. Meat and eggs are a great sources of protein that will keep you and your family healthy.
It is true that rearing chicken might require that you build some structures, but they do not require much space.
As mentioned before, chickens have very small needs. The amount of water, food, and space required allows anyone to do it as long as you have the will to do it.
How To Choose The Right Chicken Breed For Off-Grid Living
Before you can start this venture, you will have to consider the breeds that you will get for your homestead. There are three main factors that you have to consider.
First, you should determine the intended purpose of the chicken, the size you prefer, as well as the environment.
It is important that you get a chicken that will be able to live comfortably and still give you what you need, whether eggs, meat, or even for shows.
Determine the Purpose
You need to figure out what you want from the chicken you keep: eggs or meat, or both eggs and meat, or chicks.
Most people who keep chicken want them to provide meat and eggs. They will need the chicken to produce many eggs and still become great juicy meat for dinner.
They will normally need to be foragers with a calm temperament. They should also brood easily. Some of these include the Sussex, Australorp, as well as the Rhode Island Red among others.
If you are mainly considering eggs, the chicken should convert most of the feed to eggs and not grow fat.
These breeds will usually be thinner than other breeds. The Campine, Hamburg, and Red star are great examples of such chicken.
In case you are mostly concerned with meat, then you would like birds that are capable of growing larger breasts and thighs without wasting much of the feed on eggs.
They are normally plump. Brahma and Cornish are traditional meat breeds that are popular.
You can also get some chicken for the main purpose of producing chicks for sale or to increase the number of chickens in your homestead.
You will find that people are always very busy with different tasks, which means that you might not always have the time to look after the chicken.
Make sure that you can give the chicken adequate time and effort for feeding and other maintenance tasks.
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Consider the Size
When thinking about the right breed, you have to consider whether there will be young children around and the amount of space you have around the home.
The size of the chicken has directly related to the time, effort, and purpose of the breeder. Usually, large-sized chickens will be suitable for raising meat.
In addition, it will also require more space and food than small-sized chickens.
The standard-sized chickens are also known as full-sized or large-sized chickens. These are the ones that produce the eggs we are most familiar with in stores.
Bantam chickens are miniature chickens that are almost ¼ the size of the larger chickens. In some cases, there are standard sizes and bantam versions of the standard sizes.
However, there are those that are simply small chicken without the standard versions.
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Is the environment suitable for the chicken you want to keep? You should know that there are chances that the chicken you keep will not be able to flourish as you would expect.
Most breeds will be okay in different climates. However, you might live in an area with harshly cold winters or extremely hot winters. Choose a breed that will work best for that specific climate for the best chances.
You might also have a problem if the animals around the chicken keep messing with the chicken.
If, for instance, you have dogs around, you should be careful because the chicken could easily be food for the other animals. The threats might also reduce the production of the chicken.
If you want to know what you need to raise chickens. Click here.
Best Chicken Breeds
There are very many chicken breeds in the world. However, each breed has different features that make it best for a certain purpose.
Some are best for laying eggs, others meat, and others perfect for hatching chicks. We have gone through a lot of these breeds and have come up with 19 of the best breeds for off-grid life.
This section will cover these 19 breeds and describe them in detail.
|Breeds||Size/Weight (Smallest to Largest)||Appearance||Best for Purpose||Cost(around)|
|Hamburg||4 lbs.||Black and White||Eggs||$3.09|
|Easter Eggers||5 lbs.||Brown||Eggs and Free Ranging||$3.50|
|Rhode Island red||8 lbs.||Black and Brown||Eggs and Meat||$2.45|
|Plymouth Rock||8 lbs.||Grey and White||Eggs||$3.50|
|Buff Orpington||8 lbs.||Golden Yellow||Eggs||$2.17|
|La Fleche||8 lbs.||Black and Green||Meat||$8|
|Catalana||8 lbs.||Reddish Gold and Light Tan||Eggs||$7|
|Wyandotte||9 lbs.||Silver and Golden||Eggs and Chicks||$3.32|
|Black Australorp||10 lbs.||Black||Eggs||$2.17|
|Brahma||10lbs.||Black and White||For Show||$7|
|Cochin||11 lbs.||Different Colors||Free Ranging||$5.50|
|Dorking||14 lbs.||Silver Gray and White||Eggs||$3.49|
|Jersey Giants||15 lbs.||Black, Blue, and White||Meat and Eggs||$2.22|
|Hybrid Layers||Varying Sizes||Golden Brown||Eggs||$7 – $10|
The silkie is one of the breeds from China and was first mentioned in the 13th century. It is light, easy, and small.
They are unique in different features such as the fluffy feathers like fur with a tiny afro at the top. Their toes are five, covered with fluffy features. They are also black.
The bird is very calm and will brood more than most chickens. However, they do not lay eggs as you would like them to. When they are ready to lay eggs, they will produce three eggs.
As long as this bird has adequate room, confinement is not a problem.
The bird’s feathers do not have barbicels, which means that they are not protected against bad weather. This breed is not suitable for cold or wet areas and climates.
2. Hybrid Layers
Hybrid layers are mainly designed to consume a small amount of food and lay many eggs from it.
They are therefore cheaper to breed compared to others. One hybrid will lay something close to 280 eggs each year. They are mainly medium-sized eggs with a brown color.
A hybrid is normally golden brown with some white tail feathers. Hybrids do not turn broody as much as the other breeds. However, they are resilient and tough.
Hybrid layers are primarily tolerant to many things, one of which is the type of weather. You can expect hybrid layers to withstand some heavy weather.
3. Easter Eggers
The first thing you should know is that this is one of the hybrid breeds. However, they are classified alone for several reasons. First, it is known to have blue eggs.
The unique egg color is the main reason for its popularity. It is known to produce around 250 medium to large eggs every year.
There is a very wide range of colors for this breed. However, they are mostly blue with certain color flecks on the feathers.
Since they look a lot like a hawk, they are great for free-ranging. Even though this chicken is mostly friendly, it will not come close to you. This is the reason why the chicken can evade predators.
The breed has hardy chicken that will tolerate temperature variations. Regardless, it should be in a coop that has adequate insulation and no cold drafts. That prevents disease and excess stress.
Leghorns have been very popular for many years, even in the 50s. They are originally from Italy and were introduced to America in the 1800s.
Since then, they have been a preference for most people. In general, these birds lay around 250 medium-sized white eggs yearly.
A leghorn has a big red comb coupled with a completely white body. Their appearance is one of the reasons why people love them.
Even though people love these birds, especially first-timers, they are honestly hard to tame and are also shy.
This is a breed that can tolerate cold temperatures. However, the breed is originally from a warm climate, which is where they will thrive best.
5. Araucanas / Ameraucanas
This is one of the unique chicken breeds that you should know about. The chicken is loved for a wide range of reasons. First, this breed lays blue eggs, which is a beautiful and unique color of eggs.
This breed will mostly lay eggs in spring or summer. However, they will lay around 180 eggs yearly. Secondly, the chicks hatched will grow to adults in no time.
The breed normally has brown feathers but the blue eggs are the main cause of popularity. The bird is a people person.
They are friendly and energetic at the same time. If you are looking for a bird that will not pose any danger to your children, this is the one for you.
Araucana chicken is not as hardy as other breeds in hot areas but will do fairly well. Fresh water and shade are a constant necessity in such areas.
When it comes to the cold, however, the breed is simply perfect. Recommended for colder climates.
Originally, this breed was developed in the States and it grew to become one of the most beautiful breeds out there. It is mainly preferred because of brooding.
It also happens to lay around 5 eggs every week, more than most chicken breeds. Their eggs tend to be pale brown.
The most common colors are golden and silver. Nevertheless, there are many different colors for this breed.
It flourishes even in the cold areas, which is one of the reasons why it is a great bird. On average, the breed will get to around 6 pounds.
The Wyandotte is very hardy in cold conditions because of the heavy feathering. The flock will be perfectly happy as long as the coop has adequate ventilation.
Originally, this bird is from England and is preferred for several reasons. First of all, it does not lay as many eggs as some of the breeds on this list.
However, they will lay around 3 eggs weekly. These are large brown eggs. It will often go broody and will be very protective of its eggs and the nesting box.
The Orpington chicken will have some golden colors on their feathers. They love being held and are also lovable and curious.
They do not mind confinement. However, their coop has to be clean and they should get some time outside the coop. Good maintenance will help in laying eggs.
Orpington chicken can withstand very low temperatures. However, they will be at their best in warmer climates. Ideal temperatures for this breed are between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Rhode Island Red
This is a chicken of American origin, known for its dual-purpose capabilities. You can easily raise one for either meat or eggs.
They are very tough and they lay a lot of eggs, around 250 medium-sized brown eggs per year.
Though they are known as reds, they are black and brown. The tough chickens are known to easily take care of themselves.
It is a friendly chicken that is preferred by those who do not have much experience.
The Rhode Island red, especially the rose comb variety, is cold hardy and will be able to withstand the cold weather perfectly.
9. Black Australorp
The Australorp is a very old breed that is originally from Australia. It was obtained in 1920 and is known to have deep relationships with the Orpington breed.
The main reason why people keep this breed is egg production. The breed will lay around 5 eggs every week, which is quite impressive.
The main color of this breed is black. However, as the chicken grows, you might notice some gray speckles on the tips of the feathers.
This chicken will try to show dominance when in a group. It will mostly prefer to be alone in a coop, which makes it perfect for small spaces. The bird is also friendly and outgoing.
This breed can withstand heat well and can live in such conditions and excel. However, this bird will require 24 hours of shade.
That is because the breed is more susceptible to heatstroke than any other breed.
10. Jersey Giants
Jersey Giants are the largest chickens, among the breeds that should be exceedingly popular. A rooster will normally weigh around 13 pounds, while the hen is about 10 pounds.
Despite that, you will also find a bantam-sized Jersey giant. In around 1 year, a Jersey giant will lay about 150 really large brown eggs.
Most birds are either black, blue, or white. If you are patient enough, this breed is a great source of meat for an entire family, especially because they are big.
They will also go broody often. Apart from that, they are great free rangers, able to find a lot of their food on their own.
In regards to temperament, they are very docile birds with a friendly attitude towards humans and chickens alike.
The Jersey giants are a hardy breed, able to withstand the winter temperatures better than most of the breeds out there. It is a perfect choice if you are in cold-climate areas.
11. Plymouth Rock
If you are looking for a chicken that will lay an egg in two days, then this is one for you. It is known as the Barred Rock or the Plymouth Rock and is perfect for those who do not have much experience.
In general, it can lay close to 200 medium-sized or small, light brown eggs every year.
The bird has a grey coat with some white stripes all over the body. This is a big bird that is perfect for free-ranging. However, despite their size, they are friendly and easy to tame.
In regards to character, they are like the Sussex breed.
Apart from free-ranging preference, the bird is cold-hardy. However, it will do better in cool to moderate climates or weather.
12. Buff Orpington
The Buff Orpington is another very popular bird. Originally, they are from Kent, in England, and are one of the best breeds for off-grid living.
These birds will lay close to 180 eggs every year. During the summer months, they will get more broody, one of the reasons why they lay fewer eggs compared to other breeds.
You will love their golden-yellow coat that has very thick feathers. This breed is one of the best garden pets.
You can be able to train them so that they easily socialize with you to a point of feeding on your hand.
The buff Orpington has feathers that allow them to withstand extreme cold. However, they can chill and easily die if the feathers are sodden.
They prefer the warmer climates but they will need constant shade access.
This breed is originally from China, just like the Silkies. If you are looking for a breed to produce a lot of eggs, this is not the best choice for you.
This chicken will lay around 3 eggs every week. Even though it can live for a long time in a coop, it will also do well when free-ranging.
The breed is known to have fluffy feathers on the entire body and feet. You can either find a bantam or a standard-sized breed.
There are a total of eight different colors for this breed. Different combinations of these colors are also very common. Its best features are its hard, friendly, and calm nature.
The body of a cochin is stout and round with some fluffy feathers. That makes this breed a perfect choice for cold temperatures. It can withstand really cold climates.
Brahma chickens are available in bantam and regular sizes. These birds are known to lay around three eggs weekly. It is true that 3 eggs weekly is not much but the chicken can be raised for another main purpose.
These chickens have more of a show purpose. If you want a bird that you can groom and get that medal, this is the one for you.
The chicken has a beautiful combination of white feathers on the head and body, as well as black ones on the tail and neck.
You will also appreciate that the chicken is docile, can be trained easily, and is not skittish. It is a friendly type of chicken that you can even leave to the children to handle.
Even the roosters have no problem being handled.
The cold weather is nothing to a Brahma breed because it is large. It features feathers even on its feet, which means that it is almost always protected from the cold.
The Cornish is a breed originating from England. It is a bird that is mainly meant to serve as meat, and not for laying eggs.
The eggs they lay are small and will total up to 160 every year. Even though it is meant for meat, it is a great mother that will go broody more than other breeds in the market.
Regardless, the number of chicks hatched is lower than other chickens can hatch.
You will easily find a white Cornish bird. However, there are those that have a mix of colors including blue, brown, and green.
They have the appearance of a very angry chicken. The chicken will possibly be aggressive and should not be around children.
The cornish breed will do well in warm climates but cannot tolerate or thrive in colder weather. Their feathers lay close to the body and will not provide adequate insulation.
This breed is a very great option if you want a friendly chicken that can still produce eggs and meat. It is a very old breed; one of the oldest.
It is known that the largest birds will not lay eggs as you would expect. However, this one will produce around 190 eggs throughout the year. They will even lay during the winter.
The bird has shorter eggs compared to other breeds. It can be silver-grey, or even white. If you are looking for a sweetheart, this might be it. The chicken is friendly, tolerant, as well as calm.
The dorking will tolerate a certain amount of heat but will need a lot of cold water and shade. In hot climates, however, they will not thrive. The roosters are not cold hardy because of the large combs that might get frostbite.
17. La Fleche
The breed, as you can tell from the name, is originally from France. It has not been very popular in many parts of the world.
It is known to be a very tasty bird and it is the main reason why chefs and breeders are looking for them. It will, however, lay around 3 eggs weekly.
It mainly has a glossy black color coupled with some green reflections. It is not so hardy because when it is extremely cold, its growth becomes slow. However, it will tolerate heat properly.
This is among the few breeds that will not withstand the cold. It, however, tolerates heat like a king. That is why it is preferred for warmer climates.
If you are looking for a chicken that will withstand heat well, then this is one for your consideration.
It is originally from Spain and is highly appreciated for a range of reasons including its egg-laying abilities. They can lay up to 240 eggs in one year.
Catalana chicken can range from reddish gold to light tan. They will not flourish in confinement. They are great free-rangers and might require more space for proper growth.
They are active and independent birds. Trying to handle a Catalana bird will cause issues.
The bird is built to withstand even the most extreme temperature. It will especially flourish in extreme heat.
The Hamburg breed is very popular and is officially from Germany. It is known as one of the most attractive breeds out there. But beauty is not the only reason for their popularity.
They are also known to lay close to 200 eggs every year. These are medium-sized or small and have a white shell.
This bird has a coat with black and white feathers. They can, however, have black feathers with gold tips. One amazing thing about these birds is that they do not thrive when in a chicken pen.
They will, however, flourish if they have adequate roaming space. When in small spaces, they tend to be more aggressive than when in a free range.
This breed can withstand a range of temperatures. However, they do best in colder temperatures or even wet climates.
How Many Chickens Should I Start With?
After you have decided on the breed that you want around your homestead, you will have to figure out how many you want to start with.
Several factors will determine how many chickens you can have at home. These include the zoning laws, the roosting space, as well as the needs of your family.
Let’s take a closer look at these three main factors.
First, every state has its own laws to govern how the citizens live and the animals they keep. You should be careful to learn if there are any restrictions that would prevent you from getting a certain number of chickens.
As you have seen, some breeds will easily live in confined spaces and still flourish. At the same time, some will need to free-range and sort of find their food.
These will need a larger space. You should figure out if the space you have would be enough for the chicken you have in mind.
How big is your family? The size of your family will determine the number of chickens you have.
If you have a large family of around 5 people, then a single chicken or two would not be enough. Make sure that they are able to give you adequate meat or eggs for your family.
What are the Easiest chickens to take care of?
These are the chickens that would be perfect for beginners. Some of the easiest breeds to take care of include the Australorp, Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, as well as the Leghorns.
What is the best chicken for free range?
The best chickens for free range are not only easy to take care of but also have a certain type of temperament. The Leghorns, Plymouth Rock, as well as Rhode Island Reds are examples of such chicken.
What chickens are most profitable?
The fact is, pure breeds have the most profits mainly because they are very valuable compared to the hybrid birds. If you manage to breed a pure breed that is perfect for show, you can sell for a lot of money.
What are the healthiest chickens?
Healthy chickens tend to be hardy and can withstand different temperatures. The hardiest chicken breeds include Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Ameraucana, Leghorn, and several others.
There are different chicken breeds out there, each with certain requirements.
Different chicken breeds also have different strengths and weaknesses, which is why you have to consider what you need before you find the right chicken to breed. Have fun choosing!