Our Urban Chicken Quest: Choosing the Right Chicken Breed

Welcome to our continued saga of obtaining backyard chickens! You'll recall back in November I began working with our City Council to pass an urban chicken ordinance, which will allow citizens to keep hens and ducks within the city. It passed, which brings a whirlwind of excitement as we, and several other neighbors and friends, begin preparing our backyard for a little flock. 

Very soon I'll share the hen house and run we built, information about a basic chicken keeping course I took {per the city ordinance}, and the diet I'll feed them. Today, however, we're talking birds. 

I am considering four breeds, which I will order from Murray McMurray, located here in Iowa. Also, a bit unique to my situation, I am ordering either pullets or 4-week-old birds. They are more expensive, since they've been fed and raised, but they are also ready to go to an outdoor coop. I need older birds because I'll be doing some traveling later this spring and won't be able to get them until the end of May. 

Here's a bit of a summary of the birds I am considering. Help me make my decision, would ya?!

Option #1 - The Buff Orpington: 

What I like about this breed: They're a calm, docile bird that makes for a great 'city hen'. They are also good layers, and begin laying their brown eggs at around 24 weeks. They do have a tendency to be broody, since they're good mothers.
Cost for Pullet: $17.95/each
Cost for 4-week-old: $16/each

Option #2 - The Light Brahma: 

What I like about this breed: They are a great 'city bird' because they're quiet and tame. However, they're also tolerant to cold weather, and are known to be great winter layers. These birds also have a slight tendency to be broody, but lay a pretty brown egg daily.
Cost for Pullet: $19.95/each
Cost for 4-week-old: $17/each

Option #3 - The Barred Rock: 

What I like about this breed: This is a heritage breed, and will lay large brown eggs at about 24 weeks old. In contrast to the Light Brahma, the Barred Rock is a good summer layer. These ladies are heat tolerant, which is also important for the really hot and humid Iowa summers. They are also good 'city birds' and are very friendly.
Cost for Pullet: $17.95/each
Cost for 4-week-old: $16/each

Option #4 - The Ameracauna/Easter Egger: 

What I like about this breed: They lay very pretty blue and green eggs, and are very popular among city folk. They do well in confinement, and have a long laying season. These birds are both hot weather and cold weather tolerant.
Cost for Pullet: $17.95/each
Cost for 4-week-old: $18/each

Do you have experience with any of these breeds? What can you tell me about how they would do living at our little city homestead? 


  1. Would they do well together? Could you get some of each? Then you would know which ones do best for you and your circumstances

  2. So, I work with a woman who has urban chickens... your blog inspired me to ask her about her chickens :-)

    Some of her advice for you that I totally just copied and pasted from her correspondence with me about your post... I’d say she is paying way too much for her birds and to get the Barred Rocks (I have 4) and to get Rhode Island Reds. These birds rocked our cold winter and do well in Summer. A lot of my friends love the Buff Orpintons too. I like the Easter Eggers too, but they aren't as tough in our climate as led to believe. They lay pretty eggs. One of our friends has a few, but they have died in extreme temps.

    I had two of these (now down to one since my roo died). They are pretty, but not hardy: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/blue-laced-red-wyandottes-chicken-breed-information

    Also, www.backyardchickens.com is an awesome resource.

    So now I have not one friend (her) but soon two (you) with urban chickens. I'm totally living through both of you right now as I know we couldn't handle this just yet :-) Maybe some day!

  3. The Americauna's and Barred Rocks have both done well in my backyard coop I have 2 of each along with 2 Rhode Island Reds.

    I have kept a low watt lamp(60 watt) in the coop during the harsh cold months, and all have done well. The only issues I have had this winter is the eggs freezing during the really cold days we have had here in Eastern Iowa. So rethinking my nesting boxes for next year.


  4. We've had all of the above in SE MN and they've all done well. By far, my favorites were the buff orpingtons. They've got great personality but ours were definitely a bit broody. Good luck with whatever you choose!

  5. I've got a mixed flock of Austrolorps and Barred Rocks and I can highly recommend both breeds. They do well in our hot summers and fairly cold winters here in Kansas City and they both breeds are consistent layers of large, brown eggs. The Aussies are very friendly, chatty, and follow me around the yard. The Barred Rocks, not so much. One of them is downright mean!


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