The Best Chicken Breeds For Beginners

Raising chickens is an incredibly exciting, interesting, and rewarding hobby. You can make new friends (both human and fowl), learn many new skills, get a constant supply of fresh eggs, and even make a little money!

As you’ll quickly learn while raising chickens, no two chickens are the same, and each breed of chicken has its own preferences, habits, advantages, and disadvantages.

At Horizon Storage Sheds, we’ve built a lot of chicken coops over the years, and in that time, we’ve learned a thing or two about raising chickens. We wanted to take the guesswork out of choosing your first breed of chicken—and that’s the origin of this guide. 

Key Takeaways

  • In most cases, you cannot own chickens in Winnipeg; other municipalities may also ban chicken ownership.
  • Before you start raising chickens, you need to know what you’re getting into—they’re a lot of work!
  • The best chicken breeds for beginners in Manitoba (or almost anywhere on the Prairies) are the Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Speckled Sussex, Australorp, and Turken.
  • You’ll need a well-built coop for your chickens, complete with a run. The right coop will help keep your chickens healthy and strong.

What You Need To Know Before You Start Raising Chickens

Before you buy chickens, there are quite a few things you need to know:

  • Raising chickens is prohibited in Winnipeg unless your property is classified as Rural Residential 5 (RR5) or is agriculturally zoned.
  • Each municipality has its own rules regarding chicken ownership; check with your local authorities before purchasing chickens.
  • To keep your chickens, you’ll need a chicken coop with a run, roosts, feeders, water containers, and more. This coop should be durable to protect your chickens from predators.
  • You’ll need to collect eggs regularly; hens lay year-round!
  • Chickens are a lot of work; you’ll need to clean their coops daily, keep them fed and happy, and take them to the vet when necessary.
  • You don’t need a rooster if you don’t plan on breeding chickens.
  • Each chicken breed has its own temperament; most of the chicken breeds we list below are docile and friendly. Chickens make great pets!

Truth be told, we could make an incredibly detailed list of all of the things you need to know about raising chickens, but it would be an article in its own right! Let us know if you’re interested in learning more about how to raise chickens; we’re here to help! 

Beginner-Friendly Chicken Breeds

When looking for the best chickens for beginners here in Manitoba, there are three key factors we looked at:

  • Temperament
  • Hardiness
  • Egg production

We wanted to find chicken breeds that have a sweet, friendly temperament; backyard chickens are often treated as pets, and raising chickens is a lot easier when they’re docile. 

The thing we valued most in each chicken breed was hardiness; Manitoba is both hot and cold, so we looked for backyard chicken breeds that could thrive in our climate.

Finally, we valued chickens with high egg production. While not all backyard chickens will be used for their eggs, most people love fresh eggs or gifting them to their friends. 

With all of that in mind, here are the backyard chicken breeds we recommend for beginners:

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock Chickens

Plymouth Rocks are one of the most beginner-friendly chicken breeds. They’re quite docile and don’t make a lot of noise, making them an excellent choice for areas with neighbours nearby. They’re a cold-hardy breed with excellent egg production; a single chicken may lay 5-6 eggs in a week. They’re also highly adaptable, doing well in small backyard setups and larger rural setups. The most common variety of Plymouth Rock chicken is the Barred Rock, known for its distinct striped (barred) plumage. Plymouth Rock chickens lay brown eggs. 

Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Red Chicken

Rhode Island Reds are an excellent breed for novices. They are an incredibly hardy breed, withstanding extremes of both cold and heat. They are very good layers; like the Plymouth Rock, they typically lay about 5-6 eggs a week. They are also dual-purpose chickens, meaning they can be used for egg laying or for meat. They are a fairly energetic breed and can be quite loud, so we recommend them for more open areas with fewer neighbours. They are known for their dark red plumage. They lay light brown eggs. 

Speckled Sussex

Any variety of Sussex chicken can be a good choice for beginners, but we like the Speckled Sussex for its distinct speckled appearance. Like the other breeds on our list, the Sussex is extremely hardy, doing well in both heat and cold. They’re docile, friendly, and curious, making them a joy to watch and spend time with. They’re very good layers, averaging 4-5 eggs a week, and they’re a dual-purpose breed. They’re also fairly broody, making them a great option if you want to raise chicks! They lay light brown eggs. 

Australorp

Australorp

The Australorp is a beautiful breed, featuring black plumage with a green sheen. They’re extremely calm and friendly, making them perfect for novices looking for a gentle breed. They’re also prodigious egg layers; an Australorp holds the record for most eggs laid in a year, laying 364 eggs in 365 days. They do quite well in colder temperatures, but they tend not to handle the heat as well, so be sure to have a well-ventilated, shaded shelter for them in the summertime. They lay light brown eggs. 

Turken

Turken Chicken

Turkens have naked necks; they look like hybrids between turkeys and chickens. Their name is a misnomer, though—turkens are chickens through and through, and they’re also known as Transylvanian Naked Necks. They’re a calm and friendly breed that, despite their lack of plumage, does extremely well in both cold and heat. They’re fairly good layers, at a rate of about 4 eggs a week; they’re also an excellent meat bird, thanks to their lack of plumage. They lay brown eggs. 

Chicken Breeds To Avoid

Silkie

Silkie Chicken Breed

We understand wanting to raise Silkies; they’re beautiful, striking, unique-looking birds. They’re docile, calm, and friendly, too—sadly, they don’t make the best breed for beginners in Manitoba. They have fairly low cold tolerance, and they don’t like snow. Their beautiful plumage tends to attract predators, and they don’t lay many eggs—usually about 2-3 a week. Once you’ve perfected your coop and your chicken-raising techniques, you might consider the Silkie; but we recommend waiting. Silkies lay cream or white eggs. 

Ancona

 Ancona

Anconas might seem like an ideal breed; they’re decent layers, at about 3-4 eggs a week, and they withstand cold and snow quite well. The trick with Anconas isn’t in their physical characteristics; it’s their personalities; they are flighty birds (they’ll literally take flight when scared). They’re also active, noisy, and tend to avoid humans. Raising Anconas takes careful, firm, and gentle handling; wait until you have some experience with other breeds before adding them to your flock. Anconas lay white eggs. 

Ideal Housing for Chickens

We’ve written a detailed article on how to pick the right size chicken coop; we highly recommend it for an in-depth look at the features every chicken coop needs, as well as the size of the coop you should look for depending on the size of your flock and chickens.

There are several essential features for every chicken coop. Your coop must have:

  • A run
  • A roost
  • Nesting boxes
  • Proper ventilation
  • Proper insulation
  • A feeder
  • Water containers
  • A large enough area for your flock

Chickens don’t want to be too crowded; room to roam, roost, and lay are all important. The chicken coops we offer here at Horizon Storage Sheds are the perfect fit; they give you everything you need in a coop (though you’ll still have to build the run yourself). Our coops are built to accommodate 20-24 chickens; perfect for beginners!

 Ordering Your Chicken Coop With Horizon Storage Sheds

The right chicken coop can help you keep your chickens happy and healthy; it can also make cleaning and collecting eggs that much easier. We offer chicken coops built to accommodate a sizable flock, and we install everything for you.

Interested in one of our coops? Get in touch with us today! We’d be happy to build and deliver a chicken coop for your new flock.