Why another Chicken page?
When my wife, daughter, and I moved out to the country near Lodi, NY, in 2000, we inherited nine hens. We had never had chickens before. Both my wife and I had grandparents who owned farms, but we were both a generation removed from farming. We liked the idea of chooks [my wife, who lived in New Zealand for many years, has taught me to call them chooks] and quickly became fascinated with the feathered beasts. Well, perhaps our daughter wasn't as thrilled with them as my wife and I were. We were quite surprised that each hen had so much personality and that each could be so different. My wife, who is a professional ornithologist and bird biologist, was pleased to see that these free ranging chickens had retained so much of wild birds' instinctive behaviors. She was less than pleased at how quickly they could move in and destroy an unprotected garden bed. The nine birds included two Leghorns, two Barred Rocks, two Rhode Island Reds, two Hubbard Golden Comets, and a big Light Brahma. Not quite a year later, as we began planning to increase our barnyard flock, we wanted to continue with a mixed flock and further expand on its diversity. To do so, we tried to figure out which breeds to select. We found many web resources about chooks and examined more than a few books, but what we didn't find was a single chart with all the comparisons of the different breeds we were interested in. So I tabulated one myself. When I'm not conversing with chickens or operating up in our orchard, I am a librarian, so even though I had no biological or agricultural training and had less than a year's first-hand experience with poultry, I did know something about research, organizing, and categorizing.
The author of this site with friends (when they were still pullets). [photo by Everett Morse]
Realizing that others might gain from what I had compiled, I reworked my notes in the form of an online chart. The chicken chart includes comparison data on more than 60 breeds. Some of the categories used in the charts are arbitrary and of my own creation. Some of the data, such as size and recognized varieties, comes from information found in the American Poultry Association Standard of Excellence. Two important individuals with whom I have consulted and to whom I am very grateful are Barry Koffler, creater of FeatherSite, and Johan Opsomer, from Brugge, who, alas, discontinued his vast and informative chicken site several years ago. I have only included breeds that I could find enough information for good comparisons, so quite a few breeds have been left out, especially those not available in North America. Omitted from the charts are sexlinks and other hybrids, even though we keep Hubbard Golden Comets as part of our flock.
The chart is not a static table. Back in 2001, the chart included a couple dozen breeds -- those we selected and rejected for our own flock. Gradually over the next couple years, I added more breeds, only hesitantly adding bantams and game birds, since those are chickens I wouldn't want to raise myself. In addition to increasing the number of breeds, I have expanded and modified the chart in other ways, sometimes making only a small correction, other times making major changes in layout or other organization. I made some revisions based on our personal experiences, and since we have now had chickens for more than a decade and have increased the original flock more than ninefold, and although not all at the same time, have raiased over 25 different breeds. Many corrections and changes have come from readers from all over the world. I welcome any suggestions or corrections you have to make. Just email me at the address listed below.
I have been amazed at the success of this chart and thank all the hundreds of individuals who have emailed me with questions, suggestions, corrections, and compliments. Things have changed since 2002, when I first posted the chicken chart. There are now several online tables and graphs with similar chicken breed information. Some are more colorfully illustrated and provide slightly different emphases. Fortunately, I haven't found too much contradictory information. Is it unhumble of me to think they are complimenting me by imitation?