What Are The Most Active Chicken Breeds?

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

“I’m starting a small backyard chicken coop and I want to make sure I choose a breed that will give me plenty of eggs. What are the most active chicken breeds that are also good egg layers?” Thanks a bunch, Sandra, Portland, Oregon, USA.

What Are The Most Active Chicken Breeds?

Hey Sandra! It’s great to hear you’re venturing into backyard chicken keeping. Choosing the right breed for your coop is crucial, especially if you’re looking for active chickens that are also prolific egg layers. Let’s explore some of the most energetic chicken breeds that’ll keep your backyard lively and your egg basket full.

Leghorns: The Egg-Laying Dynamos

When it comes to active breeds that are also excellent layers, Leghorns top the list. These Mediterranean beauties are known for their high energy and impressive egg production. Sandra, you’ll love how these chickens can lay up to 280-320 eggs per year! They’re constantly on the move, foraging and exploring their surroundings.

Leghorns come in various colors, but the white Leghorn is the most common. They’re relatively small birds, weighing about 4-5 pounds, which makes them perfect for smaller backyards. Their active nature means they’re excellent foragers, potentially reducing your feed costs.

Rhode Island Reds: The All-American Favorites

Rhode Island Reds are another fantastic choice for active egg layers. These robust birds are known for their friendly personalities and adaptability to various climates. They’re slightly heavier than Leghorns, weighing around 6-8 pounds, but they’re just as active.

You can expect about 250-300 brown eggs per year from a Rhode Island Red. They’re excellent foragers and do well in free-range environments. Their curious and energetic nature means they’ll keep you entertained with their antics.

Australorps: The Gentle Giants

Australorps are a bit of a paradox – they’re large, docile birds, but they’re also incredibly active. Originating from Australia, these black beauties are known for their excellent egg-laying abilities and friendly disposition. An Australorp once set a world record by laying 364 eggs in 365 days!

While they’re not as hyper as some other breeds, Australorps are consistently active throughout the day. They love to forage and explore, making them an excellent choice for backyard flocks. Sandra, if you’re looking for a breed that combines activity with a calm demeanor, Australorps might be perfect for your Portland backyard.

Sussex: The Curious Explorers

Sussex chickens are another breed known for their active nature and good egg production. These birds come in various color varieties, with the Speckled Sussex being particularly popular. They’re medium-sized birds, weighing about 6-7 pounds, and are known for their friendly and inquisitive personalities.

Sussex chickens are excellent foragers and love to explore their surroundings. They’ll keep your backyard pest-free while providing you with about 250-300 eggs per year. Their curious nature means they’re always up to something interesting, making them a joy to watch.

Plymouth Rocks: The Steady Producers

Plymouth Rocks, particularly the Barred Rock variety, are another active breed worth considering. These birds are known for their distinctive black and white striped plumage and friendly disposition. They’re medium to large birds, weighing about 6-8 pounds.

While not as hyperactive as some other breeds, Plymouth Rocks are consistently active throughout the day. They’re excellent foragers and adapt well to various environments. You can expect about 200-280 brown eggs per year from these reliable layers.

Ancona: The Energetic Italians

If you’re looking for a breed that’s both active and a bit unusual, consider the Ancona. These Italian chickens are known for their mottled black and white feathers and their energetic personalities. They’re smaller birds, similar in size to Leghorns, and are excellent flyers.

Anconas are incredibly active and love to forage. They’re also good egg layers, producing about 220-280 white eggs per year. Their active nature means they’re not the best choice for confinement, so they’re perfect if you have a spacious backyard for them to explore.

Factors Affecting Chicken Activity Levels

While breed plays a significant role in a chicken’s activity level, other factors can influence how energetic your birds are:

  • Space: The more space chickens have, the more active they tend to be. A cramped coop can lead to lethargy and stress.
  • Diet: A balanced diet is crucial for maintaining energy levels. Make sure your chickens have access to quality feed and fresh water.
  • Health: Healthy chickens are naturally more active. Regular health checks and proper care are essential.
  • Weather: Extreme temperatures can affect activity levels. Most chickens are less active in very hot or cold weather.
  • Age: Younger chickens are generally more active than older ones.

Benefits of Active Chicken Breeds

Choosing active chicken breeds for your backyard flock comes with several benefits:

  1. Better Egg Production: Active breeds often lay more eggs as their metabolism is higher.
  2. Natural Pest Control: Active chickens are excellent foragers, helping to keep your yard free of insects and pests.
  3. Entertainment: Watching active chickens can be highly entertaining and stress-relieving.
  4. Healthier Birds: Regular activity helps keep chickens fit and healthy.
  5. Lower Feed Costs: Active foragers supplement their diet with insects and plants, potentially reducing your feed expenses.

Considerations for Keeping Active Chicken Breeds

While active chicken breeds can be a joy to keep, there are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Space Requirements: Active breeds need more space to roam and explore. Ensure your backyard can accommodate their energy levels.
  • Fencing: Some active breeds are good flyers. You might need higher fences or covered runs to keep them contained.
  • Neighbor Relations: Active chickens can be noisier. Consider your neighbors when choosing your breeds, especially if you live in an urban area like Portland.
  • Predator Protection: Active chickens that free-range may be more vulnerable to predators. Ensure you have adequate protection measures in place.

Creating an Enriching Environment

To keep your active chickens happy and engaged, consider creating an enriching environment in your backyard:

  • Provide Perches: Different heights of perches give your chickens places to rest and observe their surroundings.
  • Add Dust Baths: Chickens love to bathe in dust. Provide a designated area with fine sand or dirt.
  • Offer Treats: Scatter treats like mealworms or vegetables around the yard to encourage foraging behavior.
  • Create Obstacles: Log piles, sturdy branches, or even chicken playground equipment can provide entertainment and exercise.
  • Rotate Toys: Introduce new objects like mirrors, balls, or hanging vegetables to keep your chickens curious and engaged.

Balancing Activity and Egg Production

While active breeds are often good layers, it’s important to remember that extreme activity can sometimes impact egg production. Chickens that are constantly on the move might lay slightly fewer eggs than their more sedentary counterparts. However, the benefits of having healthy, happy chickens often outweigh any minor decrease in egg production.

Sandra, in your Portland backyard, you might find that the active nature of these breeds helps them stay warm during cooler months, potentially extending their laying season. Just ensure they have a cozy, draft-free coop to retreat to when needed.

Final Thoughts…

Sandra, choosing active chicken breeds for your Portland backyard can be a rewarding experience. From the prolific Leghorns to the friendly Rhode Island Reds, there’s a perfect breed out there for your needs. Remember, the key is to provide a balanced environment that allows your chickens to express their natural behaviors while also meeting their basic needs.

Whether you choose the energetic Anconas or the steady Plymouth Rocks, you’re in for a treat. These active breeds will not only keep your egg basket full but also provide endless entertainment and natural pest control for your yard. Thanks for reaching out with your question, and best of luck with your new backyard flock! Keep us posted on which breed you choose and how they adapt to their new Portland home.

Whether you're a complete beginner and don't know where to start, or you're a seasoned chicken keeping professional and just want practical "how to" advice on tap our guide to keeping chickens has got you covered...

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