Expected laying

Selection for
breeding pure

Mating up



Egg Production


Natural Hatching

Artificial Hatching



Breeds & Breeding

The British Poultry Standards book has the complete Standards for all the pure breeds available in the UK and the 6th edition was published in 2008. Light breeds are the best layers, heavy breeds tend to be more docile. Of course, any chickens can be bred from, but it is important to at least maintain, if not improve, the Standardised pure breeds from a conservation point of view. If a breed cannot be recognised from its outline, it is not a good specimen.

Heavy Breeds
Dark Brown eggs are the favourite of many, and the two breeds which lay these are the Marans (two-tone grey banding across the feathers known as Cuckoo) and the Welsummer (typical orange and black farmyard storybook cockerel colour). The egg of the Welsummer is slightly redder, more of a flower-pot colour than that of the Marans which is dark brown. A light brown egg is laid by the Barnevelder, the plumage being mahogany with double black lacing on each feather.
Of the British heavy breeds, one of the most popular is the Buff Orpington, as were owned by Her Majesty the Queen Mother. There are several other colours, but none are noted for their egg production. The Sussex is a good egg layer, the most popular colour being Light (white with black points) Rhode Island Red, Australorp, Plymouth Rock, and Wyandotte, are also good layers of tinted eggs. The Croad Langshan lays a plum-coloured egg. The heavier breeds include the Dorking (with five toes) and the Indian Game which is very broad and heavy indeed. The remaining type of heavy breeds are those with feathered legs such as the Cochin, Brahma, and Faverolles.


Light Breeds
There is great variation in colours and types with many being imports. Virtually all of these lay white or light coloured eggs. The White Leghorn still out-produces most breeds, but there are several other colours. Other Mediterranean breeds are the Ancona (white spots on black), Minorca and Andalusian (blue laced). British breeds include the Derbyshire Redcap, Old English Pheasant Fowl, Hamburg (pencilled or spangled), Scots Dumpy (short legs) and Scots Grey, all of which should have good utility attributes. Within the Light Breeds are the Crested Breeds including the Poland, the Araucana (blue/green eggs) and that most fluffy of birds, the Silkie. The Frizzle looks strange with its backward-curling feathers but is a decent layer. Old English Game and the reachy Modern Game are particularly hardy and colourful.

German Langshan

Large Fowl, Bantams, and True Bantams
There are miniatures of certain Large Fowl which should be one quarter the size of the large, usually referred to as Bantams. True Bantams do not have a Large Fowl counterpart and are primarily for ornamental and aesthetic purposes, but are excellent for young children and those without much space available for poultry.

Dutch, True Bantam