Chick Breeds: What’s the Difference?

White and Brown Chicken in Coop

Chirp chirp! Chick season has kicked off at your local Big R stores, which means hundreds of baby chicks are looking for new homes to provide some tender love and care. Are you excited to fill up your home with these adorable chicks, but not sure which breed is best for you? With a little bit of research, you’ll find the best chick breed for you.

Just like humans, not all chicks are the same. Therefore, it’s important to understand the differences between breeds in order to choose the right chicks for you and your home environment.

Start by thinking about your own personal interests in regards to chick breeds. You’ll also need to consider what care different breeds of chicks need from you.

It’s essential to consider the main use, geography, space, and temperament in relation to your choice of chickens:

  • Main Use: Will your chicks grow up to be a steady source of food or income? The right chick for you will be an excellent source for egg and meat production, long-term. Also, consider egg color and size. Try some of these birds for good to excellent egg production:
    • Excellent Egg Producers: Brown Leghorn, Golden Comet, White Leghorn
    • Very Good Egg Producers: Production Red, Speckled Sussex, New Hampshire Red, Columbian Rock Cross, Rhode Island Red
    • Good Egg Producers: White Plymouth Rock, Partridge Rock, Buckeye, Buff Brahma, Welsummer
  • Geography: Where are you located? While some birds are bred to withstandthe heat, others are meant for colder climates. See which birds fare better in the dry heat or the wet cold:
    • Heat Tolerant: Brown Leghorn, Production Red, Buff Brahma, New Hampshire Red, Rhode Island Red, White Leghorn
    • Cold Tolerant: Golden Comet, White Plymouth Rock, Production Red, Speckled Sussex, Partridge Rock, Buckeye, Buff Brahma, New Hampshire Red, Columbian Rock Cross, Welsummer, Rhode Island Red
  • Space: Where are you raising your feather babies? Active and lively chickens will flourish living on spacious farms in contrast to a small backyard. Take a look at these breeds who flourish in environments large and small:
    • Adaptable to Confined Environments: Brown Leghorn, Golden Comet, White Plymouth Rock, Speckled Sussex, Buckeye, Welsummer
    • Adaptable to Free-Range Environments: White Plymouth Rock, Production Red, Buckeye, Welsummer
  • Temperament: What are the personalities of your chickens? Your active, sprightly chick may not fare as well as a nervous, quiet chick in the confines of your home’s backyard. Plus, you’ll want to make sure all of your chicks are getting along! These breeds exhibit the following personality traits:
    • Nervous: Brown Leghorn
    • Flighty: White Leghorn
    • Calm: Golden Comet, White Plymouth Rock, Production Red, Speckled Sussex, Partridge Rock, New Hampshire Red, Columbian Rock Cross
    • Quiet: Golden Comet
    • Docile: White Plymouth Rock, Production Red, Partridge Rock, Buckeye, New Hampshire Red, Rhode Island Red
    • Gentle: Buff Brahma, Welsummer,
    • Active, Lively: Speckled Sussex, Welsummer
    • Curious: New Hampshire Red
    • Friendly: White Plymouth Rock, Speckled Sussex, Buckeye
    • Easy to Handle: White Plymouth Rock, Speckled Sussex

Looking to bring diversity to your flock? There are other feathered friends that have good qualities to do just that. Many flocks of birds include ducks in addition to the variety of chicken breeds. Despite the fact that ducks are not usually added to flocks to advance egg production purposes, these birds can serve other purposes, too!

Some duck breeds, such as mallards, are very social, but prefer the company of other mallards, especially because they thrive in parties of two. Mallards have moderate egg production and are shy and flighty, but can tolerate hot and cold conditions. The white pekin has great egg production and is a very docile bird. Lastly, the rouen is deemed one of the most attractive birds, however, they are not known to have substantial egg production. If you’re concerned about predators and pest control, the best addition to flocks is the french pearl guinea. This breed is known to alert against predators, control insect populations, and withstand tough weather conditions.

While ducks and other birds are not essential to the completion of your flock, each and every breed serves a purpose, as does each and every chicken. Remember: with each bird comes great responsibility. Chicks, especially, need incredible amounts of attention, and their home environments need consistent maintenance. Although raising chicks is no easy task, the benefits of raising chicks properly and attentively will certainly outweigh the cost. Need some guidance on raising chicks? Try a crash course on our blog Raising Chicks 101.

Have you considered all of these characteristics, breeds, and personal choices, and found the birds of your dreams? Head on over to your nearest Big R location and make your feathery dream a reality today!

About Big R

Bill and Pat Crabtree originated the Illinois Big R Stores in 1964. The first store opened in Watseka, Illinois. To date 18 stores have been opened in central Illinois and northern Indiana.

We have 11 stores in Illinois including Watseka, Gibson City, Danville, Tilton, Pontiac, Morris, Washington, Rochelle, Pekin, Homer Glen and McHenry. Our 7 Indiana stores include Warsaw, Wabash, Crawfordsville, Michigan City, Elkhart, Marion and Rochester. We recently expanded to Northwest Ohio, adding stores in Lima and Findlay (Coming Soon).

The offices and warehouses for Big R remain in Watseka, IL. Joining the company in 1973, Jerry Gibbs now provides family leadership for the company. New generations of the Crabtree family continue to participate in the business.

Farm and Ranch store owners in the western states started the Big R brand name; they chose the name “Big R” to convey the “Ranch” identity. The Big R group is now comprised of 12 independent owners with a growing 75 + stores throughout the U.S. They all are members of Mid-States Distributing Company of St. Paul, MN. The Mid-States Coop has over 600 stores throughout the United States and Canada.