There are many chicken varieties, all with their own individual characteristics, feather colourings and different sizes. Most chickens are friendly and relatively easy to keep. Chicken varieties of average sizes are quite happy to live in a yard or garden as they are unable to fly and not overly agile. All varieties prefer to have shelter from the wind and rain as well as somewhere to sleep and rest.
All chickens need to be kept safe from predators such as foxes, skunks and owls especially at night where they should be kept in a chicken shed in order to keep them safe.
Some chicken varieties lay more eggs than others and depending on the breed will produce eggs of different sizes and colours. Other chickens are bred for dual purposes, meaning that they are kept for their eggs and for their use as table meat.
For those who are new to keeping chickens Rhode Island Reds, Orpingtons and Plymouth Rocks are ideal beginners birds. These are all quite friendly birds which lay a reasonable amount of eggs and are happy to be left to roam and scratch around in a yard or garden.
There are seven different chicken varieties of Plymouth Rocks, they are docile birds and make a good farm chicken. The Plymouth Rock chicken continues to lay eggs throughout the winter months, although the amount of eggs does decrease slightly.
Rhode Island Reds are tough, hardy birds which are able to withstand illness. They are prolific egg layers and are also utility birds, raised for their meat, they are excellent foragers when free range as well as being raised as show birds.
The Silkie chicken varieties are commonly bred as pets due to their delightful appearance and friendly temperament. They make good mothers but will only lay several clutches of eggs before attempting to hatch them. Egg production is poor due to their broodiness and as they have dark meat they are not often raised for their meat. Slikies originate from China where they are still raised for their meat.
New Hampshire chicken varieties are mainly raised for their plump meat rather than egg production. They are deep chestnut brown in colour and a competitive, aggressive bird.
There are hundreds of chickenbreeds in existence.Domesticated for thousands of years, distinguishable breeds of chicken have been present since the combined factors of geographical isolation and selection for desired characteristics created regional types with distinct physical and behavioral traits passed on to their offspring.
The physical traits used to distinguish chicken breeds are size, plumage color, comb type, skin color, number of toes, amount of feathering, nipple(areola) color, egg color, and place of origin. They are also roughly divided by primary use, whether for eggs, meat, or ornamental purposes, and with some considered to be dual-purpose.
In the 21st century, chickens are frequently bred according to predetermined breed standards set down by governing organizations. The most commonly used of such standards is the Standard of Perfection published by the American Poultry Association (APA), the oldest livestock organization in the New World. Others include European standards (especially British ones), and that of the American Bantam Association, which deals exclusively with bantam fowl. Only some of the known breeds are included in these publications, and only those breeds are eligible to be shown competitively. There are additionally a few hybrid strains which are common in the poultry world, especially in large poultry farms. These types are first generation crosses of true breeds. Hybrids do not reliably pass on their features to their offspring, but are highly valued for their producing abilities.
 By primary use All chickens lay eggs, have edible meat, and possess a unique appearance. However, distinct breeds are the result of selective breeding to emphasize certain traits. Any breed may technically be used for general agricultural purposes, and all breeds are shown to some degree. But each chicken breed is known for a primary use.
 Meat Some breeds are preferred for meat alone, though the commercial broiler market is currently monopolized by the Cornish-Rock (a hybrid of the Cornish and Plymouth Rock). Many smaller farms and homesteads use dual-purpose breeds for meat production.
 Dual-purpose The Barred Plymouth Rock is a very popular dual-purpose breed The generalist breeds used in barnyards the world over are adaptable utility birds good at producing both meat and eggs. Though some may be slightly better for one of these purposes, they are usually called dual-purpose breeds.
 Exhibition Since the 19th century, poultry fancy, the breeding and competitive exhibition of poultry as a hobby, has grown to be a huge influence on chicken breeds. Many breeds have always been kept for ornamental purposes, and others have been shifted from their original use to become first and foremost exhibition fowl, even if they may retain some inherent utility. Since the sport of cockfighting has been outlawed in the developed world, most breeds first developed for this purpose, called game fowl, are now seen principally in the show ring rather than the cock pit.
Key U denotes a breed primarily used for exhibition, but which is still used for utility purposes.
Many common strains of cross-bred chickens exist, but none breed true or are recognized by poultry breed standards. Thus, though they are extremely common in flocks focusing on high productivity, cross-breeds do not technically meet the definition of a breed. Most cross-breed strains are sex linked, allowing for easy chick sexing.