Best Chicken Breed: Dual Purpose, Hardy & Colorful

Wyandotte hens at our farm. The front hen is golden laced the back hen is silver laced.

Looking for an easy care, hardy chicken that will grace your backyard with beauty and keep after the bugs?

Look no further, because I’ve got a great suggestion for you. The Wyandotte is worth some serious consideration! This is a great bird!

The Wyandotte is one of the best breed for people who want dual purpose chickens that are hardy and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Wyandottes are the best overall chicken breed, that’s what I would tell you if you were to ask my opinion.

“The best chicken breed” is a bold statement, but one I am willing to make based on personal experience with many different chicken breeds.

Is Raising Chickens For Eggs Worth It? goes over budgeting for raising and keeping laying hens.

We’ve had chickens (all kinds of breeds) since the late 90’s.

As any responsible and knowledgeable person will tell you there is actually not a “best” chicken for all circumstances.

So what’s with the title and my “best chicken” claims? The key here is best chicken in a general term, a great all rounder.

If you want the best egg layer ever, the fastest growing chicken ever, the tallest, the shortest, the longest tail feathers, etc. the Wyandotte is not what you are looking for.

Backyard Eggs is an article I wrote to give you some idea of your egg options that are not chickens. If you hadn’t considered other egg laying birds, give this a look before you buy hens.

If you want a great all round, reliable, hardy, friendly chicken that is very suitable for backyard chicken enthusiasts then definitely the Wyandotte.

If you want to look over a few other chicken breeds, read my article 20 Calm Chicken Breeds.

Wyandotte are hardy and heavy

Wyandottes have a wide body and when you pick them up they are always heavier than they look.

These gals are friendly and hardy, they love to forage!

Wyandotte hens lay medium to large brown eggs

Egg wise-hens lay a medium to large size brown egg.

You can expect 4-5 eggs per week from these gals, which puts them in the good layer, but not the best layer category.

If you need more eggs than that or want really large eggs consider a layer breed or hybrid, like Australorp or Golden Comet.

What Is Laying Mash? goes over the reasons to use laying mash vs regular chicken feed for your hens.

Wyandottes are versatile chickens

The main reason that I chose Wyandottes for this article is that they are an all round great chicken, but as are many other breeds.

So why Wyandottes? Well we have some, so I can tell you what we are seeing with ours right now.

And because most other breeds have one thing that holds them back from being my choice for beginners, but not the Wyandotte.

“One thing” holds back other breeds

An example of the “one thing”- Barred Rocks are great chickens, a wonderful backyard choice, but why are they not my top pick.

What’s the one thing? They have larger combs that will freeze if it gets cold in the winter.

Another example of the one thing: Rhode Island Reds are a great chicken and a classic choice for the barnyard.

But …. they have roosters that tend to get aggressive, which is not something I am willing to tolerate.

No doubt they are beautiful, reliable birds, just not the choice for me.

Wyandotte rooster
The Wyandotte rooster, he is a silver penciled.

Wyandottes have a deep body

Wyandottes tend to be deep bodied and have tight feathering, which makes them a bit deceptive in their weight.

Grab one, they are heavier than you think. Granted, they are not the heaviest breed available but they are very meaty and fast growing.

A bigger breed will give you a larger carcass for the meat side of the dual purpose breed part, but that generally comes at the cost of taking a longer time to mature.

These guys and gals are meaty yet still reasonably fast growing, the best of both worlds!

Wyandottes have color and patterns

For me all of the color patterns available to choose from when selecting your Wyandottes is amazing! Tons of choices and all beautiful on the birds.

Here are some of the options: white, black, blue laced, blue self (all blue), buff, red, barred, golden black laced, yellow black laced, silver black laced, golden blue laced, yellow white laced, columbian, buff columbian, buff columbian blue marked, cuckoo partridge, multiple penciled partridge (triple laced), multiple penciled blue partridge, multiple penciled silver partridge, barred and black white mottled.

Some of the color combinations can sound confusing, so here are some examples:

1. Laced-Any time you see the word laced it just means a line of color around the outside edge of the feather.

Example: golden black laced means a golden feather with a line of black around the outer edge of the feather.

2. Triple penciled or triple laced-both mean the same thing, color around the outside of the feather that is different than the main feather color, but in three strips- black, base color then black again.

3. Self-as in self blue, means the entire bird is one color, in this case blue. Self could be black, as well.

4. Color patterns like columbian or barred mean the black of the pattern stays the same but the other color(s) change.

Why Chickens Need Grit shows you how to pick the best grit for your birds.

Wyandotte chickens are calm

As I mentioned above we have some of these birds and they are calm chickens.

Ours are not pets, so they stay out of arms reach when it looks like we are thinking about catching them, but that is just lack of treat training.

We have a big, beautiful silver penciled rooster who acts like the rest of the hens regarding us, this is good.

He can be found pecking around the yard, keeping himself busy with appropriate chicken behavior and so far not getting aggressive to people.

This could easily change, any breeding age male must be kept in your sights and monitored for signs of aggression, but so far we have not seen any from him.

Wyandottes are easy keepers

Our small flock of Wyandottes are just running around the yard right now, we are not relying on them for eggs.

They roam around the area close to the house on bug patrol.

Wyandotte hens. One is golden laced and the other is silver laced.
Golden laced (front hen) and silver laced (back hen) Wyandotte hens.

Right now we have other egg layers and the Wyandottes just take care of themselves.

By that I mean we feed them nothing. They completely take care of themselves.

I’m sure they get a hold of kitchen scraps but we do not feed them any chicken feed and they can not get into the pen of chickens that I am feeding.

These Wyandottes do a great job of taking care of themselves, however, keep in mind that should we want them to start laying eggs for us to collect things will need to change.

To collect eggs, chickens must sleep in coop

They will need to be put in the chicken house at night, so we know where the eggs are.

This will also require them being locked in the chicken house for 3-4 days (no outside time at all) until they feel the chicken house is their new home and will come back into it each night.

This chicken house does not have a fence, so once these gals are let out they have to choose to come back at night.

Productive layers need laying mash

The second change will be feed. Chickens completely ranging for themselves will not lay many eggs.

If you want eggs, your hens need layer mash.

If we feed layer mash for a week or so ahead of when we want them to start producing more eggs for us, it should start them to laying again.

Our local hatchery Meyer Hatchery has a nice selection of chickens, interesting comparison tables and good pictures, if you want to see some of your options.

Wyandottes are friendly foragers

Wyandottes are versatile, friendly and hardy chickens.

They are dual purpose being both meat and eggs producers and love to forage. Wyandottes will be a wonderful addition to your backyard!

There are plenty of other breeds that are a solid choice, Barred Rocks as an example.

For a beginner, however, Wyandottes give you the best all round package and will set you and your family up for a successful venture into chicken raising.

Resources: The Complete Encyclopedia of Chickens, by Esther Verhoef and Aad Rijs–Looking for a wonderful book on chicken breeds? Check this one out: we own this book and use is all the time-great descriptions, multiple pictures of each breed, super useful!

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