You’re not alone if you’ve been thinking about expanding your flock. Chickens are one of the most popular types of livestock kept on homesteads for a reason. These birds are incredibly versatile since they can be used for meat, eggs, feathers, and show. And with such wonderful personalities, you can even keep them as pets.
Hundreds of chicken breeds are out there, and deciding which type to raise might leave your head spinning. If you adore brown plumage, a variety of great choices can fit any garden or homestead. Whether you’re looking for an excellent egg layer or a prolific meat producer, there is a brown chicken breed right for you.
Unlike solid black or white chickens, there are very few solid brown chickens, so many of these are different patterns that include brown, such as lacing or the partridge pattern.
Raising Brown Chickens: Which is Best For Your Flock?
You might wonder what comes next if you’ve decided to raise brown chickens. There are tons of breeds to choose from, after all. The first step is determining what you want from your chickens. Some are quicker to gain weight than others, making them an ideal choice for meat, while others can offer lots of eggs every week. And some are better than average in both departments and are considered dual purpose.
Once you’ve decided what your goals are for your homestead, you can assess the brown chicken breeds out there and find one that best fits your criteria. Every breed has some great qualities and drawbacks, and by knowing which ones are best for meat or eggs, you can choose the breed that’s best for your homestead.
If you’re looking for a distinct and fun breed, then Naked Necks (sometimes called Turkens) are a great choice. These dual-purpose birds have a natural absence of feathers around their neck, which gives them a fascinating appearance and has led to their nickname Turkens. Naked Necks are docile and easy to manage and do especially well in climates that are hotter than average.
The gorgeous red-brown Altsteirer chicken is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a rare and beautiful breed. While these birds only lay around 180 eggs yearly, they have a wonderfully calm demeanor and an adventurous streak, making these dual-purpose birds a fun pick.
If you love colorful eggs, you’ll adore Easter Eggers, which come in all feather colors, including brown. It is not an official breed but rather a catch-all phrase for chickens that lay blue eggs across a spectrum of blue hues and greenish and pinkish eggs. The Ameraucana and Aracauna breeds are sometimes sold as Easter Eggers by hatcheries. Since this is not an official breed, egg production can vary widely from one hatchery to another with some being excellent layers while others are only mediocre. Easter Eggers are also available in a bantam size if you really don’t want a lot of eggs.
Old English Game
Old English Game is a sleek and beautiful breed, and although there are not any that are solid brown, they are multiple combinations of brown, black, and other colors. As the name implies, these were originally used for the sport of cock fighting, and their aggressive nature can still be an issue. In fact, roosters will often fight among themselves, so you might not be able to have more than one male in a flock.
While you might be familiar with the Cornish cross that is a popular modern meat hybrid, did you know they’re also available with wonderful dark brown plumage? The white variety was used for the meat hybrid because modern consumers want a clean carcass and dark brown feathers will leave behind unsightly specks after plucking. But the original Cornish is so dark, that you might think it’s black at first glance. The hens lay brown eggs, but they are not great layers.
While this chicken breed is technically a crossbreed of the Rhode Island Red and Rhode Island White, the ISA Brown chicken is one of the best egg-laying hybrid chickens you can find. With just one hen, you’ll enjoy over 300 eggs every year. And because the ISA Brown is so calm, these birds can even be raised as pets. Because they put so much energy into egg production year-round, they do not do well in extremes of heat or cold.
While not particularly cuddly or docile, Brown Leghorns have lots of egg to offer your homestead. They’re incredibly well suited to egg laying and can provide over 300 white eggs every year. They’re not broody, which is something that made them attractive to the modern egg industry. Most of the hens that produce eggs commercially are a hybrid that was created with the Leghorn. Keep in mind that they are from the Mediterranean originally, are lighter weight than most chickens, and have an extremely large comb that often flops over. All of this adds up to a chicken that thrives best in a warmer climate.
Laced with black and brown, there’s no more distinctive chicken breed than the Barnevelder. These eye-catching birds are a dual-purpose breed that will grace your home with delicious meat and up to 180 eggs per year. This dark brown egg layer is known for its energetic and amiable dispositions.
Sporting beautiful rich mahogany plumage, the Orloff chicken will grace your garden with its unique appearance. These birds have a distinct mutton chop of feathers and a sleek, upright frame. These birds don’t produce many eggs but are excellent for meat production.
Rhodebar chickens are a rare but hardy dual-purpose chicken breed with beautiful brown feathers. This light brown egg layer produces approximately 200 eggs yearly and offers a nice amount of meat when processed. They have wonderfully friendly temperaments but are prone to becoming broody.
With their gorgeous plumage and excellent egg-laying, the Novogen Brown is the perfect cold-weather counterpart of the ISA Brown. As a sex-linked hybrid developed in France from Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns, these friendly birds lay around 260 delicious and large eggs yearly. This is a hybrid and not recognized by the APA as a breed.
Cochins come in a variety of colors, including partridge, which is a gorgeous tri-color of copper, brown, and black plumage. While they were initially imported from China in the 1800s, they have since become popular worldwide. When you raise Partridge Cochins, you can expect an easy-going disposition and a tendency for the hens to become broody. Although they are one of the largest breeds, they are not usually bred for meat because they are slow to mature. Cochins are also available in a bantam size.
See this article to learn more about Cochin chickens.
If you’re interested in rare and unique breeds, you’ll love the Chocolate Orpington. You won’t regret seeking out a clutch of these eggs! While they’ll hatch with an adorable mix of brown and yellow down, they’ll quickly mature like a swan to show their gorgeous mocha-brown and amber plumage.
Check out Orpington Chicken: A Backyard Pet with Benefits to learn more about this breed.
Known as the “gentle giants,” Brahmas are a well-tempered and gentle dual-purpose breed popular among homesteaders for their excellent meat and egg production. While their skin is a slightly yellow color, Brahmas have a large breast size and deliciously tender meat that makes them well worth raising.
Despite what their name suggests, these birds won’t be vying to rule the roost — they’re known for their docile and lovely temperaments that make them acclimate well to any flock. Cinnamon Queen hens are generally kept as layers, offering 250 and 300 large brown eggs annually.
Other Brown Chicken Breeds Accepted By the American Poultry Association
While we’ve explored 15 brown chicken breeds you can raise and keep, it’s worth noting that there are so many more possibilities of breeds to add to your homestead or garden. When you include all the possible brown color varieties, like red-brown and buff, the number of breeds listed by the APA expands well past a hundred.
Birds like the ISA Brown will grace your homestead with a bounty of eggs, while the Cornish is perfect for delicious and tender meat time and time again. With so many breeds to consider, there’s a brown chicken right for everyone.
Struggling to find funny chicken names? Check out 500+ Funny Chicken Names.
Are you thinking about getting chickens or do you already have a flock? Check out this post – A Beginner’s Guide to Chickens which includes some of Thrifty Homesteader’s most useful posts and videos about keeping chickens.