Curious, cuddly, affectionate, sweet: did you know all those characteristics can describe a chicken? Chickens can make for very affectionate pets with sweet personalities and an actual desire to be with their keepers. Like most pets, the chicken’s breed plays a role in the personality traits you can anticipate them. Some breeds of chickens are known to be more friendly, docile, and affectionate than others. Let’s explore some of the friendliest chicken breeds you can add to your backyard flock!
What Makes a Chicken Friendly?
Genetics and upbringing have an effect on how friendly a chicken becomes as it develops from a chick to pullet to an adult chicken. If you’re looking for a chicken that will become Miss Congeniality, you will want to factor both of these aspects into your decision on breed and how you raise your chicken.
Raising Friendly Chickens
Raising friendly chickens starts at the chick stage. When it comes to raising chicks, how they are raised plays a role in how they view their keepers.
To raise friendly chicks, here are a few tips you should keep in mind:
- Handle them frequently: You will want to handle and be around your chicks frequently in order for them to bond to you and get used to being handled.
- Avoid stressors: Even though you will want to handle the chicks frequently, be careful not to be a source of stress for them. Don’t let the chicks get chilled or scared when you handle them.
- Talk to them: Talking to your chicks will get them used to the sound of human voices. Try using different pitches when talking to your chicks to get them used to various levels of sound.
- Move slowly: Move slowly around your chicks so that they don’t see you as threatening. Once you build their trust, you can start introducing more sudden actions to help desensitize them from being scared or flighty.
- New situations: Gradually expose your chicks to new situations and be right there for them when they show hesitancy or are scared. You will soon become the source they run to when they need safety or a boost in confidence.
- Special treats: Hand-feed your chicks special snacks so that they learn a source of good food comes from you! Offering crushed grubs, like Grubblies, is a great bonding snack to give your chicks.
Genetic Makeup & Your Chicken’s Personality
How you raise your chicks is not the only factor to consider when wanting to have a friendly flock! Genetics and breeding definitely have a strong influence on how friendly a chicken will be when it matures. Breed traits, breed varieties (feather color), and breed purpose should be factors to consider when choosing friendly chicken breeds.
Certain chicken breeds were developed for specific purposes, and this often plays a role in the breed’s personality.
Egg layers: Chicken breeds developed for high egg production are usually light-weight breeds, with a small body mass and high activity level. They often have flighty and skittish characteristics.
Dual-Purpose Chickens: These more traditional farm breeds are usually heavier birds with more laid-back personalities. Chickens in the dual-purpose category are usually some of the friendliest.
A Fighting Disposition: Chicken breeds originally developed for the purpose of cock fighting will have more temperamental, aggressive personalities.
Variety & Coloration
A chicken’s variety, or the color of its feathers, can also play a role in personality traits. Some varieties within a breed are known to have more docile temperaments simply because of the genetics selected for that variety.
For example, White Leghorns have been developed to be superior egg layers. On the other hand, Silver Leghorns have not been as selectively bred, and while they are still good egg layers, they are not as flighty or skittish as the white variety.
Selective Breeding for Personality
Just like chickens can be selectively bred for a certain purpose or for certain feather colors, they can also be selectively bred for certain personality traits. This often involves studying the behavior and temperament of a hen and rooster, then deciding if their personalities would benefit their offspring.
What to Look for in a Breed’s Description
Personality traits such as friendly, docile, affectionate, curious, not flighty, and not assertive are all traits to look for in a breed’s description.
However, just like with other traits, just because a breed is known to have friendly personality traits doesn’t mean every chicken in that breed will exhibit those personality traits. Each chicken will still have its own personality!
Use a Breeder with a Reputation for Friendly Chickens
Some breeders will pay more attention to the personality traits of their birds than others. This can result in certain strains within a breed being known for good personality traits. When selecting a source for your friendly chicken breeds, be sure to ask your breeder or hatcheries questions to see if their birds are known to exhibit friendly, affectionate personality traits.
The Friendliest Chicken Breeds
Let’s check out 5 chicken breeds that are reliably known to have affectionate and friendly personalities!
Average Size: Rooster 36 oz., Hen 32 oz.
Personality Traits: Friendly, Docile, Laid-back, Good around kids
Silkies are considered a true bantam, meaning they are a small breed of chicken with no standard-size breed similar to them. They earned their name from their unique plumage, composed of soft feathers without feather barbs. This lack of feather barbs means the feathers have no structure and are soft and pillowy looking.
Silkies also have the unique characteristic of having black skin and muscle. They are feather-footed (meaning they have feathers on their feet) and are five-toed (most chickens have four toes on each foot). Silkies also have a crest, which is a tuft of feathers on top of their head. Some varieties have a beard, which is feathers below the beak.
Silkies as Pet Chickens
Silkies adapt well to confinement and even make good house pets because of their laid-back, docile personality! And Silkie hens are known to be good mothers and will eagerly hatch out any eggs you give them! They also cannot fly very well because their feathers lack the right structure to provide flying support.
When considering the Silkie chicken breed, keep in mind that they don’t do well in extreme hot or cold climates because their feathers are not insulating.
#2. Speckled Sussex
Average Size: Rooster 11lbs, Hen 7lbs
Personality Traits: Friendly, Curious, Smart, Love attention
The Speckled Sussex chicken is a variety of the Sussex breed that is known for its curious and friendly personality. Speckled Sussex are known to follow their keepers around the yard and even try to climb in vehicles after their owners!
Their stunning feather color is what gives the Speckled Sussex its name. They have dark reddish-colored feathers that are flecked with black and white speckles. After each fall molt, the white speckles increase, giving the birds a new look after every molt!
Speckled Sussex as Pet Chickens
Speckled Sussex hens are good layers of large brown eggs. The Sussex is a very cold hardy bird, with a small single comb and small wattles. They adapt well to both confinement or to a free-range lifestyle.
#3. Buff Orpington
Average Size: Rooster 8.5lbs, Hen 6.5lbs
Personality Traits: Friendly, Affectionate, Docile, Curious, Patient, Laid-back
The Buff Orpington is a variety within the Orpington breed that has a reputation for being the ‘golden retriever’ of the chicken world. These sweet, large birds are often the chosen bird for first-time chicken owners, but they are also undisputed favorites of expert chicken raisers!
Buff Orpingtons as Pet Chickens
Orpingtons are large, heavy, and have a lot of feathers! The hens are good layers of large brown eggs, even during the winter months.
Because of their large size, lots of feathers, and small comb and wattles, Buff Orpingtons are a very cold hardy chicken breed. Buff Orpingtons are known to be a fast-maturing breed and the hens can make good broody mothers. They adapt well to confinement or to free-range.
What really makes these birds shine is their affectionate personalities! Buff Orpingtons are known to make bonds with their owners and even display affectionate behaviors such as snuggling, giving ‘hugs’, and demanding to be picked up.
Average Size: Rooster 11lbs, Hen 8.5lbs
Personality Traits: Laid-back, Calm, Friendly, Docile
The Cochin is another large chicken breed with an abundance of feathers. The Cochin is known for their friendly and laid-back personalities. Cochins are also known for their excess of loose, fluffy feathers, which often makes them look larger than they actually are! As with the Silkies, Cochin chickens are feather-footed.
Cochin Chickens as Pets
They are commonly used for exhibition and show purposes. Cochin hens are good layers and make good mothers for baby chicks too. They can adapt to confinement or to free-range and are cold-hardy thanks to all those feathers!
Cochins are known to be a submissive breed with a laid-back personality. Even the roosters are laid-back and have friendly dispositions. They don’t mind being picked up and are very tolerant of whatever you want to do with them! While large fowl Cochins are big and fluffy, they also have a bantam counterpart who are smaller, but just as friendly and fun to raise.
Average Size: Rooster 8.5lbs, Hen 6.5lbs
Personality Traits: Calm, Peaceful, Tolerant, Laid-back, Friendly, Curious, Smart, Quiet
Last but certainly not least, the Black Australorp rounds out the top 5 friendly chicken breeds because of its sweet and calm personality. They’re considered harmonious and gentle birds that don’t cause a lot of ruckus. The Australorp is bred in only one recognized variety: black.
The Australorp as a Pet Chicken
The Australorp is a great heritage chicken breed. The hens are excellent layers of large, brown eggs. They also mature quickly, which means a shorter wait for egg production.
They are known to be good foragers but can also adapt to confinement. Australorps are a cold hardy breed that can also tolerate warm temperatures.
The Australorp is known to be a quiet breed that is peaceful and calm around both people and other animals. They are smart and quick to learn new skills and tricks. They love being around people and are very tolerant of interactions such as being caught, picked up, and held.
Other Friendly Chicken Breeds
Silkies, Speckled Sussex, Cochins, Orpingtons, and Australorps may have made the top five list for friendly chickens, but there are plenty of other chicken breeds out there that are also known to have friendly and affectionate individuals!
Check out these breeds if you are looking to add more friendly birds to your backyard flock:
- Rhode Island Reds
- Plymouth Rocks
- Easter Eggers (hybrid)
- Red or Black Stars (hybrid)
- Sebright (bantam)
A Friendly Flock: Feathers, Fun, & Laughter
Chickens come in all different shapes, sizes, and personalities! Every chicken within a breed will have its own unique personality, but certain breeds are known to have friendly traits that ring true for most of the individuals within the breed. Keep in mind that even though you may have chosen a friendly chicken breed, you will still want to handle your chicks every day and bond with them through daily interactions and healthy snacks (like Grubblies). Soon you will have a friendly flock that loves being near you!