We have many breeds and raising them to standard has helped us pin point the breeds that are simply more suited for children. Now I have not raised every breed, so I cannot say my selection is complete. Yet of the breed we've raised here are the clear results:
The friendliest breeds for children to help raise:
Basque Hens (or Euskal Oiloa)
Basque Hens: They are amazing with children! My roosters are not only patient with young arms picking them up but also with a hen being picked up right in front of them and taken away from the flock. They very seldom get aggressive or protective towards my family. The hens put up with being toted across the yard by young arms and seldom run away. In fact, they run towards my children to see what treats they might be hiding.
|Here is my 3 year old toting around Jed, our new rooster. He is mature and cocky with his hens, but has never shown aggression towards my girls or us.|
- These birds are fun for children because they are a small breed. They tame up nicely when pampered and learn quickly to come running at the sound of food. Our little hen is a Silkie/Cochin/Leghorn mix. Luckly her Silkie/ Cochin side won over in her personality. She is sweet and my daughter's favorite hen. She is a bit more nervous then our Basque, but her small size is adorable and she fits nicely in the arms of my toddler (closely supervised of course). She lays a small white egg yet goes broody a lot. I've heard from many other chicken owners that the Silkies and Cochins are wonderful with the children and some will even perch on their kid's shoulders and beg for constant attention. They are labled by many as a "pet" breed.
Other breeds that we have not owned but I hear are wonderful, patient birds:
Orpingtons- This is a very big breed, but gentle. They are not intimated by children and their bulk makes them great for little ones to pet and follow around.
Dorking- This breed is labeled as a great "Pet" chicken with a similar disposition as the Basque Hen.
Here is a list of more tamable birds that I hear also do well with kids: Australorp, Barnevelder, Basque Hen, Booted Bantam, Cochin, Dominique, Dorking, Dutch Bantam, Faverolles, Houden, Java, Jersey Giant, Lanshan, Lincolnshire Buff, Naked Neck, Orphington, Plymouth Rock, Polish, Russian Orloff, Showgirl, Silkie, Sizzle, Sussex, and the Welsummer.
NOT SO CHILD FRIENDLY Breeds:
Below are some breeds you need to be cautious with. I'm not saying that you cannot have a great child friendly flock of these breeds, but they tend to be more flighty, less friendly and nervous around people in general and the roosters are more aggressive and protective of their flocks. Still, if you put in time and patience, just about any breed can learn to trust people and grow friendlier.
Leghorns- We own two full Leghorns and even though I love how they are real reliable egg machines, they are very cautious and flighty. They are aggressive towards the other breeds and do not put up with my children at all. In fact I don't think my girls have ever been able to even pet them. After consulting with other leghorn owners, they tend to agree that these are great production birds but not bred to be very social.
|This is Sadie. She holds the record of all our birds on eggs production (over 300 a year) but she is quick and not eager to make friends. The other hens stay out of her way because even though she is not the biggest, she sure is fierce!|
|Here is a Legbar Rooster with our 2 Leghorn hens.|
|A Pretty Cream Legbar Hen hiding under our bushes.|
Marans- We also raise a lot of Marans. The hens can be tamed and very sweet if you don't mind putting up with a protective rooster. The hens are not naturally curious or eager to bond, like the Basque, but they still can be patient and handled if your children are careful around them and don't betray their trust. Caution though, they don't easily forgive if roughly handled or scared. One of our past Marans roosters: Milly, taught my oldest daughter how to run in fear. Now our flock rooster: Giddian, does the same thing but only when you approach his hens. If you leave the hens alone, he ignores you. Gorgeous breed, but they do better with older kids and adults.
|Giddian's flock inside their coop. |
Of course there are many breeds I have not mentioned and I may come back and make updates later, but this is what I've learned from my experiences so far. (BTW the splash Breda you see my daughter holding below is a timid breed, beautiful but mine rather stay up in a tree instead of coming down to socialize. My daughter was most pleased when she found Snowy in her coop and was able to pick her up. Snowy tolerated it, but let me know she was not happy about the attention by squawking after about 15 seconds of being handled.)
My children love our birds and they are extra careful and loving with our chicks and adults birds a like. Watching them enjoy our poultry hobby makes raising chickens even more of a memorable and cherished family activity.