Best Chicken Breeds For Free-Ranging

by Meghan H

Published January 18, 2021

Chickens as a species are natural-born foragers with an instinct to constantly search for bugs, grass, and other tasty morsels in their surroundings. Regardless of breed, chickens will always be happy to explore and scratch a patch of green grass, freshly dug dirt, or a recently turned log. Free-ranging is your chickens is a great option when done safely. Before you get started, read some Free-Ranging Basics and some of the Benefits of Free-Ranging Your Chickens here.

Aside from the natural instinct of all chickens, there are some breeds that are better natural foragers that will thrive in a free-range environment. Thriving in a free-range environment means these breeds will forage for much of their feed needs, be better at predator evasion, and have superior jumping/flight ability. These breeds are also usually more “flighty” and shy than others. We have our top free-range breeds listed below! 

Egyptian Fayoumis - Meyer Hatchery

Best Chicken Breeds for Free-Ranging:

  1. Leghorns: The white egg-laying powerhouse, the Leghorn will thrive in a free-range environment but can also tolerate confinement. Most commercial egg operations are housed with White Leghorns. Meyer Hatchery carries the Leghorn in three color varieties: White LeghornLight Brown Leghorn, and Exchequer Leghorn.
  2. Ancona: Revered for their evasion of birds of prey, the Ancona has a quick and alert personality and is best suited to free range. They also lay white eggs, 4-6 per week!
  3. Golden Buff: These chickens are a backyard favorite for their high output of large, brown eggs and friendly personalities, but they are also excellent foragers.
  4. Rhode Island Reds: A dual-purpose breed and another brown egg-laying breed, laying 4-6 eggs per week, Rhode Island Red Chickens are a great option that can also forage well.
  5. Buckeye: Another dual-purpose option laying 3-5 brown eggs a week. These chickens originated right here in Ohio and unlike some of the others on this list, they are generally curious, calm, and friendly.
  6. Barred Plymouth Rock: A long-time favorite for chicken owners and another dual-purpose option for free-ranging is the Barred Plymouth Rock chicken. You can expect them to be generally friendly and lay 4-6 eggs per week.
  7. Egyptian Fayoumis: (Pictured above) If you want a truly unique addition to your free-range flock, the Egyptian Fayoumis is the perfect choice for hardiness, both in health and all types of weather.
Leghorns - White Leghorn - Exchequer Leghorn - Light-Brown Leghorn - Meyer Hatchery - Chicken Breeds
Mottled Ancona Chicken Breed - Meyer Hatchery
Golden Buff - Chicken Breed - Meyer Hatchery
Rhode Island Red Chicken Breed - Meyer Hatchery
Buckeye Chicken Breed - Meyer Hatchery
Barred Plymouth Rock Chicken Breed - Meyer Hatchery

Consider adding some of these top foraging breeds to your backyard flock for some interesting color patterns and for their self-sufficient capabilities. Let us know in the comments below what your best foraging breed is in your flock.

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