Generic Chicken Breed-Type Characteristics

Confused as to what makes a layer, or the care regime for game birds? Breeds of chickens can be split into categories and whilst theres no doubting each individual breed or bird will have its own specific characteristics or care regime, there are generics that can be applied to help you select which breeds will suit your needs.


Layer Breeds


Excellent layers, large numbers of eggs

Light birds, tend to be the smaller of the large fowl breeds

Quick maturing

Excellent foragers

Spritely character, tend not to tame easily

Non-sitters, don’t go broody often

 Care & Management

Capable of short flight, suitably high fencing or a roofed in run required

Clean legged, capable of coping with wet conditions

Table Breeds


Heavy, large birds with males often exceeding 10lb in weight

Not very active

Non flighty

Placid nature/ Non aggressive

Poor layers compared to “Layer” breeds

Do go broody, excellent mothers

 Care & Management

Low fencing is sufficient

Not big rangers, happy in a smaller space

Big appetite, care needed to avoid getting fat

Accommodation needs to be appropriately proportioned

Low perches to avoid leg or foot problems

Large nest boxes required

True Bantams


These breeds have no large fowl counterparts and only occur in a bantam form

Tend to be ornamental in appearance

“Showy” appearance

Not known for egg laying

Broody, make excellent mothers

Proud cockerels, can suffer ‘little man syndrome’


Care & Management

Can be kept in a small enclosure

Great for small gardens

Very good for young children

Housing needs to be sized accordingly

Roof maybe required as some breeds are flighty

Need a dry run, short stature can mean dirty feathers in wet conditions

Game Breeds


Self confident & assertive

Very intolerant of other breeds or birds outside of their flock

Non flighty

Can become extremely trusting toward the keeper

Hard feathered, posture more important than plumage

Strong & dominant

Very poor layers


Care & Management

Extremely tough and durable

Require secure housing must be kept separate from other birds

Need suspended drinkers & feeders due to upright posture

Some breeds monogamous


Ornamental Breeds



Grouped because of their accentuated features

Generally rare and specialist show birds

Carry attributes of the other groups

Qualities very breed specific

Usually very striking looking breeds


Care & Management

Very variable husbandry requirements

Tailored care & housing according to breed

Can be a challenge to show successfully


Dual Purpose Breeds



An all rounder, reasonable layer, reasonable table weight

Durable breeds, cope well with poor weather

Can be tamed with patience

General placid & tolerant with other breeds

Some go broody, others are non sitters


Care & Management

Dependent upon individual breeds as different ones take different characteristics from either the layer or the table breed




3 thoughts on “Generic Chicken Breed-Type Characteristics

  1. Cracking article! I love stuff like this where quite complex information is broken down into something more simple. I have shared this on my Facebook site which is a collection of all the best articles, inspiration, tips and tricks related to chicken keeping. Have a look for yourself! Thanks

  2. I read where KFC is not real chicken , some type of generic type of lab producation. Do you have any info on this.

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