The number of families keeping some hens in the garden is booming, but when considering which hens to get for your garden, which are the best?

For the beginner, the vast array of breeds that exist can be a bit bewildering. All breeds, of course, have their good, and sometimes not so good, points. You will also need to consider whether you would like a pure breed or go for one of the ever-increasing number of hybrids.

Costs vary: pure breeds cost between �20 and �40; hybrids are cheaper and can usually be sourced for between �12 and �20.

Each hen will have her own individual characteristics with her own preferences – two hens that look the same can behave very differently and, even when bought together, may not want to perch together once settled into a new home.

When choosing hens for your garden, you need to think about what is important to you. Is it egg size? Is it to get eggs all year round? Or eggs with different coloured hells? If you have kids, then you probably want friendly and easy to handle birds. Depending on where in the country you live, you should also consider how hardy a breed is.

As a basic guide, for a small garden it would be best to go for a couple of hybrids or three to four Pekin bantams (remember to get different coloured birds so you can name them). For a medium-sized garden, you could get maybe three hybrids and three of the good-sized Sussex, Marans or Wyandotte bantams. For a large garden, you could start with a mixture of eight to 10 hens.

No matter what breed(s) you go for, our directory is the best place to buy your chickens.

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