Sarah McKenzie from Sussex Garden Poultry considers what birds are ideal for young or first time henkeepers

When people come and see me, they are often new to chickens and ask what breed I would recommend. My advice is to pick some hybrids.

There are lots of different colours to choose from, they are point of lay, so you’ll be getting eggs within weeks, they are fully vaccinated and they’re really easy to look after.

We keep more than 12 varieties of hybrid. Some lay white eggs, some light brown ones, some cream ones and some blue ones, but all these different varieties obviously have different character traits.

The calmest are most popular are our Red Rangers, also known as Goldlines, Isa Browns or Warrens. They lay at least 300 eggs a year and are very, very docile and easy to handle. They are the perfect starter chicken.

The Blacktail is very similar in looks to the Ranger. She is all red with a black tip to her tail feathers and lays more than 300 eggs a year. She’s got a very calm nature and will lay wonderful cream tinted eggs.

Top choice

For families with young children, the Red Ranger and Blacktail are my top choice. With their super personalities and super egg laying ability you can’t go far wrong.

To add a touch of colour to your flock, why not consider the Light Sussex. These pretty white hens have striking black neck feathers. They are easily trained and will lay you around 270 cream eggs a year. It is delightful to watch this pretty hen wandering around free ranging.

The Amber hen, with off white plumage and some dashes of cream and brown to her wings, is very similar in nature to the Light Sussex as she has the same parent stock. She is easy-going, easily trained lays cream tinted eggs.

The Copper Marans and the Rhode Rock are both black hens with either gold or copper coloured neck feathers and lay you a darker tinted egg. They also have an easy-going temperament. The Rhode is the more productive of the two; also known as a Black Rhode, it lays around 300 eggs a year.

The pretty Bluebell is always a firm favourite. This matriarchal hen with her beautiful dark lavender plumage lays a cream tinted egg. Bigger than the other hens, she fares well free ranging.

The Speckled hen or the Cuckoo Marans adds another element to the flock. Her striking black and white plumage make a pretty addition. She lays speckled eggs and is a calm bird to have about.

These eight varieties of hybrid in a mixed flock will not only give you a range of egg colours but are all easily tamed and make wonderful pets for people of any age.

Sussex Garden Poultry is based in Petworth. See or call 07731 784286

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