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Best free-ranging breeds

Generally speaking, most of the free-ranging birds here are dual-purpose breeds with docile natures. Dual-purpose is a term used for poultry breeds that are considered good egg layers and also are well muscled for good eating. Most of these breeds lay varying degrees of brown eggs.

The exception is the Easter Egger, whose eggs are green-blue. The Easter Egger isn’t recognized as an official breed; it’s considered a mutt in the chicken world because its genetic makeup is a combination of unknown breeds. Here is a short list of the best chicken breeds for free-range chicken gardens. In the list (h) = heat tolerant, (c) = cold tolerant, and (b) = dual hardy:

Barred Rock (c)

Black Australorp (c)

Buff Orpington (c)

Easter Egger (c)

Marans (c)

Plymouth Rock (b)

Rhode Island Red (b)

Silver-Laced Wyandotte (c)

Welsummer (b)

Avoid chicken breeds that are white-feathered for free-ranging in gardens. White-feathered chickens are much more visible to predators. Darker brown, black, and honey-colored chickens blend in better in a garden.

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