When we and our chicken experts discussed what poultry breeds are ideal for a small chicken coop, Buttercups, Brown Leghorns, Hamburgs and Anconas emerged as top candidates. To understand why, just consider: For thousands of years, chickens have been domesticated, and many gorgeous breeds have been developed. Some are considered “dual-purpose” breeds, as they lay a good number of eggs and also put on weight well for meat. Two examples are Rhode Island Reds or Barred Rocks. Some smaller coops are designed specifically for egg production by foraging hens. So, we asked our chicken experts to recommend breeds that are the top egg-layers and good foragers. In the end, the four recommended breeds are smaller egg-laying specialists and those who may be more comfortable in the restricted space of a small coop..
Buttercups originated centuries ago in Sicily and are golden-colored, with unique cup-shaped combs and beautiful, dark-spangled feathers. Wright’s Book of Poultry (1910), describes Buttercups as “small eaters and great foragers.” Their eggs are “of a rich and delicate flavour” and the birds are especially unassuming, “due, doubtless, to their long and close association with the Sicilian peasants, in whose homes they wandered freely in and out.”
Brown Leghorns (pronounced “leggerns”) originated near the city of Leghorn in Italy. They are outstanding egg layers and are hardy and active. Female Leghorns are medium brown with delicate penciling, darker brown wings and salmon-colored breasts. Their energetic chicks are striped like chipmunks.
Hamburgs were once recognized in Holland as the Dutch Everyday Layers. They are very snappy and alert and can be gold or silver, spangled (polka-dotted) or penciled (pin-striped). They are small eaters, good foragers and prolific egg layers.
Anconas, originally known as Black Leghorns, sport lustrous black feathers, occasionally tipped with white, giving a beautiful mottled appearance. The chicks are black and white. As very active foragers, Anconas are “as good as the best at winter laying” and are easily trained in pens, according to Wright’s Book of Poultry.
For more on raising chickens for small spaces read "Best Chickens for Mother's Mini-Coop" from Mother Earth News