So these are a few of the breeds I personally like. That doesn't mean you have to like them :) Each of the birds below are those I have specifically chosen due to a couple of key factors.
A. I live in the desert of Arizona presently. Our Permaculture site is in the desert of Arizona. The birds MUST be reasonably heat tolerant, be able to handle temperature swings of around 50 degrees from day to night and must be able to lay at least sometimes in the summer (for layers and dual purpose birds).
B. The Roosters in flocks for line breeding must be aware, attentive to the hens, and non aggressive towards humans. (we have lots of visitors)
C. Must not be bantams/small fowl. So that means they are either medium or large fowl. This is because many of the smaller birds can actually consume as much as the larger birds in food. This doesn't fit my model. (yeah I know silkies are cute etc but they are crap for laying and half as good as that for eating)
Gold Sex Link - Large Brown Eggs
Another of my favorite birds. (any of the "sex link" lines are pretty much the same...) Awesome layers amazingly pleasant disposition and the 5 in our laying flock are amazing hunters of mice and lizards. Also very affordable. Considered a "generic" bird.
Swedish Isbar - Large Green Tinted Eggs
I have recently decided to replace other free rangers with the Isbar (pronounced Ice Bar) due to the amazing awareness and leadership of the Roosters. Amazingly aware of predators and excellent with people. The flocks can easily roam and forage and require little to no attention (though be aware if you don't provide "nesting stops" for the hens they will make lots of their own). The girls lay very tasty medium green to olive green eggs and are very strong layers. Definitely not generic, definitely worth the cost if you want an excellent, low maintenance free ranger.
Barbezieux - Light Brown Eggs - Meat Bird
Another departure from the typical Red Ranger or Cornish Crosses (or as I like to call the latter - mutant meat bird). Dating back to the middle ages, the Barbezieux is an amazing meat bird, and rates in the top 3 internationally for it's meat quality and flavor. Unlike the first two birds mentioned, processing is done at 12 - 14 weeks and the bird can be finished in a number of different flavor profiles. Hens are prolific layers of light brown/white tinted eggs which allows for easy maintenance of this breed as a renewable food source. Definitely not generic, worth every damned penny if you can find them (I have a source but availability is limited until spring of 2017). I kid you not... if you can get a flock of these started do so. You will always have excellent meat on your table.
Bielefelder - Large Brown Eggs
OK... So this is where I part from "conventional" wisdom and the standards of the APA. Without a DOUBT the German Bielefelder is the ultimate dual purpose bird. Caution needs to be taken with Arizona summer but besides that... Amazing birds. Roosters are all laided back and often break up fights. Very very consistent large and delicious brown eggs. Meat quality far exceeds anything you will ever find in any store. Affordable and in no way considered generic. If you need to find an excellent provider of these birds send me an email ... I have a very good one.
The Black Sex Link - Large Brown Eggs
One of my favorite favorite favorite birds. Super awesome layer and a decent meat bird (not the best not the worst). I can tell you that every one of these birds I have had has been A. Very vocal/social (yep she will just talk your ear off) B. In new flocks that I establish for people are usually the first ones to lay and C. seem to handle just about everything in our environment. Also very affordable. Considered a "generic" bird.
Red Ranger - Light Brown Eggs - Meat Bird
It would be neglectful if I did not include my second favorite meat bird, the Red Ranger. And to be frank, you really can't beat the fact that they hit around 6lbs in aprox 11 weeks. What's more is that unlike the Mutant Meat Chickens they can actually live longer because the breast meat is proportionate to that of the legs and the rest of the bird. The hens are decent layers of extra large light brown eggs and the meat is very good. Because these are not crossed animals you can have a rooster and a couple of hens and incubate and refresh your flock easily. I think they fall into the generic category and I trust the consistency of the results with the birds. Excellent pasture poultry/chicken tractor option and are actually very affordable when using a trusted breeder in quantities over 20.
Breeds that work
Delaware - Large-Jumbo White Eggs
Sometimes you just find a breed that you really like. The demeanor the personality and I have to say that over many many years of having birds I always come back to the Delaware. Super foragers, get along with just about everyone, talkative, active and a strong dual purpose bird. The meat is excellent as are the eggs. The only real issue that I have is that I have noticed that they are not the best broody hen. Very affordable. Considered a "generic" bird.
Introducing the Arizona Chiquita™...
Created by master breeder and local Arizonan, Lynn Bateman, the Arizona Chiquita (AC) boasts a very large green egg in a very small form factor. These birds are considered medium fowl and take up much less space than their large fowl cousins making them an excellent option for smaller environments and backyard/urban flocks. Because the line stock used in breeding are from multiple generations of birds having thrived and produced through many hot and harsh Arizona summers; the AC is amazingly heat tolerant and seems to prefer it actually.
Hens produce loads and loads of green eggs and Roosters are strong protectors but mellow around humans. They consume less and produce more. Definitely not generic, a very steady and beautiful green egg medium fowl.
Currently, Lynn is the only provider of these amazing birds. Contact me and I will get you her info.