Every farm, and indeed every backyard, should have a few chickens. This in spite of the ongoing annoyance of chickens getting where they should not be. But they are such a convenient way to dispose of random scraps, deal with bugs, they put themselves away at night, produce nice high-nitrogen garden amendment… and perhaps most importantly, they produce one of nature’s most perfect foods. A home-grown egg is not to be compared with store-bought eggs, which are bland and flavorless by comparison.
Our chickens get organic feed, have no medications or treatments; they have full access to the main pasture (and get into the orchard and garden in spite of the fencing); and kitchen and garden scraps and extras. Each egg is individually dated with the date that it was laid.
We have kept chickens since 2001 and have raised chicks of many different breeds. Breed selection is one of those things we agonized over the early years.
Now, I’m not sure it matters all that much, for the backyard flock where you aren’t pushing them for highest production; and individual chickens have their own personalities. Personally, I lean towards White Leghorns; they do lay well in winter, but also seem to be the best foragers. I’m also partial to Speckled Sussex for the color, and Black Austrolorps for their beautiful faces.
For meat, we raise Cornish Cross, which grow very fast. We buy chicks, and raise them separately from the other chickens (who otherwise bully them dreadfully). They get organic food, and as much grass and greenery as we can convince them to eat, which isn’t as much as they should. Cornish Cross keep hoping someone will invent TV for chickens and allow them to order pizzas delivered. But they have sweet personalities, for all that.