The 9 Worst Chicken Breeds You Should Avoid

Written by Claire Wilson
Updated: January 11, 2024
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There are many benefits to keeping backyard chickens. First, happy and vibrant chickens provide fresh eggs that are healthier to consume than commercial ones. Also, you’ll save money on food from all the chicken eggs you can collect, which are a magnificent protein source! In addition, the chickens will keep pests down on your property, from termites to ticks. However, some breeds are better than others when keeping chickens. Here are the nine worst chicken breeds that you should avoid.

1. Malay

Colored roosters on the fence

Malay chickens are among the tallest chickens in the world and come in various colors.


First bred in Malaysia for cockfighting, Malay chickens are quick, agile, and tall. Standing anywhere from 26 to 30 inches in height, the Malay features a sharp beak and can cause serious injuries. They have fantastic muscle tone, so some use Malay chickens for racing. Their long legs also help!

Malay hens will go broody, but because of their long legs, it is hard for them to nest for extended lengths of time. While they make good mothers, if egg collecting is your goal, this isn’t ideal. Malay hens are pretty protective of their chicks. However, because of the rooster’s aggressive tendencies, the rooster may pose a threat to the chicks. So, if you breed Malay chickens, keep the rooster separate from the chicks. Overall, this is one of the worst chicken breeds you should avoid.

2. Old English Game

Old English Game chickens; hen and rooster

Old English Game roosters are considerably more ornate than hens.

©4028mdk09 / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Bred for cock fighting in Great Britain until the sport’s ban in 1849, the Old English Game chickens are high on the aggression scale. While these tightly feathered birds have incredible stamina and are extremely hardy, they can be quite noisy and troublesome. The hens, however, are good brooders. But, they can be quite defensive, so if egg collecting is your goal, Old English Game chickens are a breed you should avoid.

Overall, Old English Game chickens are gorgeous birds with 28 color variations that the American Poultry Association recognizes. Most people keep Old English Game chickens as display birds and bring them to poultry shows. However, as a homestead chicken, the Old English Game chickens are one of the worst breeds you should avoid.

3. Barred Rock

Barred Rock Hen Standing in the Woods

Barred Rock chickens are roughly triangular, with relatively short necks and tails.

©JZHunt/iStock via Getty Images

Also known as the Plymouth Rock, this breed of bird originates from Massachusetts and was the most popular breed in the twentieth century in the U.S. What is nice about the Barred Rock is that it’s a dual-purpose bird, known for its hardy brown eggs and its tender meat. The Barred Rock is a good sitter, producing up to 200 eggs annually. It also fairs well in colder climates since it originated from Massachusetts.

However, as backyard chickens, Barred Rocks are noisy. They tend to stir up trouble and attack other chickens if you have a variety of breeds. They can also cause stress, disrupting the rest of the flock’s egg-laying schedule. Overall, the Barred Rock is a more aggressive breed and is more inclined to attack others in the group.

And, while all chicken breeds are susceptible to egg binding, the Barred Rock’s high egg production breeding makes it more susceptible. Egg binding is when a chicken cannot lay an egg because it sticks in the cloaca. An egg-bound chicken can quickly go into shock and die. It is a terrible complication that affects high-producing chickens.

4. Brahma

Brahma chicken with her chick

Brahma chickens lay eggs all year, including in the winter months.

©Jpr03/iStock via Getty Images

These were the top meat breeds from 1850 to about 1930. The Brahma resulted from cross-breeding with birds imported from Shanghai in the 1840s, and the breed developed in the U.S. in the following decades. They are one of the largest breeds of chicken in the world. And, while bred as a meat bird, their growth is slow, and they are too expensive for commercial purposes.

Because Brahma chickens were bred for their size rather than temperament, aggression in this breed can vary. Usually, it is the roosters that pose the most problems. Brahma chickens range from 10 to 12 pounds in size, which can make them an intimidating breed. Brahma chickens may not be the best choice if you have small children you want to trust with your flock.

5. Cornish Chickens

This breed of chicken is incredibly active and needs ample space to roam and forage.

©RGZV Frankenthal / CC BY 3.0 – License

Originally developed in Cornwall, England, Cornish chickens are also known as “Indian Game.” Cornish chickens are deceptively heavy and densely built as they are bred meaty. They’re very active birds and need lots of space to exercise. If cooped up too often, they are prone to stiff legs. The hens are active and don’t make for fantastic brood hens.

These muscular birds are known for being physical and will attack or even kill other animals. Additionally, they can fight with the other chickens if you have a mixed flock. Some complain about how noisy Cornish chickens are as well. This is one of the worst chicken breeds to avoid.

6. Cubalaya

Majestic golden duckwing rooster cock special breed rare Cubalaya

Though they were bred to be spurless, their beaks are still quite sharp.

©The Jungle Explorer/

Named for the city in which it was first bred, Santiago de Cuba, early breeders of the Cubalaya bred for the dual purpose of egg and meat production. Brought to the United States in the 1930s, this bird is particularly adapted to hot temperatures.

Cubalaya chickens can be quite territorial. Even though they do not have spurs on their feet, Cubalaya chickens make up for it with their sharp beaks. They function best when free-range and can be pretty noisy if they lack activity.

Cubalaya hens tend to be more broody, which is excellent if you are in the chicken breeding business. However, if you are looking for egg production, you may have trouble getting these hens to give up their eggs.

7. Leghorn

leghorn chicken

Leghorn chickens are a Mediterranean variety that originated in the Tuscany region of Italy.


This is another chicken breed susceptible to egg binding because they were bred to be such good egg layers. But, many people appreciate how Leghorns are high producers, so the egg binding is less of a nuisance.

Leghorns aren’t aggressive, but they are very nervous birds. They will overreact to stimuli and can be highly uncooperative. In addition, they can make the entire flock on edge, and if you prefer a peaceful chicken yard, it won’t be with a Leghorn.

They are also escape artists, so you have to keep an eye on them. Leghorns are curious and will often jump the fence, many times in pursuit of food. While Leghorns aren’t aggressive like other breeds, they can still be exhausting.

8. Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Red on grass fields

These birds were bred in the late 1800s in Little Compton, Rhode Island.


Speaking of escape artists, Rhode Island Reds are another breed of chicken that will test your fence limits.

Prone to egg binding, Rhode Island Reds are fairly productive egg producers. However, this breed is aggressive. They can make a mess of the chicken yard and don’t like being handled by humans. Rhode Island Reds are not your breed if you want a fun family pet. Rhode Island Red roosters are particularly prone to bullying, and if you have young children, you may find your Rhode Island Red rooster is quite mean to them. They do not like their territory invaded.

9. American Game

Beautiful Prue Bred Golden Duckwing (Grey) American Game Rooster

An American breed of chicken that was bred for cockfighting.

©The Jungle Explorer/

This breed was created for fighting. So you definitely cannot have two roosters together, as they will fight to the death. Territorial and defensive, American Game chickens are high on the aggression scale. They work well in a small, exclusive flock but are terrible to new arrivals. That counts new hens and chicks that are introduced into the group.

American Game chickens are not good meat birds and are low egg producers. They also don’t lay eggs during the winter. But because of their luxurious feathers and unique coloration, many love to keep them as show birds. But for homesteading, American Game chickens are a breed to avoid.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Olesya Andreeva/ via Getty Images

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About the Author

Claire Wilson is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on reptiles, travel, and historic places and landmarks. Claire holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which she earned in 2010. A resident of Wisconsin, Claire enjoys hiking, visiting parks, and biking nature trails.

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