15 Best Gray Chicken Breeds to Raise in Your Backyard

Gray chicken breeds in a farm

Gray chicken breeds offer a special twist to the usual backyard flock. Their elegant plumage ranges from light silver to deep slate, showcasing a variety of shades in between. But why choose gray birds for your coop?

Do they lay delicious eggs in tints of gray and silver? Are they exceptionally hardy in various climates? Further, how easy are they to care for? Do these gray-colored chickens have friendly dispositions?

Not to worry, as this article will introduce you to the 15 best gray chicken breeds suitable for any backyard. We will discuss their traits, egg-laying abilities, usual temperaments, little-known fun facts, and more.

15 Gray Chicken Breeds

1. Australorp

Gray Australorp
Purpose:Meat, eggs
Egg Production:250–300 eggs per year
Egg Color:Light brown
Weight:Roosters: 6–8 lbs (2.7–3.6 kg);
Hens: 5–7 lbs (2.3–3.2 kg);
Bantams: 1.6–2.6 lbs (0.7–1.2 kg)
Temperament:Docile, active, friendly, sweet, mild, and quiet
Lifespan:6–10 years
Unique Traits:Close-fitting feathers, broad back, upright stance, bright red wattles, comb, and face, black-tinted eyes

Originating from Australia, the Australorp chicken is renowned for its black feathers but also presents a stunning gray variant. To be specific, this less common shade is a bluish-gray adorned with white tips.

Australorps are also characterized by their close-fitting feathers, broad back, and upright stance, giving them a robust build. Further, their bright red wattles, comb, and face contrast beautifully with their dark eyes.

Designed for both egg and meat production, these chickens are highly valued in backyards and poultry farms.

In terms of temperament, Australorps are a pleasure to keep. Their sweet, peaceful, and quiet nature makes them ideal for families and poultry enthusiasts looking for an easy-to-manage breed.

Fun Fact: As proof of their remarkable laying capabilities, six Australorp hens once set a world record by each laying an average of 309 eggs over the course of a year.

2. Lavender Pekin/Cochin

Lavender Pekin or Cochin side view
Purpose:Meat, eggs, ornamental
Egg Production:150–180 eggs per year
Egg Color:Brown
Weight:Roosters: 9–11 lbs (4.1–5 kg);
Hens: 7–8.5 lbs (3.2–3.9 kg);
Bantams: 1–3 lbs (0.6–1.4 kg)
Temperament:Gentle, sweet, friendly, calm, and easily tamed
Lifespan:8–10 years
Unique Traits:Heavy feathering, short tail feathers, yellow skin, feathered legs and feet, single comb

Also known as the lavender Cochin, the lavender Pekin hails from China. These birds are often celebrated for their muted gray feathers that appear lavender, which offer them an elegant appearance.

To add to that, lavender Cochins are adorned with heavy feathering, including on their legs and feet, and they showcase short tail feathers, a single comb, and yellow skin.

Mainly raised for exhibition purposes, these chickens are crowd-pullers in poultry shows. Despite this, they also lay 150 to 180 eggs annually, proving their utility beyond just their ornamental value.

Known for their docile streak, lavender Pekins are ideal for those seeking calm and sweet backyard pals. Moreover, their laid-back nature makes them good pets, especially in environments with children.

Check out this video to see lavender Cochins in action:

The Pekin Bantam Chicken Breed

Note: These chickens come in standard and bantam sizes, with the bantam variety weighing between 1 and 3 pounds. This variation allows for flexibility in backyard space requirements.

3. Whiting True Blue

Whiting True Blue walking on grass
Origin:United States
Egg Production:280–300 eggs per year
Egg Color:Blue
Weight:Roosters: 7–9 lbs (3.2–4.1 kg);
Hens: 3.5–5.5 lbs (1.6–2.3 kg)
Temperament:Independent, easygoing, sociable, active, charismatic, and non-aggressive
Lifespan:5–10 years
Unique Traits:Pea comb, clean legs, fast maturity, bluish-gray plumage

A creation of the 1990s by Dr. Tom Whiting in Colorado, the Whiting True Blue chicken showcases a striking plumage mix of gray, black, and dark blue feathers.

These chickens have earned their fame primarily for their blue eggs. This characteristic allows them to join the list of other chickens that yield this cool shade.

These birds are excellent foragers, too. Growing up, I loved watching my grandpa’s Whiting True Blues roam around his big backyard, always on the hunt for food. They were expert in foraging, scouring every corner with unmatched skill.

These chickens were a lively bunch as well. They also never cause any trouble due to their calm, sociable, and non-aggressive demeanor.

One of the most remarkable aspects is their egg production, laying about 280 to 300 eggs yearly.

4. Andalusian

Gray Andalusian
Purpose:Eggs, ornamental
Egg Production:160–200 eggs per year
Egg Color:White
Weight:Roosters: 6–7 lbs (2.7–3.2 kg);
Hens: 4–5.5 lbs (1.8–2.5 kg)
Temperament:Nosy, noisy, active, skittish, and good-natured
Lifespan:5–8 years
Unique Traits:Upright posture, slate-blue legs, white skin, reddish eyes, oval-shaped earlobes, downward-curving beaks

Hailing from Spain, the Andalusian chicken is iconic for its stunning blue plumage, which appears gray with dark blue or black edges.

But note that these birds stand out not just for their feather hue. They are also well-known for their elegant posture and distinctive physical traits, such as oval earlobes, downward-curving beaks, and reddish eyes.

On top of that, blue Andalusian chickens serve multiple roles: they are kept for their beauty, shown in exhibitions, and loved as pets.

Beyond their ornamental value, however, they are also pretty productive egg layers. In particular, they can contribute approximately 160 to 200 eggs per year.

Their dependable output of white eggs ensures your coop stays well-supplied, just like the other breeds discussed in this article.

What sets blue Andalusians apart is their temperament and reproductive habits. They are curious, a bit noisy, and amiable, but notably, they rarely go broody.

5. Rosecomb Bantam

Gray Rosecomb Bantam
Image credit: avicola_romay / Instagram
Origin:United Kingdom
Purpose:Ornamental, exhibition, as pets
Egg Production:60–120 eggs per year
Egg Color:Cream, tinted
Weight:Roosters: 1.5–1.7 lbs (0.6–0.7 kg);
Hens: 1.3–1.4 lbs (0.5–0.6 kg)
Temperament:Calm, friendly, shy, active, easy to tame, and graceful
Lifespan:Not documented
Unique Traits:Upright tail feathers, rose comb, white earlobes, small size

With its lineage dating back to the 14th century, the Rosecomb Bantam stands out for its long history. Among these chickens’ endearing traits is a captivating gray variant that adds to their appeal.

Renowned for being one of the most beloved bantam chickens, Rosecombs are lightweight champions. Roosters tip the scales at 1.5 to 1.7 pounds, while hens are slightly lighter at 1.3 to 1.4 pounds.

Basically, their size and striking appearance make them ideal for ornamental purposes, exhibitions, or as pets.

Behavior-wise, these birds are notable for their calm, friendly, and graceful demeanor. Despite their initial shyness, they are quite active and can be easily tamed.

Fun Fact: Rosecombs are unique because they are “true” bantams, meaning there’s no standard-sized version of them. They only come in small packages, which makes them even more special and sought after.

6. Lavender Orpington

Lavender Orpington walking on grass
Purpose:Meat, eggs
Egg Production:200–280 eggs per year
Egg Color:Light brown, pink
Weight:Roosters: 8–10 lbs (3.6–4.5 kg);
Hens: 6–8 lbs (2.7–3.6 kg);
Bantams: 3–4.5 lbs (1.4–2 kg)
Temperament:Friendly, docile, curious, affectionate, mellow, and calm
Lifespan:5–10 years
Unique Traits:Rounded back, thick feathering, short legs, curvy body shape, reddish-brown eyes

A majestic gray chicken with a hint of lavender, the lavender Orpington originates from Kent, England.

Featuring a rounded back, dense feathering, and a curvy body shape atop short legs, you can expect that these chickens are as hearty as they are charming. You’ll notice that they have reddish eyes as well.

Size matters in distinguishing between hens and roosters, though. To be specific, female lavender Orpingtons weigh about 6 to 8 pounds. In contrast, males are heavier at 8 to 10 pounds.

When it comes to temperament, these chickens are regarded as being friendly, docile, and affectionate. Their curious and mellow nature makes them excellent companions, suited for families and poultry lovers alike.

Fun Fact: Interestingly, Orpingtons have the ability to lay eggs with a pink tint. However, note that such a pretty bloom isn’t permanent and can be washed off.

7. Silkie

Gray Silkie
Purpose:Brooding, exhibition, as pets
Egg Production:100–120 eggs per year
Egg Color:White, cream
Weight:Roosters: 2–3 lbs (1–1.3 kg);
Hens: 1.5–2 lbs (0.6–1 kg)
Temperament:Tame, docile, friendly, cuddly, and quiet
Lifespan:7–9 years
Unique Traits:Silvery sheen, black skin, fur-like feathers, black skin, feathered legs, five-toed feet

Famous for its fluffy appearance, the Silkie chicken comes in various colors, with the gray variety standing out for its remarkable charm.

Originally from Asia, this breed’s history possibly dates back to the time of Chinese poet Du Fu. This suggests they have a rich and storied past.

With regard to their purpose, gray-colored Silkies perform numerous roles. For one, they are exceptional brooders with strong maternal instincts. This trait makes them perfect for hatching eggs of other breeds.

On top of their ornamental value, these chickens can produce 100 to 120 eggs per year. While not as high as other breeds, it certainly adds to their versatility and appeal.

If you’re curious about their personality, gray Silkies are characterized by their tame, docile, and friendly streak. They are known for being cuddly and quiet, too.

Fun Fact: Did you know Silkie chickens possess black skin, bones, and internal organs? This is caused by a genetic condition known as fibromelanosis, which leads to an increase in melanin production, resulting in black coloration.

8. Sapphire Gem

Sapphire Gem looking for food
Image credit: sadie.jade.hill / Instagram
Origin:Czech Republic
Egg Production:200–320 eggs per year
Egg Color:Brown
Weight:Roosters: 5–6 lbs (2.3–2.7 kg);
Hens: 3–4 lbs (1.4–1.8 kg)
Temperament:Sweet-natured, friendly, inquisitive, charming, easy to handle, and amiable
Lifespan:5–10 years
Unique Traits:Grayish-blue plumage, sex-linked, necklace-looking pattern of gold, pale yellow shanks

The Sapphire Gem chicken is a jewel from the Czech Republic. These birds boast a stunning plumage that mirrors the hues of its namesake gemstone, with shades of lavender, blue, gray, and bluish-black.

Adorned with a necklace-like pattern of gold around their necks, these chickens also feature beaks and legs with black or gray tints. Further, they are complemented by their vibrant red combs and wattles.

In terms of productivity, Sapphire Gems are prolific producers. As a matter of fact, many owners have noted that these birds can offer 200 to 320 large eggs in a single year.

In addition, these gray birds are known for their sweet nature, friendliness, and inquisitive personality. They are also charming and easy to handle.

Note: Sapphire Gems are sex-linked chickens. Female chicks display a uniform blue or lavender tint, while males can be identified by a white patch on their heads or wings.

9. Lavender Wyandotte

Lavender Wyandotte walking on snow
Image credit: hens_and_home / Instagram
Origin:United States
Purpose:Meat, eggs
Egg Production:200–240 eggs per year
Egg Color:Brown, cream
Weight:Roosters: 8–9 lbs (3.6–4.1 kg);
Hens: 6–7 lbs (2.7–3.2 kg);
Bantams: 2.25–3 lbs (1–1.4 kg)
Temperament:Calm, gentle, amiable, beginner-friendly, and chatty
Lifespan:6–12 years
Unique Traits:Yellow beak and legs, four toes, small rose comb, dense feathering, curvy

Born in the 1870s in the United States, the lavender Wyandotte is a creation of New York and Massachusetts breeders. Their plumage, a purplish-gray hue, results from a very diluted black gene.

With their yellow beaks and legs, small rose combs, and dense feathering, these chickens carry a curvy physique that is as functional as they are beautiful.

However, bear in mind that lavender Wyandottes are not just about looks. They serve well for meat and egg production, laying around 200 to 240 eggs per year.

Moreover, these birds are sociable and suitable for beginners. They’re even considered among the best breeds for indoor raising, provided they receive the necessary care.

Note: Potential keepers should be mindful of the lavender Wyandottes’ broody tendencies. These chickens are reliable sitters, often pausing egg-laying to brood over their eggs.

10. Ameraucana

Gray Ameraucana
Origin:United States
Purpose:Meat, eggs
Egg Production:150–250 eggs per year
Egg Color:Blue
Weight:Roosters: 5.5–6.5 lbs (2.5–3 kg);
Hens: 4.5–5.5 lbs (2–2.5 kg);
Bantams: 1–1.5 lbs (0.5–0.7 kg)
Temperament:Docile, friendly, active, easily manageable, and calm
Lifespan:7–8 years
Unique Traits:U-shaped body, hawk-like appearance, bearded, muffed, rumpless, pea comb, wide chest

Originating in the United States, the Ameraucana breed features an array of gray shades from light to dark, which makes it a standout choice for poultry enthusiasts.

When it comes to their physical traits, these chickens are distinguished by their hawk-like appearance, complete with a beard, muffs, and a unique rumpless body. They also exhibit a pea comb and wide chest.

While hanging out at my friend’s backyard coop often, I have been particularly drawn to her gray Ameraucanas. She remarks on their friendly and intelligent nature, noting how well they integrate into mixed flocks.

Further, she boasts about their egg-laying capacity, with Ameraucana hens consistently laying between 150 and 250 blue eggs yearly. It’s a productivity level that’s both impressive and visually striking.

What really shines through is these chickens’ powerful maternal instincts. I’ve personally seen their nurturing behavior, showcasing their prowess as mothers.

11. Isabella Leghorn

Gray Isabella Leghorn
Image credit: chicknheartfarm / Instagram
Egg Production:280–320 eggs per year
Egg Color:White
Weight:Roosters: 6–6.5 lbs (2.7–2.9 kg);
Hens: 4.5–5 lbs (2–2.3 kg);
Bantams: 2–2.3 lbs (0.9–1 kg)
Temperament:Active, flighty, independent, resourceful, intelligent, and generally friendly
Lifespan:4–6 years
Unique Traits:Narrow chest, white earlobes, erect tails, V-shaped body, single and upright comb

Hailing from Tuscany, the Isabella Leghorn introduces a novel variety to the Leghorn family with its pastel cream, white, and blue feathers that collectively cast a lovely gray hue.

Adhering to the American Poultry Association (APA) breed standards, Isabella Leghorns exhibit a single comb with five to six even points, a narrow chest, upright tail feathers, and white earlobes.

Not only are they admired for their beauty, but they are also great egg layers. They can contribute approximately 150 to 250 eggs annually. Their laying prowess also begins early, usually around 4 to 5 months.

In addition, these chickens are active yet calm, making them easily manageable for both novice and experienced poultry keepers. They are incredibly friendly and docile as well.

Further, they are resilient, disease-resistant, and excellent foragers. These qualities make them well-suited for free-ranging environments.

Fun Fact: Leghorns are also known by the names Livornese and Livorno.

12. Dutch Booted Bantam

Dutch Booted Bantam on white background
Origin:Germany, The Netherlands, Great Britain
Purpose:Exhibition, ornamental
Egg Production:100–180 eggs per year
Egg Color:White, tinted
Weight:Roosters: 1.6–1.8 lbs (0.7–0.8 kg);
Hens: 1.4–1.6 lbs (0.6–0.7 kg)
Temperament:Affectionate, docile, meek, friendly, intelligent, and active
Lifespan:4–10 years
Unique Traits:Heavily-feathered feet and legs, single comb, compact body, upright tail, U-shaped back

Also called Sablepoot or Booted Bantam, the Dutch Booted Bantam showcases a lovely gray variety among its colorful plumage.

Characterized by their single comb, compact body, upright tail, and U-shaped back, they are particularly noted for their heavily feathered feet and legs.

Despite being primarily bred for their ornamental appeal, Dutch Booted Bantams also contribute to egg production, albeit modestly, with an annual yield of 100 to 180 eggs.

Behavior-wise, their loving, mild, and outgoing demeanor makes them fantastic pets. They are quick to bond and eager to engage with their human companions.

Note that Booted Bantams are one of the smallest and lightest chickens out there, too. They typically weigh only 1.4 to 1.8 pounds.

Fun Fact: The Dutch Booted Bantams’ history is as rich as their appearance, with early representations appearing in the artwork of Dutch Golden Age painter Adriaen van Utrecht around 1640.

13. California Gray

California Gray while foraging
Origin:United States
Purpose:Meat, eggs
Egg Production:250–300 eggs per year
Egg Color:White
Weight:Roosters: 5.5–6.6 lbs (2.5–3 kg);
Hens: 3.3–4.4 lbs (1.5–2 kg)
Temperament:Gentle, friendly, calm, adaptable, sociable, and curious
Lifespan:6–10 years
Unique Traits:Black and white bars, yellow shanks and toes, red-tinted combs and wattles, white earlobes, pale beak

Another breed developed in the United States, the California Gray exhibits distinctive black and white barring that creates a gray appearance.

These chickens also come equipped with yellow shanks and toes, red-tinted combs and wattles, white earlobes, and a pale beak.

As a dual-purpose breed, California Grays are valued for both their meat and impressive egg production. In fact, they can lay between 250 and 300 eggs each year.

Basically, their ability to consistently produce a high yield of eggs makes them a practical choice for both small-scale and commercial poultry operations.

In terms of demeanor, these chickens are adaptable, good-natured, and curious. They’re also smart and easy to tame, which makes them excellent for families or individuals seeking engaging backyard chickens.

Note: The APA’s Standard of Perfection doesn’t officially recognize California Grays because they’re a crossbreed. Yet, this does not detract from their value and appeal to poultry fans.

14. Blue Plymouth Rock

Blue Plymouth Rock inside coop
Origin:United States
Purpose:Meat, eggs
Egg Production:200–300 eggs per year
Egg Color:Brown, pink
Weight:Roosters: 8–10 lbs (3.6–4.5 kg);
Hens: 7–8 lbs (3.2–3.6 kg);
Bantams: 2.5–3 lbs (1.1–1.4 kg)
Temperament:Broody, social, smart, inquisitive, easily tameable, and easygoing
Lifespan:6–8 years
Unique Traits:Deep chest, five-pointed comb, triangular-shaped build, clean legs, bay-colored eyes, yellow feet and skin

First spotted in Massachusetts in the nineteenth century, the blue Plymouth Rock flaunts a captivating ashy gray body complemented by a grayish-black neck.

With their deep chest, five-pointed comb, and triangular build, these chickens are designed for robustness. Their clean legs, bay-colored eyes, and yellow feet and skin contribute to their unique appearance as well.

With regard to productivity, blue Plymouth Rocks lay between 200 and 300 eggs annually. This makes them among the top choices for chicken enthusiasts who are focused on egg yield.

On another note, you can expect that these gray chickens typically enjoy a lifespan of 6 to 8 years. But with good care, they could live even longer.

15. Dark Brahma

Dark Brahma basking in the sun
Origin:United States
Purpose:Meat, eggs
Egg Production:150–200 eggs per year
Egg Color:Brown
Weight:Roosters: 10–12 lbs (4.5–5.4 kg);
Hens: 8–9.5 lbs (3.6–4.3 kg);
Bantams: 2–2.5 lbs (0.9–1.1 kg)
Temperament:Friendly, calm, good-natured, laid-back, intelligent, and nosy
Lifespan:5–10 years
Unique Traits:Oblong or egg-shaped body frame, prominent chest, rounded tail, feathered legs, thick body feathers

Rounding out this list, the Dark Brahma stands majestic with dark gray to black feathers, each accented by silvery-white edging. This unusual patterning sets them apart, making them a visually striking breed.

In addition to that, these chickens boast an oblong body, prominent chest, and feathered legs. Their plumage is also very thick, which helps them stay warm in colder climates.

As far as temperament is concerned, Dark Brahmas are intelligent and curious. Many keepers have noted that they often have a friendly, calm, and gentle streak as well.

However, it should be noted that these gray chickens often exhibit broody behavior, especially during summer. This means they’re more likely to sit on their eggs to hatch them compared to other breeds.

Fun Fact: Dubbed the “King of All Poultry,” the Brahma chicken is celebrated for its impressive size, strength, and vigor, with some individuals reaching up to 18 pounds.

Color Genetics of Gray Chickens

Gray chicken breed up close

Gray chickens owe their distinct color to genetics, particularly the “blue dilution” gene. Basically, this gene softens the black pigment in feathers.

To be specific, it acts as an incomplete dominant gene. Its influence on the plumage color can vary, with chickens carrying two copies of the gene displaying a much lighter shade of gray due to increased pigment dilution.

Self-blue chickens represent another genetic path to gray coloring. These birds breed true, meaning their offspring will also have the same color, different from the variability seen with the blue dilution gene.

Simply put, self-blue chickens are born with their distinctive color, making it easier to breed them for this particular grayish-blue shade.

Which Gray Chicken Is Right for You?

Gray chickens foraging in the grass

Selecting the right gray chicken breed for your needs involves weighing several factors. To help you out, here is a list of key considerations to assist you in making an informed decision:

  • Purpose: Determine whether you want the chickens primarily for egg production, meat, or as pets. Some gray chicken breeds are known for being excellent layers, while others may be prized for their meat quality.
  • Egg production: If egg production is a priority, research the average number of eggs you can expect from a breed. As discussed, a handful of gray-colored chickens lay more eggs than others.
  • Climate tolerance: Consider your local climate and choose a breed that can thrive in your weather conditions. Note that various gray chickens have differing levels of resilience to cold or heat.
  • Temperament: For those keeping gray chickens as pets or in a backyard setting, it’s important to select breeds known for their friendly and docile nature, as opposed to more skittish or aggressive ones.
  • Availability and cost: Consider how easily you can acquire your chosen breed in your area. Keep in mind that availability or cost might vary significantly among gray-hued chickens.
  • Appearance: If appearance is important to you, take into account the specific characteristics of your selected gray chicken, such as feather pattern, size, and comb type.
  • Space requirements: Assess whether your preferred breed does well in confined spaces or needs more room to roam. Understanding this aspect is crucial for providing the appropriate environment for your chickens.

By carefully evaluating these factors, you can confidently pick a gray chicken that suits your goals, whether for eggs, meat, or just good company!

Frequently Asked Questions

Gray chicken side view

What Color Eggs Do Gray Chickens Lay?

Gray chickens do not break the mold when it comes to the color of the eggs they lay. In other words, they produce eggs similar to their counterparts of different shades.

For example, a blue Plymouth Rock chicken will lay brown eggs, as with its barred or buff siblings.

This means if you are raising gray chickens, expect egg colors that align with the breed’s standard, regardless of their feather pigment.

What Gray Chickens Lay Blue Eggs?

Among gray chickens, breeds like the Whiting True Blue, Ameraucana, Opal Legbar, Steele Egger, and Cream Legbar are known for laying blue eggs.

However, it is worth mentioning that not all these chickens are purely gray; some display a mix of grayish-blue feathers.

What Is the Rarest Color of Chickens?

The rarest color in chickens is lavender, which is a distinctive shade that appears as a very light gray with a subtle purplish tint. This is because breeding lavender chickens involves a specific genetic process.

In particular, breeders must cross chickens that carry the lavender allele — a variant of a gene — with those that don’t. This careful selection is necessary to achieve the desired lavender plumage in the offspring.

In summary, adding gray chicken breeds brings variety and charm to any backyard flock. We’d also love to hear your opinions, thoughts, or questions about these chickens. Please feel free to drop your comments below!

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