I've been researching breeds for our hens for the past few weeks and have narrowed the decision down to three: Black Australorp, Barred Plymouth Rock, and Buckeye. Each of these is an above average layer, cold hardy, docile and friendly, and adaptable to free range and confinement. Further, I can't stand seeing any of my girls get bullied, so I wanted to make sure that for the most part each type of bird we got would get along in a mixed flock. Since our girls will get names and end up being backyard pets, we chose breeds that would enjoy our company and allow my daughter to carry them around and sit on her lap (as she does with my neighbor Mary's chickens).
Thanks to Mary who blogs at http://columbiaurbanhens.wordpress.com/, I will be ordering our hens through Bourne feed who gets their shipments from http://www.cacklehatchery.com a hatchery in southern Missouri. All the images below are from Cackle Hatchery.
Even though the city of Columbia limits backyard chickens to 6 hens (no roosters), I will likely order 3 of each because of the likelihood that some of them will be sexed wrong. If not, having a couple extra hens will be fine with me!
Update! When I called the feed store to make my order they had a minimum of 5 per breed. After talking with my girl, we decided to go for 5 Buckeyes since they aren't sexed and we will just get two random bantoms when we pick them up. The Austrolorps are on back order until the end of May. We can't keep roosters in the city, so we can order Austrolorps later in the season to replace what roosters will have to go.