Best Chicken Breeds:  12 Types of Hens that Lay Lots of Eggs, Make Good Pets, and Fit in Small Yards - R.J. Ruppenthal The author gives us a brief on what characteristics make a great bird for a small backyard flock. As he points out, all this information is available for free on the internet (and he gives his sources), HOWEVER he brings the information together in one short, sweet bundle. I can attest to his information as I also slogged through hours of research and found the same short list of birds as my top candidates for when I can get a small flock started.

Basically the criteria are which birds are superior layers, have friendly personalities and/or are QUIET (and he points out the quietest ones--yay!), and which ones are suited to the more confined areas of a backyard run and coop. These are the criteria for what I'm looking for as a prospective chicken owner (next year) and I want layers that like the backyard, that like me, and are the least likely to bug my neighbors. My husband is hoping for brown eggs.

This little book does a great job in describing 12 breeds that suit these criteria and gives little tidbits of other useful facts like size, history and egg colors.

I found my top candidates on the list, which confirms the slogging I've done on the internet for hours using many of his resources but also chat boards and whatnot from 'real' owners.

In other words I could have saved myself a lot of time by reading this book first, and with a very reasonable price, I highly recommend purchasing this first so you can narrow your focus.