The various chicken breeds come in four main types; Egg chicken breeds are known for laying the most eggs and generally will not go broody, Meat chicken breeds which are usually bred solely for their meat, General Purpose Breeds which as the title suggests are good all-rounders, having a good amount of meat on them but also laying a fair number of eggs, they also tend to be good sitters and mothers. The last of the four main types of chicken breeds are known as Fancy Breeds which are bantam breeds usually bred purely for their look or a particular feathering – in many cases these will not be good egg layers as that has not been a consideration when developing the strain.
There are hundreds of individual breeds that have been identified by the various poultry associations accross the world, and a seemingly infinite number of crosses. There are general guidelines from each poultry association outlining the traits that should be seen in each breed (known as the American Standard of Perfection in the case of the USA – certain chicken breeds may differ slightly in each different country but the core traits usually remain essentially the same). Whilst the standard for a certain breed may be one thing it does not necessarily follow that every individual chicken within that breed will have those traits – for instance you may find you have a white leghorn chicken that lays hardly any eggs.