What purpose do you plan for the chickens? Dual purpose? Or meat? Or eggs?
I do not have any experience with layers, but for fast growing efficient meat type chickens we grow cornish/rock/leghorn crosses. and are really pleased with the results.
If you're looking for eggs and maybe a little meat, go with any brown laying chicken. Considering your location, I would add that chickens with closer fittings combs will lay better in colder weather and they won't have as much problem with frostbit combs.
White Plymouth Rock, Barred Rocks, nice birds that lay early and get big, also they have good personality. I did not like speckled sussex the roosters are mean. I was looking at getting the buckeyes because of their egg color, seems like I read they were not a great layer. If I were going to order again (probably will) I'd get some marans. I bought some of those EE's this year and they lay early too---already getting green eggs, they are a fairly good size bird.
Why not order the pullet mix or the straight run mix from Murry Mcmurry..I always had fun seeing what I'd get,and could compair breeds that way..lots of fun getting the rare breed mix,had to study the catalog to find out what i'd gotten..
Australorps are the absolute best dual purpose chicken breed in the world. They are Black Orpingtons which were carefully selected and linebred for their meat and egg laying abilities by animal scientists in Australia in the first half of the 20th Century. They are hardy, grow relatively quickly, have a nice carcass, and are prolific brown egg layers.
Stay away from the Fayoumis. They have a stringy carcass with a lot of connective tissue and lay little white eggs. Also avoid any of the Giants. They are about half the size of a turkey, have a good carcass, but in the Alabama heat they drop over dead.
Agree with Peg....we had an assortment of a lot of different breeds (Buff Orpingtons, White Leghorns, White Silkies, Black Silkies, Rhode Island Reds, etc. etc.)...by far we LOVED the Buff Orpingtons. They were easy-going, easily handled, healthy, ... just good all the way around. ;-) Now, Jeff's just ordered some turkeys...GREAT...I've heard they're a pain in the @ss!!!
We have Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Delwares, a few Buff Orpingtons. We were misshipped some of Meyer's Golden Buffs by mistake and were one of the best layers that we had, a medium sized bird that lays extra large eggs. Their small size made them targets for the bigger birds and they finally were culled out. The Barred Rocks are probably the best hens for eggs, temperment and eating...heck, we just make soup out of the hens anyway. Have forty each of the Barred Rock and RR pullets in the barn that just started laying, should move them into the hen house some night soon.
Will run a few turkeys this year for the relatives and ourself.
Here in our cool area Australia we find that our Silver Laced Wyandottes lay the best in the cooler weather. They do tend to go clucky (broody) fairly often. We generally have a mix of Isa Browns, Australorps,Anconas and Gold Laced Wyandottes. We also have bantams Black Pekins and Splash Pekins.