Before trying to decide what type of poultry you want to keep it is important to verify that you are allowed to do so. This is particularly important for anyone living in urban areas. Some cities have ordinances that allow people to keep chickens, while others do not. If you want to produce poultry products for sale, there are additional rules, Federal, State and Local, that affect who you can sell to.
The 'best' breed for your flock depends on the reasons you have for keeping the flock - for meat and/or eggs, for poultry shows, for fun, or for 'enhancement of the beauty' of your farm. Most poultry species come in a variety of forms with differing production parameters.
A breed is defined as a group of related birds having the same general size, shape, and body form. All the birds within a given breed have the same skin color, number of toes, and plumage style. Most breeds have a number of varieties based on specific characteristics such as plumage color and pattern, feather placement or comb style.
Similarly, varieties can be furthered divided into strains. A strain is a related family of birds. For example, a flock developed and maintained by a specific breeder would be considered a strain.
Poultry Your Way: Guide to Management Alternatives for the Upper Midwest (Minnesota Department of Agriculture, 2005) - A general introduction to smaller-scaled and alternative poultry production
Once you have decided what you want to get, how do you go about getting the birds. There are many different hatcheries and they sell a variety of different breeds for a wide selection of poultry species. It is best to purchase your birds from an NPIP-certified flock. That is, a hatchery that has their breeder flocks tested under the National Poultry Improvement Plan. This is not a guarantee that you will get disease-free birds, but it does improve your odds.
If you want to get adult birds, your possibilities are more limited. You could try your local feed store for contacts.