Backyard Chickens – The 5 Best Breeds For Egg Layers

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Egg Layers

When we first started raising chickens, we put a lot of thought and research into the chickens we wanted to buy. Learning which breeds were best for our purpose saved us time and money by avoiding buying chickens not suitable for what we wanted. Now, twenty years later, we know which breeds work best for us.

While all hens produce edible eggs containing the same nutritional benefits, only certain ones are superior laying hens, excelling at egg production. Personally, I prefer brown eggs so I base my breed choices on ones known for laying brown eggs. However, brown eggs are not healthier than white eggs: I just like brown eggs. The chicken’s diet controls the health benefits of eggs, the richness and color of the yolk and the bird’s overall health.

Many people will argue that you can’t taste the difference between store-bought eggs and fresh eggs—I say, “baloney”; the yolks are richer and more nutritious, giving them a better taste than any found in the grocery store. Raising chickens organically and cage free produces healthier and tastier eggs and meat. Once you try an organic meat chicken, free of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals, you’ll never want chicken from the store again.

My 5 top laying hen breed recommendations:

Rhode Island RdRhode Island Red: This is my favorite layer. They lay medium size brown eggs with an above average laying rate. Being both cold and heat hardy, Rhode Island Reds are good for any climate. They are easy to care for, adapting well to a penned or free-range environment. Reds are a more aggressive breed so be careful what breeds you place them with. These chickens are a good, dual-purpose breed and are well known for both egg production and meat. If you want a do everything breed, the Rhode Island Red is the one to pick.

Leghorn Leghorn: The best egg layer available, these chickens lay extra-large white eggs, producing over 300 a year. Even with their smaller size, they make a good dual-purpose chicken; using them for meat, once their laying production declines. If you want a meatier chicken go with the Plymouth Rock. Their egg production is lower but they are a large chicken, with an average weight of 10 pounds. While I prefer brown eggs, I always include a few Leghorns for their terrific laying rates.

Buff OrpingtonBuff Orpington: This breed has an above average production of large brown eggs. Their friendly nature and cold weather hardiness makes them an excellent beginner chicken.  If you plan to raise chicks, the Orpington is a good brooder and makes an excellent mother. They also make good pets and I wouldn’t have a flock without one or two Orpingtons. However, because of their docile nature, they are picked on so they don’t do well with aggressive breeds.

Black ChickenBlack Star: The hens are above average layers of large brown eggs and begin laying around five months. They are a hardy breed and easy to raise. These hybrid chickens are a cross between Barred Rock hens and Rhode Island Red roosters. The chicks are easily color sexed, meaning you identify males and females by their color. The males are black while females have gold plumage on their neck and breast. The Black Star is another good beginner breed with a calm nature making them good pets.

Easter Egger - AmeraucanaAmeraucana: Also known as Easter Eggers, these chickens lay eggs in various shades of blue, blue-green, green and cream.  These easy to handle birds lay medium size eggs, are winter hardy and have average to above average egg production. Ameracuanas adapt well to confinement or free range and are calm and non-aggressive making them a good family chicken. Your kids will love collecting the colorful eggs.

Try various breeds for your backyard flock. If you want both meat and egg layers, I recommend including dual-purpose chickens like the Leghorn, and meat chickens like the Plymouth Rock. A flock of three to four hens gives a family of four an adequate amount of eggs but, I always have a flock of ten, usually more.

About Nancy

Nancy is a freelance author and editor, living on a small acreage in rural Oklahoma with her husband, several cats, and a nice size flock of chickens. Both share a passion for the homesteading lifestyle and the basics of simple living, from raising chickens to canning and preserving foods.

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  1. Hi Nancy ,
    Your information has given me exactly what I required ,we are about to adopt a couple of Rhode Island reds in our yard .I feel confident now to go ahead

  2. I found it interesting that you answered Adam Kumalo’s question ” How many eggs does Rhode island red lay a day?” by saying that “Rhode Island Reds will lay one egg per day” .
    I know of no chicken on this earth that is capable of doing that. It is my understanding that the minimum cycle for forming and laying an egg is 26 hours which would make an egg a day impossible. I hope Adam does depend upon getting 365 eggs per year from each of his hens, even the first year. I believe a more realistic estimate would be around 280 years during the hen’s prime year.

    • Geeze, thanks for catching that, Larry it should have read 1 every “other” day; a typo on my part. To Adam, Larry is right on my typo. No hen is going to lay every day. I get 1 egg every “other” day from my Reds. I have twenty hens and average around 16 eggs a day from all of them. Sometimes, they like to take a rest and I may only get about ten, but honestly, that is not very often; usually once a month there is one or two days I only get about 10 eggs. Reds, in my opinion, are the best for a lot of large, brown eggs.

  3. Hello. I am a 13 year old girl getting my own chickens for the first time. I was thinking about getting Australorps, with maybe a mix of some Rhode Island Reds. What other breeds should I use? I am mostly leaning towards the Australorps, but I need help. I have a bunch more questions, so please please please help me!!!

    • Congratulations on raising chickens. While they take some work, they are also a lot of fun.

      Australorps are great egg layers. They also have a gentle temperament and are great around people and other chickens. Rhode Island reds are great layers and have good temperament as well. I never have a flock without Rhode Islands. I love they way they talk to you. Ours will follow us around, clucking and carrying on and it’s almost like they answer us if we talk back to them.

      Our flock consists of Rhode Islands, Americanas, and Orpingtons. They all intermingle well, have good temperaments, and are all great layers.

      Any questions, feel free to ask.

    • Rhode Island Reds will lay 1 egg per day. As they age, their production slows down. I wouldn’t have a flock without some Rhode Island Reds. They are great chickens.

    • Most breeds start laying between 5 and 6 months. Leghorns are know to start laying between 4 1/2 to 5 months. This is the usual, but chickens are known to do things on their own schedules.

      All of my Rhode Island Reds started laying at 6 months. My Americanas and Orpingtons started around 5 months with the exception of 2 Orpingtons, one didn’t lay until 7 months and the other 7 1/2 months.

    • Hi Adnan,

      Yes, the article mentions the Leghorn. They are great layers, one of the best. They lay large white eggs and Rhode Island Reds lay large brown eggs. Both breeds are great for eggs and both are well adapted to heat and cold.

  4. That`s Really Nice.. I am a boy Of 14yrs. and I am Now in The basic School. My teacher thought me About poultry and Most Especially Layers.Among the Example He gave me,There is Rhode Island Red.But it seems I can`t find the other One he gave me In Your Blog. I hope I will see It soon.

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