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The Top 11 Egg-Laying Chicken Breeds for Your Backyard Flock

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Looking for the best layers for your backyard flock? Consider these popular egg-laying chicken breeds…

When it comes to raising chickens, there are a number of priorities to consider before choosing which breeds to purchase.

Will they be kept in a small, confined space, or will they free-range around your property? Will you be keeping a rooster or just a flock of hens? Are you planning on butchering your chickens for meat, raising them as a source of farm-fresh eggs for your table – or both?

If you are planning on raising chickens solely for eggs, you may be wondering which egg-laying chicken breeds are best for a backyard flock – after all, there are so many different breeds out there to choose from!

In general, multi-purpose breeds (which are well suited for both egg and meat purposes) tend to lay fewer eggs, but are hardier and have fewer health problems. On the other hand, “production” breeds are bred to produce high numbers of eggs, but often may suffer from health issues and may not live (or produce eggs) as long.

From temperament to egg production and beyond, here are the top 11 egg-laying chicken breeds to consider for your home flock:

  1. Rhode Island Red

    • Temperament: Friendly and generally docile, making them great for families.
    • Egg Production: Known for their consistent brown eggs, laying around 200-300 eggs per year.
    • Other Considerations: Originally a dual-purpose breed, some modern strains have been bred for higher egg production. They are very outgoing, but can sometimes be bossy or pushy towards other breeds. Rhode Island Red roosters often tend to be aggressive, which is something to consider if you plan to include a rooster in your flock.
  2. Leghorn

    • Temperament: Active, flighty, and independent, but can be friendly with frequent handling.
    • Egg Production: Prolific layers of large white eggs, averaging 280-320 eggs annually.
    • Other Considerations: This is a smaller breed, but a very high egg producer. They can come in other colors, but the white strain is the most productive.
  3. Plymouth Rock

    • Temperament: Calm, mellow, and curious. Very gentle and easy to handle, suitable for beginners.
    • Egg Production: Reliable layers of brown eggs, with an average of 200-280 eggs per year.
    • Other Considerations: This breed comes in many colors, the most famous of which is the Barred, but they are also found in Partridge, Silver Penciled, White, Blue, Black, Splash, Buff, and Columbian. This fairly large dual-purpose breed is often kept for both eggs and meat, and some strains will lay better than others.
  4. Sussex

    • Temperament: Calm and friendly birds, ideal for children.
    • Egg Production: Good layers of light brown eggs, producing around 250-280 eggs annually.
    • Other Considerations: Sussex are a multi-purpose breed, and they tend to have a heavier, meatier body type than pure egg layers. There are multiple Sussex breeds, and some are better layers than others. Speckled Sussex, for example, are extremely friendly, calm, and docile hens which can be a beautiful addition to a mixed flock, but tend to lay somewhat fewer eggs than some of the other Sussex breeds.
  5. Australorp

    • Temperament: Docile and sweet-natured, making them great pets.
    • Egg Production: Excellent layers of large brown eggs, averaging 250-300 eggs per year.
    • Other Considerations: A dual-purpose Australian breed, this is a fairly large and hardy type, and tends to be gentle and friendly in a mixed-breed flock.
  6. Orpington

    • Temperament: Affectionate and calm, often termed “lap chickens,” these are gentle giants, especially known for their friendly demeanor.
    • Egg Production: Reliable layers of light brown eggs, producing about 180-200 eggs annually.
    • Other Considerations: Orpingtons are big chickens, so you’ll want to account for this when designing your coop and run space, as well as when selecting other breeds if you’re planning a mixed flock, since they may dominate smaller breeds.  They come in a number of colors, with Buff being one of the most common.
  7. Easter Egger

    • Temperament: Friendly and quirky, adding color and personality to your flock.
    • Egg Production: Known for their colorful eggs (blue, green, and sometimes pink), laying around 200-250 eggs per year.
    • Other Considerations: Since they aren’t a standardized breed, Easter Eggers can be found in all kinds of plumage colors, making for a varied flock. In general, they are excellent layers, producing lots of large to extra-large eggs. They do tend to be fairly small and flighty, so be sure to consider this when choosing confinement options.
  8. Wyandotte

    • Temperament: Curious and calm, enjoying interaction with humans.
    • Egg Production: Moderate layers of brown eggs, averaging around 200-240 eggs annually.
    • Other Considerations: Wyandotte’s come in several different varieties, including Gold Laced, Silver Laced, Buff, and more. They are a multi-purpose breed and tend to have sturdy, heavy body types while also being consistent layers. While many of the Wyandotte breeds are extremely beautiful, they can also be bossy and may have a tendency to pick on other breeds.
  9. Red/Black Sex Link

    • Temperament: Curious, docile, and friendly – great for children and friendly with other breeds.
    • Egg Production: This high-production breed lays up to 300 extra-large brown eggs per year.
    • Other Considerations: This hybrid was designed with egg laying in mind. This is not a true breed, but rather a first-generation cross of two other breeds, chosen for egg production and crossed in such a way so that the chicks hatch different colors based on their gender – making it easy to pick out the pullets on day one. Many hatcheries will have names for their particular hybrid, such as Red Star, Black Star, Isa Brown, etc. However, their super egg production comes at a cost – they can be very prone to reproductive issues such as cancer.
  10. Golden Comet

    • Temperament: Friendly and calm, suitable for first-time chicken keepers.
    • Egg Production: Excellent layers of large brown eggs, producing around 250-300 eggs annually.
    • Other Considerations: This sex-linked hybrid breed is also known as Golden Buff, Red Star, Cinnamon Queen, and Gold Sex-Link. A popular hen for commercial egg production, this breed can start laying as early as 16 weeks. However, as with other high-production chicken breeds, they tend to be susceptible to reproductive organ issues, such as peritonitis and tumors, and may not live as long as most multi-purpose breeds.
  11. Anacona

    • Temperament: Flighty and skittish, so make sure you have a good place to contain them if you plan to confine them as they tend to be escape artists!
    • Egg Production: Reliable layers of large white eggs, averaging around 220 eggs per year.
    • Other Considerations: Originating in Italy, these birds are primarily kept for their egg-laying abilities. They are a smaller breed, and are very active and hardy birds, good for free-ranging.

When selecting chicken breeds for your backyard flock, it’s essential to consider not only egg production but also temperament and suitability for your environment. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced chicken keeper, there’s a perfect breed out there for you. With proper care and attention, these egg-laying champions will provide you with delicious eggs and endless entertainment for years to come!

 

Sources:

https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/top-10-best-egg-producing-chicken-breeds.75941/

https://www.backyardchickencoops.com.au/blogs/learning-centre/wyandottes-a-comprehensive-guide

https://backyardpoultry.iamcountryside.com/chickens-101/golden-comet-chickens-breed-profile/

 

 

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