If you’re planning to get some backyard chickens so that they can provide you with lovely fresh eggs on a daily basis, you’ll need to first set up your chicken coop and then decide whether you’re going to let them roam around your garden during the day or whether you also need to build a run for them.
Once you’re all set up, it’s time to buy your laying hens. But there’s such a wide variety of breeds available. So, how do you decide which breed to select? To help you out, here is a rundown of the 16 best egg-laying chicken breeds for you to choose from.
Almost everyone would be familiar with Leghorns. These are chickens that have white feathers and distinctive red wattles and combs. In fact, this is the breed that is most commonly used by commercial egg producers.
Each hen from this breed can lay around 280 to 320 eggs per year. This means that you don’t need many hens to give your family plenty of eggs to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, in their prime, you could expect each hen to lay around 4 eggs per week.
Rhode Island Reds
If you love the look of light brown eggs rather than white ones, then you want to consider the Rhode Island Reds. These hens can produce around 200 to 300 eggs per year. Once again, you won’t need a lot of hens to have all the eggs that you’re ever going to need.
You can recognize these hens by their brown feathers and red combs and wattles. One major advantage of this breed is that the hens can start laying from as young as 16 weeks, and their eggs get larger as they mature.
If you’re after some truly pretty hens, consider the Plymouth Rocks. They have lovely speckled black and white feathers and red combs and wattles. From this breed, you can expect around 200 eggs per year from each hen.
Plus, these hens can continue to lay eggs for around 10 years, but their productivity does decrease once they reach 3 years of age. This breed also produces large brown eggs that are very tasty.
If you have young children, you might want to consider Australorps. This breed is remarkably docile, which also makes it ideal for beginners. Each hen can lay around 250 eggs per year.
Australorp hens are also fairly cold-hardy and are one of the gentlest chicken breeds. They generally have black feathers and red combs and wattles. In addition to providing plenty of eggs, this breed is also favored for its meat.
This breed also has the prettiest hens. They have lovely buff-colored feathers with pale red combs and wattles. Each hen can produce around 200 to 280 eggs per year.
These hens are also very friendly and docile, so they’re ideal for beginners and families with small children. They are cold-hardy, as their feathers provide excellent weather resistance.
Another benefit of this breed is that the hens make excellent mothers. So, if you plan on increasing your flock down the track by hatching your own chicks, make sure you get a rooster as well.
If you like your eggs on the large side, consider the Minorca breed. These lovely hens can lay around 200 eggs per year, and the eggs are large and white. The hens have lovely glossy black feathers with bright red wattles, combs, and faces.
Sussex hens come in a variety of different colors, with the majority having white body feathers and black tail and neck feathers. Each hen can lay around 250 eggs per year. These eggs can often range in color from creamy white to brown.
This is also a very tame breed, and the hens will happily eat from your hand. This makes them perfect for beginners and families with children.
This is an Italian breed that is becoming quite popular in the US and the UK. The hens are quite small, but they can produce around 200 eggs per year. However, expect smaller eggs due to the hen’s diminutive size.
The hens are similar in appearance to Plymouth Rocks, except that they’re much smaller. In fact, they’re only about half the size.
One thing to note about this breed is that the hens are not ideal for beginners as they can be quite timid. They are also good flyers and will need to have their feathers clipped quite regularly.
This breed is native to Holland and has the most gorgeous glossy black feathers that have brown tips. Each hen is able to lay around 200 eggs per year. The eggs are a delightful light-speckled brown color and small to medium in size.
This breed really loves to free-range and roam around your garden. So, if this is something that appeals to you, then this might be the breed for you.
As you might imagine, this breed originated in Germany, and it’s quite an attractive breed. The hens often have speckled black and white feathers. Plus, there’s a variation of this breed that displays black feathers with gold tips.
Each hen in this breed can lay up to 200 eggs per year. The eggs have a glossy white shell and are usually small to medium in size.
One thing to note about this breed is that the hens prefer to roam free and don’t really like to be cooped up all day. They tend to become quite aggressive when confined to small spaces for any length of time. So, if you don’t want to let them out into your garden, then maybe give this breed a miss.
This is another breed that has distinctive black and white feathers and red combs and wattles. Each hen in this breed will lay around 200 eggs per year. The eggs are medium size and dark brown in color.
While this breed is quite gentle, the hens aren’t easily tamed, so they don’t make good pets. However, they don’t need as much space to roam as other breeds prefer.
Easter Eggers are a hybrid breed but they produce the most interesting blue-colored eggs. Each hen will lay up to 250 of these lovely blue eggs every year.
As these hens are hybrids, their coloring will vary, but they are predominantly brown with different colored flecks. Their appearance is quite similar to a hawk, and this has given them the reputation for being excellent as free-range hens.
This is another hybrid breed being a cross between an Australorp and a Leghorn. Each hen from this breed can lay more than 250 eggs per year. The eggs are generally cream-colored.
Being hybrids means that they may have color variations. However, they predominantly have speckled brown and white feathers with red combs, wattles, and faces. These hens are also great for beginners because they have a calm and docile temperament.
This breed is a hybrid cross between the New Hampshire Red and the Barred Rock. It’s quite an attractive bird with predominantly white feathers but accents of black feathers around the neck and on the tail.
Each hen can produce more than 200 eggs per year, and these are generally large and brown in color. This is also a cold-hardy breed with a relatively calm temperament.
This is an American breed that displays stunning feathers in black and white and a bright red comb and wattle, as well as a red eye patch. Each hen from this breed can lay more than 200 eggs per year, and these are often large and brown in color.
While these might not be the friendliest hens and don’t make good pets, they generally have a calm and quiet temperament.
As you might be aware, Brahmas are one of the largest chicken breeds, with each hen weighing up to 10 pounds. Each Brahma hen can lay around 200 large eggs per year.
Another advantage of this breed is these hens will often continue laying eggs even during the winter months, while other breeds tend to stop laying during the colder weather.