Just like cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals, chickens come in a variety of breeds that have been selectively developed over time to produce specific traits. The result is that some chicken breeds are better suited to certain tasks than others. If you’re looking for a chicken breed that will excel at egg production, then you’re in luck! Here are 10 of the best chicken breeds for producing eggs.
Reading: Best chicken breeds for eggs
Any discussion of the best egg-producing chickens must include the Leghorn. Named after a town in Italy where the breed partially originated, Leghorns are well-known for their ability to efficiently convert feed into eggs1—a fact that has made them the stars of America’s egg industry. You’ll find two different types of Leghorn, one that has been bred for industrial use and a “heritage” variety, which is typically more suitable for a backyard environment. It is important to note that Leghorns are not the easiest birds for beginners to work with.
2. Rhode Island Red
A gentle breed that produces large brown eggs, the Rhode Island Red (named for the state, which was influential to the breed’s development) is one of the United States’ biggest contributions to chicken keeping. It’s a popular breed for a good reason—these are attractive birds that are terrific layers. Like the Leghorn, you’ll find industrial and heritage varieties of the breed, with the industrial birds more effective as egg producers and the heritage breed more of a dual-purpose breed.2 (“Dual-purpose” means the breed can be utilized for both meat and egg production).
3. Plymouth Rock
Back when it was very common for the average family to raise chickens, the large Plymouth Rock breed was among the most popular in the United States. It was popular because this dual-purpose bird is easy to care for and gentle to work with. Add in the fact that Plymouth Rock hens will produce about four eggs a week (200 per year), and you have a winning combination.
In addition to their status as a top egg-layer (one record-setting hen once laid an astonishing 364 eggs in a single year!), Australorps feature black and green, iridescent feathers and produce brown eggs.3 It’s no surprise that this Australian breed has a large fan base.
5. Red Star
Red Star chickens (also known as Red Sex-Links because the sex of the chicks can be easily determined after hatching) are a hybrid variety of chicken, created by crossing two specific breeds. They’re fantastic egg producers, capable of laying 300 eggs a year.
The Orpington is quick to mature, friendly, easy to raise, and produces over 200 eggs a year. What’s not to like about them? Developed in Britain, the Orpington is most well-known for the buff coloring, although they do come in other, less common colors. The Orpington is also popular as a show chicken.4
7. Spanish (White-Faced Black Spanish)
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Chickens aren’t native to North America; they’re domesticated fowl from Asia. The Spanish chicken was one of the first to be imported to the U.S., where it appeared in poultry shows as far back as the 1850s. In addition to its reputation as a good egg layer, the combination of its black body and white face makes this a strikingly beautiful bird.
The Sussex chicken is another British breed. The Sussex can do it all—it’s a meat bird, an egg layer, and a fun bird for poultry shows. It’s a rare breed and not necessarily for beginners, but in some cases, Sussex hens can produce 250 eggs every year.
The Chantecler was developed in Canada in the early 1900s with the specific purpose of creating a hardy breed that would perform well in the country’s northern climate5. It is a docile chicken that is a good layer. The Chantecler possesses small combs and wattles, which make it well suited to colder climates.
The Brahma is a large but gentle breed, weighing about 10 pounds or more. Brahmas are good egg layers, and a little unique in their ability to continue laying eggs regularly even in the winter months when many other breeds either stop laying or lay at a reduced rate.
With so many amazing breeds to choose from, getting started with chickens is definitely an egg-citing endeavor! Enjoy those eggs!
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- Hotaling, Ana. Hobby Farms. “Poultry Profiles: Get to Know the Leghorn Chicken Breed.” https://www.hobbyfarms.com/leghorn-chicken-breed-facts/
- The Happy Chicken Coop. “Rhode Island Red: What to Know Before Buying One.” https://www.thehappychickencoop.com/rhode-island-red/
- Oklahoma State University. “Poultry Breeds – Australorp Chickens.” http://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/poultry/chickens/australorp
- Arcuri, Lauren. The Spruce. “Orpington (Buff Orpington).” https://www.thespruce.com/chicken-breeds-orpington-or-buff-orpington-3016551
- The Livestock Conservancy. “Chantecler Chicken.”http://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/chantecler