Do you want to raise chickens for their eggs? We can help you choose the right breed. All hens lay edible eggs, but some simply excel at egg production. While there is some individual variation from hen to hen, there are specific chicken breeds that are the masters of egg laying.
When choosing a laying breed think about your personal preferences. Do you like white eggs or brown? Or maybe green? If you are selling farm fresh eggs most customers will want brown or colored eggs.
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Different Types of Chickens
Before we discuss specific chicken breeds, let’s talk types of chickens. There are five different groups you should know about.
- Meat Chickens – These grow quickly with heavy breasts. Most meat chicken breeds reach butchering weight by only 8 weeks and never get old enough to lay an egg.
- Egg Laying Chickens- These are the laying hens we know and love. Commercial farms use Leghorns and average over 300 eggs per year from each hen.
- Dual Purpose Chicken Breeds- Dual purpose chickens are usually the homesteader’s first choice. They produce a respectable number of eggs and pack on enough meat so you can make a meal out of culled chickens or extra roosters. These chickens breed true, producing offspring with traits like its parents.
- Cross Bred Chickens- A cross bred bird has parents of two different chicken breeds. Also called a hybrid, they are distinct from dual purpose breeds because they don’t breed true. A hybrid’s offspring may come out looking very different from it’s parents.
- Heritage Breeds- The Livestock Conservancy lists over three dozen chicken breeds in danger of extinction. Many of these heritage breeds have unique traits that dedicated breeders hope to preserve.
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5 Best Chicken Breeds for Egg Production
Here is a list of chicken breeds that are the best for egg production:
- Black Star – A great breed for beginners, Black Star chickens start laying at only five months of age. They lay about large brown eggs per year and are easily color sexed so you can tell pullets from roosters at a young age.
- Leghorn – One of the heaviest egg producers, Leghorns also provide a decent amount of meat. Their eggs are always white and they can lay up to 300 a year.
- Rhode Island Reds – The Rhode Island Red is a classic egg breed. You can expect about 250 medium sized brown eggs per year from each hen.
- Black Astralorp – A very friendly and social breed, the Astralorps attained fame in 1923 when six hens laid a whopping 1857 eggs in a single year (that’s 309.5 eggs per hen, without modern lighting or interventions). The average hen will give 250 eggs per year.
- Buff Orpington – While these sweet tempered hens are unique amongst all the egg laying chicken breeds because of their broodiness. They make great mothers.
3 Dual Purpose Chicken Breeds for Egg Production
Surprisingly, many of the best types of chickens for egg production are actually dual purpose breeds. Not only do these chickens lay abundant eggs, but they can provide a healthy source of meat for your family.
1. Marans – These hens look a lot like Plymouth Rocks (also good layers!). They lay 200 eggs with darkly colored shells. Their meat is richly flavored making them a great dual-purpose breed.
2. Amaraucana – These birds lay beautiful green and pale blue eggs. Their colorful output has earned them the nickname “Easter Eggers”. They are gentle birds and do well either confined or free range.
3. Sussex – The Sussex is a dual purpose chicken breed, but they are heavy egg producers. You should get 250 brown or cream colored eggs each year.
If you need help identifying chicken breeds, check out these chicken breed identification pictures.
Guide to Backyard Chickens & How to Raise Chickens
An experienced homesteader shares her three favorite chicken breeds for egg production.