When we started raising backyard chickens, we put a lot of thought and research into the best egg layer hens to buy. Learning which breeds were best for our purpose saved us time and money by avoiding buying chickens unsuitable for what we wanted. Twenty years later, we know which breeds work best for us. So which is the best chicken for laying the largest eggs?
Backyard Chicken Breeds for Egg Layers
All hens produce edible eggs, but only certain chicken breeds make the best egg layer hens, excelling at egg production. 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 eggs’ health benefits, the yolk’s richness and color, and the bird’s overall health.
Many people argue that you can’t taste the difference between store-bought eggs and fresh eggs—I say, “baloney” – because the yolks are richer, more nutritious, and have a better taste than any other eggs in the grocery store. Raising chickens organically and cage-free produces healthier and tastier eggs and meat. Once you try organic meat chicken, free of antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals, you’ll never want chicken from the store again.
If you just started raising backyard chickens or already have a flock, get our e-book, Raising Chickens for Fun and Profit.
Treats for Your Girls – They’ll Love Them
5 Best Egg Layer Hens
Rhode Island Red: This is my favorite layer due to their medium size brown eggs and above-average laying rate. Being cold and heat-hardy, Rhode Island Reds are suitable for any climate. They are easy to care for because they adapt well to a penned or free-range environment. Reds are aggressive, so be careful what breeds you place them with. This dual-purpose breed is 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: These chickens lay extra-large white eggs, producing over 300 a year. Even with their smaller size, they make an excellent 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 Orpington:This breed has above-average production of large brown eggs. Their friendly nature and cold weather hardiness make them excellent beginner chickens. The Orpington is a good brooder and a wonderful mother if you plan to raise chicks. They also make good pets; I wouldn’t have a flock without one or two Orpingtons. However, other birds pick on them because of their docile nature, so they don’t do well with aggressive breeds.
Black Star: The hens are above-average layers of large brown eggs and begin lying 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 color. The males are black, while hens have gold plumage on their necks and breast. The Black Star is another good beginner breed with a calm nature, making them good pets.
Ameraucana: Also known as Easter Eggers, these backyard chickens lay eggs in 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 good family chickens. Your kids will love collecting the colorful eggs.
Try various breeds for your backyard flock. Finding the best egg layer hens starts by understanding your desired results. If you want 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.
For more information about raising chickens, check out our e-book, Raising Chickens for Fun and Profit.
If you have sufficient experience in raising chickens for meat or eggs, please feel free to edit or enrich our articles
Peter Deeley says
I am interested in collecting pictures of people raising healthy and happy chickens art eggsathome.com Would you guys be interested in spreading that word?
This is great! I have never had chickens but today I bought 6 Reds. They are pullets and should lay in 5 weeks. We have them for laying eggs. Not for meat. what breeds should I steer clear of to mix with the ones I have?
Welcome to the world of backyard chickens! Rhode Island Red, in my opinion at least, is the best breed you can get for laying hens. They not only lay a bunch of eggs, they adapt well to just about any climate and are fairly docile. Our reds love interacting with us. The only hens we raise these days are Reds, Araucanas, and Orpingtons.
I have kept Reds with all 5 of the breeds I mention in this article with no aggression problems at all. Plus, these 5 breeds are fairly easy to come by. However, I would not get Rhode Island Red roosters as they are known for their aggressiveness. We don’t keep roosters at all any longer since we don’t breed our own chicks.
Didn’t you say reds were kind of aggressive and orpingtons would be picked on? Kind of nervous on getting the two but I want the reds to have more layers
We have Reds, Orpingtons, and Ameraucanas all together with no issues at all. All chickens will have some tiffs, but our blend rarely do. Leg Horns are the ones that can be aggressive. Even though they are great layers, I would not mix them with others.
Rhode Island Red roosters are “very” aggressive so I don’t recommend keeping them. We stopped keeping any type of roosters a couple of years ago because they are aggressive with each other and us, and can hurt the hens. We just decided we would purchase sexed chicks from eFowl and keep nothing but hens. If we do occasionally get a rooster, we sell them.
I love Reds for layers. They lay regularly, except when they are molting and then it slows, but their eggs are large and brown. Can’t go wrong with Reds. Hope this helps.
Where can I buy these chickens or their eggs?
If you can’t find them locally, I “highly” recommend buying through these people: http://www.efowl.com/?Click=18552
I buy from them a lot and they have all the chickens I mentioned here. The last time I bought my Rhode Island Reds from them, I didn’t lose any. They were in great shape other than being thirsty and hungry after their trip. They have great customer service and if you have any questions, just call them. You can also get your chicks vaccinated for Merek’s disease before they ship them, which I recommend.
Great article! Do you have a link that shows all the books you have published on chicken-egg-farms (if you have any at all)? I would like to start a chicken farm, but have no idea where to start, so I would highly appreciate it! 🙂
Ps. Any tips for someone starting a chicken farm? I used to own two back when I was younger; they were in our backyard and my siblings and I would take it in turns to go collect the eggs, but I don’t know how starting a farm would go/work. I’m wondering about things such as how many chickens would be good to start with; how many would be a good amount for an egg farm; how much room the chickens would need (to be free range), etc.? Do you have an article/book on that? Both? Thanks again! 🙂
First question would be, are you planning to sell eggs on a large scale or just small scale to farmers markets? The amount of hens you need depends on what you are planning. We have about 20 hens and have enough eggs to sell to our local feed store and farm gate sales. Enough to pay for the girls feed.
Robert Schmidt says
My 12 year old daughter owns her own chicken egg buissness, because she bought 32 chickens herself! I offered to pay, and she says “No thank you I want these chickens to know that I will care for them and that even though I do not have them I love them and she bought them! I am so proud of her!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Please buy from me at http://www.schmidtfamilyfarms.com
I haven’t put together one on egg laying farms yet, but I have been thinking about it.
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
Larry Coleman says
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.
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.
Adam Kumalo says
? How many eggs does Rhode island red layes a day?.
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.
Hey, how many months before a leghorn lay eggs?
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 He made mention of white Leghorn Is He right?
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.
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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