For many years, the American Egg Board headlined its marketing efforts with a jingle that extolled “the incredible, edible egg.” Yes, they were selling – but they were not kidding. Eggs contain protein, a plethora of vitamins, zinc, iron and lecithin. Research demonstrates the contribution of eggs to optimal growth in young children and ideal development among the pre-born.
For those who want farm fresh eggs each morning, certain chicken breeds are best known for the prolific generation of nutritious and delicious eggs. If you seek to raise chickens commercially or for fun, you should invest in the best egg laying chickens.
Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is a hardy and rugged bird that, of course, originated in New England. As “dual purpose” chickens, they are raised for both eggs and meat. Many Rhode Island Reds are ironically deep brown and black in hue, though others still sport the deep red plumage of their ancestors. They come in single comb (the crest of flesh atop the head) and rose comb varieties.
The hens can lay up to 250 medium-sized, brown eggs annually. The roosters, on the other hand, are temperamental and sometimes aggressive.
Unlike Rhode Island Reds, Sussex chickens are docile, and even friendly. While they boast multiple colors (white, red, brown, buff and silver e.g.), they are most often found in white. A smattering of black marks the neck and tail feathers. Laying 250 eggs per year (both white and brown), Sussex hens likewise serve as both fruitful egg producers and broilers. They are among the best egg laying chickens.
Another notable fact is that Sussex birds are popular to raise with $-H and FFA clubs. Their good-nature and easy dispositions make them perfect for educational projects and contest judging. Along with their manageable size and distinctive appearance, these traits make Sussex chickens perfect for county fair competitions.
Mostly gray with white bands, Plymouth Rock chickens are large in size, but friendly and manageable. Also dual purpose birds, these chickens rank high in egg production, but not at the highest tier. Since a good portion of their nutrition goes to build flesh, their light brown eggs are small to medium-sizedyet lack nothing in quality.
Given their excellent temperaments, Plymouth Rock hens are easily raised in free-range environments compared to some of their more difficult cousins. In a given year, they average about 200 eggs. This is normal for the best egg laying chickens.
Despite their Teutonic name, Hamburgs trace their lineage to 15th-century Holland, making their way to the U.S. in the early 1800s. They are arrayed in black and white, much like a dalmatian dog. Alternatively, they might sport gold or silver spangles and penciling. Hens usually weigh about four pounds and these birds are primarily egg producers. Interestingly, their images – far greater than other chickens – adorn plates, cups, embroidery and other ornamental articles.
Laying approximately 200 glossy white eggs per year, Hamburgs are docile in open spaces, but anxious and irritable in pens. They are competent foragers and can fly greater distances than most other breeds. Not to worry, though. Take good care of them and these best egg laying chickens will not stray.
The Buff Orpington is a variety of a larger breed. Of all the Orpingtons, the buff among them have the highest average annual egg count: 180. Originally from Great Britain, this bird has a lush coat of golden-yellow feathers. Moreover, the hen is so tame it makes – for those inclined – a fine pet. Larger than most – the hen weighs around eight pounds – the Buff Orpington is just fine either free ranging or confined.
One reason the total number of yearly production is lower than some of the other best egg laying chickens listed here is because of a tendency to brood. This type of hen, especially in the summer, wants chicks more than it wants to please the farmer. Consequently, she will sit on her eggs without moving until she achieves the desired result.
A Barnevelder is actually a cross between a Dutch breed and a fowl from the jungles of southeast Asia. Medium in size, Barnevelder hens ordinarily weigh in at six and a half pounds. This breed is hale and acclimatized to cold and inclement weather. They are less tolerant of extreme heat, their tropical heritage notwithstanding. The feathering is overwhelmingly black, though some exhibit brown tips.
While the hens are good mothers, they can also produce up to 300 eggs per year The eggs are most often reddish brown and speckled. They bear up well in close quarters, and are friendly toward their pen-mates. Unlike the Orpingtons, Barnevelders are not particularly broody, as evidenced by their high yields.
Yes, Leghorn…as in Foghorn. Few know that the beloved cartoon character of old actually represents a real breed of chicken, and a prolific one at that. In fact, Leghorn hens can give up over 300 eggs in a year, making them a favorite among commercial egg businesses. The egg shell matches the predominantly white feathers in shade. Still, there are lesser-known Leghorn varieties of varying colors.
Leghorns are named for the place in Italy from which they emerged. The hens are relatively small (4.5 pounds), but are active and interactive with other chickens when penned. However, they receive optimal nutrition when permitted to free range. If this option is preferable, it is best to clip their wings as these hens are known to head for the trees.
The best egg laying chickens to grow on a farm differ in size, appearance and temperament, without a doubt. Furthermore, variations in diet, environment and climate can all affect egg production – for good and for ill. Investing in any of these breeds calls for research and preparation if copious egg generation is the aim. Beautiful plumage, even tempers and rugged endurance are of little effect when the birds do not lay an adequate number.