Choosing the best egg-laying chicken breed for your backyard coop can be daunting. With so many chicken varieties available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But don’t worry! Our best-laying chicken guide will help you navigate several breeds. We’ll analyze several varieties and consider temperament, egg production, cold-hardiness, and foraging capabilities.
Drawing from our 20+ years of experience, you can choose the best chickens to lay for your coop, no matter where you live.
Then let’s get clucking!
- The 21 Best Egg-Laying Chickens
- Top Backyard Laying Chickens In More Detail
- 1. Leghorns
- 2. The Golden Comet
- 3. Rhode Island Reds
- 4. Sussex
- 5. Speckled Sussex
- 6. Plymouth Rocks
- 7. Australorps
- 8. Hyline Brown
- 9. Red Star Chicken
- 10. Black Star
- 11. New Hampshire Reds
- 12. Ancona
- 13. White Star
- 14. Amberlink
- 15. Lohmann Brown
- 16. Wyandottes (Golden Laced)
- 17. ISA Browns
- 18. Buff Orpington
- 19. Jersey Giants
- 20. Dominique
- 21. Ameraucana
- Understanding The Basics Of Chicken Egg-Laying
- How To Maximize Egg Production In Chickens
- The Impact Of Climate On Egg Laying
- How Age Affects Egg Laying In Chickens
- The Role Of Lighting In The Egg-Laying Process
- How To Check Chicken Eggs For Freshness
- What Chickens Lay 300 Eggs A Year?
- Which Chickens Lay Eggs The Longest?
- Best Backyard Chickens For Cold Climates
- What Chicken Breed Is Best For Beginners?
- Hybrid Vs. Heritage Breeds
- Why Are Chicken Eggs Different Colors?
- One Final Look At Chicken Egg Colors
The 21 Best Egg-Laying Chickens
|Renowned for their consistent egg-laying, they can lay anywhere from 280 to 320 white eggs annually.
|These hybrid layers produce around 250 to 300 brown eggs annually.
|Rhode Island Red
|Rhode Island Reds are a reliable layer that produces about 200 to 300 brown eggs annually.
|Sussex chickens are heavy-hitting birds that lay around 250+ cream-colored eggs yearly.
|A beautiful Sussex variety that produces around 250 to 275 brown eggs annually.
|Plymouth Rock (Barred Rock)
|Barred Rocks can lay about 200 to 280 brown eggs yearly.
|This breed holds a record for egg-laying and can produce about 250 to 300 brown eggs annually.
|Hyline Browns are a commercial hybrid famous for laying up to 300 to 350 brown eggs yearly.
|Red Star Chicken
|Red Star Chickens are hybrid layers that can produce 300 to 325 brown eggs each year.
|Black Star Chickens
|Black Star Chickens are another prolific hybrid that lays about 260 to 300 brown eggs annually.
|New Hampshire Reds
|New Hampshire Reds can lay approximately 200 to 250 brown eggs annually.
|A Mediterranean breed that can produce around 220 to 270 white eggs each year.
|A hybrid layer famous for laying up to 300 white eggs annually.
|Can produce around 250 to 300 brown eggs every year.
|Commercial layers known for producing up to 300 brown eggs a year.
|Golden Laced Wyandotte
|They typically lay around 200 to 240 brown eggs annually.
|Legendary layers of 300 to 350 eggs a year.
|A heavy-duty chicken with showy orange to copper-colored feathers. They happily lay around 250+ brown yearly eggs.
|They should be named friendly giants! Gigantic and sociable chickens that lay around 175 brown eggs yearly.
|Dominique chickens mature quickly, do well in the cold, behave themselves, and lay around 250+ brown eggs annually.
|We saved the best for last. The Ameraucana! They lay around 150 to 165 colorful, bright blue, beautiful eggs annually.
The above chicken breeds range from vigorous, cold-hardy breeds to dual-purpose breeds that are excellent for meat and eggs.
We’ll also discuss these lovely hens in more detail below.
Top Backyard Laying Chickens In More Detail
We try not to discriminate against birds. We love them all! But the following chickens are our favorite egg-laying birds by far.
Many of these hens are hybrid chickens. Hybrid hens are some of the best egg producers you can find, making them an excellent choice for your chicken coops. We also include some farmyard classics and a few little-known chicken breeds with significant benefits. (And yummy eggs!)
Leghorn chickens are at the top of our list for the best backyard egg layers. Known for their distinctive red combs, wattles, and white feathers, these chickens are more than a pretty sight. They’re egg-laying powerhouses, laying an impressive 280 to 320 eggs yearly. That’s easily four eggs per week! These chickens lay medium-sized eggs, making them ideal for various uses in the kitchen, including epic country breakfasts.
2. The Golden Comet
Another excellent hybrid breed is The Golden Comet. Golden Comets are known for their fast maturity and high egg production. They lay around 250 to 300 light brown eggs yearly, providing a consistent supply for your egg basket. Their friendly nature and adaptability to various climates make them popular among backyard chicken keepers.
Female Golden Comets appear reddish-gold. Males appear white, with reddish feathers on their necks and shoulders.
3. Rhode Island Reds
If you’re looking for an American chicken breed known for its egg-laying prowess, look no further than the Rhode Island Red. These stout chickens sport beautiful dark red feathers with a bright red comb. They are a heritage breed often hailed as one of the best for laying eggs. These hardy hens can lay approximately five to six light brown eggs weekly. Since they developed in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, they can survive the cold weather better than most.
Sussex chickens are alert yet friendly birds. You’ll also notice they have a rectangular shape with a thick, stout body. Sussex shanks and skin appear white. Their comb and eyes are reddish. Sussex eggs are also delicious, and the hens lay around 250 annually.
Despite their size, which averages eight pounds for females, they don’t require vast spaces to thrive. However, it’s essential to be mindful when raising Sussex chickens with other breeds, as they can sometimes be the target of bullies. Sussex chickens have a docile and curious temperament and are known to start laying eggs between 16 and 20 weeks old.
5. Speckled Sussex
If you’re looking for a robust egg layer with dazzling feathers, consider the Speckled Sussex. These gorgeous Sussex chicken varieties are contenders for the best egg layers, delivering over 250 eggs annually. They are also quite hefty, with females weighing nearly eight pounds on average. But don’t be daunted by their size. They do not require large spaces to thrive.
However, paying attention to their interaction with other breeds is essential, as they can often be the target of bullies, much like other Sussex chicken varieties. Luckily, their curious and docile temperament makes them easy to manage.
6. Plymouth Rocks
Plymouth Rock chickens have a few little-known benefits. First, Plymouth Rocks don’t mind the cold and are perfect for Northern or cold-climate homesteaders. Plymouth Rocks lay approximately 200 large, pinkish-brown eggs annually. They also tend to start laying eggs at a young age and continue to do so for many years. Plymouth Rocks are adaptable birds and love foraging, making them a favorite among free-range chicken enthusiasts.
Not only do Plymouth Rock hens lay a high number of eggs, but the quality of the eggs is also superior. The shells are stiff, and the yolks are rich and appealing to homesteaders who love eggs served sunny-side-up.
These dual-purpose chickens are known for their ability to lay approximately 250 eggs per year. They are superb egg-layers. They’re also cold-hardy, much like Plymouth Rocks and Rhode Island Reds, making them ideal for colder climates. Their eggs range from dark brown to light, adding a beautiful variety to your basket. As a bonus, Australorps have a docile nature, which makes them an excellent choice for families, beginners, and those looking for a calm and friendly flock.
The Australorp’s egg production might be lower than other hybrid chickens, but many homesteaders prefer them over heritage breeds.
8. Hyline Brown
Here’s a little-known bird most of our friends have yet to hear about. It’s the Hyline Brown chicken! These feathered beauties provide delicious eggs, and they have a few hidden surprises. They are excellent commercial layers, and their egg count is tremendously high, upwards of 350 or 370 yearly eggs. We’ve even heard reports of some Hyline Brown hens significantly exceeding that amount.
(They don’t live long. Only three to six years. But they produce a ludicrous amount of eggs during their life!)
9. Red Star Chicken
Red Star chickens are a Rhode Island Red and Delaware chicken hybrid that lays delicious brown eggs. They are sex-linked, meaning you can readily identify the males and females as soon as they hatch. (Male Red Star chicks appear yellow or white with black streaks. Females appear reddish.) Like many hybrids, their egg numbers are excellent. You can expect upwards of 300 to 320 yearly eggs.
10. Black Star
Here’s another excellent sex-linked hybrid hen. Enter the Black Star, an efficient egg-laying breed. These hybrid chickens are popular among chicken keepers for their egg-laying prowess. The Black Star chicken is a hybrid between a New Hampshire Red or Rhode Island Red with barred Plymouth Rock. These hens can readily produce up to 300 eggs annually.
Male Black Star chicks appear black with white speckles near their crown. The female chicks appear solid black.
11. New Hampshire Reds
New Hampshire Red chickens are robust and reliable layers, known to provide around 190 to 240 medium to large brown eggs per year. They are also known for their early maturity, which means your laying flock will start to produce eggs relatively quickly.
New Hampshire Reds also hail from New Hampshire and Massachusetts. They can handle cold weather more than most. (But they still appreciate warm shelter during the frigid New England weather.)
Ancona chickens bear beautiful black plumage with a white speckling on the feather tips. If you look closely, you’ll notice that their beaks, legs, and feet appear yellow, which contrasts magnificently with their black feathers. These birds are active and flighty, and they scare easily. They aren’t aggressive with other flockmates and are arguably friendly sometimes, but they usually don’t like cuddles, kisses, or handling.
We should have mentioned the best part about Ancona chickens sooner. It’s their adorable white eggs! They lay up to 270 of them yearly. Also, even though these birds hail from Italy, they’re surprisingly tolerable to cold weather.
13. White Star
The White Star chicken reminds us of the Ancona chicken in many ways. The White Star has showy white feathers, which don’t resemble the Ancona’s black appearance. But, the birds share similar characteristics. Both lay a tremendously high number of white eggs. (White Stars will provide up to 300 eggs annually.) And both breeds are lively, independent, and curious, yet hermit-like! They are friendly enough. But they prefer being left alone.
Amber Links are stately birds with beautiful amber-white feathers. They’re most famous for their foraging and free-range proclivities, though they also have a few other perks. They retain their feathers more than other breeds, which means less energy is required to recover from a molt. Their personalities are relatively friendly and pleasant. But their best benefit is their outstanding egg-laying abilities, which can happily produce 300 large brown and delicious eggs annually.
15. Lohmann Brown
The Lohmann Brown is also worth mentioning when discussing the best egg-laying chicken breeds. Lohmann Browns have lovely, deep-brown feathers with scarce white streaks throughout. They’re known for consistent egg production, laying approximately 180 eggs annually. Lohmann Browns are well-suited for backyard chicken coops for a few reasons. Their personalities are excellent, and they’re friendly and docile. They’re also a hardy breed that can thrive in various environments.
16. Wyandottes (Golden Laced)
Let’s talk about the Wyandottes, a large, dual-purpose heritage breed known for being showstoppers and good layers. The Wyandotte breed has several recognized varieties, but the silver-laced and golden-laced varieties are the most popular due to their stunning feather patterns. One of the standout qualities of Wyandotte chickens is their resilience in wintry climates. They are incredibly cold-hardy, which makes them great winter-time egg layers.
We rank Wyandottes with New Hampshire Reds and Plymouth Rocks as some of the best cold hardy breeds. Their hardy nature contributes significantly to their egg-laying prominence. They are known to lay about 200 large brown eggs per year.
17. ISA Browns
ISA Browns are nearly identical to Red Star chickens but don’t necessarily come from the same line. ISA Browns are among the top-notch hybrid breeds celebrated for their shocking egg-laying capabilities. These chickens are known to lay approximately 300 to 350 eggs a year, making them an excellent addition to any backyard coop. ISA Browns are also known for their docile nature, making them easy to handle, even for beginners. They make fantastic backyard pets!
ISA Browns are a hybrid breed. But nobody knows which chicken breeds they came from, as it is a trade secret! Rumors are they are a mix of Rhode Island Reds mixed with Rhode Island Whites, but others say they came from an advanced cross-link breeding formula.
18. Buff Orpington
We love Buff Orpington chickens! They’re a strong, robust, beautiful heritage breed. If you’re seeking a friendly chicken breed with a high egg-laying capacity and delicious meat, the Buff Orpington is a terrific choice. These chickens are known for their friendly demeanor and high egg production rates. They can lay between 200 and 280 eggs annually, perfect for a hungry homestead.
Another advantage is their hardiness. Buff Orpingtons are known for their ability to withstand various weather conditions, which means they can continue to lay eggs even in less-than-ideal climates. They’re also perfectly behaved, docile, friendly, and sociable.
19. Jersey Giants
Jersey Giants are rare birds and guaranteed showstoppers from Jobstown, New Jersey. And even though these birds are massive, they play well with others. And that’s a good thing since male Jersey giants tip the scales at over ten and upwards of fifteen pounds. They’re sure to be one of the most gigantic birds in town. Unless, of course, you’re also raising turkeys. Or ostriches!
Jersey Giants are famous for their savory, delicious meat. However, they can also produce upwards of 200 brown or cream-colored eggs yearly, making them a worthy addition to your flock, especially if you want a striking specimen to show off and mesmerize your friends.
Like many birds on our list, the Jersey Giant can withstand chilly temperatures. However, they detest the heat and will demand extra shade, shelter, and water during summer.
We’re obsessed with finding the top egg-laying chickens that tolerate cold weather. And we have one more to add. The Domonique chicken! (Or, as some homesteaders call them, the Pilgrim Fowl.)
The Dominique chicken is America’s oldest chicken breed. We saved it as the penultimate on our list, as it’s a literal laying legend. They’re famous for being old-school and having lovely white and dark barred plumage. They’re a dual-purpose breed but more famous for their eggs.
Dominiques are much smaller than Jersey Giants and many other birds in your flock, males rarely reaching more than eight or nine pounds and females around five or six pounds. Despite their tiny size, Dominique hens can produce over 250 light-brown eggs yearly.
We’re finishing our list of the best backyard egg layers with one of our favorites. The Ameraucana! The Ameraucana chicken comes from the blue-egg-laying Araucana. There’s a TON of confusion about these two birds and how they relate to the famous Easter Egger chicken. So, we wrote an epic Americana chicken guide that shares their many nuances.
In any case, Ameraucana chickens have the unique ability to lay blue eggs. They don’t produce many eggs and only lay around 150 to 165 eggs annually. But we guarantee they will be some of the most in-demand eggs on your homestead! They’re also friendly and relatively hardy.
Understanding The Basics Of Chicken Egg-Laying
Any chicken breed on our list can serve you well, depending on where you live, your climate, and your expectations. But, before you head to the farm or Tractor Supply to grab some baby chicks, it’s essential to understand the basics of chicken egg-laying.
Let’s examine some of our best chicken and egg-laying insights, including how to maximize egg production, why some chickens lay colorful eggs and the pros and cons of hybrids vs. heritage breeds.
How To Maximize Egg Production In Chickens
Maximizing egg production in your chickens involves a combination of optimal care and choosing the right breed. Consider the following tips for a productive flock.
- Provide your chickens with a balanced diet. Specialty laying feed works perfectly. Ensure they get plenty of calcium and protein.
- Ensure your hens have constant access to clean, cool water.
- Proper lighting is critical for laying hens! 14 to 16 hours of daily sunlight works best.
- A spacious, clean, restful coop will help keep your hens happy, relaxed, and comfy.
- Let your hens free-range! It keeps them healthy, stimulated, entertained, and well-nourished.
Optimizing your chicken’s laying habits is all about creating a comfortable environment. Healthy and happy hens almost always lay eggs consistently and reliably. But stressed-out hens always underperform!
The Impact Of Climate On Egg Laying
Everyone knows the climate is going crazy in many parts of the world. And the climate has a significant impact on egg production in chickens. Chickens tend to lay fewer eggs during extreme weather conditions like the intense summer heat or bitter New England winter cold.
The key to maximizing egg production is to provide a comfortable and stable atmosphere for your chickens. Offer your hens a cozy lifestyle if you want the best eggs! A cozy life includes providing adequate shelter with a stable and comfortable temperature, shade, and access to fresh water. Doing so can help ensure your chickens remain productive, regardless of the climate. Artificial light during the short winter days can also encourage egg-laying when they would otherwise slow down.
How Age Affects Egg Laying In Chickens
Age plays a crucial role in a chicken’s ability to lay eggs. Chickens generally start laying eggs at around five to six months of age. The frequency of egg-laying increases as they mature and reach their prime laying age. During this period, hens can lay eggs regularly, often daily. However, their egg production gradually decreases as chickens age.
We wrote a detailed guide showcasing when chickens start to lay eggs and their egg-laying efficiency by age. (We also include a handy table to help visualize expected egg production.)
The Role Of Lighting In The Egg-Laying Process
Chickens need 14 to 16 hours of daily light for optimal egg production. It’s wise to provide a consistent light schedule for your chickens, as sudden changes can disrupt their laying cycle. While natural sunlight is ideal, supplemental lighting helps during shorter daylight hours in winter.
Remember, too much light or sudden changes can cause stress in chickens, affecting their egg-laying ability.
How To Check Chicken Eggs For Freshness
Checking a chicken egg for freshness is quite simple. One of the most effective methods to do this is the water test. Fill a bowl with water. Then, gently place the egg in the water bowl. Fresh eggs sink to the bottom, but older eggs will float. The reason behind this is the air pocket inside the egg. As the egg ages, the pocket of air inside the egg gets larger, causing it to float. So, if you need clarification on the freshness of your eggs, try the water test.
We also wrote about this topic in much further detail. Check out our guide about how long farm-fresh eggs last and how to store your eggs.
What Chickens Lay 300 Eggs A Year?
Are you after a high egg count alone? Then, try Rhode Island Reds, Red Stars, Leghorns, and ISA Browns. Either breed is known for its impressive egg-laying abilities, often laying over 300 eggs yearly.
Which Chickens Lay Eggs The Longest?
Golden Comets, Red Stars, and other hybrid breeds are often at the forefront of egg production. They lay a ludicrously high volume of eggs for the first few years. The problem with hybrid breeds is that they can die after only a few years!
(Rhode Island Red, Sussex, Buff Orpington, Jersey Giant, and Ancona are good examples.)
So, if you’re looking for chickens to lay eggs over an extended period, heritage breeds are the way to go. These breeds may not produce the most enormous eggs. And not all of them can produce 250+ eggs annually. But they often lay eggs for up to 5 or 6 years, much longer than most hybrid breeds.
Heritage hen longevity makes them a superb choice for backyard chicken keepers who aren’t concerned about maximizing short-term egg production but seek a steady supply of eggs over time.
Best Backyard Chickens For Cold Climates
Buff Orpingtons are exceptional performers in chilly weather. Buffs offer a steady supply of fresh eggs and serve as dual-purpose chickens. Their dual-purpose nature means they can give a decent source of meat, making them a versatile choice for your backyard. Dominique chickens also fit the bill perfectly as another cold-hardy dual-purpose breed.
Want more variety? Brahmas, Barred Rocks, Salmon Favorelles, and Australorps are great options for cold climates. These breeds have an excellent temperament and can lay well even through the winter. Their larger size also contributes to their ability to withstand colder temperatures and produce more eggs and meat.
What Chicken Breed Is Best For Beginners?
Easter Eggers are a superb choice for new homesteaders, especially if you have children. They’re known for their randomly-colored egg production, adding a fun variety of egg colors to your collection. Your friends and family won’t believe the colorful eggs they lay!
Easter Eggers are intriguing, gentle, and easy to handle. Their desirable qualities make them a perfect beginner chicken breed for those just starting their backyard chicken journey.
Hybrid Vs. Heritage Breeds
Hybrid breeds, such as Gold Comet and Lohmann Brown chickens, result from crossbreeding two purebred chickens to enhance traits like egg production and temperament. These breeds are often more productive, making them ideal for those who prioritize maximum egg yield.
On the other hand, pure breeds, like the Rhode Island Red and Jersey Giant, have not been crossed with other breeds and maintain their original characteristics. Purebred chickens like the Buff Orpington and Orpington may not be as productive as hybrids but often have desirable qualities like natural disease resistance and superior foraging abilities.
Why Are Chicken Eggs Different Colors?
The chicken breed determines the color of a chicken’s eggs. Different breeds deposit pigments on the eggs as they pass through the hen’s oviduct. The best egg-laying chicken breeds, such as the Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, and Plymouth Rock, typically lay white, brown, and light brown eggs, respectively.
However, we must remember that several chicken breeds, like the Easter Egger, produce blue or green eggs. Here’s an epic list of about 20 chickens that lay colorful eggs.
Despite the color differences, all eggs have similar nutritional content and taste. So, whether your hens lay white, brown, blue, or green eggs, they’re all delicious and nutritious!
One Final Look At Chicken Egg Colors
From the classic brown and white eggs to the more unusual blue ones, each egg color can add a noteworthy and unique touch to your backyard egg collection. That said, most eggs fall into one of the following categories.
A popular choice among chicken keepers, the brown egg is often associated with Rhode Island Reds and Plymouth Rocks. These chickens are known for their reliable egg-laying abilities and beautiful, deep brown-colored eggs. They are perfect for those who prefer more traditional egg colors while still enjoying a good-sized omelet.
White eggs are perfect for a classic farmyard-style delicious chicken egg. Leghorns are arguably the most prominent white egg layer. Leghorns are famous for their bright white eggs, commonly seen in grocery stores. Be aware of their unassuming appearance – these chickens can lay upward of 300 yearly eggs, making them a productive addition to your flock.
Colorful Blue Or Green Eggs
Chickens like the Araucana and Easter Egger Chickens are known for their striking blue or green eggs, which can be quite the conversation starter. Easter Egger chickens are incredibly fascinating since their eggs keep you guessing. They might surprise you with blue, green, orange, pink, or yellow eggs.
Selecting the right breed is the first step for a thriving backyard flock. And by considering factors such as egg production, personality, and foraging abilities, you’re well on your way to enjoying fresh, homegrown eggs.
We hope our list of 21 chicken breeds makes your choice easier.
What about you?
- Have you ever seen a blue or green chicken egg in real life?
- Do you raise backyard chickens? What breed do you raise? And how many do you have?
- Have you ever seen a Jersey Giant? Are they the biggest chickens you’ve seen?
- If you’re considering adding more hens to your flock, which breeds look the most interesting?
- How many eggs do your chickens usually lay every week?
We’re diehard backyard chicken advocates, and we’re curious to hear about your experience!
We thank you again for reading our guide about the best-laying chickens.
Have a great day!
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Best Laying Chickens | Resources, Guides, And References