With the price of eggs skyrocketing in grocery stores across the country, many people are looking for a more lucrative alternative: keeping their own chickens!
Chickens are a low-cost, low-maintenance way to produce your own eggs. But which chicken breed–or breeds!–should you choose to fill your coop?
Let’s go over the best chickens for eggs, and how to get them laying!
Best Chicken Breeds for Eggs
1. Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock chickens are not only one of the best chickens for eggs–they’re one of the most family-friendly chicken breeds out there!
Plymouth Rock chickens are known to be inquisitive, calm, and friendly to both humans and fellow chickens. In fact, you might notice your shadow start to look a bit chicken-shaped–they love to trail their humans around the yard.
This chicken breed can produce just over 200 eggs a year. You’ll likely be gathering between three and five eggs a week from your hens.
Though they aren’t the most prolific layers on our list, they do lay some of the highest-quality eggs. You should get plenty of good-sized, perfectly brown eggs out of these hens!
2. New Hampshire
New Hampshire chickens could be easily mistaken for Rhode Island Reds thanks to their similar coloring; however, the two breeds are different in many ways!
New Hampshire chickens are less productive in terms of laying, but they still lay plenty of eggs: about 150-200 per year, or approximately three or four per week. Like Plymouth Rocks, you’ll end up with large brown eggs that are perfect for selling or consuming yourself.
While New Hampshires are pretty easy to get accustomed to people, they can be aggressive toward fellow flockmates, particularly smaller or more timid breeds.
Speaking of breeds that might end up getting bullied by more assertive members of your flock, next up on our list of the best-laying chickens is the Orpington breed!
Orpingtons are extremely docile and sweet chickens; in fact, they’re known to be one of the best chickens to keep as pets as well as laying.
On top of that, Orpingtons are extremely prolific layers; they can lay nearly 300 eggs per year! You’ll probably get about five eggs per week out of your Orpingtons, so get ready for plenty of trips to the coop.
Unfortunately, their sweet personality can make them targets for larger and more aggressive breeds, such as New Hampshires or Rhode Island Reds. If you’re set on having Orpingtons in your flock, try to house them with breeds of similar temperament, such as Australorp, Plymouth Rock, or Sussex chickens.
Leghorn chickens are one of the most commonly recognized chickens. They’re the picture of a “classic” chicken, decked out in white feathers, red combs, and yellow beaks and legs. If you’ve ever seen a picture book with chickens, this is probably the chicken you saw.
If you look up the most popular laying chicken breeds, you’ll also find them at the top of the list!
While Leghorns are certainly not the friendliest best-laying chicken breed out there, they are one of the most productive. They can lay anywhere between 280-320 eggs per year.
If you’re familiar with Looney Toons–particularly Foghorn Leghorn–this next fact won’t surprise you. This laying chicken breed is known to be very noisy…noisy enough that they can quickly become a nuisance to neighbors.
If you live in an area with close neighbors, particularly suburbs, Leghorns might not be your best choice of the best-laying chicken breeds.
The Australorp is not only one of the best chickens for eggs and one of the most beautiful you can add to your flock; it’s also one of the friendliest!
Between their ebony feathers that gleam blueish-green in the sunlight, their shy but genial demeanor, and their exceptional egg-laying numbers, they’ll make an incredible addition to your coop group.
As far as egg production, you can expect between five and six eggs a week, or roughly 250 per year!
They’re also one of the best-laying chicken breeds to choose if you don’t have much space for them to roam. They’re able to adjust well to being kept in smaller areas.
However, keep an eye out for particularly plump hens–this laying chicken breed can fall prey to obesity quickly if they aren’t able to exercise enough!
6. Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Reds are one of the best egg-laying chicken breeds that even those who aren’t familiar with chickens will recognize. They’re hardy, large chickens that, just like their New Hampshire almost-twins, can be aggressive with their fellow hens.
However, they aren’t as aggressive as New Hampshires. Though they’ll certainly establish themselves in the rankings among the flock, they aren’t often mean to the point of concern.
They’re also very friendly to humans! They’re another breed that can end up constantly trailing behind you, wanting to see what you’re doing…and whether or not you have food on hand.
You should be able to get about 250-270 eggs from this laying chicken breed per year, which adds up to about five or six eggs a week.
(Also, if you’re looking for a bird that functions as one of the best chickens for eggs and a future meat bird…Reds are a fantastic pick!)
When compared to other best-laying chicken breeds, Minorca chickens land lower on the list in terms of production.
Thanks to selective breeding with a focus on appearance rather than egg production, this laying chicken breed has gone from laying upwards of 250 eggs per year to laying closer to 150-200 per year.
However, they’re at the top of the list of best chickens for eggs in terms of egg size! Minorcas are known for producing jaw-droppingly large eggs. They’re also the chicken breed that most consistently lays white eggs.
Hamburg chickens produce about as many eggs as Minorcas; however, their eggs tend to be smaller. But this laying chicken breed makes up for it with laying longevity!
As chickens age, they tend to slow in egg production. But not the Hamburg! The Hamburg breed keeps laying throughout their life, so while their yearly numbers might be a bit lower, you’ll actually end up getting more eggs out of them than other breeds.
However, keep in mind that these chickens aren’t the friendliest toward humans.
The Marans breed not only produces about 200 eggs a year; they also lay some of the most beautiful eggs you’ll ever see.
Though they can lay in many shades, you’ll most often see eggs with deep, rich brown shells. They look a bit like they’ve been coated in chocolate. (Just don’t try to bite into one; it’ll ruin the illusion!)
Marans are also one of the absolute friendliest, kindest breeds out there, both to their fellow chickens and to their human keepers!
The Sussex breed can lay up to 250 eggs per year, all year long!
Many hens will slow or stop laying throughout the winter, but not the Sussex. These hardy birds keep producing eggs rain, snow, or shine.
However, like the Australorp, they can gain too much weight if unable to exercise properly. Obesity can reduce and even halt egg production, so keep a close eye on your Sussex hens for extra weight!
Ancona chickens lay about 200-220 eggs per year. When you go out to gather your eggs, you can expect to see sizable white eggs waiting in the nest for you.
Anconas can be friendly with intentional handling, but they can be nervous. You’ll want to work carefully with them to ensure handleability.
They aren’t just jumpy in temperament, either–they’re also known for being talented escape artists and “frequent fliers.”
Because of this, they can get away from predators without issue…however, they can also escape whatever tactics you use to try and keep them penned up.
They’re best for more experienced chicken owners.
12. Easter Egger
Easter Egger chickens are certainly named appropriately.
As the result of breeding either an Auracana or Ameracauna (two more exceptional layers!) with another breed of chicken, the Easter Egger’s production is astonishing.
They lay around 280 eggs per year, getting them near the top of the best egg-laying chicken breed ranks!
Easter Eggers are fantastic beginner birds and make great companions for other friendlier, calmer breeds.
13. Golden Comet
Last but certainly not least, the Golden Comet chicken can lay anywhere between 250 to over 300 eggs per year!
Golden Comets produce brown eggs that are coveted by many an egg consumer. They are easy to handle, docile in temperament, and will get along well with your other birds.
Unfortunately, they do have a somewhat shorter lifespan compared to other breeds, and they do stop laying after about two years.
Best Chickens for Eggs Frequently Asked Questions
At what age will my hens start laying?
The egg-laying age for the best-laying chicken breeds varies as much as the chickens themselves!
Most chickens will start laying around six months old or so. However, some breeds start earlier or later.
For instance, Leghorns and Orpingtons can start laying as early as four months, while the Sussex breed might take up to nine months to start laying.
Do I need to have a rooster in order for my hens to lay?
You do not need a rooster in order for your hens to lay eggs.
However, should you decide you want to start breeding in the future, you will need a rooster in order for your hens to lay fertile eggs!
(Though, do keep in mind that not all great layers also make great mothers!)
How do I make eggs laid by my hens safe to eat?
While eggs gathered from your own hens don’t need to be refrigerated, you still need to do a few things in order to make them safe for eating.
Prior to washing your eggs, you can safely keep them on the counter at room temperature for several weeks. This is because unwashed eggs have a defense mechanism against rotting.
Before washing, fresh-laid eggs have a layer called the “cuticle” that coats the outside of the shell. This allows it to stay fresh even without refrigeration.
However, once you wash the eggs, they will have to be refrigerated.
Always, always, always wash your fresh-laid eggs before cooking with them. It is not safe to cook with unwashed eggs.
My hen keeps laying eggs without shells–what can I do?
Hens can lay eggs without shells for any number of reasons, including illness, youth, or–most commonly–a calcium deficiency.
My hen laid eggs that are a strange color–are they still safe to eat?
If you see your hen lay eggs in colors other than brown or white, don’t panic!
Hens can lay eggs that range between shades of white, brown, green, pink, speckled, or even blue. They’re still perfectly safe to eat.
If the shells are broken or cracked, or the eggs were laid without shells, they are unsafe to consume. But color is rarely an indication of anything being “wrong” with your chicken eggs.
If adding calcium to their diet doesn’t work, it may be time for a visit to the vet.
Count Your Chickens…and Their Eggs!
Once you’ve put together the right flock for you, you can sit back, relax, and breathe easy even as inflation drives egg prices through the roof!
For more information about keeping chickens yourself, check out our guide to raising backyard chickens!
- About the Author
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Cassidy Eubanks is a proud Michigander, an avid reader, a lover of colorful gardens, and a writer for Minneopa Orchards.
After earning her bachelor’s in Creative Writing (partially through virtual learning, thanks to the pandemic), gardening gave her an excuse to get outside and get away from all the screens. With a particular love for decorating with colorful flowers, using herbs grown in her own garden, and finding creative ways to build big gardens in small spaces, Cassidy enjoys helping others learn about growing their own food, flowers, and trees through Minneopa Orchards!