Chicken Breeds for Eggs | The Old Farmer's Almanac

The Best Chicken Breeds for Laying Eggs

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Lisa Steele/Fresh Eggs Daily

Which Type of Chicken Best Suits You and Your Space?

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Choosing the right chicken breed is an important part of raising chickens. Do you want lots of eggs, friendly chickens, or just something fancy? There are so many chicken breeds out there; it can be overwhelming! Here are some things to consider when choosing the best breed of chicken for your backyard coop.

Which Types of Chickens Should You Get?

When it comes to choosing your chicken breeds, there are more breeds out there than you can shake an eggbeater at! We’re talking about hundreds of different breeds—lots of choices!

One of the delights of this step is learning some of the types of chickens and their charming names: Silkie, Showgirl, Silver-Laced Wyandotte, Rosecomb, Redcap, and Russian Orloff, to name a few.

Plus, if you’re raising chickens, you don’t have to choose just one breed! Fortunately, chickens of all different breeds typically get along just fine, and your egg basket will be much more colorful if your flock comprises a variety of chickens.

Maybe you do want colorful eggs. Or, maybe, you want breeds known for their laying prowess. Perhaps, docile, kid-friendly breeds are a consideration. Or maybe you live in a cold climate and want to be sure the breeds you choose will be well-suited to your area.

Choosing Chicken Breeds

The chickens you ultimately choose will depend on what criteria are important to you and your family. 

First, let’s consider WHERE you live and your type of climate. Not all chickens like cold climates and some struggle in heat.

Heat-Tolerant Chicken Breeds

If you live in an area that’s warm and humid for much of the year, then choosing heat-tolerant breeds will be important. Their smallish, sleek bodies and large combs help them stay cool in extreme heat.

  1. Phoenix
  2. Minorca 
  3. Andalusians
  4. Leghorns
  5. Penedesencas

Cool-Weather Chicken Breeds

Conversely, if you live in a cold climate, then a larger-bodied chicken with a smaller comb will do better. Here are good choices:

  1. Brahma
  2. Chantecler
  3. Australorps, 
  4. Barred Rocks, 
  5. Buff Orpingtons, 
  6. Cochins
  7. Wyandottes 
An Australorp hen rests among thyme and hostas.
An Australorp hen rests among thyme and hostas.

Besides weather and climate, it’s important to know if you need a breed that is a super-productive egg layer, especially if this is for a small business.  

Medium-production layers are plenty for a family. Bantam chicken eggs are small; to complement their yolks, you’ll need more whites than most angel food cake recipes call for. 

Most Productive Egg-Laying Chickens

While no chicken lays an egg daily, a good layer will supply your family with 5 to 6 eggs a week during the spring and summer months. If maximum egg production is important to you, then you can’t go wrong with these breeds known for their egg-laying prowess. 

  1. Australorp, 
  2. Barred Rock
  3. Delaware
  4. Leghorn
  5. Rhode Island Red
  6. Sussex
Rhode Island Reds are great egg-layers.
Rhode Island Reds are great egg-layers.

Friendly Chicken Breeds

If you have small children, or just desire a flock of friendly chickens who will love to sit on your lap and eat out of your hand, then consider these chicken breeds:

  1. Australorps
  2. Brahmas
  3. Buff Orpingtons 
  4. Cochins
  5. Faverolles
  6. Silkies

You might also consider raising bantams. They’re about half the size of standard breed chickens, so they can be less intimidating for little kids, and they come in a wide variety of different breeds.

Chicken eggs come in all sorts of colors—no dyeing necessary!
Chicken eggs come in a rainbow of colors—no dyeing necessary!

Chicken Breeds and Egg Color

There’s nothing more exciting than a multi-colored eggbasket! While egg color shouldn’t necessarily be your first consideration, choosing some breeds that lay different-colored eggs is always fun. 

Most chicken breeds lay brown eggs, although most of the Mediterranean breeds lay white eggs. 

Brown Eggs

Marans lay dark chocolate brown eggs. 

Blue Eggs

Ameraucana, Araucana, and Cream Legbar lay beautiful blue eggs.

Green Eggs

Isbar chicken produces a light green egg. Olive Eggers lay olive green eggs. 

Easter Eggs

And Easter Eggers are the most fun of all. Each Easter Egger will lay a different color egg, anything from blue to green to pink or cream. You don’t know what color egg you’ll get from a hen until she starts laying.

An Olive Egger carefully combs the grass for tasty grubs.
An Olive Egger carefully combs the grass for tasty grubs.

Fancy Chicken Breeds

If you want pretty chickens, then choose some fancy chickens for a visually pleasing flock! While not known for being the best layers, these fancy breeds will entertain and delight with their unique appearance.

  1. Cochins (feathered feet)
  2. Faverolles (feathered feet)
  3. Marans (feathered feet)
  4. Ameraucanas (cheek muffs and “beards”)
  5. Polish (crazy hairdos)
  6. Frizzles (feathers pointing every which way
Black and white striped Barred Plymouth Rock chicken.
Barred Plymouth Rock

A Few Favorite Chicken Breeds

As longtime experts in raising chickens, we’ll also share our favorite breeds

  1. I kept Rhode Island Reds and Barred Plymouth Rocks, both of which are usually available from a local hatchery. These are docile, not particularly noisy, high-laying, dual-purpose chicken breeds that take confinement well. They gave me 75 percent egg production—that is, a dozen chickens produced nine eggs a day while they were laying.
  2. Another favorite of mine is the Jersey Giant. It is black or white, and large. (My black Jersey Giant rooster was 16 inches at the saddle!) The hens are medium- rather than high-laying chickens, but the eggs are larger than those of the Plymouth Rock or Rhode Island Red. This breed is calm and docile but needs more room because of its size.
  3. Araucanas tend to be flighty (not docile), but they thrive in almost any climate, take confinement well, and are quiet. If you want to make them more calm and docile, try hypnotizing them (and no, we’re not kidding!) Plus, the green-shelled eggs are a novelty. (One of my Rhode Island Red hens mated with an Araucana cock and gave me a hen that laid olive eggs!)
  4. My dream team would include Easter Eggers. They are similar in temperament to Araucanas and lay those blue or green eggs. It may take me a while to track them down, but—hey!—the dream team is worth it. 

In the end…

No matter which breeds of chicken you choose to raise, you will be rewarded with baskets full of delicious, fresh eggs and hours of relaxing entertainment, watching your little flock roam the yard softly clucking, chasing bugs, and scratching for weeds.

What kind of chickens do you raise in your backyard? Tell us in the comments below!

More of Raising Chickens 101

See more of our beginner’s guide to raising chickens:

About The Author

Lisa Steele

Lisa Steele, is 5th generation chicken keeper, Master Gardener, and author of the popular books Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens Naturally and Gardening with Chickens. Read More from Lisa Steele

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