Quick Guide: The Best Laying Chickens

If you’re considering investing in a flock of chickens to self-produce your own eggs, you’ll want to know the best breeds to select – and believe us, there are a lot more than you might imagine. From chickens specifically bread for laying through to ones that seem to have the knack naturally, we’ve brought all the research about the best laying chickens available out there together in one article. So before you dive in and pick the prettiest hen in the roost, take a look through our list below.
Breed Considerations
There are a range of different considerations you will need to take into account when selecting the perfect breed. Remember, even if you’re not opting for chickens as pets, it is important to remember that they are living animals and require certain living conditions to ensure they are humanly kept. See our list below of the main considerations:
Available Space
Some chicken breeds are more suited to the free range lifestyle while some can be easily trained to thrive in pens. It is important to understand the best living environments for your chosen breed and to best understand if you can offer this. The quality of their life will directly affect their laying capabilities as well as lead to human animal ownership.
Pet or Worker
Are you considering doubling your flock up as pets for your children or other members of the family? Some breeds are more skittish than others and scare easily while other can get incredible aggressive when faced with daunting situations. It is important to consider whether you’re looking for a working bird or one suited to being a pet when choosing the perfect breed.
Diet
It is important to understand the right diet for your pets. The right diet will help them yield the highest level of eggs and ensure they have a long and healthy life. Researching into both the correct food and the availability of this food in your local area will ensure you are fully committed to creating the perfect life for your birds.
Flock Size
Are you looking to invest in a large flock or a couple of chickens to supply your family? Some birds thrive in larger groups while others are happy with one of two companions. Ensure they have the most enjoyable and fulfilling life by keeping your flock numbers at a sustainable level.
Egg yield
Well yielding chickens can produce up to 200 eggs per year – but does this match your requirements? Are you looking to produce eggs for sale through your farm shop or simply make sure every member of the family receives a fresh boiled egg every morning? Research the right breeds for your requirements and you won’t find yourself with wasted surplus.
List of Laying Chickens
Hybrid Chickens (such as Golden Comet and Goldline)
The term ‘Hybrid Chicken’ encompasses a wide range of breeds including the Golden Comet and the Goldline. All of these animals have been selectively cross bread to produce the strongest and most resilient birds while also promising to lay large quantities of eggs. These unique birds will often continue laying throughout the winter and are specifically tailored to be less likely to go broody. In general, they are a cheaper option than their pure breed counterparts but can almost certainly promise to yield a considerable number of eggs during their whole laying lives. In contrasts, hybrid chickens may not live as long as pure-breeds and they also require very specific diets to ensure their egg laying stays consistent – so probably don’t make the smartest choice for those short on time.
Rhode Island Red
Known for their dual-purpose breeding, the Rhone Island Red Chicken is one of the most popular options for household farmers. Renowned for their prolific egg laying ability, these chickens are commonly used when selectively breeding hybrid chickens. Laying mid-brown eggs, these animals make an ideal choice for their placid nature and strong yielding number of over 200 in their first year. Ensure you choose the utility strain as they are also commonly used and favoured in shows or competitions.
White Leghorn
The Leghorn has long been regarded for its high laying abilities and is also used, alongside other birds like the Rhode Island Red, in the selective breeding of hybrid animals. Originally noted as one of the top breeds for laying, the utility strains can easily produce around 300 eggs in the first year. As a pure breed, these chickens are likely to have a higher life expectancy that hybrid choices while also being more likely continue laying or many of these years. Normally a foraging animal, they can easily adapt to life within a pen and are less likely to fall victim to illness due to laying.
Sussex
With the capability to lay up to 250 eggs a year, the Sussex breed is also known as a dual-purpose chicken with the ability to be used for both laying and meat. A tame breed that are ideal for use around small children or in areas where they may encounter unfamiliar people, these calm birds come in a range of colours and produce eggs of a brown to creamy white tone. They work well as free-range but can also be kept in a pen and are easy to tame – making them perfect for beginners.
Plymouth Rocks
If you’re looking for a reliable chicken to lay eggs every few days or you’re just starting out in the world of chicken ownership, than the Plymouth Rocks could be the ideal choice. Bred to their full potential, these reliable chickens should produce around 200 eggs a year of varying sizes. Best suited to a free-range environment due to their large size, they are commonly grey and white in colour while being easy to tame. This breed has also been commonly used in the selective breeding process used to produce hybrid breeds.
Ancona
If you’re looking solely for an egg laying breed, the Ancona could be the perfect choice. Jumpy and nervous, this adventurous breed needs constant grooming to prevent it from attempting an escape and is not a smart choice for this seeking pets in their flock. Originating from Italy, this ample layer will produce around 200 eggs in any given year – each of white will be a small and white variety. Similar in looks to the Plymouth Rock, this small hen is a good choice for those with limited space or looking to simply lay in abundance.
Barnevelder
On the flip side, if you are seeking a bird that can double up as a family pet, the Barnevelder is the perfect choice. With their tame and calm natures, these black and brown chickens are perfectly suited to a garden pen and require minimal preening to avoid escape. They have the capability to product around 200 eggs a year and are renowned for their glossy feathers. Native to Holland, these birds lay small and medium eggs with a speckled design and are a great option for the entire family.
Hamburg
Recognised for their attractive plumage (which partially resembles a Dalmatian), this German breed can easily lay up to 200 eggs per year. Not suitable for pens, they do best when left to roam around freely and can get quite aggressive in smaller space – so not ideal for anyone with just a garden or small field. A smaller breed than some of the others on our list, they mature earlier than most meaning they’ll start yielding eggs at a younger age. If you choose to let them run free, keep an eye out for their favourite laying spots as these may not be where you expect.
Marans
Along with others on this list, Maran chickens are capable of producing yields up to 200 eggs per year depending on external conditions such as the weather and their feeding. Another dual-purpose breed on our list, these versatile birds have a similar look to Plymouth Rocks while their gentile personalities mean they don’t need a large space to roam. However, don’t be fooled into thinking they’ll make good pets – they are nearly impossible to train so should be kept solely for their laying ability.
Araucana
Known as the ‘Easter Egg Chicken’, these dark birds are a hardy breed that can be either left to roam freely of kept in a run. Also, one of the pure breed options on our list, this particular breed lays unusually coloured eggs – anywhere between a pretty blue through to a khaki green or even a pink if the breed strain isn’t pure. They will continue to lay long after their first year and characteristically have longer life spans than hybrid options. A great option for everyone from beginners through to the seasoned chicken owner.
Maintain High Egg Production
Although we highly recommend undergoing thorough research before stepping into the world of chicken ownership, there are a number of considerations to take into account when we talk about egg yield. There are many different things that can change and alter your yield size of which we have listed below:
Age – Older Chickens will traditionally lay less eggs and in general, the first year will leave you with the highest yield.
Diet – If your flock are lacking in a certain nutrient, this can drastically affect their egg yield. In order to produce the best eggs, your chicken needs a considerably level of protein in their diet and if they aren’t receiving this, they simply won’t produce eggs.
Daylight – Think about the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and you’ll understand why our moods drop when sunlight is low. The same thing goes for chickens and their laying capacity – it drops considerably! Ensure they get as much light as possible during the day and know that their egg production will either drop or stop completely during winter.
Next Steps
So now we’ve listed the best egg yielding breeds available and the conditions in which they need to be kept, it’s time to consider where they’ll live and lay. Click through to our Best Chicken Coop article which rounds up the most popular options for all different requirements including back garden chickens through to larger flocks. You’ll be able to order and have them delivered right to your door in no time.