So, have you finally decided to take the first step to self-sustenance and are ready to start raising chickens for eggs? Or maybe you are just looking for a way to make the chickens you already have more efficient. Either way, let’s cover what you need to know to ensure that you end up with as many delicious fresh eggs as possible.
Store Bought Eggs Vs Farm Fresh Eggs
There is no denying that fresh eggs are better, both nutrition-wise and taste-wise, than those that you would buy at your local grocery store. Why is this the case? The answer lies in the environment the hens are laying their eggs in and the nutrients the hens are fed.
A chicken that is free to roam about a spacious plot of land and spend their days scratching at dirt and eating bugs to their heart’s content will be a lot happier than a hen that’s forced to sit on their nest and lay eggs. Caged chickens are expected to produce eggs with very little time to enjoy what should be their natural habitat. A happy hen will lead to more eggs every time.
And don’t even get me started on “cage free”. That’s just a term that came about to appease the animal activists. It doesn’t really change their overall treatment.
Another huge difference, besides where the hens are kept, is what they’re fed. Typically, hens that lay eggs for mass production are fed cheap grain pellets. They rarely get any special treats unless they’re allotted time to forage for bugs for themselves. A hen that you raise from a chick and consider a part of the family will inevitably have a much more diverse and nutritious diet.
Feeding your hen leafy greens and giving them full access to as many bugs and grubs as they want will ensure they get their fill of high-quality nutrients. If there is any specific vitamin or nutrient missing from your hen’s diet, you can always find a supplement or additive to include in their food. A healthy diet will lead to healthy and nutritious eggs for your consumption.
So, What Are The Best Egg-Laying Chickens?
That’s a good question. There are many things to consider any time you are thinking about getting a new chicken. Besides the amount of eggs it can lay, you should also consider the bird’s temperament and whether you’ll be able to provide the optimal environment to produce the most eggs possible. The following are the best breeds to consider that are likely to produce the most eggs for you and your family.
The Leghorn hens are known to produce at least 200 and as many as 280 eggs each year. They are known to be fairly active and flighty fowl, so they should have plenty of land to roam free in.
Their eggs are generally large and white-shelled. The hens of this breed usually weigh between 6 and 8 pounds and should start producing eggs around 4 months old.
If you’re a big egg-eater, you could go with an Australorp. This breed holds the record for the greatest number of eggs in a year (one hen laid 364 in 365 days! – wonder which day she took off?). They are originally from Australia and are typically very calm in nature, which is good if you have small children.
They should produce an average of 250 eggs per year and they’re usually large and brown-shelled. This breed of chickens is also known to fare well in colder and hotter weather. These chickens usually weigh around 5 to 7 pounds and you can expect them to start producing eggs when they’re around 5-6 months old.
This chicken is similar to the Australorp as far as egg production is concerned. You can expect as many as 250-300 eggs a year. What makes this chicken breed unique is their coloring. They’re usually a dark brownish-red and they feature a speckling of white throughout their feathers.
No two chickens are exactly the same. They usually weigh around 7 or 8 pounds and should start laying eggs sometime between 4 and 5 months of age.
Although the Buff Orpington might not be the top egg-layer, it is definitely the nicest and calmest on the list. They enjoy the occasional pat on the head and can easily be picked up, which is great if there will be any children around.
Oh, and did we mention that they’re super cute and fluffy?
Perfect For First-Timers
Yes, there is a breed of chicken called Plymouth Rock, probably because it was from Boston in 1849. This breed can usually lay somewhere between 200 and 280 light-brown medium eggs reliably each year. They will generally lay a batch of eggs once every couple of days. Egg producing should begin when they are between 4 ½ to 5 ½ months old.
Their coloring is pretty unique, too. They are dark gray with white stripes. Some people claim that it reminds them of zebra stripes, to give you an idea.
Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is one of the most popular egg-laying breeds. They typically produce upwards of 250 eggs for any given year. Their eggs are usually brown and of medium size. The main reason farmers like this breed specifically is because they are largely self-sufficient and require little to no maintenance. They tend to be able to take care of themselves, but will still accept the occasional neck scratch or mealworm treat. A healthy hen in this breed should weigh somewhere between 6 and 7 pounds and should start laying eggs sometime between 4 and 6 months of age.
Golden Laced Wyandotte
These chickens usually provide 170-200 large brown or tan eggs per year. They are also known to be good to eat, if and when the time comes for that. They enjoy foraging, so you should ensure that there’s plenty of space for them to roam. Wyandottes are typically pretty easygoing fowl, but can become broody.
For those that don’t know, broody is just a term used for a hen that lays eggs and is determined to hatch them rather than let you collect them. She’ll do nothing but sit comfortably on her eggs and only leave once or twice a day to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom. Having a broody hen is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you only want to eat the eggs she will lay.
However, if you’re looking for an egg producer to help grow your flock, broody is actually a good thing. It just means that when she starts laying eggs she is going to want to do everything in her power to hatch those eggs and then proceed to take really good care of the chicks. Basically, she wants to be a chicken mom. She should weigh about 6 pounds and start laying eggs somewhere between 4 ½ to 5 months of age.
Mixed Chicken Breeds To Consider (AKA Chicken Mutts)
The Easter Egger
It’s important to note, as the subtitle suggests, that the Easter Egger isn’t an “official” chicken breed, but rather a mixed breed. Also, there are a few different egger varieties of chickens, but this one generally lays more eggs than the others on average.
You can expect around 200 large eggs per year. Their eggs are unique in color, too. When you first get an Easter Egger you could end up with eggs that feature a blue shell, a pink shell, or even a green shell. While the color of the eggs won’t change after the first batch is laid (unfortunately), it’s pretty cool to wait and wonder what color your hen will lay.
If you decide to get this breed of chickens and have the room, you might want to get more than one and so you can possibly have eggs of different colors. Most eggers will begin producing eggs by 5 months of age, but can take longer depending on the hen itself.
The Sex-Link Chickens
Black and Red Sex-Link chickens are well known to the chicken community. Their popularity stems from them being eggs-ellent layers. They typically produce anywhere between 250 to 300 large eggs with a brown shell. This breed is the perfect pick for those that enjoy brown eggs. They are also gentle, non-aggressive chickens, so they’re great for families with kids. They start to lay pretty early, usually just under 4 months old.
These are just a few of the many egg-laying breeds to consider if you’re looking for a way to sustain a consistent production of eggs for your family’s morning breakfast. There are many, literally hundreds, of breeds of chickens for eggs, so make sure that you do your research and know exactly what you’re getting with the breed you decide on.
You will want to make sure that you are able to provide the optimal care for that particular breed. This includes knowing what’s best to feed them, ensuring you have enough land for them, and a spacious coop for them to lay copious amounts of eggs for you to enjoy.