Well, we’ve written this big egg laying guide to help you find the best chicken breeds for eggs.
We’ve scoured the web, various books and magazines and shortlisted ten of the best egg producing chicken breeds.
Any chicken breed on this list will would make a good laying hen for your flock. Most of the breeds on this list are prolific layers. And if you keep just a few of the hens on this list you should end up with dozens of eggs per week.
However, some breeds have their own quirks and unique characteristics that may or may not be desirable – it’ll be up to you to decide what’s the best chicken breed for your home or farm.
Once you have made your mind up, make sure you check out our guide on raising chickens and hens for further help and advice.
Note: hens and chickens lay the most eggs during their first twelve months. The figures mentioned in this list are the average amount of eggs a chicken will produce during their first year. After twelve months a hens egg production tends to tail off a bit – some breeds are worse than others. However, they do tend to start laying bigger eggs after the first year.
So, lets now take a look at some of the best laying hens there is.
10. Light Sussex
Egg Production: 260 during their first year. Egg colour: cream to light brown.
The light Sussex is one of the oldest breeds there is, its origins can be traced back to Roman times.
They are a great utility bird that’s a prolific egg layer, it also has a meaty carcas if slaughtered. These features made them one of the most popular table birds until around a hundred years ago.
The hen is white in appearance with a speckled neck – however, there are various other colours available, such as: Brown, Buff, Red, Speckled and Silver.
The Light Sussex is an excellent forager and they have a great temperament. They can sometimes be a little flighty, requiring their wings to be clipped, but this is quite rare.
They are one of my favourite hens as they are great egg layers, make good mothers, and are very common. They are a very popular chicken breed.
9. Bovan Nera (Hybird Hen)
Egg Production: 270 during their first year. Egg colour: brown
This hybrid chicken originates from Scotland; it is a cross between a Barred Plymouth Rock and a strain of Rhode Island Red.
These hens will lay large eggs that are pale tinted brown and weight approximately 72 grams – the egg closely resembles standard supermarket eggs in terms of colour.
The hens’ plumage varies between pure black, with a hint of green; to black with a red throat.
Egg Production: around 200 to 280 eggs for the first year. Egg colour: brown.
The Delaware chicken originated from the State of Delaware, in the USA, around the 1940s. It is a dual purpose bird that’s a rapid grower and a good egg producer.
It is a cross between a Barred Plymouth Rock rooster, and New Hampshire hen.
Their plumage is mainly white, with black feathers around their necks, and on the tips of their tails. They are available in large foul types, or as a Bantam.
Generally, they are friendly birds, but they can sometimes be aggressive – they have a reputation of having a bit of an attitude. They can also be noisy and bossy with other flock members.
Delaware’s are extremely good foragers, and are a great chicken for controlling pests – like ants, bugs, and flies. One drawback of this breed is that they are prone to egg eating.
You hear a lot of mixed reviews about this breed. Some people love them, others will never keep them again.
7. California White and Grey
Egg Production: 300 for the first year. Egg colour: Lays large white eggs
The California strains of chickens are hybrid hens. They grow fast and lay lots of eggs. They are the dominant chicken breed in California.
They are a cross between a White Leghorn hen and a California Grey rooster – otherwise known as a production black.
Overall the breed tends to be quiet, but I’ve heard mixed reports about this. They are a solid layer, easy to handle, and will perform well in cold climates.
6. Sexlink Chickens
Egg Production: varies, up to 300 eggs during their first year. Egg Colour: Varies
A Sexlink chicken will produce anything up to 300 eggs per year depending on variety. Egg colour and numbers also varies depending on colour and strain of the Sexlink – some lay better than others.
The term ‘Sexlink’ refers to the fact that the colours of their chicks are different when born – males are different in colour to the females. Making early sexing of the breed possible.
Generally, the breed is fairly friendly, but they can be quite noisy. Like all hybrids, to get the best performance out of them they will need to be fed a high-quality chicken feed – they won’t perform at their optimum if left just to forage for their own food. Another bonus is that they tend not to go broody.
Egg Production: Lay between 250 to 300 during their first year. Egg colour: white.
Leghorns are one of the best-known chicken breeds there is. The cartoon chicken ‘Foghorn Leghorn’ was based on this breed.
The breed originally comes from Tuscany Italy, where they were exported around the 1830s.
Most of their commercial development and breeding was done during the 1870s in the USA, after which they were exported to various other counties. They were one of the breeds of chicken originally used in the creation of the modern hybrids hens.
The chicken comes in a variety of colours including Brown, Mottled, Cuckoo, Red, Silver, Buff, and the more common white variety.
They are regarded as being a flighty bird that will yield a poor amount of meat if slaughtered.
They are prolific layers and tend not to go broody – meaning longer periods of uninterrupted egg laying. Their chicks are easy to rear and will mature quickly.
Generally the breed is hardy and will cope with winter well, however, they do have a large comb making them more susceptible to frost bite.
The Leghorn will tolerate confinement well, but it does best when left to roam or kept free range – it’s an excellent forager. They are a bright and an alert bird that can be quite noisy.
4. Speckledy (Hybrid Hen)
Egg Production: 300 during their first year. Egg colour: dark brown eggs.
The Speckledy hybrid chicken is a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Maran. The appearance of the Speckledy is very similar to a Maran, however they have a slightly smaller build and their colour is lighter.
Speckledy’s are prolific egg producers should produce around 300 eggs in the first year, after this the number of eggs will decrease.
They are very friendly birds and a great for the novice. Just like with other hybrids will never be short of eggs if you could choose to keep this breed.
3. Golden Comet (Golden Buff)
Egg Production: 250 – 320 during their first year. Egg colour: tends to be brown.
The golden comet chicken is another hybrid that matures quickly and starts producing eggs at a young age.
This hybrid chicken originates from the United States. They are a cross between a White Rock hen and a New Hampshire rooster – they are a sex link breed, therefore any offspring will be different colours depending on their sex. The chicken tends to be a reddish buff in colour with a single comb.
The Golden Comet is known by a variety of other names, including: Golden Buff, Gold sex link, Cinnamon Queen, and Red Star.
They are a friendly chicken that’s usually fairly placid, and a great layer of brown eggs. They will handle confinement well, but do better when kept free range. Like other hybrids they tend not to go broody. Overall they are a very easy hen to keep and a good choice for the beginner.
2. Amber Star (Hybrid Hen)
Egg Production: 320 during their first year. Egg colour: light brown
The Amber Star chicken is another Rhode Island-based hybrid. Its colour is opposite to the Goldline hybrid (below) – they have soft feathering that is champagne in colour, with gingery brown flecks – however some hens have no flecks at all.
Due to their soft feathering and they can look really dishevelled when their moult.
The Amber Star is small friendly bird, with a great personality, and usually becomes tame very quickly.
They are a great starter chicken that will lay relentlessly – you won’t have many days without an egg.
Due to their friendly docile nature they can make great pets, and are suitable to have around children.
1. Goldline (Hybrid Hen)
Egg Production: 320 during their first year. Egg Colour: Lays brown eggs
The Goldline Hybrid one of the most prolific egg producing hens there is, laying a large number of eggs during their first 3 to 4 years of life. During their first year they can produce up to a whopping 320 eggs.
The Goldline Hybrid was originally bred using a Rhode Island Red Cockerel and a Light Sussex hen.
Goldline chickens are more common in the UK than the US. In the USA there is a higher demand for white eggs, resulting in Leghorn based hybrid being the popular choice for commercial egg production.
Other commercial egg producers have created their own versions of these hybrids with similar genetics – the ISA Brown and Warrens are some that you might have heard of.
Their egg numbers and quality will deteriorate with age – the hens tend to lay themselves silly and suffer from burnout. This is part of the reasons why hybrid chickens are only kept for a year on commercial farms, beyond this period their egg laying is sub-optimal and it’s more efficient to replace them with young point-of-lay chicks.
The hen itself has a great egg to food ratio, meaning you’ll get more eggs per daily ration of chicken feed. But due to the hen being an egg laying machine, ideally it wants to be fed a good quality laying mash or chicken pellet; and fed plenty of calcium in the form of poultry grit. I also recommend feeding them a diverse range of foodstuff as well – like table scraps, bits of fruit and vegetables.
These are great little hen and are ideal for beginners. It’s a friendly little bird that will always produce a larger quantity of eggs, usually it will lay well into the winter. They are not the best chicken to keep if you suffer from extremely cold winters – there are better breeds suited for this, some of them are listed elsewhere in this guide.
What chicken breed should you keep chicken if you want lots of eggs? The answer to this is clear – hybrid hens.
If you’re knowledgeable about poultry, and chicken breeds, this won’t come as a surprise. When it comes to egg and meat production nothing beats the modern day hybrid or broiler hens.
Over the decades millions of dollars have been invested in their development; producing hens that require the least amount of input (feed and maintenance), whilst producing the most amount eggs or meat when compared with traditional or heritage chicken breeds. There is no way the traditional breeds can compete with this hen in terms of performance.
That being said you can still find traditional/heritage chicken breeds that are good layers and reasonable meat producers. The one area where traditional varieties excel is the uniqueness of the individual breeds – you can find all manner of colours and personalities; you can also find breeds that fare better in harsh environments.
Also, in my experience, traditional and heritage breeds tend to live longer than the free range hybrid hens I’ve kept.
Like buying a car, choosing a chicken breed is a matter of personal choice. Fortunately, you can own and mix chicken breeds without it costing a fortune – unlike buying cars.
Have you kept any of the chicken breeds on this list? What did you think of its egg production and personality? Do you think I’ve missed a good egg laying chicken off this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.