One of the great things about having your own flock of backyard chickens is fresh eggs. When it comes to egg laying not all chickens were made equal. In fact some breeds have been selectively bred for decades to be the egg laying Olympians of the chicken world.
For beginner backyard chicken keepers you need to balance the egg laying ability of the chicken breed with ease of raising the breed.
If you have decided that your main purpose for keeping backyard chickens is for eggs there are a number of great breeds suitable for beginners that we would recommend based on the advice of some of the leading experts (now not all of these chicken breeds are necessarily the most prolific layers but for beginners it is a balance between egg laying and ease of care).
The Backyard Chicken Zone top 5 egg laying chicken breed recommendations for beginners:
1. Rhode Island Red
Coming in at number 1 on our top 5 egg laying chickens is the Rhode Island Red. This is our favourite layer with an above average laying rate of medium size Brown eggs. They are a versatile backyard chicken suitable for most climates and very easy to care for. They can be a little temperamental and aggressive to other breeds so be careful what other breeds to put with them. The Rhode Island Red is a good all rounder that is also suitable for meat production so if you are not sure what breed will be best for you the Rhode Island red is a good starter.
Coming in a close second is the Leghorn. These chickens are egg laying machines, producing over 300 large white eggs a year. They can be a little flighty which makes them a little more difficult to manage but if it is eggs you are after this breed will certainly deliver. They are also a useful dual purpose chicken (although a little on the scrawny side) and can be used for organic meat once their egg production declines.
3. Buff Orpington
This breed is one our favourite beginner chickens with an above average production of large brown eggs. Orpingtons are good brooders so an excellent choice if you plan to raise chicks. They are also an excellent choice for a pet chicken due to their docile nature and ease of care. If you live in a cooler climate the Orpington is a must have for your backyard chicken flock.
4. Black Star
Coming in at number four in our top 5 egg laying chickens is the Black Star. Black stars are a hybrid breed (cross between Barred Rock hens and Rhode Island Red roosters) and lay an above average amount of large brown eggs. They are very easy to raise and also very hardy making them an excellent beginner breed. They have a calm nature also making them suitable for families and as a pet chicken.
Rounding out our top 5 egg laying chickens is the Ameraucana. This breed is known as the “Easter Eggers” because they produce eggs in a variety of colours including blue, blue-green, green, and cream (our kids love collecting the colourful eggs). They lay medium sized eggs with an above average laying rate. They have a calm temperament and make a excellent family or pet chicken.
For a family of four, a flock of three or four hens will usually produce sufficient eggs so try a few different breeds when you start out and work out which breeds work best for you.
Whilst our top 5 egg laying breeds will produce regular eggs for you, remember that the quality and nutritional value of those eggs will be controlled by the chickens diet including the health benefits, richness and colour of the yoke, as well as the chickens overall health. What you put in is what you get out so check out our tips on what to feed chickens to ensure a happy, healthy flock, and the most deliciousness and nutritious organic eggs for your family.
If you are looking for some more ideas check out our guide to selecting the best backyard chicken breed.
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