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Are you investing in some chickens this year? Today I’m sharing with you some of the Best Egg Laying Chickens for the Backyard that you might want to consider as you build your flock!
The Best Egg Laying Chickens for the Backyard
If you are new to chickens this year or are just trying to expand your flock so that you have more laying hens, this post is for you. Sometimes it’s hard to look at all the fuzzy peepers at the farm and feed store and try to decide which ones to take home. All of the tags on the tanks say they are layers, but which ones will be the best for your chicken coop?
This guide is not exhaustive but will help you decide which breeds will be a good fit based on their temperament, egg production, cold-hardiness, foraging capability, and more. This list is based on my experience in over 20 years of raising chickens and not some randomly generated list from the internet.
Let’s dive in!
The Easiest Egg Laying Chickens to Raise
Some breeds are just easier to raise than others. They have easy-going personalities and are great for having around kids and other animals and for free-ranging. Here are a few that I think are the best:
There are many different kinds of the wyandottes such as the Golden Laced Wyandottes, Blue Laced, Columbian, and Silver Laced. Each of these will lay between 200-245 brown eggs per year, which is pretty good.
The best out of these (and my favorite) is the Silver-Laced Wyandotte. They will lay up to 245 eggs per year and have a calm and easy-going temperament. They can go broody if that’s something you want, and they are very winter-hardy.
Australorps are a large, hearty, dual-purpose breed that can be used for meat or eggs. They typically lay around 250 brown eggs per year.
Australorps are calm, gentle giants that are great to have around as a backyard breed. They are also good at foraging, making them a better choice for a free-range bird.
This breed is newer to me, but I’ve been very happy with them so far. Calico Princess. The Calico Princess lays an average of 290 light brown eggs per year and is an excellent forager. They can adapt to many different climates.
I currently have 5 of these in my flock, and they are the best layers I have regarding daily consistency.
Speckled Sussex is not a breed that I currently have, but my mom does and has had it for years. This heritage breed will lay up to 220 brown eggs per year.
Speckled Sussex is another good multipurpose breed that is good for laying and good for meat. They are calm and can be very good setters.
I used to always get Ameraucanas (or Easter Eggers) for a blue egg layer until I discovered the Prairie Bluebell chickens. While I have nothing against those breeds, I’ve found the Prairie Bluebell Egger to be a better layer, and the eggs are a beautiful bright blue.
Prairie Bluebells are a cross between an Ameraucana and a Leghorn. They will lay an average of 240 eggs per year. They are active and good foragers and good for a variety of climates.
This is another bird that I love keeping in my flock. The Sapphire Gems are sweet, gentle ladies that are more than happy to give you an abundance of eggs as they lay an average of 290 brown eggs per year.
Sapphire Gems are great foragers, and they are very easygoing. Ours are always the first to run over to us when we bring out the bucket of kitchen scraps.
Best Backyard Chickens for Cold Climates
If you live in a cold climate as I do, it’s helpful to know the best chicken breeds for cold climates. In addition to the breeds that I listed above, here are some other good breeds of chickens you might want to consider.
- Buff Orpingtons (Or any of the Orpingtons)
- Barred Rocks
- Salmon Favorelles
All of these birds have an excellent disposition, and while they won’t all fill your egg basket as full as the ones on my list above, they will all lay well and can lay through the winter.
These are all also dual-purpose chickens and will provide a decent source of meat as well as fresh eggs since they tend to be on the larger side.
Other Good Chicken Breeds
While these breeds aren’t in my personal flock or don’t quite hit the mark for the best backyard egg-laying chickens, they are still good and still worth researching if you are trying to diversify your flock.
- Plymouth Rock
- New Hampshire Red
- Jersey Giants
- Black Giants
- Cinnamon Queen
- Easter Egger
- Olive Egger
What Chickens Lays 300 Eggs a Year?
Rhode Island Red chickens, Isa Browns, Leghorn, Red Star, Black Star, Red-Sex Link, Golden Comet, and Amberlinks are all breeds that have the potential to lay 300 eggs per year. There are also others that lay white eggs (like the White Leghorns), which are hybrid chickens made for full-time production that would lay this amount of eggs per year.
I would caution, however, that not all of these breeds will have the best temperament or be best for foraging. Out of all of these, I would recommend the Isa Browns or the Amberlinks if you want chickens that will lay the most eggs.
I’ve previously had both of those breeds and while I don’t have them right now, I would still recommend them if you are looking for the most productive egg-laying chickens.
Which Chickens Lay Eggs the Longest?
Most heritage breed chickens will lay eggs for up to 5 or 6 years. That’s a long time compared to the hybrid breeds, which will lay for 2-3 years.
Remember that hybrid breeds will lay more eggs upfront while heritage breeds will lay more eggs over time. You might have the best luck choosing one over the other depending on your end goal.
Think about it this way. Hybrid breeds are fine if you don’t mind butchering and want to clear out your flock for broth every few years. If you are just looking to start a backyard flock and don’t want to butcher, heritage breeds will be fine.
How to Get the Most Nutritious Eggs from Chickens
If you feed your chickens well, you will get the most nutritious eggs.
While I still feed my ladies a layer feed, I also feed them a few other things to get the most out of my eggs. First, I mix dried kelp into their feed to boost nutrition. Kelp contains many essential vitamins and is a prebiotic for the chicken’s digestive system. You’ll defniately notice when you feed your chickens kelp because the yolks will be bright orange!
I also feed my chickens grit and oyster shells. Grit also helps with the chicken’s digestive system. Oyster shell helps add calcium to the chickens’ diet to harden their egg shells and make them less likely to get picked up or cracked. These are two different supplements, and they do two different things for your chickens.
Feeding your chickens scraps and letting them free-range is the best way to get nutritious eggs. Chickens should be eating bugs, fruits, and veggies to maintain a healthy diet. Chickens on a free-range diet produce eggs that have double the Omega 3, more Vitamin E, and more beta-carotene than typical eggs. They also contain less saturated fat and cholesterol than typically raised eggs.
Do I Need a Rooster for My Chickens to Lay Eggs?
Thankfully, no, you don’t need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs.
There are many rumors going around stating that you need a rooster for hens to lay eggs or that you need a rooster for your hens to lay more eggs. Neither is true. Hens will lay eggs whether you have a rooster or not.
The only time a rooster is necessary is if you’d like to hatch eggs from your own chickens at some point.
Where to Buy Egg-Laying Chickens
You can buy chicks that will eventually lay eggs from most farm stores during the spring. Make sure you don’t purchase them too early for your climate and that it will be nice out when you are ready to put them outdoors. (I order my chicks to come in sometime in April. Our last frost date is not until June 1st.)
I have a full beginner’s guide on Raising Baby Chicks here.
Chickens are a great way to boost your self-sufficiency in a variety of different settings. Hopefully, this post gave you some ideas and some advice on how best to grow that backyard laying flock!
More on Raising Chickens
- Chicken Egg Production; What To Do When Your Chickens Stop Laying
- Raising Baby Chicks; A Beginners Guide to Baby Chicken Care
- How to Keep Your Chickens Full and Healthy
- Feeding Clabber to Chickens
- 50+ Homesteading Books (Fiction and Non-Fiction Suggestions)
- What to Do With Extra Eggs
- DIY Chicken Feeder
- Chicken Feed Prices
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Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple and frugal life on Little House Living since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to freedom on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.
This post on the Best Egg Laying Chickens for the Backyard was originally posted on Little House Living in February 2023 it has been updated as of February 2024.