Pick the Best laying Hens for your needs
The best laying hens depend
on whether they are primarily for eggs to eat or eggs
to hatch. If your main goal is to have eggs to sell or for your own
food supply, there are
many breeds available that will lay consistently, daily or nearly
daily. Brood hens, those that will “go broody” and set on a clutch of
fertilized eggs, hatch them and care for the chicks, still exist but
may be harder to find
as these traits have been bred out of the many hybrid chicken varieties
(Be sure to check out the Chicken Coop Plans page to learn how to build coops with nesting boxes and roosts for your laying hens.)
The best laying hens for egg production:
Leghorns: These hens lay very well, with an average of 300 (white) eggs per year. However, they do not sit on their eggs and will not go broody. Most modern laying breeds have some Leghorn in them.
Rhode Island Red: One of the top breeds for egg production, they lay high quality brown eggs. There is also a Rhode Island White that lays brown eggs (we have six RIW hens).
Sex Links: Chickens bred for egg production, sexed at birth by color. Commercial breeds have been dubbed Black Star and Red Star, and are very good layers of brown eggs. However, they are hybrids and thus do not maintain the color characteristics through subsequent generations.
The best laying hens for egg hatching:
Cuckoo Maran: Not the most prolific layer, but a very good setting hen that lays quality brown eggs.
Rhode Island Red: Popular for backyard flocks as the females are good layers and the males make good meat birds. They will set on their eggs. However, the sex-link versions and other hybrid Rhode Island Red strains will not go broody.
Light Sussex: A bird originally from the UK, also dual-purpose (meat and eggs).
Plymouth Rock: An American breed whose hens will go broody and whose males are good for eating as well.
If your best laying hens won't hatch their eggs, but lay a plentiful amount and have had a rooster around long enough that the eggs they lay are fertile, you can always hatch your own chicks using egg incubators. It's not terribly hard, and then you just need a brooder house or, for smaller operations, a good heat lamp and a box, to raise the baby chicks until they can survive in an outdoor pen.
Once you've had a flock for some time and have tried many different breeds of chickens, your own best laying hens might surprise you. Enjoy them!
Best Coop Plans:
How to Build a Chicken Coop - detailed plans and construction guide for making backyard coops.
These chicken coop plans and building guide are the best I've found, and purchased them myself to build our first coops. There are five different chicken coops included, beginning with the most basic double-story ark and culminating with the largest design, the Chicken Barn with attached screened-in chicken yard. I want to use their plans again for their largest chicken coop, the chicken barn, when we are ready to upsize our chicken flock's habitat. The coop pictured here is a medium-sized all-in-one design.
Recommended Chicken Books:
- Homemade Living - Keeping Chickens: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock by Ashley English
- Storey's Guide - Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow
- Barnyard in Your Backyard - A Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, and Cattle
Favorite Chicken Quotes
“ A chicken you eat only once — eggs a hundred times." ~ Tajikistani Proverb
“ You cannot cook one half of the chicken and leave the other to lay eggs." ~ Sanskrit Proverb
“ You don’t have to kill the chicken to get eggs." ~ French Proverb