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Egg Layers

Egg Layers

Egg Layers

Many people are interested in having fresh eggs in the morning, and are perfectly fine visiting their local grocery store or butcher when they need chicken for dinner. If you fall into this camp, then one or more of the egg-laying breeds may be what you are looking for.

If you are looking for the best of both worlds, meaning eggs as well as the option to butcher, you may prefer a dual-purpose breed that lays more eggs than a meat bird and builds more muscle than an egg layer.

Breeds known for their egg laying capabilities share the following characteristics:

  • Lay 175 to 250 (some even more) eggs per year
  • High efficiency ratio of eggs they produce compared to feed consumed
  • Less prone to brooding, more prone to lay eggs than to try to hatch them

Most breeds raised for eggs will begin producing around 5 months of age, and their maximum egg production will last for several years. Even after years of eating feed, an egg-laying breed is unlikely to develop enough muscle tissue to justify butchering.

Producing 175 eggs per year, the bottom end of the spectrum, equates to just over 3 eggs per week. Rough math shows you that 4 hens give you a dozen eggs per week with some extras for your neighbors.

One downside to egg-layers that is that they will never develop appreciable amounts of muscle. For hens, this isn’t an issue because you have them lay eggs, not produce meat. For the male chickens of egg layer breeds however, it’s a potential issue of waste. Unfortunately, butchering these male chickens will not yield much meat, and you are certainly not going to get any eggs from them. So, you really should consider a dual-purpose breed if you want better alternatives for an entire hatch.

A final consideration is the color of the egg that your hen will produce. Some breeds are known for white eggs like those commonly found at the supermarket, while others produce brown or even blue-shelled eggs.

The most common egg-layer breeds include:

  • White or Pearl Leghorns: White eggs, less suited for free-ranging
  • Ancoma: Larger than average white eggs, can be aggressive and harder to control
  • Hamburg: Prolific white eggs layers, good foragers, sometimes aggressive
  • Minorca: Extra large white eggs, great foragers, often aggressive
  • Hubbard Isa Brown: Large to extra large brown eggs, good foragers, very people friendly (hybrid)
  • Red Star: Large to extra large brown eggs, good foragers, very people friendly (hybrid)
  • Black Star: Large to extra large brown eggs, good foragers, very people friendly (hybrid)
  • Cherry Egger: Large to extra large brown eggs, good foragers, very people friendly (hybrid)
  • Golden Comet: Large to extra large brown eggs, good foragers, very people friendly (hybrid)
  • Australorp: Prolific layer of medium light brown eggs, calm disposition, sometimes set on eggs
  • New Hampshire Red: Brown egg layers, go broody more often than other breeds
  • Rhode Island Red: Dual-purpose breed that lays a lot of large brown eggs
  • Rhode Island White: Brown egg layers, often calm disposition and good with people
  • Maran: Medium to large dark brown eggs
  • Wellsummer: Medium to large dark brown eggs, good foragers, calm disposition
  • Ameraucana: Blue egg layers
  • Araucana: small blue or blue-green egg layer, calm disposition, strong brooders
  • Easter Egger: wide range of egg production in varied blue and blue-green colors

Like many things in nature, nothing is guaranteed. But, the following table highlights what to expect from the various egg-laying breeds.

Egg Layers:

Type of Chicken
Egg Production
Bird Size
Good Brooder
Cold Hardy
Class
Breed
Below Avg
Average
Above Avg
Egg Color
Egg Size
Below Avg
Average
Above Avg
< 3 per week
3 - 4 per week
5+ per week
< 5 lbs
6 - 7 lbs
7+ lbs
Continental Campine 
X
White  Medium
X
X
Continental Hamburg 
X
White  Small
X
X
Continental Lakenvelder 
X
Cream Medium
X
English Redcap 
X
White  Medium
X
X
Large Minorca 
X
White  X-Large
X
Mediterranean Ancona 
X
White  Large
X
X
Mediterranean Andalusian 
X
White  Large
X
Mediterranean Catalana 
X
Cream Medium
X
Mediterranean Leghorn (Non-White) 
X
White  Large
X
Mediterranean Leghorn (White) 
X
White  X-Large
X
X
Mediterranean Sicilian Buttercup 
X
White  Small
X
Mediterranean White Faced Black Spanish 
X
White  Large
X
N/A Easter Eggers 
X
Green Blue  X-Large
X
X
N/A Fayoumi 
X
Cream Small
X
X
N/A Marans 
X
Dark Brown  Large
X
N/A Penedesenca 
X
Dark Brown  Medium
X
Other Ameraucana 
X
Blue  Medium
X
X
Other Appenzeller Spitzhauben 
X
White  Medium
X
X
Other Araucana 
X
Blue  Medium
X
X
X

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