The majority of people keeping chickens in their backyard are doing it for the eggs. Whether you want the eggs only for yourself or are planning to share with family and friends or even if you are hoping to go into business selling eggs, you probably are wondering which breeds are the best laying chickens. All breeds of hens lay at least some eggs but some breeds are much more prolific egg layers than others. Certain breeds, and especially some hybrids, have been purposely bred to maximize egg production. If you’re planning to sell eggs and are looking for the highest egg yield possible, then one of these breeds or hybrids would be for you. But if you are just looking for eggs for yourself and family and friends, then likely any of the standard dual-purpose breeds will be what you’re looking for.
Leghorn – The Leghorn is known for being one of the very best egg laying chicken breeds, being a top producer of large white eggs. They tend to mature and start producing eggs earlier than other breeds, around 4 ½ months. They are a smaller, lightweight bird, generally around 4lbs. They do not make a good meat bird as they put all their energy into egg production.
Black Star / Red Star– The Stars are both sex-linked hybrid crosses created to make birds with an excellent yield of large brown eggs. Typically a Rhode Island Red male is crossed with a Delaware hen to make the Red Star egg layers. A Rhode Island Red male is crossed with a Barred Rock to make the Black Stars. The benefit of the sex-linking is the chicks’ gender is able to be determined at hatching based on their color.
Golden Comet – Another one of the best egg laying chickens, the Golden Comet is also a sex-linked hybrid cross, created by crossing a New Hampshire with a White Plymouth Rock. Phenomenal egg layers, this is the breed used for most large brown eggs found in grocery stores. An average sized chicken, hens tend to mature earlier than many other breeds.
Hy-Line Brown – One of the best brown egg layers available today, the Hy-Line Brown is a genetically created hybrid. The hens typically produce more than 300 eggs per year. Easy to handle and weather hardy, they make an excellent choice for any backyard flock or farm production.
Rhode Island Red– A hardy dual-purpose heritage breed with a heavy egg laying capability, the Rhode Island Red has certainly earned its rank in the group of best laying chickens. They have a high yield of large brown eggs and are a very common choice for many backyard flocks. They are even known for producing eggs under less than ideal conditions.
Australorp – Created in Australia using Black Orpingtons and other breeds, the goal was to keep the Orpington qualities while creating a bird with a higher egg yield. The Australorp is now well known as an excellent dual-purpose bird with great egg laying ability of large light brown eggs.
Plymouth Rock – Another of the dual-purpose heritage breeds, the Rocks are a good choice for producing large amounts of eggs. They are another hardy breed known for being active and very friendly. They are great egg layers of large light brown eggs. They also can go broody and make great mothers.
While this list of egg layers is certainly not exhaustive, it does give a good overview of many of the best laying chickens there are. However, there are also other good egg producers out there. Pretty much any of the other dual-purpose breeds will give a decent amount of eggs for most backyard chicken keepers. And commercial producers are always working on the next best hybrid.