I hope your new year is off to a great start! This is the time of year where most people start dreaming about adding to their flock. Of course, there are those of us who dream all year long about adding more chickens! (A.k.a. me).
Right now, it’s the middle of winter here so there’s a little more down time to plan and prepare for those new little chicks. I’m sitting here scrolling through Hoover’s Hatchery catalog and I think I’m in trouble! How does one pick with all these amazing breeds?
Most people get into backyard chickens for the fresh eggs. Honestly, it’s hard to beat farm fresh eggs, so I understand the draw. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is how quickly you can get attached to these sweet little birds who give you breakfast. I could go on and on about my 28 pets, but for today we’re going to focus on a few popular breeds of chickens who are known for their egg laying abilities and will provide a colorful selection for your egg basket.
It’s important to note that not all chickens lay the same amount of eggs. Chickens need anywhere from 12-16 hours of daylight in order to lay eggs. Some chickens outperform others due to their genetics. There are breeds who are known for laying eggs, but can be kind of aggressive.
For our family, we chose breeds who are good egg layers as well as friendly pets. One time I purchased two Silver-laced Wyandottes that had to find a new home. They were gorgeous and excellent layers, but they were so mean to the other ladies. I happily gave them to my father-in-law who loved their eggs, but they kept their aggressive personality there as well. So with that, do your research! Most hatcheries or farm stores will give you a run-down on personality as well as eggs per year and color. I wish I would have done a little more research when I first started. Now, to achieve my egg basket goals, I have 28 chickens! Hahaha! And, I’ll probably add more because we live in the country and don’t have limits. Well, my husband may give me a limit one of these years, but not this year. Haha!
My favorite breeds for laying and personality are the Plymouth Barred Rock, Marans, Olive Egger, and Calico Princess. These girls are sweet, consistent, and provide a beautiful basket of eggs. When I started out with backyard chickens, I didn’t put much thought into egg color until after I had 10 chickens that laid all brown eggs. The color of the eggs don’t matter as far as taste, but it’s just really fun to have a colorful assortment. There are other wonderful breeds, but I just picked a few that have been a great addition to our backyard flock.
My Plymouth Barred Rocks (#happythechicken) are probably my favorite. They are well rounded birds. They do well in the heat and the cold, are docile and easy to handle, and lay large brown eggs. My chicken, Happy, is the reason I fell in love with backyard chickens. She is 2 ½ years old and is still laying like a champ. She welcomes me to the coop and travels with me occasionally. Barred Rocks lay approximately 200-250 brown eggs per year and are easy to care for. You won’t be disappointed in this breed!
Photo of a Plymouth Barred Rock, Courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery
The next breed I want to highlight are the Marans. Marans originate from a town in France called….you guessed it...Marans! There are different types of Marans and a couple that are on my list of birds I want to add to my flock. However, I own a French Black-Copper Marans (Big Betsy) and she lays me dark, beautiful eggs. She’s winter-hardy and very docile. Marans lay approximately 225 dark brown eggs per year and are medium in size.
Photo of Marans, Courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery
Next, I’d like to talk about my Sapphire Olive Egger, Opal. She’s a beautiful chicken who lays beautiful olive green eggs. She’s friendly and is very consistent. She went broody one time but wasn’t hard to break. Olive Eggers will provide you with approximately 250-260 olive green eggs per year and will make your egg basket shine.
Photo of a Sapphire Olive Egger, Courtesy of Hoover’s Hatchery
Finally, the Calico Princess breed was a breed I didn’t know much about until I brought home Myrtle and Millie. These girls are so much fun! They have big personalities and are so friendly to people and their flock mates. They’ve added a gorgeous feather landscape to the flock with their deep red feathers with light flecks. They do well in both summer and Minnesota winters. These girls are laying machines and will provide around 290 brown eggs per year! It was a happy surprise breed for me and I’m so glad I brought them home.
Photo of a Calico Princess
Myrtle taking a spin around the backyard
There are breeds such as Leghorns, Sapphire Gems, Rhode Island Reds, and many more that lay large amounts of eggs each year. I don’t own any of these...yet. ;) However, Hoover’s Hatchery is a great resource for learning more about each breed. It’s been fun for me to add a few chickens each year to our flock. In all honesty, I look more for personality now. I could have a chicken who is absolutely gorgeous and an egg machine, however, if they’re aggressive with others in the flock or people, it’s a no go for us here.
My encouragement is that you find the breeds that will work best with your situation, set-up, and family. We have 13 breeds in our backyard! They all do very well together and I can’t imagine not having any of them. Raising chickens is super fun and rewarding. Diversifying your flock and egg color will totally depend on your desires.
Join me next week as we discuss some common mistakes backyard chicken keepers make! I’ll share some of my own to encourage you in your own journey!
Until Next Time,
The Wing Lady