Anna studied psychology, law, English, and animal welfare in college. She is a mother of two and a 2019 bride!
Chickens for Beginners
Before the first world war, it was primarily ducks that wre used for egg production. Obviously nowadays, chicken breeds have been crossed to create the ultimate egg-laying machines, who also make wonderful pets. I have kept chickens for more than 10 years and these are my all-time favourite breeds for egg laying.
If you are thinking about keeping chickens, these 10 breeds are some of the best starter-hens to go for. They are all easy-going, friendly birds who also look beautiful. You'll never regret investing in a pet who gives you fresh eggs every morning!
Some of the Best Hen Houses
It's About Quality AND About Quantity
Whilst there are many hundreds of different chicken breeds in existence today, some have been bred for purposes other than egg-laying, such as for showing or purely as pets. These ten breeds are the best egg-layers you will come across for the size, taste and number produced every year.
To get the most out of your hens, it is vital to give them correct feed. Layers pellets should be given throughout the day and corn just before they roost for the night. If possible, try to give them any fruit or vegetable peelings from dinner - apple, carrot and potato all go down extremely well. Simply boil the peelings so that they are soft and allow them to cool. Never give chickens egg shells as this can cause them to begin eating their eggs.
Since I started giving my hens peelings and some leftovers also, they have been repaying me with about one or two huge double-yolk eggs in the summer. Give it a try to let me know if you have any success!
What would/do you use your chickens for?
The Best Egg Producer - The Goldline Hen
For anyone who knows and remembers fondly the story of 'The Little Brown Hen, the Goldline could be the perfect hen for you. She really is a little, brown hen who makes up for with eggs what she lacks in size, giving you approximately 320 eggs in her first year. This breed is amazingly friendly and will follow you around your garden if you allow her - and will also probably try to follow you indoors! Although Goldlines are fantastic pets, due to being bred for high egg-production these hens often aren't very good as mothers.
Two: White Leghorn
White leghorns are one of my favourite breeds. As the name suggests they are pure white and lay large, White eggs that taste wonderful. They are also a very friendly breed, and although they don't look capable of laying a large egg (these birds are quite slender), they manage around 320 of them every year.
White leghorns don't tend to go broody very often, which is great news for people who want a steady flow of eggs (a broody hen will stop laying until her chicks have hatched and become independent).
Three: Amber Star
Amber Star hens are a mixed breed, who were developed from Rhode Island Reds. They are known as 'Amber' hens for their colour, and also their big, beautiful, brown eggs, of which there will be roughly 300-330 in their first year.
The result of crossing Rhode Island Reds with Barred Plymouth Rocks was the now extremely popular breed, the Nera. These sweet hens will typically lay 270 large, brown eggs in their first year.
The Speckledy hen is a medium-sized black hen with white flecks. In my experience, these hens only go broody once every two-three years which is great if you want a hen who will lay as much as possible. She will usually lay around 270 eggs in her first year.
Wyandotte hens are my favourite breed of all the breeds I've ever kept. They are big birds and are commonly used as duel-purpose chickens (that is, meat as well as eggs). They come in a range of colours, but my personal favourite is the silver-laced - their feathering is just beautiful. These hens lay around 220 eggs in their first year, and are excellent mothers - occasionally trying to take over other hens chicks!
Seven: Light Sussex
Light Sussex hens are another breed I have a soft spot for and are again, used as duel purpose birds. They are large, white chickens with some black markings around the neck and on the tail. Their ability to hatch and raise chicks is matched only by the Wyandotte breed, as mentioned above. Light Sussex hens usually lay about 220 eggs on their first year.
Eight: Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Reds are responsible for the existence of many other breeds, as they are one of the best purebred egg-layers. They are a deep red colour and have a lovely temperament. Reds lay around 220 eggs a year, and will continue to lay for many years.
Araucana hens are quite exotic-looking and lay 200 beautiful blue or sometimes green eggs per year. They originated from South America, but are becoming increasingly popular for their tinted eggs.
Ten: Crested Cream Legbar
Crested Cream Legbars are another breed of hen that lays blue or green tinted eggs. They are so-called due to the fact they are cream in colour, with a crest on their heads. They are fairly small birds, but will still give you no less than 180 medium-sized eggs a year.
What Breeds of Chicken Do/Would You Like to Keep?
mikeydcarroll67 on June 19, 2015:
I might get some of these for myself when I get some land!
Natalie W Schorr on June 15, 2014:
This is excellent information!
NoProblemmo on May 03, 2014:
Well, I don't have a yard yet ...
VspaBotanicals on May 01, 2014:
I live in the country, and we have a couple. Thanks for the information!