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Best Laying Hens for Your Backyard Flock

Best Laying Hens for Your Backyard Flock

If you’re still a new or future chicken keeper, you’d probably be surprised to know that there are as many different types of chicken breeds as there are different colors of feathers. Basically, there are three kinds of chickens that backyard poultry raisers will want to check out:

There are the best laying hens, the best meat chickens, and dual purpose chickens that excel at both eggs and meat.

For this article, let’s focus on the best laying hens. Imagine being able to just stroll around your backyard and pick up fresh eggs to cook for breakfast. Now that would be the life!

There are many different chicken breeds which you can keep as laying hens. Choosing the best laying hens can sometimes be overwhelming to novice chicken keepers since you are most likely not very familiar with the common chicken breeds that are considered prolific laying hens. So, before you decide to take home the chickens to start raising chickens, here is some information about the best laying hens to help you get started. You will also find benefits and other basic information about each chicken breed.

Here are some of the best laying hens to raise in your backyard, ranked in terms of their productivity as egg producers:

Top 5 Best Laying Hens

Leghorn Chicken Breed

The Leghorns are touted as the best laying hens around. Actually, this is the most sought after chicken breed for large scale commercial breeding operations. A single Leghorn laying hen can lay an estimated 300 eggs per chicken in a year. These chickens are excellent foragers and can get most of their food from the field, making them very beneficial since they allow you to save a lot as far as buying chicken feed is concerned.

Another advantage of the Leghorn chicken breed is that they are relatively small in size. Thus, they do not require very large pens. Their productivity remains the same whether they are free ranged or contained in small chicken coops. And here’s an interesting fact: Leghorns are rarely broody. Most of the laying hens will just lay their eggs and not ever sit on them, giving you free access to their eggs. If you want to hatch some of their eggs, however, you can put fertile ones in the incubator or with a substitute hen sitter.

Leghorns are hardy chickens and they love to move about. They will roost on trees if given the chance. They are also capable of considerable flight and tend to be noisy especially when they grow hungry. These are docile birds.

Australorp Chicken Breed

This is an Australian breed that developed from the Orpington chicken breed. These gorgeous chickens come in black feathers tinged with a green sheen. Australorps are early maturing chickens and can start laying eggs even when they’re 5 months old. This variety is ideal for novice chicken keepers since they are hardy and do not require a lot of care. Australorps can produce as many as 300 eggs per chicken annually.

Australorps are considered dual purpose chickens. They are good laying hens and their large sizes also make them ideal for meat chickens. A hen can weigh 6.5 pounds, can be broody, and are very good mothers. These chickens have proven themselves to be adaptive to different climates. Temperament is generally gentle and they also make good pets.

Light Sussex Chicken Breed

If you know your laying hens, you’d consider Sussex chickens the beauty queens of all the hens. They are just so beautiful that many rear them as ornamental pet chickens. They come with feathers in their legs that make their every stride eye catching.

But beauty is not all that they offer. Aside from their alluring appearance, these chickens are also very good laying hens. They can lay 260-280 eggs in a year, making them good chickens for laying eggs. They can scratch their food in the barn when free ranged which significantly decreases chicken feed costs. Sussex chickens are hardy and thus make a good all around farm chickens. They have very friendly dispositions.

Orpington Chicken Breed

The Orpington chicken breed originated in England. They are massive chickens that can reach 7 to 8 pounds when fully grown. Coming in buff, black and blue plumage, this gigantic chicken breed is surprisingly very gentle and as such make for excellent pet chickens.

The Orpington chicken breed is ideal for those who are going to start raising chickens, because they are not difficult to tend. Laying hens will sit on their eggs and have proven to be good mothers. They are naturally friendly and their fluffy feathers make them resistant to colder temperatures. They produce around 220-240 large brown eggs per chicken annually. Aside from their eggs they are also bred as meat chickens.

Rhode Island Red Chicken Breed

Rhode Island Red chickens are one of the earliest chicken breeds in America. They are also considered as the best laying hens in the dual purpose chickens. They are resistant to chicken diseases and can handle marginal diets. They can also tolerate poor housing conditions more than any other breeds. Laying hens can lay anywhere from 200-250 brown eggs per chicken annually.

Rhode Island chickens are also good choices for novice chicken keepers since they do not demand too much care. This type is bred for both their eggs and meat. A full grown hen can weigh about 6.5 pounds. Because of their large size, they are less flighty and are thus easier to manage. They have mild temperaments but watch out for one thing: Both hens and roosters tend to be aggressive toward other chickens.

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