The reason most people start raising chickens is for eggs and meat. By raising your own chickens, you can keep track of what they are fed and closely monitor their health, ensuring the eggs they produce (and that you consume) will always be up to your own personal standards, which is more than we can say for a lot of grocery store eggs. Plus, there is no comparison in taste between a home-raised egg and a store-bought egg. The differences in color, quality, and taste are astounding.
Those of us who keep chickens to have a source of eggs often want to get the most bang for our cluck, so to speak. Because of this, it is wise to invest in breeds that are known to be good layers with high egg production numbers. Some chickens, like Bantams, will lay small eggs infrequently, but other breeds will lay much larger eggs and do so often. Depending on your family\'s consumption levels and egg demands, purchasing a breed that will put and keep breakfast on the table is a wise choice. If you have layers that produce more than needed for breakfast, you can always spread the egg wealth around to friends and neighbors, or even sell the excess. There is also use for those eggs in baking; the best cakes and brownies are made with yard eggs, after all!
Some great choices for the frequent laying of large eggs are:
1. Leghorns are chickens that originated in Italy and were brought to the United States in 1828. They are white in color (just like the cartoon version, Foghorn Leghorn) and are said to be intelligent in addition to being good layers, averaging about five eggs weekly or around 275 per year. They also winter well and handle confinement without issues.
2. Australorps (Australian version of the Orphington breed) are one of the shier breeds when it comes to temperament, but they are not shy about laying eggs. These chickens are known to lay around 250 eggs per year (as many as 5 per week). In the past, this breed was entered in egg-laying contests and it was seen where one laid 364 eggs in a 365 day time period. They also winter well and tolerate confinement without problems.
3. Rhode Island Whites are a breed of chicken that came to be in 1888 when White Wyandottes, Partridge Cochins, and Rose Comb White Leghorns were crossbred. The result was a completely white chicken that lays eggs all year to the tune of 250 annually, or about 5 per week. They are laid back, friendly birds that winter and confine well, but they never achieved the same popularity as their counterpart the Rhode Island Red and are thus not seen as frequently.
4. Rhode Island Reds, which are known for calm, friendly temperaments, rose to popularity after being developed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts around the year 1840. They used to come in a variety of colors, but over time the red became most popular and is what is commonly seen today. They are able to winter well and survive on less than ideal diets, but they do not always lay in extreme heat or cold. When they do lay, however, it is expected that you will see 200 eggs per year, or about 4 per week.
5. Plymouth Rocks are an American breed of chicken that are beautiful to look at and have calm, docile personalities. They come in several colorations such as barred, white, blue, black, buff, silver penciled, partridge, and Columbian. This breed also tolerates inclement weather as well as confinement and is known to lay all year \'round although production decreases in winter. They typically lay around 200 eggs per year or about 4 per week.
Any of the five chicken breeds referenced above will do an excellent job of feeding your family. Temperaments always vary slightly between breeds as well as individual examples of each breed, especially amongst roosters. Some breeds may be broodier than others, so be sure to really get to know the facts about a breed before bringing an animal home. Most importantly, however, is to enjoy all those eggs!