Choosing a Good Laying Hen

Breed choices for high yield and excellent egg quality… The Pearl -White Leghorn / Hen: 4 pounds.

Best egg layer and the feed to egg conversion ratio is excellent, holding down the cost of egg production. These birds start laying earlier than most at 41/2 – 5 months, and on the average lay 10 -12 weeks longer than most good laying hens. If your looking for the breed who’ll  give you the most eggs of superior quality in the smallest amount of space, consider the Pearl Leghorn.  They are a white egg layer of top grade eggs with good size.
The Pearl Leghorns can be purchased at Murray McMurray Hatchery, but they require an order of at least fifteen.
Although these birds aren’t usually found in your local feed store, you can ask a feed store to order them for you when THEY buy chicks, they’re often willing to oblige.

Rhode Island Red / Hen: 6 lbs

Martha & Michelle 2010

R.I. chicks are readily available in almost all feed stores. They are excellent layers of sizable brown eggs. They do quite well in confinement, but can be a bit bossy.  These dual purpose heavy birds are a dark mahogany color and have earned their reputation as a favorite among chicken keepers for years.

No other heavy breed lays more or better eggs than the Rhode Island Red.

The Dominique / Hen: 5 1/2 pounds

Mamma, Dominique

This is my favorite breed on the farm. They are hardy in extreme heat, confine well, are extremely docile, friendly, and good brown egg layers. You can expect the Dominique to lay every other day, and here in Arizona mine lay most all winter.

My Dominique hens  are non aggressive to other members in the flock, and I’ve introduced new birds with only minor confrontations.

This particular hen is now three years old and still laying quality eggs every other day.

And Furthermore…

You can also buy pullets (hens at their point of lay) if you want to skip raising chicks altogether. Check your local Craigslist under Farm & Garden, you may find just the breeds you’re looking for right in your own neighborhood. Expect to pay $15 to $20 each. Beware of buying chicks though… they’re usually not sexed and you might end up with rooster, finding yourself in violation of local city codes.

Don’t know what time of year to start your flock? Watch your local feed stores, when they start carrying chicks, it’s time.

Promoting the Dominique

TBN’ Ranch’s Dominique Hen, ‘Mamma Too”

The Dominique, also known as Dominicker,  originated  in the United States. They are considered America’s oldest breed of chicken, probably descending from chickens brought to New England from southern England during the Colonial Era.  However, most modern Dominiques may be traced to stock developed by A. Q. Carter after 1900.

By the 19th century, they were widely popular and were raised in many parts of the country. The Dominique is a dual purpose breed, being valued for meat and their brown eggs. They weigh 5 to 7 pounds at maturity, are considered cold hardy, good mothers, and adapt well to confinement or free range. They are early to mature, and although sometimes considered flighty, I personally find then extremely calm. The birds’ plumage pattern, also known as “hawk coloring”, offers some protection against some aerial predators.

Egg Production

Although categorized as a dual-purpose breed, these birds are first and foremost egg producers with hens averaging 230-275  medium-sized brown eggs.

Sexing Dominique Chicks

Sexing the Dominique is really pretty simple, with about a 95% accuracy.  The cockerels have yellow shanks and toes, the pullets have a grayish black coloration on the front of their shanks and also on the top of their toes.  The color differences become less apparent as the chicks mature.

Popularity Concerns

Since the 1920’s the Dominique’s popularity was on a steady decline, by 1970 only four known flocks remained.  Dedicated breeders participated in a breed rescue and their numbers showed a rise in numbers from 1983 to 2006.  By 2007, once again a decline was observed.  Presently,the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) has put the Dominique on the ‘Watch’ list.

Of all the breeds of chickens I’ve kept here on the farm, the Dominique is by far my favorite.  They are very sweet, hardy, and most important in these parts, tolerant to our hot summer temperatures that climb above 110.

I hope other chicken keepers will give them a second look next time they buy chicks. Let’s get them off that watch list shall we?

TBN Ranch’s young Dominique rooster

Who is the ALBC?

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy ensures the future of agriculture through the genetic conservation and promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry.

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect over 180 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction. Included are asses, cattle, goats, horses, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys.

Founded in 1977, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is the pioneer organization in the U.S. working to conserve historic breeds and genetic diversity in livestock. We hope you’ll browse through these pages and learn more about the diverse and valuable agricultural heritage that is ours to enjoy and to steward.