Choosing a Good Laying Hen

Breed Choices for High Yield and Excellent Egg Quality

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 Leghorn.  They are a white egg layer of top grade eggs with good size.
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.

More Options…

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 $25 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.

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Best and Worst Heat Tolerant Chickens

Most chicken keepers are more concerned about cold tolerant breeds. But if you live in the Sonoran desert, the scorching heat is by far a bigger problem.  Before you order your Spring chicks keep in mind these three breeds for heat hardiness. They’ve proved to me over and over to be the real survivors of the flock.

Best

  • Ameraucana
  • Dominique  (Best of heavy breeds)
  • Polish
  • Silkie
  • Bantams in General

Heavy birds are harder to keep in hot weather, especially if they are confined. They may survive, but heat stress does effect egg production. However, it’s not always just heavy breeds I find intolerant. These are the breeds I’ve had the least success with in extreme temperatures of 110 – 117.

Worst

  • Orpington
  • Leghorn
  • Most Heavy Breeds in General
  • Rhode Island Reds

I’ve eliminated the Rhode Islands from my flock not because they don’t survive the heat… they absolutely do. However, they become extremely agitated in brutal heat and all the other members of the flock pay the price. This breed may lay all summer without interruption, but they can sure disrupt the harmony of a flock when they are uncomfortable in high temperatures.

In my opinion, the real trooper in the worst weather conditions is the Ameraucana, and they’re good layers too! But don’t pick this breed if your looking for a pal, this is the loser breed as far as I’m concerned. The perfect word describing this breed is ALOOF.

The Ameraucana, or often called the Easter Egger lays blue/green eggs, and you can expect approximately four medium-large eggs per week.

Learn more about the Ameraucana.

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Pretty Mamma Hen

Mamma is my prettiest Dominique hen. As you can see she eats anything and everything. She is the boss hen and won’t hesitate for a minute to make that point. She is well respected by the other members of the flock, but never oversteps her authority. To me, she is sweet as apple pie. 

Learn more about the Dominique

Mamma Dominique
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