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
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
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.
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.
Ameraucana, blue-green egg layer
Experts believe that all chicken eggs were once brown. It is thought that white eggs were created by cross-breeding chickens until the eggs became lighter and lighter in color. However, eggs do indeed come in a variety of colors depending on the breed of chicken. It’s easy to tell what color eggs a specific hen will lay by the color of her earlobes. White earlobes, white egg layer, reddish earlobes, brown eggs, simple as that! The Araucana/Ameraucana, also called the Easter Egger, lays a blue-green egg. The earlobes of the Araucana/Ameraucana are a grayish blue, same as their legs and feet. No matter what color the egg, the flavor is identical.
These beautiful eggs are all from my hens, as you can see the Ameraucanas produce the largest eggs. They are also without a doubt my most consistent layers. However, they are my least friendly birds, aloof is how they are best described.
Rhode Island Red, brown egg layer
White shelf eggs at the grocery store come from Leghorns, they are the egg machines producing a whopping 280 eggs per year.
Today, the Single Comb White Leghorn is the most popular breed and is the best known of all the white egg breeds. Leghorn chickens have excellent disease resistance, lay at the highest rate and have the best feed to laying ratio of all chicken breeds. Leghorn pullets generally weigh about 4 lbs. at maturity, start laying at 4½ to 5 months, and will continue 10 to 12 weeks longer than most good layers. However, I’ve found them intolerant to the extreme heat here in Phoenix and have eliminated them from my flock.