The Best Chicken Breeds for Your Backyard

There are many chicken breeds throughout the world, including several dozen domestic chicken breeds from hybrids to heritage lines. Different types of chickens are raised for different purposes, from show animals to meat birds to egg laying chicken breeds. There are many chicken varieties, and all lay eggs, but only a handful are in the best egg-laying chicken breeds category.

All female chickens will lay edible eggs with identical nutritional content, but some bird varieties have been bred especially for their egg-laying capabilities and thus are superior chickens for that purpose. For example, Leghorn hens are excellent for consistent, nearly daily laying and produce about 300 eggs per year. Many modern laying breeds contain some Leghorn in them. Some of the best egg laying chicken breeds include Leghorn, Rhode Island Reds, Black Star, Red Star, Light Sussex, Plymouth Rock, Cuckoo Maran, Barred Rock.

If you’re looking for a good setting hen, one that will “go broody,” that is, brood a clutch of eggs and care for the chicks that hatch, you’ll do well to consider the Cuckoo Maran, Rhode Island Red (but not sex-linked or hybrid varieties), Light Sussex or Plymouth Rock.

Heritage breeds are good setting hens in general, modern breeds intended for egg protection usually are not as they have had certain traits and characteristics bred out of them. A mixed flock is usually the best way to accomplish your goals. You might have Leghorn for egg production, some of which are for eating and some which are saved for hatching. You can then use broody hens, who are ready to set on their own clutch of eggs, to hatch other hens’ eggs simply by adding them to the brood hens’ nests. Male offspring can be used for meat and for sale, while females can be used for further egg production or if there is no more room, for sale as young pullets. With a renewed interest in backyard chicken flocks, there is a strong market for hens and offering your excess for sale can produce a side income.

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