Which Breed of Chicken Should I Choose for Egg Laying?
When people decide to raise chickens, a common question is which breed will be the best to choose for laying eggs. This decision is based upon innumerable factors and this post could not possibly cover them all, but we will go over several of them.
First, of course, is overall egg production numbers. Different breeds of chicken produce eggs in varying numbers and with varying consistency. Before you select a breed, look into this and find out not only how often the hens will lay eggs but for what duration. At what age will they start and stop laying eggs? How consistently do they lay eggs year round? When looking for consistency and overall production, commonly recommended breeds include the leghorn variety or a high production 'hybrid' bird. (A hybrid chicken is a mixture of species bred to get particular results.)
Also consider chicken management and upkeep. By 'management' I refer to the amount of attention, care, time and other particulars the hens may need. Will I have to build or buy anything specific? How often will I need to clean their coop? By 'upkeep' I refer to financial costs of the chickens. How much will it cost to buy food? Will it be difficult or costly to keep them healthy? These two factors are very critical when deciding the best chicken breed for you.
Another factor that may be important is the durability and/or self-reliance of the chickens. This is especially important for people who live in climates that may not be ideal, who are less experienced caring for hens, or who are not as financially well off. How well with the hens hold up during the winter season, inclement weather or changes in temperature? How much of the chicken's diet will it be able to get on it's own? How resistant is the hen to disease? This is especially important because a chicken under the stress of poor health or conditions will not be as productive.
Owning docile-enough chickens is important
The chickens' temperament can also be very important. Especially if you have kids or are inexperienced with chickens, look into this factor. It is important that the chickens are docile enough for your particular needs and interests. Many chicken breeds are recommended for being docile and less 'flighty'.
The nutritional value of the eggs is also important to a lot of people. This is not usually as big a deal as many people believe, as there is not usually a huge difference in the healthiness of home-produced eggs. Some breeds may be slightly better or worse than others, but there are not often major differences. However, there is always a major nutritional benefit to getting your own eggs as opposed to buying them at a store!
The quality of the meat is an underrated factor. After your chickens have stopped consistently producing eggs, or at any other time, you may decide to use the birds for meat. Look up quantity and quality, and if you can, try to get a bird that will better produce meat. However, this is not a critical factor when looking for egg-laying birds. (Obviously.)
The looks of the birds and eggs. This is a surprisingly important consideration to many people. Many productive birds are very peculiar looking, which many people don't like. Many people do like usually colored eggs, however, and people with a wide variety of chicken species will often try for a 'colorful egg basket'. Many chicken species can be found that will produce bright and colorful eggs. However, most will produce eggs in shades of brown, cream or white.