Top 10 Best Backyard Chicken Breeds for Egg-laying Success

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Ya’ll, chickens are the best. I grew up on a farm, and have been around many different animals in my life, and chickens have been the one constant. Starting a backyard (or farm!) chicken venture is an exciting step towards sustainable living and sourcing your own healthy fresh eggs. Though there are many different breeds to choose from, the right laying chickens give you the best start on a successful homesteading journey.

Explore top backyard chicken breeds for homesteaders. Our guide details practical choices for egg-laying efficiency and dependable companionship

In this guide, we’ll explore the top 10 chicken breeds, (+ a few bonus breeds) delve into their history, temperament, egg characteristics, and preferences for living conditions.

Make sure to also check out How To Keep Backyard Chickens for what to do after you get them!


These are listed in no particular order, they’re all great breeds of chickens. Based on the breeds temperament, hardiness, and egg color, choose which best align with your homesteading goals! They will all work wonderful for a first time owner.

1. Leghorns

History and Origin: Leghorns, known as a dual-purpose breed for their prolific egg-laying capabilities and tender meat, originated in Italy. Brought to the United States in the early 1800s, they quickly became popular for their efficiency in producing white-shelled eggs and are a good choice for most flocks.

Temperament: Leghorns are energetic and independent birds. They have a reputation for being alert and active, making them excellent foragers.

Egg Characteristics: The white leghorn breed are good layers, averaging 280-320 white eggs per year.

Hardiness: Leghorns are highly heat-tolerant, but they may need extra care in cold climates.

Fun Fact: Leghorns are one of the larger breeds and was the iconic breed featured in the popular cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn.

Friendliness: While Leghorns are known for their independent nature, they can be friendly towards humans and other chicken breeds if socialized properly. Handling chicks from a young age is crucial for most breeds to interact with humans well.


2. Sussex

History: Sussex chickens originated in England and have been cherished for their friendly demeanor and adaptability. A great breed of chicken and perfect to have with young children. And I’ve got to say, I think they’re one of the prettiest breeds.

Temperament: Sussex chickens are friendly birds known for their docile nature, making them an excellent choice for backyard flocks. Our current Sussex is a very curious gal and follows us around whenever we’re in the yard.

Egg Characteristics: These birds lay brown eggs, and on average, produce around 250-275 eggs per year.

Hardiness: Sussex chickens are hardy in both heat and cold, making them a versatile choice for various climates.

Fun Fact: The Sussex breed comes in various color varieties, including white, red, and speckled.

Friendliness: Sussex chickens are known for being sociable, both with humans and other chicken breeds.


3. Plymouth Rock

History: Plymouth Rock, also known as Barred Rock, originated in the United States. They are one of the oldest and most popular backyard chicken breeds. Again, they’re little lookers and a joy to have as part of any flock.

Temperament: Plymouth Rocks are known for their calm and gentle temperament, making them great for families and beginners.

Egg Characteristics: These chickens lay brown eggs and produce around 200-280 eggs per year.

Hardiness: Plymouth Rocks are robust and can withstand various weather conditions.

Fun Fact: Plymouth Rocks played a role in the development of the popular Rhode Island Red breed.

Friendliness: Plymouth Rocks are known for being friendly and easygoing, getting along well with both people and other chicken breeds.


Speaking of the Rhode Island Reds . . .

4. Rhode Island Red

History: Originating in—you guessed it—Rhode Island, these chickens became a sensation due to their exceptional egg-laying abilities.

Temperament: Rhode Island Reds are known for their friendly and easygoing nature. They’re great foragers and adapt well to different environments.

Egg Characteristics: Producing brown eggs, Rhode Island Reds boast an impressive yearly average of 200-300 eggs.

Hardiness: These birds are remarkably hardy, with resilience in both hot summers and chilly winters.

Fun Fact: The Rhode Island Red is the state bird of Rhode Island, chosen for its economic contribution to the poultry industry.

Friendliness: With their affable demeanor, Rhode Island Reds get along well with humans and other chicken breeds, making them a fantastic addition to any flock.


5. Wyandotte

History: The Wyandotte breed originated in the United States and gained popularity for its distinctive laced plumage.

Temperament: Known for their calm and docile nature, Wyandottes are a delight to have in the backyard. They are often considered excellent mothers.

Egg Characteristics: Laying brown eggs, Wyandottes average around 200-240 eggs per year.

Hardiness: Wyandottes are cold-hardy but may need extra care in extreme heat.

Fun Fact: The unique laced pattern on Wyandottes’ feathers gives them a stunning and distinct appearance.

Friendliness: These birds are generally friendly and sociable, making them easy to integrate into a mixed flock.


6. Orpington

History: Developed in England, Orpingtons are known for their fluffy appearance and gentle temperament.

Temperament: Buff Orpington birds are incredibly docile and friendly, making them a favorite among families and backyard chicken enthusiasts. They’re also great family pets!

Egg Characteristics: Producing brown eggs, Orpingtons lay around 180-200 eggs annually.

Hardiness: These birds are cold-hardy, but their dense feathers may require attention in hot weather.

Fun Fact: Orpingtons come in various colors, including black, blue, and buff.

Friendliness: Orpingtons are known for their friendly and gentle nature, making them excellent companions for both humans and other chicken breeds.


7. Australorp

History: Hailing from Australia, Australorps hold the world record for the most eggs laid in a year. They are a result of selective breeding from Orpingtons.

Temperament: Australorps are known for their friendly and docile nature. They are calm and enjoy interaction with their human caretakers.

Egg Characteristics: Laying brown eggs, Australorps set an impressive record with an average of 250-300 eggs annually.

Hardiness: These birds are adaptable to various climates, displaying resilience in both heat and cold.

Fun Fact: Australorps set a world record in 1928 when a hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days, showcasing their remarkable egg-laying prowess.

Friendliness: Australorps are friendly and sociable, making them excellent additions to flocks and enjoyable companions for homesteaders.


8. Barnevelder

History: Originating in the Netherlands, Barnevelders are known for their beautiful double-laced plumage.

Temperament: Barnevelders are calm and friendly, making them an ideal choice for families and beginners. They are known for their easygoing nature.

Egg Characteristics: Laying brown eggs, Barnevelders produce approximately 180-200 eggs per year.

Hardiness: These birds are hardy and can adapt well to various weather conditions.

Fun Fact: Barnevelders are named after the Dutch town of Barneveld, renowned for its poultry shows.

Friendliness: Barnevelders are known for their gentle disposition, getting along well with both humans and other chicken breeds.


9. Hamburg

History: Hamburgs originated in Germany and have been popular for their distinctive spangled plumage and elegant appearance.

Temperament: Known for their active and alert nature, Hamburgs are excellent foragers and enjoy free-ranging.

Egg Characteristics: Producing white eggs, Hamburgs lay around 200-250 eggs per year on average.

Hardiness: Hamburgs are hardy in both heat and cold, making them versatile for different climates.

Fun Fact: Hamburgs come in various color varieties, including Silver Spangled and Golden Penciled.

Friendliness: While Hamburgs are active and independent, they can be friendly towards humans and other chicken breeds, especially with proper socialization.


10. Marans

History: Originating in France, Marans are known for their dark chocolate-brown eggs and friendly demeanor.

Temperament: Marans chickens are calm and friendly, making them an excellent choice for backyard flocks.

Egg Characteristics: Laying dark brown eggs, Marans produce around 150-200 eggs per year.

Hardiness: Marans are hardy in both heat and cold, with a robust constitution.

Fun Fact: The deep color of Marans eggs is attributed to a pigment called oocyanin.

Friendliness: Marans are known for their calm and friendly nature, getting along well with both humans and other chicken breeds.


Bonus Birds!

These ladies deserve to be mentioned too as options!

11. Faverolles

History: Hailing from France, Faverolles are known for their charming appearance with a beard, muff, and feathered feet.

Temperament: Faverolles fall into the large breeds category and are known for their gentle and docile nature, making them great for families and backyard enthusiasts.

Egg Characteristics: Laying light brown eggs, Faverolles produce around 160-180 eggs per year.

Hardiness: These birds are hardy in both heat and cold, with their dense feathers providing insulation.

Fun Fact: Faverolles were originally developed in the 1860s as a dual purpose breed for both meat and eggs. Meaning if you want, you can hatch out a clutch each year, keep the hens for further egg production and use the roosters for meat birds.

Friendliness: Faverolles are friendly and easygoing, making them a delightful addition to a mixed flock.


12. Welsummer

History: Welsummers hail from the Netherlands and are known for their stunning appearance and richly colored eggs. They’re medium to large birds averaging around 6-7 pounds.

Temperament: Welsummers are known for their calm and friendly nature, making them great for families and small farms.

Egg Characteristics: Laying dark brown eggs with speckles, Welsummers produce around 160-200 eggs per year.

Hardiness: These birds are hardy in both heat and cold weather, meaning they adapt well to various climates.

Fun Fact: Welsummers’ eggs are often said to resemble terracotta, which adds an aesthetic appeal to the egg basket.

Friendliness: Welsummers are generally friendly and sociable, making them a great choice for both novice and experienced chicken keepers.


Other honorable mentions: Easter Eggers Barred Plymouth rocks Jersey giants Isa brown Japanese Bantams (Bantam version birds are a small breed chicken, no larger than 2 pounds!) Barnevelder chickens ​Sex links Black copper marans

In the end

Selecting the right chicken breed for your backyard venture involves considering various factors, from egg production to temperament and hardiness. Each of the top 10 breeds mentioned here brings its unique qualities to the table. Whether you prioritize an excellent egg layer, a hardy breed, a friendly disposition, or adaptability to different climates, there are poultry breeds for every homesteader. So, embark on your backyard chicken journey with confidence, armed with the knowledge of these fantastic breeds that can enrich your homesteading experience.

Welcome to the wonderful world of chickens! I’m glad you’re here! Want to know more about picking a chicken coop? Check this out!

Want to learn even more? Check out my podcast episode all about chickens!

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