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Chicken Breeds That Lay Brown Eggs
Did you know that all eggs start out white when they are inside a chicken? This is true even for chicken breeds that lay brown eggs. It is not until the eggs pass through the hen’s uterus, also known as the “egg painting station”, that they get their pigmentation and color.
Chickens that lay brown eggs are very popular among backyard chicken owners. The rich tones give the eggs personality. However, they don’t have any more nutritional value than white eggs, but still, many people prefer them.
The main difference between white and brown eggs is that producing brown eggs takes more food and nutrition for the hens to produce the pigment.
You will see white eggs in the generic commercial sections of the grocery store because it is less expensive to feed white egg layers. If you want to go with a brown egg layer, know that your feed bill will be slightly higher. Those girls will need quality feed and supplements to produce the richest and most vibrant brown eggs.
- 6 Best Egg Laying Chicken Breeds for Beginners
- Chicken Breeds That Lay White Eggs
- 8 Chicken Breeds with Feathers on Their Feet
Know Your Breed Before You Choose
When choosing your breed of brown egg-laying chickens, take a look at the personalities and traits of each breed. Other things you’ll need to consider are the climate where you live, whether or not the chickens will be around children and pets, if you’re chickens will live in a coop or be allowed to free range.
5 Breeds of Chickens That Lay Brown Eggs
While there are hundreds of brown egg layers to choose from, there are those that have stellar reputations for being abundant egg layers and easy keepers. The following 5 breeds are some of the top picks for backyard chicken raisers who desire beautiful brown eggs.
Australorps were developed by crossing Rhode Island Red with Orpington chickens. Australia developed them in the 1920s with superior egg-laying abilities in mind as well as quality meat. They became superstars in the poultry world when an Australorp hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days.
This large, friendly, great laying chicken has a great personality and a favorite of backyard chicken raisers. They make great pets and are good for children to raise for the fair.
The American Poultry Association only recognized the original color of the Australorp, black. Other countries recognize the following colors:
- Wheaten laced
This is a heavy bird with soft, dense feathering. Their feathers shine with a beetle-green iridescent sheen when the sun hits their feathers.
Australorps do well in confinement but also love to free-range. They are s active and will help with your bug population. Free-range is best for these girls as they have a tendency towards obesity if left in confinement.
While they may be shy at first. Australorp will quickly warm up to people when they discover who feeds treats. They are generally friendly and interact well with people and other chickens.
These egg-laying machines will produce around 5 medium-sized eggs a week. They need lots of quality food and snacks as they expend a lot of energy producing eggs.
Australorps make good nest sitters and mothers. This will vary from hen to hen, but you can rely on someone from your flock to brood and hatch eggs if that is on your agenda.
These large birds will mature and begin laying eggs between 6 and 8 months of age.
Is This the Breed for You?
You can’t go wrong with Australorp for laying a large number of brown eggs. These hens are easy-going and hardy and will fit into any flock. They may be on the shy side, but they warm up quickly. They do well in the cold because of their dense feathering but can be prone to heatstroke if not provided a cool shady area in the summer. They are great for kids as even the roosters are sweet.
2. Rhode Island Red
This classic American chicken is a dual-purpose breed developed and bred in Rhode Island, Massachusetts in the 1840s. They are one of the most popular breeds of backyard chickens in the US as they are good for meat, eggs, and showing. They are extremely hardy, even in the bitter cold, and are excellent egg producers. The females love people but some of the roosters can be mean.
There is only one color of Rhode Island Reds. You guessed it, red. They have long bodies with a deep, mahogany red hue. Colors of red many vary from rust-colored to slightly darker shades. Some are so dark they can be described as maroon, bordering on black.
You won’t find a more docile and calm chicken than the Rhode Island red. They do well in confinement or free-ranging. They will follow you around the yard looking for handouts and will not be above waiting on your porch for you, which can be problematic.
This breed makes excellent pets and is great with kids and other chickens. They are heavy birds, not great flyers, but they love to talk and squawk, especially after they lay an egg.
One of the reasons for the popularity of the Reds is that have been known to keep up their egg production, even in less-than-desirable conditions. They are very hearty birds and will produce up to 300 medium to large brown eggs a year. They will lay through the winter months.
Reds don’t have a consistent pattern of going broody. If they do go broody, they will hatch the eggs and be great mothers. They are slow to mature and will usually start laying eggs around 28 weeks. They have longevity for laying and may lay productively until they are 4 or 5 years old.
Is This the Breed for You?
If you are looking for hardiness and productivity, the Rhode Island Red is hard to beat for laying brown eggs. They are not the fanciest breed, but they are easy keepers whether confined or free-range. They are friendly, outgoing, and a dual-purpose breed. They do love to talk and are considered quite noisy. They are ideal for kids and mixing with other breeds of chickens.
3. Golden Comet
Golden Comets are a very common hybrid chicken breed. The breed was created by combining a White Rock and New Hampshire. They are a sex-linked breed which means you can tell the sex of the chick by its color upon hatching. They are a smaller breed and known for their egg production only.
The downside to this breed is that you can’t use a rooster to produce Golden Comet chicks. You have to have a White Rock hen and a New Hampshire rooster to create a Golden Comet. However, for those that don’t want a rooster or to hatch eggs, these friendly and hardy birds are great for backyard chicken raisers. They are good in any climate.
While the color does not vary, the name of these chickens certainly does. They are known by several different names:
- Cinnamon Queen
- Golden Buff
- Gold Sex Link
- Red Star
Their feathers come in various shades of white and light brown with red tints. The beak is yellow tinged with brown. They have clean, yellow legs. Their eyes are usually a yellow-orange. The hens are fairly tiny in that they weigh in around 4 pounds.
Golden Comets will not make a fuss when being handled. They have very laid-back personalities. They are curious, friendly, and great if you have kids or other breeds of chickens. They will walk right up to you and let you pick them up.
This breed is great for first-time chicken raisers because they are so easy to handle. They are not particularly noisy birds so they are safe to raise in a neighborhood.
This smaller breed of standard-sized hens may begin laying at 16 weeks. Her brown eggs may be small at first, but they will increase to large or extra-large sized eggs as she matures. The brown color will vary slightly from hen to hen.
They begin to significantly slow down egg production after age three. Since you can’t hatch more of this breed, you will need to replenish your flock every 3 years.
Is This the Breed for You?
If you are a first-time chicken raiser, you might want to consider a Golden Comet for providing you with brown eggs. These laid-back chickens are hardy, easy to handle, and are a no-fuss kind of chicken. They will lay an abundance of eggs, up to 300 a year, and will be a pleasant addition to your yard. They are not fancy chickens and decline in production after age 3, but they are great if you don’t want to have a rooster in your flock.
Brahma are not named after the bulls but they are one of the largest breeds of chickens. They are referred to as the “King of All Poultry”. They are beautiful birds with a gentle personality which makes them suitable for the family flock. They lay tons of eggs, even through the winter, and are a hardy dual-purpose bird. They are very adaptable to cold climates because of their dense feathering.
Their origins are a cross between a Malay and Cochin. They were originally brought to the US by sailors who came from Shanghai in the 1850s and were first named “Shanghai”. Up until the 1930s, they were one of the most popular table birds but slowly declined in popularity as new breeds were formed.
The main colors of Brahma are Light, Dark, and Buff. These colors are registered with the American Poultry Association. Their feathers are dense and tight with a thick layer of down. They are very heavy birds and can weigh 8 to 10 pounds. They do come in a bantam variety.
If you want to see the difference between the three colors, check out this YouTube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qK65zRZlEkE&feature=youtu.be
There is a contrasting pattern to the feathers of each color. What is consistent is that they have feathered feet. Their long fluffy feet feathers mean these birds need to be kept in dry and clean environments to keep their feet from getting messy.
Brahmas can be intimidating because of their size, especially for children, but they are gentle and non-aggressive. They are easy to handle and don’t fly well because of their large size. Even the roosters are polite.
These birds tolerate confinement well and do well as free-range birds. They are great foragers but prefer areas where the soil is dry. Wet and muddy areas may cause feet problems because of the feathered feet.
This breed is high on the pecking order because of its size. They are not bullies and tend to get along well with other breeds. They are one of the quieter breeds of chickens.
Your Brahma hen will lay between 3 to 4 medium to large brown eggs a week or around 150 eggs a year. They peak laying months are between October and May so they are winter layers. They are a good addition to your flock if you have chickens that don’t lay in the winter months.
Since they are so large, Brahmas mature slowly. They make take 6 or 7 months to mature and begin laying. They make take 2 years to fully mature.
Brahmas don’t brood easily but if another hen goes broody, they may copy her. They sometimes break their eggs because they are big and clumsy. Your hen should be able to hatch and raise her babies.
Is This the Breed for You?
If you like big, docile, chickens, you will love the Brahma. Their kind and gentle nature mixed with their adorable fluffy feat make these birds a colorful addition to your backyard flock. They do very well in cold weather and even prefer laying their large brown eggs during the winter. They do well free-range or in confinement but they need to be kept away from wet and muddy areas because of their heavily feathered feet.
5. Plymouth Rock
Another breed born and bred in America is the Plymouth Rock. As the name implies, they were bred in Massachusetts after the Civil War and named after the state’s landmark. They are one of the oldest and most popular dual-purpose breeds for backyard chicken enthusiasts in the US.
Plymouth Rock is best known for its black and white bar feather pattern. They have striking red combs, wattles, and earlobes. They do come in many color variations, including the following:
- Silver Pencilled
Rocks are sturdy birds with a triangular-shaped body, a full breast, and a long, broad back. They have no feathers on their legs.
Plymouth Rocks are mellow birds. Even the roosters are good guys. They get along with kids, other chickens, and even other pets. They are the epitome of sweet, calm, and docile.
This breed does well in captivity, but their preference is to free-range. They take an interest in people and will follow them around looking for treats. They are great for families with children.
These chickens come from a good gene pool. They stay healthy, have very few problems, and live 10 to 12 years. They even like to cuddle and may become lap chickens.
Rocks are very respectable egg layers. They will average around 4 large brown eggs a week or 200 eggs a year and lay through the winter months. These laid-back ladies lay very well for the first 3 years and then slow down in productivity around year 4. They have been known for their laying longevity. There have been reports of them laying until their 10th year.
These birds are quick to mature and will lay between 8 and 12 weeks of age. They are good mothers and tend to brood easily. If you want to hatch chicks, this is a great breed to raise.
Is This the Breed for You?
If you are looking for an attractive, friendly, and interactive chicken that lays a decent amount of eggs, the Plymouth Rock is a great choice. They are easy keepers as they don’t have any health issues and are not good flyers so they are easy to confine to a coop. They are a quiet and non-demanding bird that are ideal for first-time chicken raisers.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
What determines the egg color from different breeds of Egg Laying Hens?
The egg color relates to an individual chicken’s genetic makeup. This explains why there are brown, white, pink, or even blue eggs from different individual breeds of chickens. Contrary to what many people might believe, the chickens diet and environment do not play a major role in determining the color of the egg.
Does the coloring have any effect on the nutritional value of chicken eggs?
As I covered earlier in this article, no. The color of an egg does not have any impact on the taste or nutritional value of the egg. What affects the taste of an egg is determined by what your hens eat as well as the freshness of the egg. Make sure you feed your layers on a well-balanced diet with plenty of calcium if you want good quality eggs that taste amazing.
If you’re looking to add a few hen’s to your flock that are great at laying brown colored eggs, there’s no doubt that you’ll do well with any one of the breeds listed above. All of them are very easy to raise, are friendly and are prolific brown egg layers.
If you think you’re ready to get started, you can order baby chicks directly from our partner, Cackle Hatchery. They offer over 200 different breeds of chickens, turkeys, ducks and more. You can check them out right here.