I have been receiving votes on the best laying hen for the past couple of weeks now, and it is time to announce the most popular layers! Thank you to all who participated!
I did this not only to help others learn a little bit more about some popular breeds, but for a selfish reason as well. We have raised only Rhode Island Reds and Black Australorps for the past 8 years and thought we'd change it up a little bit. These two breeds have worked well for us, but in the winter time, they pretty much stop laying. I know that partly it is because our barn is so big and drafty, and even with a light on, it doesn't seem to make much difference in their production.
I will say that the Rhode Island Reds do a little better in the winter than the Australorps, but I wanted to try another breed that has been known to lay throughout the winter regardless of coldness and without a whole lot of extra lighting.
So, are you ready for the top three picks?
1. Buff Orpingtons
2. Rhode Island Reds
3. Barred Plymouth Rocks and Americaunas
Many picked the Buff Orpington for it's laying ability throughout the winter. I always read that they do pretty well in the cold months, but I remember my father telling me that he didn't particularly like them because his didn't do well for him in the winter. So, I never tried them myself. Who knows, maybe he bought his at a less than reputable hatchery.
Murray McMurray Hatchery's description of the Buff Orpington is as follows:
"These are large, stately birds of quiet disposition. Easy to dress for the table they are white skinned, plump, and juicy, a beautiful eating bird. Their heavy, full plumage make them excellent winter layers, shelling out brown eggs right through cold weather. They also make excellent setters and mothers. These "Golden Beauties" have been one of our most popular varieties for years and years with their glistening plumage and pinkish white skin. Baby chicks are a soft light buff color."
Buff Orpingtons are a definite try out in the future!
"This is one of the most famous and all time popular breeds of truly American chickens. Developed in the early part of this century in the state of the same name, they have maintained their reputation as a dual purpose fowl through the years. Outstanding for production qualities, they have led the contests for brown egg layers time after time. No other heavy breed lays more or better eggs than the Rhode Island Reds."
Did you notice that the description did not mention the Rhode Island Reds' laying ability during the winter months like the Buff Orpingtons? Hmmmm. Maybe that is why they received a second place.
Barred Plymouth Rocks and Americaunas tied for third. I have heard that Barred Plymouth Rocks are good layers, but I have not heard how they do in the winter. Let's read what Murray has to say:
"The Barred Rock is one of the all time popular favorites in this country. Developed in New England in the early 1800's by crossing Dominiques and Black Javas, it has spread to every part of the U.S. and is an ideal American chicken. Prolific layers of brown eggs, the hens are not discouraged by cold weather. Their solid plumpness and yellow skin make a beautiful heavy roasting fowl. Our strain has the narrow, clean barring so desirable in appearance. Their bodies are long, broad, and deep with bred-in strength and vitality. These chickens are often called Plymouth Rocks, but this title correctly belongs to the entire breed, not just the Barred variety. Whatever you call them, you can't beat them for steady, reliable chickens."
They have been noted to do well in the winter. Another possibility!
Americaunas are famous for laying the colored eggs. I think that some voted for them for this reason alone, but lets find out a little more about their laying ability by Murray McMurray:
"The "Easter Egg Chicken", This unusual breed gets its name from the Indian tribe of Chile where they were first discovered. Araucanas lay beautiful colored eggs of blue-green shades from turquoise to deep olive. These natural Easter Eggs will amaze your friends and make a great "show and tell" project for school. Adults are of medium size with pea combs and our breeding stock is selected for their ability to produce colored eggs. They exhibit a wonderful combination of colors and color patterns and 10 or 20 of these birds make an absolutely beautiful laying flock that is extremely hardy and will be the talk of the town. Baby chicks come in all colors, plain and fancy, just like the adults."
They are probably not as prolific as the other egg layers mentioned above, but having colored eggs can put a little fun twist to the egg production!
I hope this gives you all a better idea of what to look for in your next purchase of chicks. I know it has helped me! Thanks again, to all who participated!
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