All adult female chickens lay eggs. However, some breeds are more productive than others. A good production hen begins laying at about 5 months and will lay an egg about every 27 to 28 hours, but it won't lay an egg after dark. Therefore, it'll skip laying about every third day. Egg-laying chickens are also judged on the size of eggs they produce as well as the quantity. A bantam breed, which is a very small chicken, may lay regularly, but the eggs are almost too small to be useful.
The leghorn may be a lightweight when it come to meat production, but it has such a high rate of lay that it is the most common breed for commercial egg production. This white hen tops out at about 4 ½ pounds and lays large white eggs. She has a flighty personality and can be easily agitated.
Rhode Island Reds
Rhode Island Reds are large, dual-purpose birds that can be raised for meat but also offer exceptional egg production. Rhode Island Red hens are hardy and resilient with a calm temperament, which is why they are one of the most popular backyard breeds.
The Golden Comet is a commercial hybrid breed developed from several breeds, including leghorns and Rhode Island Reds. The Golden Comet is a prolific layer of brown eggs. These are quiet birds that adapt well to confinement.
The Orpington is another large, dual-purpose breed that was bred for both egg and meat production. The brown egg layers come in a variety of colours including black, white, buff and blue. The Orpington has a docile temperament and can be handled easily.
The Plymouth Rock chicken was the popular chicken on the homestead in America in the 1800s. This large bird was principally raised for meat, but strains have been developed for good egg production as well. These colourful birds are usually docile but can become aggressive.
Although not a prolific layer, the Ameraucana hen is popular for its colourful blue-green eggs. It's descended from the South American Araucana, and may or may not have tufts on its cheeks and a beard on its chin. They come in a variety of colours and have been nicknamed "Easter-eggers."