As you probably know, chickens lay eggs in a variety of colors, including white, pink, green, blue, lavender, and yes, all shades of brown. If you’re curious which chickens lay brown eggs, then hang onto your hat, because we’ll look at chicken breeds that lay brown eggs – from the lightest brown to dark chocolate.
Brown eggs are becoming more popular in the commercial egg industry because they have a reputation for being fresher and better for you, and they stick out in the consumer’s mind as the ideal dream of farm fresh. Although the color of the egg has no bearing on its nutritional value (a hen’s diet dictates that), brown eggs are still really fun to find in your chicken coop in the morning and you might even find yourself preferring them over white eggs.
If you’re interested in raising chickens for eggs, many breeds of chickens lay brown eggs. You’re more likely to find a brown egg layer at your local feed store in the spring than chickens that lay any other color egg. In addition, many of the most popular chicken breeds lay brown eggs.
So, which chickens lay brown eggs?
Orpington chickens are one breed that lays a brown egg. On our farm, we have several Buff Orpington girls who give us large, brown eggs every day.
Although not a breed that’s accepted by the American Poultry Association, one of my favorite breeds of brown egg layers are Production Reds. We have several of these red birds, and they lay so regularly that I recommend them for any beginning chicken owner who wants to keep friendly birds for their eggs. Ours even lay throughout the winter, regardless of the amount of sunlight.
If you’re looking for a brown egg layer that’s somewhat unique, consider Marans chickens. Originating in the French town of Marans, these chickens are renowned for their dark eggs, which are said to be the best in the world. There are even chefs that refuse to cook with any egg other than a Marans egg!
These eggs are graded against a scale developed by the French, and this scale determines whether the shade of egg adheres to the breed’s standards. One interesting fact is that a Marans hen’s eggs are not graded until she’s laid at least dozen eggs. This is because when she first starts laying, the eggs might remain in her oviduct longer than normal, since her body is getting used to laying.
So, the first few brown eggs might be darker than she’s truly able to produce. After she’s laid a dozen eggs, they’re then graded, and her owner can decide whether to keep her to breed or use her for egg production only or for meat, since Marans are prized for the quality of their meat as well.
Marans come in various colors, although Black Cooper Marans are the most highly prized by French chefs. We currently have both Black Copper and Blue Copper Marans on our farm.
At your local feed store, you might come across Rhode Island Red chicks, which are one of the most popular breeds to raise in the United States. And they’re brown egg layers, too. The Rhode Island Reds we’ve owned have laid light brown eggs.
One fact you might not know about Rhode Island Reds is that by crossing a Rhode Island Red rooster with a Barred Plymouth Rock hen produces Black Sex Link chicks, while crossing one with a Delaware White, for example, will produce Red Sex Link chicks which also lay brown eggs.
If you’re looking for a chicken breed to raise both as gorgeous yard ornaments and for their eggs, then one possibility is Partridge Cochin Bantams. We have a few of these tiny birds, and they’re a lot of fun to watch in our backyard. With their feathered legs, they can be quite comical to watch as they come running for a treat.
Despite their size, these brown egg layers can keep up with the rest of our flock. They’re less than two pounds (while our other chickens are about triple or even quadruple that’s size!) but our Partridge Cochin Bantams never miss getting into the middle of a dispute over who gets first dibs at the dinner table. In fact, I’ve noticed these smart birds can get into the middle of a fray better than larger birds, grabbing a piece of the meal faster than my other chickens!
If you’re looking for a bit of an unusual brown egg layer, Turkens, also called Naked Necks, are a breed I love recommending to people. The ones I’ve owned have been very friendly birds, good foragers and intelligent. They have a startling appearance, but that’s easily made up for with their personalities, and they’re great egg layers.
While white eggs are the standard for the commercial egg industry, brown eggs are more usual on backyard farms, and you’re more likely to come across a brown egg layer in your local feed store during Chick Days.
If you want to learn more about brown egg laying chickens, you can visit me on my blog, FrugalChicken.
Which chickens lay brown eggs in your flock? Let us know your favorites in the comments below.