Meet the Top 15 Best Brown Egg Layers

Brown Egg Layers: A Backyard Favorite

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Brown egg laying hens consistently appear on best egg layer lists and can be the backbone of a productive backyard flock, many laying more than 200 eggs per year.  But with so much focus lately on colored eggs, it’s easy to overlook these backyard workhorses, and that would be a mistake.

Many people that buy eggs from the grocery store have never seen a brown egg before. Why? White eggs became more popular in our more industrialized farm society because white egg laying chickens are typically smaller and eat less feed. This makes them more cost-efficient in a large-scale setting.

Brown eggs became thought of as farm eggs. You know, the kind you get at Grandpa and Grandma’s farm. But they are so much more than that!

Did you know an egg collecting basket from brown egg layers can provide a hued rainbow of its own? Brown egg layers lay eggs that can range from light tan, almost bordering on pink, to a deep mahogany and everything in between.

From year to year, the eggs in your basket may also change colors even if you still have the same hens. Why? As brown egg layers get older, they tend to lay lighter colored eggs.

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So how do brown eggs get their color?

Egg color is dictated by a chicken’s genetic makeup, just like our eye and hair color. Yes, we humans can change those things later on, but in the beginning, we get what we are given.

The process of how an egg gets its color is fascinating. An egg starts out white as its shell is being formed. If an egg is going to be blue, that color is added early on and it sinks through the entire shell. So, if you open a blue egg, you’ll see the shell is blue on the inside too. Brown coloring is added later in the process, during the cuticle formation and does not sink through the entire shell. So, if you open a brown egg, you’ll see the inside of the shell is white. In the case of dark brown egg layers like Marans, the layer of brown is thick. In fact, you can actually scratch off the brown layer. That’s why you see Marans eggs with scratches in the brown. Nothing’s wrong with them. The outer brown layer has just become marred.

Does all this coloring affect the taste of the eggs? The short answer is no. Egg color does not affect taste. The taste of an egg is determined by what a chicken eats and the freshness of the egg itself. A good way to make sure your egg-laying hens get the proper nutrition is to feed them a quality layer feed. This should make up 90 percent of their total diet. Nutritious treats should make up no more than 10 percent of a chicken’s diet. Free ranging is always encouraged so chickens can get some fresh air and forage for natural foods. And, don’t forget that egg-laying hens should be given calcium so they can produce strong eggshells. Calcium can be purchased from reputable feed companies as crushed oyster shell or you can give your chickens their dried, crushed eggshells.

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Top 15 Best Brown Egg Layers

Australorp

This breed holds the record for egg-laying capacity. A hen once laid 364 eggs in 365 days! Black Australorps have a beautiful green sheen to their feathers that shine in the sun. This is considered a utility bird that matures early and can be used for both meat and eggs.

Class: English

Origin: Australia

Comb Type: Single

Color: Black

Egg Size: Large

Production: 5+ Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold and Heat Hardy

Temperament: Gentle, Docile

Photo Credit: Pam Freeman

Barnevelder

This is a beautiful bird that catches your eye with understated elegance as an all-black neck leads to a back with a double laced partridge pattern. Barnevelders were developed in Barneveld, Holland and are still popular there today. Because Northern European winters are long and damp, this breed does well in cold and damp areas.

Class: Continental

Origin: Holland

Comb Type: Single

Color: Double Laced Partridge Pattern

Egg Size: Large

Production: 3 to 4 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold and Damp Hardy

Disposition: Calm, Gentle, Friendly

Photo Credit: Pam Freeman

Brahma

Considered the “King of All Poultry,” the Brahma is one of the largest chicken breeds. Brahmas are beautiful chickens with feathered feet and a gentle personality that fits the needs of a family flock. Brahmas are known for their winter laying abilities keeping backyard egg cartons full during the lean months.

Class: Asiatic

Origin: United States

Comb Type: Pea

Popular Colors: Light, Dark, Buff

Egg Size: Medium

Production: 3 to 4 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold and Heat Hardy

Disposition: Gentle, Friendly

Buckeye

This mahogany-colored chicken was developed in Ohio and named for the state tree because its feather color is comparable to the brown in a buckeye nut. The Buckeye is the only breed developed solely by a woman. And this breed holds the distinction of being the only pea-combed breed developed in the United States. Buckeyes are winter hardy, good layers and make good backyard pets with their friendly personalities.

Class: American

Origin: United States

Comb Type: Pea

Color: Mahogany Red

Egg Size: Medium

Production: 3 to 4 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Very Cold Hardy

Disposition: Friendly, Sociable

Photo Credit: Pam Freeman

Delaware

Named for the state where it was developed, the Delaware was once a staple of broiler industry. This is a friendly, dual-purpose bird that can be used for eggs or meat. Interestingly, female Delaware chickens may be mated with male New Hampshire or Rhode Island Reds and the resulting chicks are able to be sexed according to their color.

Class: American

Origin: United States

Comb Type: Single

Color: White with Incomplete Black Barring

Egg Size: Large

Production: 4 to 5 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold and Heat Hardy

Disposition: Calm

Photo Credit: Rosanna Caswell

Dominique

This is thought to be the oldest American breed, one of the first breed of chickens established in America. Dominiques were replaced in popularity by the Barred Rock. The two breeds look similar with a barred color pattern that’s referred to as hawk-coloring, meaning it confuses aerial predators. Dominiques nearly became extinct, but are regaining in numbers.

Class: American

Origin: United States

Comb Type: Rose

Color: Black and White Barred

Egg Size: Medium

Production: 3 to 4 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold and Heat Hardy

Disposition: Calm, Gentle, Good Forager

Jersey Giant

As its name implies, make sure you have room to house your Jersey Giants, known to be one of the largest chicken breeds. Also as the name implies, this breed was developed in New Jersey. This is a slowly-maturing bird with beautiful black feathers that become iridescent in the sun.

Class: American

Origin: United States

Comb Type: Single

Colors: Black, White

Egg Size: Large

Production: 3 to 4 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold Hardy

Disposition: Calm, Gentle

Marans

Marans are best known for their beautiful, dark brown eggs — the darkest brown of any chicken egg. Those that want a colorful egg basket usually seek out this breed. The Marans breed was developed in the late 1800s in the port town of Marans, France. These are calm birds that adapt to confinement well.

Class: Continental

Origin: France

Comb Type: Single

Colors: Black Copper, Wheaten, and White (Other color varieties are not recognized by the American Poultry Association.)

Egg Size: Large

Production: 3 to 4 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Varies

Disposition: Active

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire chicken is a great family-friendly bird that’s named for the state where it was developed. Many confuse this breed with the Rhode Island Red which makes sense because it was originally developed from Rhode Island Red stock. This is a good dual-purpose bird that matures early and consistently lays brown eggs.

Class: American

Origin: United States

Comb Type: Single

Color: Red

Egg Size: Large

Production: 4 to 5 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold and Heat Tolerant

Disposition: Calm, Friendly

new-hampshire-chicken

Photo Credit: Pam Freeman

Orpington

Orpingtons are sometimes known as the Golden Retrievers of the chicken world. They are docile and friendly and make a great bird for families with children. They have lots of loose feathers and look bigger than their actual body size.

Class: English

Origin: England

Comb Type: Single

Popular Colors: Black, Blue, Buff, and White

Egg Size: Large

Production: 3 to 4 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold Hardy

Disposition: Friendly, Easily Handled, and Calm

brown-egg-layer

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rocks are said to be developed in Massachusetts after the Civil War and were named for one of the state’s most famous landmarks. Plymouth Rocks are one of the most popular dual-purpose birds for backyard chicken keepers. They are friendly, cold hardy birds that bear confinement but are happiest when free ranging.

Class: American

Origin: United States

Comb Type: Single

Popular Colors: Barred, Black, Blue, Buff, Columbian, Partridge, Silver Penciled, and White

Egg Size: Large

Production: 4 to 5 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold Hardy

Disposition: Especially Docile

Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Reds were developed in the 1800s and the breed was named for the state where it was developed. This breed holds the distinction of being Rhode Island’s state bird. This is a utility breed that can be used for eggs and meat. It is considered a superior bird for backyard flocks.

Class: American

Origin: United States

Comb Type: Single

Color: Red

Egg Size: Large to Extra Large

Production: 5+ Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold and Heat Hardy

Disposition: Docile

Sex Link

Sex Link chickens are not a true breed. They are a hybrid bird that is bred solely for its egg production. Sex Link chickens can be referred to as just Sex Links or by hatchery names like Golden Buff, Golden Comet, Cinnamon Queen, Red Star, Black Star. A sex-linked chicken can be sexed at hatch by its color, taking the guesswork out of whether you have a hen or rooster.

Class: Not Recognized

Origin: United States

Comb Type: Single

Popular Colors: Varies by Hatchery

Egg Size: Large

Production: 5+ Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold Tolerant

Disposition: Calm

best-backyard-chicken

Photo Credit: Pam Freeman

Sussex

The Sussex has been a favorite and common utility breed in England, originating in the County of Sussex over a century ago. This is a great backyard breed for its friendliness and curiosity. Sussex are great egg layers. And the fun thing about the Speckled Sussex color is that the birds gain more white spangles on their feathers with each molt. It’s like having a new bird in your yard each year!

Class: English

Origin: England

Comb Type: Single

Popular Colors: Speckled, Red, and Light

Egg Size: Large

Production: 4 to 5 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold Hardy

Disposition: Calm & Curious

Photo Credit: Pam Freeman

Wyandotte

Wyandottes were developed in New York and Wisconsin and named after the Native American Wendat tribe. The family’s parent variety is the Silver Laced Wyandotte. From there, many color variations have been bred, some recognized by the American Poultry Association, others not. This is a hardy, all-around useful chicken that graces many backyard flocks across America.

Class: American

Origin: United States

Comb Type: Rose

Popular Colors: Silver Laced, Golden Laced, White, Black, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Columbian, and Blue

Egg Size: Large

Production: 4 to 5 Eggs Per Week

Hardiness: Cold Hardy

Disposition: Calm

Do you have a favorite brown egg layer in your flock? Let us know in the comments below.

Brown Eggs

 

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Comments
  • I have 4 hens, a speckledy maran, a blue haze, a rhode rock and a goodline. All lay varying shades of brown. Speckledy lays speckled eggs, blue haze is a liggt brown with a bloom. I am getting 2 new Devon Blues this week. Should lay blue eggs

    Reply
  • welsummer hens lay a lovely large dark brown egg. Good foragers and friendly to boot.

    Reply
  • My cuckoo maran’s lay dark speckled eggs but are getting a few shades lighter as they get older.

    Reply
  • Recommended both Barnevelders and Speckled Sussex as two hardy and easy to manage varieties that make successful and attractive backyard chickens that lay a lovely dark brown egg and a lighter coloured one.

    Reply
  • Cheryl A.

    Our Golden Laced Wyandottes are pretty heat hardy. Super calm and sweet, with very musical voices. They are our top choice for brown egg layers. 🙂

    Reply
  • I currently have 2 Rhode Island Reds, a Barred Rock and a Link. I think they are all great layers! They survived a Texas Summer which makes them seriously heat tolerant. All during the winter I had at least 3 eggs a day! Great Hens. Trying some new varieties this year.

    Reply

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