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Which are the Best Egg Laying Hens for My Climate?

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Do Chickens Need Specific Climates?

When embarking on the rewarding journey of chicken keeping, one of the most critical decisions is selecting the right breed for your environment. Just as plants are adapted to certain climates and soil types, chicken breeds have evolved or have been selectively bred with characteristics suited to specific weather conditions. Choosing a breed tailored to your climate not only ensures the well-being and longevity of your flock but also maximizes their productivity, be it in egg-laying or meat production. Whether you're in the frosty north, the arid deserts, or somewhere in between, aligning your choice of chicken breed with your local climate sets the stage for a harmonious and successful poultry experience.

Here are the best types of egg laying chickens for each climate, and when to expect their egg laying productivity to stop.

Cold Hardy Breeds:

  1. Plymouth Rock (Barred Rock): Plymouth Rocks, often called Barred Rocks due to their distinct feather pattern, are calm and friendly birds. They lay around 200-280 large brown eggs annually. Their productivity peak is in the first two years, but they can remain productive layers for up to 4-5 years.

  2. Rhode Island Red: Known for their rust-colored feathers, these hardy birds are among the top layers, producing around 200-300 brown eggs per year. Their laying prime is between 1-3 years, though they can lay for several years afterward, albeit at a decreased rate.

  3. Buff Orpington: These fluffy, golden birds have a gentle disposition, making them excellent backyard favorites. They lay approximately 175-200 large brown eggs annually. They're most productive in their first 3 years and may have a decline in laying after the 4th year.

  4. Sussex: Sussex chickens are versatile and come in various colors. They lay around 250-275 tinted to light brown eggs annually. Their peak laying period is between 8 months to 3 years of age, but they can continue laying for up to 5 years with gradual decreases.

  5. Australorp: These black-feathered beauties originate from Australia. Known for their egg-laying prowess, they can produce 250-300 brown eggs a year. Their prime laying years are between 1-3 years, with productivity gradually tapering off after.

  6. Brahma: This large, feather-footed breed stands out in the flock. They lay about 150-200 brown eggs annually. Their best laying years span from their first to their third year, with a decrease in laying frequency afterward.

Hot Climate Breeds:

  1. Leghorn: This lively breed, often white but coming in various colors, is known for its productivity, laying about 280-320 white eggs annually. Their prime productivity is between 1-3 years, but they can lay consistently for up to 4-5 years.

  2. Minorca: With their sleek black feathers, Minorcas are heat-loving birds. They produce around 200-250 large white eggs each year. They're most productive from 1-3 years of age but can lay for several more years at a reduced rate.

  3. Andalusian: This breed, with its beautiful slate-blue feathers, lays around 200-250 white eggs annually. Their laying peak is between 1-3 years, though they can lay for up to 5 years with a decrease in frequency.

  4. Egyptian Fayoumi: Recognizable by their unique feather patterns, Fayoumis are energetic and heat-hardy. They lay about 150-200 small to medium white eggs a year. They're most productive between 1-3 years and taper off in the following years.

  5. Naked Neck (Turken): Distinct for their featherless necks, Turkens are adaptable and heat-resistant. They produce approximately 150-200 medium-sized brown eggs annually. Their peak production is between 1-3 years, decreasing as they age.

Versatile Breeds for Varied Climates:

  1. Easter Egger: These multicolored birds lay a variety of egg shades, from blue to green and pink. They produce about 200-280 eggs annually. Their prime laying period spans from 1-3 years, with a decrease in the subsequent years.

  2. New Hampshire: A robust and versatile bird, they lay approximately 200-250 medium to large brown eggs a year. They're most productive between 8 months and 3 years, with laying frequency decreasing after.

  3. Dominique: With a barred feather pattern, Dominiques are calm and adaptable. They produce around 230-270 medium-sized brown eggs annually. Their peak productivity years are between 1-3, tapering off afterward.

  4. Wyandotte: With a beautiful laced feather pattern, Wyandottes lay around 200-240 medium-sized brown eggs per year. They are most productive between their first and third years, with a decrease in egg production in the following years.

Should we treat our hens different one they stop producing eggs?

  1. Dietary Changes: Laying hens are typically fed layer feed, which contains the right balance of calcium and other nutrients they need to produce eggs. As hens age and lay fewer eggs, their calcium requirements decrease. You may need to switch them to a maintenance or all-flock feed, which has lower calcium content.

  2. Health Monitoring: Older chickens might be more susceptible to health issues. Regular check-ups are essential to ensure they aren't suffering from any age-related conditions or diseases. Conditions like arthritis can also appear in older birds, so be observant.

  3. Protection from Younger Birds: The pecking order in a flock can be harsh. Older, less productive birds might get bullied or picked on by younger, more vibrant hens. Monitor the flock dynamics and, if necessary, separate older hens to ensure they aren't getting bullied.

  4. Nesting Box Access: Even if they aren't laying regularly, older hens will sometimes look for a nesting box. Ensure they have easy access and aren't being denied access by younger hens.

  5. Comfort: As with any aging animal, comfort becomes more critical. Make sure they have a warm, dry, and draft-free place to rest. If you notice an older hen having trouble with perching, provide lower perches or even consider soft bedding on the coop floor for them.

  6. Considerations for Culling: This is a personal and sometimes difficult decision. Some chicken keepers choose to keep their older hens until they pass away naturally, valuing them as pets or "retired" members of the flock. Others might opt to cull older birds, especially if they have many chickens and limited space or resources. If choosing to cull, it's crucial to do so humanely.

  7. Molting and Feather Care: Molting can be harder on older birds. Ensure they get a high-protein diet during this time to help with feather regrowth. Also, keep an eye out for any signs of feather picking from other birds.

  8. Protection from Predators: Older birds might not be as quick or alert as their younger counterparts, making them more susceptible to predators. Ensure the coop and run are secure.

In summary, while the basics of chicken care remain consistent, older hens might need a bit more attention in terms of diet, health monitoring, and overall comfort. Treating them with kindness and ensuring their well-being can help them live out their golden years comfortably.


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