If you plan to raise brown-egg-laying chickens, you are in the right place. Here, you will not only know the chicken breeds that lay brown eggs, but you will also learn a bit about their history, their behavior, and other important characteristics. But more importantly, you will also have a deeper understanding of brown eggs and colored eggs in general.
Here are the 12 chicken breeds that lay brown eggs:
6. Jersey Giant
7. New Hampshire
9. Plymouth Rock
10. Rhode Island Reds
These chicken breeds that lay brown eggs will be discussed more in a bit. Keep on reading to learn more interesting facts about each of one them!
Why Do Some Chickens Lay Brown Eggs?
To start with, all egg colors start with white. However, some chickens have pigmentation genes that add the color of the eggshell. For example, chicken breeds that lay brown eggs deposit a pigment called “protoporphyrin” during the formation of the eggshell. On the other hand, blue-egg-laying chickens have the pigment called “oocyanin.”
Therefore, it is safe to say that the gene of the chicken determines the color of their eggs. Consequently, hens that lay brown eggs will always lay brown eggs. The same thing goes with white-egg layers and other colored-egg-laying hens. Nevertheless, there may be some changes in the shades. Some may have lighter, brighter, or darker colors.
Common Myths About Chicken Egg Colors
As mentioned earlier, the color of a chicken egg will depend on the breed of the hen. However, there are myths about colored eggs that have been around for many years. So once and for all, here are some of them. Hopefully, this will help stop the misconception so that you can move on and focus on the more important things.
Myth #1 Brown eggs taste better than white eggs and are healthier to eat.
Fact: The color of the egg has no relation with the taste and its nutritional content.
Myth #2 The color of the egg also depends on the color of the feathers.
Fact: Orpington chickens have a wide variety of colors, but all of them lay brown eggs.
Myth #3 The color of the egg also depends on the color of the ear lobes.
Fact: The Empordanesa and Enedesenca breeds have white earlobes, but both of them lay brown eggs.
Myth #4 The egg color may change, depending on the breed of the rooster.
Fact: The rooster does not affect the egg color. In fact, hens can lay eggs without them.
Which Chicken Breeds Lay Brown Eggs?
As the name implies, Australorp chickens originated from Australia. This chicken breed is available in black, blue, and white, but the black variety is the most common and is the only color recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA). Black Australorp hens lay about 250-300 large, light brown eggs a year. This is equivalent to 5-6 eggs a week!
Amazingly, the Australorp hens hold the record for laying the most number of eggs in a year. Back in 1923-24, a contest was held in Geelong, Victoria. That time, Australorp hens won and broke world records. One of them laid 347 eggs in 365 days, and another one had 354 eggs in 365 days. And believe it or not, another hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days!
The Barnevelder chicken breed was developed in the Netherlands in the latter part of the 19th century. This was the result of crossing Brahmas, Cochins, Langshans, and some Dutch chicken breeds. This Dutch chicken breed is considered heavy, with their roosters weighing about 7-8 pounds and their hens weighing about 5-6 pounds.
Barnevelders are available in various colors: black, white, silver blue, double laced silver, double laced blue, and chamois. Unfortunately, the partridge, which is one of its original colors, has now become extinct. Barnevelder hens are best known for laying 175-200 copper-tinged, dark brown eggs a year or simply 3-4 eggs a week.
The origin of the Brahma chicken breed is dealt with in some controversies. Although there were no official records, many people believe it was developed in the U.S. but originally came from Shanghai. Known for their gigantic size, strength, and vigor, the Brahma was once called “King of Poultry” and is the closest rival of the Jersey Giants.
On average, Brahma hens lay 3-4 brown eggs a week. Amazingly, they also lay eggs during colder months while other breeds take their rest. Despite their intimidating appearance, Brahma chickens are very docile, friendly, and reasonably quiet. They are known to be not aggressive to smaller birds but are not considered lap chickens.
The Delaware chicken breed is one of few white chickens that lay brown eggs. Nevertheless, their hackle, wings, and tail are usually speckled black. This American chicken breed has a medium-sized body, yellow skin, and muscular legs. On average, Delaware roosters weigh 7-8 pounds while their respective hens weigh about 6 pounds.
Delaware hens lay about 200 brown eggs a year, which is equivalent to 4 eggs a week. But despite being an excellent dual-purpose chicken breed, the Delawares began to lose their popularity during the mid-1950s. That time, chicken breeders began to prefer the White Cornish-Rock. Delaware chickens are now considered critically endangered.
The Dominique chicken breed is known as the oldest American chicken breed. Although there is no official record about its origin, the first Dominique chickens were believed to have been spotted back in the 1750s. But for some reason, this unique American chicken breed has some periods where it became very famous and nearly became extinct.
Dominique hens lay about 230-270 light brown eggs a year, equating to 4-5 eggs a week. Interestingly, Dominiques and Barred Rocks have a lot of physical similarities. However, the most compelling difference is that Dominiques have a rose comb or a flattened cushion comb. On the other hand, Barred Rocks have a single upright comb.
6. Jersey Giant
The Jersey Giant chicken breed originates in Burlington County, New Jersey, and was developed by John and Thomas Black in the late 1800s. As the name suggests, Jersey Giants are super huge and very heavy chickens. A standard-sized rooster weighs about 13 pounds (5.9 kilos), while an adult hen can weigh around 10 pounds (4.5 kilos).
With that, it’s no wonder that Jersey Giant is the largest chicken breed not only in the U.S. but also in the world. As expected, their eggs are extra-large. But because of their enormous size, their hens can only lay about 150 brown eggs or 3 eggs a week. So yes, they are not considered prolific egg layers. However, they are friendly and very docile.
7. New Hampshire
As the name suggests, the New Hampshire chicken breed originated from the U.S. state with the same name. Also known as New Hampshire Red, this American chicken breed was developed in 1915 from a strain of Rhode Island Reds. Although both of them have almost the same body size, New Hampshire Reds have a more triangular body shape.
New Hampshire hens lay about 200 large, brown eggs a year or around 4 eggs a week. On the other hand, some strains lay dark brown eggs. Although they are not as prolific layers as Rhode Island Red chicken breed, New Hampshire Reds have bigger and heavier bodies. Therefore, this makes them a better choice in terms of meat production. They are docile and friendly too.
The Orpington chicken breed was developed by William Cook, a breeder from Orpington, Kent. The original black Orpingtons were believed to be a product of crossing Plymouth Rocks, Minorcas, and Langshan chickens. Interestingly, this British breed can lay 280-300 medium-sized brown eggs a year or 5-6 eggs a week.
However, most breeders today treat the Orpingtons as show birds so their egg production is slowly declining. Aside from black, they are also available in blue, buff, splash, and white. So far, the most famous variety is the Buff Orpington. Just like the Australorps, Orpingtons are friendly, docile, and heavy, which is why they seldom fly.
9. Plymouth Rock
The Plymouth Rock chicken breed was developed in the mid-1800s and is one of the oldest American chicken breeds. Also known as Barred Rocks, the original Plymouth Rocks were first seen in public in a poultry show in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1849 and became famous. But for some unknown reasons, the breed disappeared for 20 years.
Plymouth Rock hens can lay around 200 large brown eggs a year, which is equivalent to about 4 eggs a week. They consistently lay almost the same number of eggs in their first 2 years and will start to decline in their third year. Nevertheless, they continue to lay eggs until they are 8 years old. Amazingly, Barred Rocks can live up to 10-12 years.
10. Rhode Island Reds
As expected, Rhode Island Reds (RIR) originated in the U.S. state with the same name. This American chicken breed is known for laying 200–300 brown eggs a year, equivalent to 5-6 eggs a week. However, some breeders claim that their RIR hens have been laying 150-250 eggs a year. Nevertheless, this is still a very reasonable number.
In general, Rhode Island Reds are dual-purpose chickens. They are active foragers, extremely cold-hardy, and seldom go broody. But beware! This heavy chicken breed is quite aggressive and territorial. Therefore, it is not an ideal pet for families with small children. Although they can be friendly at times, they are not considered lap chickens.
The Wyandotte chicken breed is one true American breed simply because it was named after the indigenous Wyandot people. This heritage chicken breed is known for having a wide variety of color patterns. The silver laced is the most common color, which also happens to be its original color. Interestingly, Wyandottes also have bantam versions.
Wyandottes are dual-purpose birds and are great mothers. Wyandotte hens lay about 200 large, brown eggs a year. Nevertheless, the more amazing part is that they continue to lay eggs during winter, which is uncommon to most American chicken breeds. However, they usually start laying eggs at 20 weeks old, which is quite late.
The Welsummer chicken breed originates in Welsum, a small village in the Netherlands. It was bred from a mixture of Barnevelders, Cochins, Rhode Island Reds, Leghorns, Partridge, and Wyandottes. Sad to say, this breed is uncommon among Americans. But do you know that Cornelius Rooster (the mascot of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes) is a Welsummer?
Welsummer hens lay about 160-200 eggs a year, which is equivalent to 3-4 eggs only a week. Although they cannot be considered prolific layers, their eggs have a very unique appearance – large, terra cotta brown with speckles! Sometimes, the color is mistakenly seen as deep red terracotta. Welsummers are friendly and docile but quite noisy birds.
Aside from the breeds mentioned above, some other chicken breeds also lay brown eggs. This includes the Spanish breeds Empordanesa and Enedesenca, as well as the Cochins, which were derived from Chinese fowls. Meanwhile, Golden Comet, Lohmann Brown, and Novogen Brown are hybrid chickens that are brown-egg layers, too.