The Best Chicken Breeds that Lay Brown Eggs


Wanting to start your own backyard flock? Let’s dive in to the best chicken breeds that lay brown eggs!

brown chicken eggs in an egg basket and some are on burlap

Brown egg layers have been popular for many many years. They rank high for dual-purpose breeds and for high production egg laying. If you are wanting to start your own backyard flock and wish to include rich brown eggs to your egg basket then this post is for you.

We find brown eggs at the grocery store, but you can find more satisfaction in having your own pet chicken knowing that they are living a better quality of life as well as being fed a higher quality feed. That will increase the quality of egg you get!

It is fun to have a variety of color of chicken eggs, so let’s focus on the best chicken breeds that lay brown eggs.

Are brown eggs better than white eggs?

egg cartons with brown eggs and white eggs

I live in the United States of America, and when you go to the grocery store, you most commonly find white eggs. Though brown eggs are becoming more popular, they are still less common. So when we see a brown egg, it intrigues us and is almost marked as a healthier egg.

This may be because the only “free range” or “cage free” eggs you can buy are brown. That being said, brown eggs are NOT healthier or better than white eggs.

They are the same other than the shell color, which I will discuss later on how that color happens. What does make a HIGH QUALITY EGG is the the food they eat and the overall health of the chicken itself.

You can buy fresh eggs from high quality farmers markets that are white and low quality white eggs from the grocery store. You can tell the quality when you crack the egg.

The yolk will be a deeper rich orange color. Faint yellow yolks usually mean a lower quality of feed, life and health of the chicken that laid the egg. So the BEST EGG is one that comes from a properly raised chicken.

What causes a chicken to lay brown eggs?

brown and tan eggs on top of burlap and wood

What determines the eggshell color from a chicken? Different breeds of chickens will lay different eggshell colors. What makes this happen? Egg shells in general are all made up of the same materials no matter the color.

What is different is the chemicals that the specific breed of chicken lay down onto the egg that will either permeate through the egg or coat the outside of the egg. For example, a blue egg gets its color from a chemical that permeates through the egg.

How you know this is when you crack open the blue egg, the shell will be blue on the inside as well. So the chemical coats the outside of the egg shell and then seeps through from the outside to the inside of the shell.

For most brown eggs, The chemical from the chicken simply coats the egg shell, turning it brown, but does NOT seep through to the inside of the shell. So when you crack open a brown egg, the shell on the inside will be white.

Why do some brown chicken eggs have spots?

speckled brown egg

Speckled eggs are beautiful and romantic in a way. Not many eggs have spots and not all are for a good reason. There are TWO REASONS that a chicken egg has spots. One reason is that there is a deformation in the egg.

If the breed of chicken you have doesn’t normally lay speckled eggs then one day it does, this is a deformation. Usually it is a sign that the chicken has had too much calcium in their diet and therefore they lay spotted eggs.

Simply modify the amount of calcium that they have access too for a time and this should solve that problem. Another reason is that the actual chicken breed will lay spotted eggs.

Some examples of speckled egg layers are (not all of these are brown egg layers):


Wel Summers

Easter Egger – blue eggs

Are brown chicken eggs bigger?

Backyard chicken keepers are likely to want large eggs as opposed to smaller eggs. This may be because most recipes call for a LARGE EGG. Or a chicken keeper simply wants a nice big egg to add to their breakfast.

When considering what chickens to add to your backyard flock you will look at the specific chicken breed to know whether they lay large or small eggs. The size of the egg laid is specific to the chicken breed NOT the color.

There are brown chicken eggs that can be small, medium, and large brown eggs. I will LIST BELOW 15 of the best chicken breeds that lay brown eggs. In that list, I will mention the general size of egg that the different chicken breeds will lay.

PLEASE NOTE: All chickens that just start laying eggs, CALLED PULLETS, will lay small eggs. So the first few eggs that a chicken will lay are generally smaller.

For more information on chickens and chicken terminology visit HERE.

What breed of chicken lays the most brown eggs?

brown chicken eggs in a pile with one that is cracked open with a vibrant orange yolk inside.

Different breeds have a higher egg production than others. Certain chicken breeds are meant to be harvested for meat. These chickens will not lay very many eggs.

Good egg layers are chickens that are generally bred for egg production and will lay a lot of eggs compared to other chickens. That being said, there are high peak production times where a chicken will lay more eggs than other times.

Two things that affect their production are their age and the seasons. Chickens are at their highest egg production at one year of age, and will generally slow down with each passing year. After three years you won’t get nearly as many eggs from the chickens.

This is why people will get new baby chicks each year to replace the older hens. The time of year also will change the amount of eggs your chicken will lay.

When the weather is extremely hot in the summer or cold during the winter months, chickens will lay fewer eggs. They also lay less eggs when the daylight hours become less. When the daylight hours drop, so does egg production.

Some chicken owners will combat this by putting out a light into the chicken coop to keep production up. This is sometimes frowned upon by some chicken owners as they believe that the chicken needs time to rest and recoup during this time of year and shouldn’t be forced to lay high amounts of eggs year round.

You can decide what you feel is right. Now that you know what makes a chicken lay more eggs than others, it is important that CERTAIN BREEDS do lay more brown eggs than others.

High brown egg production layers are:

Sex link chicken (not an actual breed)

Plymoth rock


New Hampshire chickens



How many eggs do brown egg layers lay?

Good egg layers will typically lay 4+ eggs a week during peak production time. Like I mentioned before, this number will go down in extreme weather, as the chicken ages and when a chicken molts.

What chickens lay dark brown eggs?

Not all brown egg layers are the same. The color varies anywhere from tan to dark brown. If you are looking to add dark brown eggs to your egg basket then make sure you select chicken breeds that will lay a darker brown colored egg.

Some chicken breeds that lay dark brown eggs are:

Black copper Marans



Can brown egg laying chickens handle cold weather?

brown egg laying chicken in the snow

Yes, most chickens can tolerate the cold. In my 15 chicken breeds that lay brown eggs list down below I mention the hardiness of the chicken.

Getting a cold hardy chicken is especially important if you live somewhere that is very cold. The same goes for heat tolerant chickens.

If where you live is extremely hot, you will want to make sure you buy chickens that can handle the heat. In either case, cold or hot weather, you may lose a chicken on a very extreme weather day and that is normal.

But you do want to do your best at avoiding this by buying a bird that will thrive in your backyard environment.

15 Chicken breeds that lay brown eggs

  1. Australorp
    • Egg production: lays 5+ eggs per week
    • Hardiness: cold and heat hardy
    • Dual-purpose breed (meat or egg laying chickens)
    • Egg size: Large
    • Comb type: single
    • Temperament: Gentle, docile
  2. Barnevelder
    • Egg production: lays 3-4 eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Cold and damp hardy
    • Egg Layer
    • Egg size: Large
    • Comb type: single
    • Temperament: calm, gentle, friendly
  3. Sussex
    • Egg production: 4-5 eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Cold hardy
    • Egg layer
    • Egg size: Large
    • Comb type: single
    • Temperament: Calm, Curious
  4. Wyandotte
    • Egg production: 4-5 eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Cold hardy
    • Egg Layer
    • Egg size: Large
    • Comb type: rose
    • Temperament: calm
  5. Brahma chickens
    • Egg production: 3-4 eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Cold and heat hardy
    • Egg layer
    • Egg size: medium eggs
    • Comb type: pea comb
    • Temperament: Gentle, friendly
  6. Buckeye
    • Egg production: 3-4 eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Very cold hardy
    • Egg layer
    • Egg Size: Medium brown eggs
    • Temperament: Friendly, Sociable
  7. Delaware
    • Egg Production: 3-4 eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Cold and heat hardy
    • Dual purpose
    • Egg Size: Large
    • Comb type: single
    • Temperament: calm
  8. Dominique
    • Egg production: 3-4 eggs per week
    • Hardiness: cold and heat hardy
    • Egg layer
    • Egg size: medium eggs
    • Comb type: rose
    • Temperament: calm, gentle, great foragers
  9. Jersey Giant
    • Egg production: 3-4 per week
    • Hardiness:Cold hardy
    • Egg layer
    • Egg size: Large
    • Comb type: single
  10. Marans
    • Egg production 3-4 eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Varies
    • Egg layer
    • Egg size: Large dark brown eggs
    • Comb type: single
    • Temperament: active
  11. New Hampshire chickens
    • Egg production: 4-5 eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Cold and heat tolerant
    • Egg layer
    • Egg size: Large eggs
    • Comb type: single
    • Temperament: calm, friendly
  12. Orpington
    • Egg production: 3-4 per week
    • Hardiness: cold hardy
    • Egg layer
    • Egg size: Large
    • Comb: single
    • temperament: Friendly, easily handled, and calm
  13. Plymoth Rock
    • Egg production: 4-5 eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Cold hardy
    • Dual-purpose breed (meat or egg laying chickens)
    • Egg size: Large
    • Comb type: Single
    • Temperament: docile
  14. Rhode Island Red chicken
    • Egg production: 5+ eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Cold and heat tolerant
    • Egg layer
    • Egg size: Large to extra large
    • Comb type: single
    • Temperament: Docile
  15. Sex link chickens (Red sex link or cinnamon queen – not a real breed)
    • Egg production: 5+ eggs per week
    • Hardiness: Cold tolerance
    • Egg layer
    • Egg size: large
    • Comb type: single
    • Temperament: Calm

What is the comb on a chicken?

chicken with a red comb on top of its head

The comb is the red fleshy part of the chicken that is on top of their heads. Here is a diagram of the chicken comb varieties.

chickens with various different combs
Photo Credit:

Why do the chickens have a comb?

There are a few theories, but for a homesteader or backyard chicken owner, the comb is a great way to tell if your chicken is healthy or not.

A bright red comb is a sign of a young healthy chicken. Older chicken combs, or combs from a sick chicken will appear more faded.

For a FULL CHICKEN DIAGRAM and more chicken information, check out THIS POST.

Where can I purchase brown egg layers?

Most backyard chicken owners will purchase chicks instead of buying eggs and incubating them. There are several places that you can purchase baby chicks. One way is to order your chicks online. Look for one of the breeds I have mentioned above.

chick with its foot on top of a brown chicken egg

Most of these breeds are common and should be available. Most chick hatcheries will ship their chicks in the spring and you will need to order them in the winter. Some more popular chicken breeds will sell out so make sure to check early in the year.

That being said, if you live somewhere warm year round, you may be able to order chicks at any time. When you order chicks online, you need to make yourself available to run to the post office quickly to pick up your chicks.

Especially if you are experiencing extreme heat or cold on the day they come. You can even call your post office ahead and let them know that your chicks will be coming. There are frequent chick deaths because they have been sitting at the post office for too long.

If you want to avoid the online experience, you can buy your chicks at your local feed or hardware store. Most stores only have chicks available during the spring and early summer.

You can call your feed store and ask when their chicks will be at the store. Buy one of the breeds listed above. Some more popular chicks will sell out so make sure to get there sooner than later.

IMPORTANT. Make sure you have a brooding station set up for your chicks before you order or purchase your chicks.

This is a great rule of thumb for any animal you purchase. Have the coop/animal housing ready before purchasing your chick or animal. You don’t want to be rushing to get housing for your animal while you have it.

This seems like common sense, but you would be surprised at how many people get sucked into buying those cute fluff balls before having a place for them!

Three hatcheries to order chicks online

  1. Cackle Hatchery
    • Some breeds that they carry are: Buckeye, Jersey Giant, and Orpington
  2. California Hatchery
    • Some breeds that they carry are: Barred Rock, Black Australorp, Buff Orpington and Black Copper Maran
  3. Chickens for backyards
    • Some breeds that they carry are: Speckled Sussex, Delaware, Welsummer and Salmon Faverolles

What color of eggs can chickens lay?

blue chicken eggs, brown chicken eggs, white chicken eggs, purple chicken eggs, pink chicken eggs

It may surprise you, but there are more than just white and brown chicken eggs out there. Robins aren’t the only birds laying blue eggs!

There are special breeds of chicks that offer different varieties of egg colors. There are blue eggs (easter eggers), green eggs (olive eggers), pink eggs, light brown, dark chocolate eggs and purple-ish eggs.

These type of chickens may not lay as many eggs and are often purchased simply to create a beautiful egg basket with a variety of colors.

If beauty is important to you, you may need to pay a little extra for these variety of egg colors! That being said, it is fun to get a rainbow of colors from your chicken coop.

Your local hardware store might not be a good place for you to find these specialty breeds.

What are the parts of a chicken?

New to the chicken world? Check out THIS POST to learn chicken terminology and other chicken fun facts.

Click HERE to learn how to cook a whole chicken in an instant pot and create THREE different meals from a whole single chicken!

Looking to improve your own self sufficiency? Click HERE.

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