Chickens: 12 of the Best Brown Egg-Layers

So you want brown eggs.

Either you have a farm, a farmette, or you’ve decided to get serious about urban gardening. Your next step is chickens for fresh eggs. And you want brown ones.

If you are going to invest in setting up chickens for egg-laying, then you want the most return for your investment of time and money. Grocery stores have learned that people are willing to pay twice as much for brown eggs over white ones. For you to have brown eggs, then, it is simply a choice of which kind of chicken you pick for your hen house.

Chickens that are fed kitchen waste, weeds or zucchinis from your garden, and grasses, are far healthier for you than factory produced eggs produced by caged, grain fed chickens. If you’re lucky enough to be on a property where they can range freely, that’s even better!

Chickens raised on grass and insects, as nature would have them raised, produce eggs with a deep golden-orange yolk color. That color is indicative of the rich vitamins that the yolk contains, as compared to pale yolks produced by grain fed chickens. (Even though commercially produced chickens have synthetic chemicals added to their feed to make the yolks appear darker!) Healthy pasture raised chicken yolks contain more Vitamin K2, a vitamin helpful in protecting us from cancers, osteoporosis, immune diseases, cardiac disease, influenza and other infectious diseases, and even Alzheimers.


Below is a list and photos of twelve of the best brown egg-laying hen varieties, along with brief descriptions of each. Some breeds produce larger brown eggs; others produce medium sized brown eggs more frequently. Some breeds are known to produce eggs better in cold weather than others.

Keep in mind that the number of eggs produced by your chickens can vary greatly and will be determined by the growing conditions which you’ve provided for them.

Best of luck!


Rhode Island Reds

Everyone’s favorite because of great egg production, this is a popular breed that produces large brown eggs and can also be raised for meat. It is a cold and heat hardy egg producer. The Rhode Island Red, developed in the 1800s, is the state bird of Rhode Island. The hens weight about 6.5 pounds. This breed can lay about 275 eggs a year.

A similar breed but white in color, the Rhode Island White’s also lay brown eggs.



This chicken started out as a broiler. It is a less common very large brown egg layer that does well in all weather. The hen weighs 6.5 pounds. It is a dual purpose breed, useful for both egg production and meat.


Buff Orpington

This is a large meat breed with the hens weighing 8 pounds. It is an adaptable breed, very cold hardy, and an average to above average brown egg layer.


Red Star or Red Sex Link

This cold hardy and feed efficient breed is a very reliable brown egg layer at over 250 eggs per year. The hens weigh 4 to 5 pounds. The term sex link in chickens means that the color at hatching indicates which sex the chicken is because different colors at hatching tell them apart.


Australorp/Black Australorp

This is another dual purpose, average sized, hardy brown egg laying breed. It was developed in the early 1900s in Australia. The hen weighs 6.5 pounds.



Slightly smaller and less common, this hen weighs in at 6 pounds. It is also a dual purpose breed hailing from Holland. This lays very large speckled brownish red eggs that customers love. It is cold hardy.



This old English breed lays a very light brown colored egg of average size. Hens weigh 7 pounds, are very cold hardy, and are good layers. They have lovely personalities and are also a dual purpose breed. Though they come in eight colors, the speckled variety shown above is most common in the U.S.


Plymouth Rock

The Plymouth Rock was the most popular chicken breed in America at one time and has been raised on homesteads since the 1800s. It lays average-sized light brown to slightly pinkish colored eggs. Hens weigh 7.5 pounds. It is very cold hardy and adaptable and is a dual purpose breed.



Originating from Spain, this chicken lays a very dark smaller brown egg. It is very heat hardy and slower to mature. Hens weigh 4 pounds and the breed is less docile but good for free range.


New Hampshire/New Hampshire Red

This is a good layer of brown eggs which are average in size. It is cold and heat hardy and the hens weigh 6.5 pounds. It is somewhat similar to the Rhode Island Red and today, a cross between the New Hampshire and the Rhode Island Red is also a popular choice as a brown egg layer.


Black Star or Black Sex Link

Black Star hens are wonderful layers of large brown eggs. Black Stars are easy to raise and have a good feed conversion ratio. The term sex link in chickens means that the color at hatching indicates which sex the chicken is because different colors at hatching tell them apart.



This is a very cold hardy and more common chicken used to produce brown eggs. It is a dual purpose breed and hens weigh 6.5 pounds. It was developed in the late 1800s in New York and Wisconsin.


In addition to these twelve breeds of chickens which lay brown eggs are the Barnevelder, Brahma, Buckeye, Chantecler, Cochin, Dominique, Java, Jersey Giant, Langshan, Marans, and Naked Neck breeds. To do further comparisons, I recommend this PDF chart of chicken breeds along with their characteristics.

If you have anything to add from your personal experience of raising chickens that produce brown eggs that might be useful to others, please add your insights to the comments. Thankyou.

Patterns and Connections in this Universe

As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm.

I was thrilled to stumble upon this video (below) from NOVA, today, on patterns. As I watched it, I kept hoping that it would end the way it in fact did, because I watched a film at our University of Colorado Fiske Planetarium a few months ago where the astrophysics student-narrator zoomed out as far as possible to look at the cosmos, and showed us how it resembled our very own brain neurons.

Computer simulation image of the universe which looks like a neuron

This is an awesome conclusion that astrophysicists have come to. Who among us does not have a sense of wonder about the order of the universe – from the tiniest microscopic inhabitants to the largest? Astrophysicists also tell us to marvel at the fact that we are made up of atoms from the distant past universe events, thus we are part of it, or it is part of us. Either way you look at it is correct. That fact also makes it true that we are all connected to everything else, a fundamental piece of knowledge from centuries old Eastern wisdom traditions.

There are patterns obvious in the natural world that help teach us that there is an incredible order to the universe. Artists like to refer to observations such as we can easily see in a cross section of the Nautilus Shell as “sacred geometry”. Geometric ratios can further be found in harmonic music. It is our senses that allow us to appreciate these natural patterns and the experience of “beauty”.

From reading quotes by Einstein, it appears that he had a fascination and also a great respect (if not a recognition that it was his life’s purpose) for observing and attempting to understand the incredible order of the universe. In part, this was attempted through the use of mathematical equations, though he also appeared to think that the human brain was inadequate to completely understand the governing laws of nature.

Let us review a few quotes from Einstein and consider “spooky” quantum physics events and yet a more intriguing picture emerges.

Quotes by Albert Einstein:

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space.”

“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

“I am a determinist. As such, I do not believe in free will.” -— from Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson.

“It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature.” —- from Introduction to Philosophy 1935.

The following two quotes attributed to Einstein are from “Einstein and the Poet”:

“The basic laws of the universe are simple, but because our senses are limited, we can’t grasp them. There is a pattern in creation.”

“I like to experience the universe as one harmonious whole. Every cell has life. Matter, too, has life; it is energy solidified.”

Finally, let’s take time to watch the (3-minute) aforementioned NOVA video showing us that patterns structure the Universe:

So none among us can dispute that neural network forms are a basic building block pattern. But could consciousness itself be the larger whole? Watch this TED talk (below) and contemplate that idea. It explores the idea of consciousness being a fundamental building block of the universe, the idea of “panpsychism”, in this talk by David Chalmers. (18 minutes – if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, at least try to watch the last half)

If these things are all relevant in the “big picture” then we view nature with awe and do not wish to see it destroyed. We see our role as an interconnected part having compassion for the whole. And that, my friends, is how this post ties into the subject of agriculture.

A few references for further exploration of this subject:

Iconic Farm Family Lunch 1941

Don’t you agree that this is such a great photo? Look at the pigtails! Everyone has their glass of milk, and the age span of the five children is not great. Think of the work of getting that meal on the table everyday for lunch. Their space is cramped, a mixer sits in the background, and the plastic tablecloth is covered with a fabric one. I like the stack of Wonder bread in the foreground.

Boyer Edwin Fry and his family eat lunch in the kitchen of the family farm in Laytonsville, Maryland in July 1941. Photo courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

Clockwise, starting from the left they are: Margery Ogle Fry Grace, Amy Elizabeth Fry Leber, Frederick Alfred Fry, Edwin Dewey Fry, Edwin Clarkson Fry, George C. Fry, and Susan Clarkson Ransome Fry. The farm was on Sundown Road, Laytonsville, Maryland. The photographer was Dave Boyer, from Salt Lake City. He served as a photographer for the US Navy during WWII, and later gained fame as a career photographer for National Geographic. The Fry family, who were neighbors of Harold Ickes, ran a dairy farm that served as Dave Boyer’s home away from home.

Food Prices reflect Energy Prices and Inflation

U.S. food price inflation has trended downward since the 1970s

On average, food price inflation in the United States has been falling over the past several decades. Since 2010, food prices have risen by an average of 2.1 percent a year. By contrast, the 1970s saw the all-food Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase by an average of 8.1 percent annually, led by increases of 14.5 and 14.3 percent in 1973 and 1974, respectively.

The 1970s were a time of high energy prices and high inflation for consumer goods, including food. In the 1980s, the all-food CPI increased by an average of 4.6 percent per year, and food prices rose 2 to 3 percent per year in the following two decades. Advancements in agricultural productivity contributed to falling inflation-adjusted prices for agricultural commodities during the 1980s and 1990s. In addition, enhanced agricultural trade has allowed the U.S. food supply to better respond to supply shocks.

source: usda

Plants are Living Things and They Make Decisions, Too

The Chicago Journal, The American Naturalist, has come out with a report titled, “Adaptive and Selective Seed Abortion Reveals Complex Conditional Decision Making in Plants” which tells us “Recently, evidence for plant behavior is accumulating, mostly from plant physiological studies. Here, we provide ecological evidence for complex plant behavior in the form of seed abortion decisions conditional on internal and external cues. … Ecological evidence for complex decision making in plants thus includes a structural memory (the second seed), simple reasoning (integration of inner and outer conditions), conditional behavior (abortion), and anticipation of future risks (seed predation).”

And that’s just after a Univ. of Missouri scientist told us that plants respond with off-putting chemicals when they “hear” the chewing sounds of predators.

What next? Are they self-aware?