There is an old Latin proverb, De gustibus non est disputandum, which I will take the liberty to translate for the benefit of those who have been out of school for some time. Its meaning is this: In matters of taste there is no argument.
This is as true in the poultry business as it is elsewhere. Other things being equal that breed is the best for a man which he likes best. There is no breed that combines all the excellences and has none of the defects.
Best Egg Layers – Which Breed?
There is no breed that does not have its admirers. In general it may be said that the most profitable breeds are to be found in the Asiatic, American and Mediterranean classes, as follows:
In the Asiatic class the Light Brahmas, Black Langshans, Buff and Partridge Cochins; in the American class the Barred, Buff and White Plymouth Rocks, all the Wyandottes and the Rhode Island Reds ; in the Mediterranean class the Black Minorcas, Brown, White and Buff Leghorns. These are the great money-making varieties.
Asiatic Breeds of Chickens
The Asiatics are excellent table fowls and prolific layers of dark brown eggs. They are good sitters and mothers, although somewhat clumsy. They are inclined to be sluggish and readily take on fat. They stand cold well, and make good winter layers.
Mediterranean Breeds of Chickens
The Mediterraneans are egg machines, turning out great quantities of white-shelled eggs. They do not stand cold as well as the Asiatic and American breeds, and are not as good fowls for the table.
American Breeds of Chickens
The Americans on the whole are the favorites. They are all-round birds, good layers of brown eggs,excellent for the table, good sitters and mothers. They stand cold well, and are the birds for farmers and breeders. The danger with every breed is that it will get into the hands of the fanciers and be bred for points rather than for utility.
Stamina is the important thing, and not the show card. It will be a great day for the poultry business when farmers keep more pure-bred fowls, for then the great standard varieties may be kept up without danger of deterioration.
How Many Varieties of Chicken Shall I Keep?
After studying the matter carefully, I have come to the conclusion that it is better for’ the average poultryman to confine himself to one variety. He will get better results and make more money if he concentrates his energies than he will if he dissipates them.After a man has made a success with one variety he may perhaps add another, and even a third; but the best poultrymen do not handle many varieties, and some of the most successful confine themselves to one.
Where several varieties are kept I would suggest that there be some principle of unity determining the choice. Let the birds all be of one color say white, black or buff or let them all be of one family, like the Leghorns, Wyandottes or Plymouth Rocks.
Where the fowls are all of one family they will have the same characteristics and respond to the same treatment. In case of an accidental mix-up the damage is reduced to a minimum, for the birds are all of the same size, comb and contour.
This article about the best egg layers is an extract from 200 Eggs a Year Per Hen: How to Get Them by Edgar Wallace (1899). In essence we feel the advice is still relevant although breeds have changed and the most productive, purely in terms of eggs for the prime year, would be a hybrid layer.
Readers will want to take other factors into account, such as temperament or hardiness especially when the hens are basically pets.
Also in 200 Eggs a Year, Per Hen: How to Get Them
- Preserving Eggs
- What Breed are the Best Egg Layers
- Keeping Hens for Maximum Egg Production
- Breeding Chickens to Increase Egg Production & Utility General Rules
- Eggs in Fall & Winter
- More Eggs In Winter Tips
- The Trap Nest and Its Uses
- How to Build a Trap Nest Box for Hens – Free Plan
- Breeding Chickens – Selecting Stock
- Cross Breeding Chickens – Importance of Crosses
- Fertile Eggs & How To Get Them
- Poultry Manure A Valuable By-Product