Our Best Egg Laying Backyard Chickens (Cold Breeds)

Group of 7 cold breed hens on green grass roaming
Posted On: January 10, 2024

When we started our backyard flock adventure many years ago, we walked into it fairly blind. We didn’t realize there were so many different breeds of chickens to choose from!  We started doing research and came up with a list of things that were important to us regarding the breed of chicken we would choose. Our goal was to find the best chicken breeds for our own backyard chickens.  We were starting out our couple acre homestead and this would be our first real homesteading project to kick that off.

The Start of Our Backyard Chicken Flock

Our first question was, do we want all the same breed of chicken or do we want to have a mixed backyard flock with several different breeds?  That question was answered for us when we were given our first two chickens by someone who had outgrown the size of their backyard flock allowed by their neighborhood HOA.  We had our chicken coop nearly ready at this point and just kind of jumped into it head first and brought the girls home to start our backyard chicken adventure.  They were both Easter Eggers, which is sort of a mutt in the chicken world, I’ll talk a little more about them a little later.  These two chickens (Snowball and Brownie) are the “OC’s” of our flock. Snowball is still with us, however Brownie passed on this summer. These are the only two chickens we have that have names.

Snowball & Brownie our Easter Eggers checking out their new home, wooden coop with pine shavings and a mirror
Snowball & Brownie (Easter Eggers), our first chickens (that were a gift) in our old shed which was our 1st coop.

Do Your Research Before You Start!

Whether you are looking for the best chicken breeds for your backyard chickens or your small farm, definitely do your research and pick the best chickens for your situation.  There are so many types of chickens out there, you are sure to find your perfect matches!

Now we had to come up with some criteria that we would choose the rest of our chicken types with.

Our two easter egger chickens, Snowball and Brownie
Snowball and Brownie in our old chicken run off the shed (a couple months old).

Here is our Chicken Search Criteria

Cold Climates

We live in Northern Kentucky where we get some fairly cold winters, we want to make sure our chickens can survive the cold weather.  This is the only criteria that was non-negotiable since we get our share of cold weather here.

Golden Comet hen free-ranging on her own. Don’t let this photo fool you, most winter days, even the cold breed chickens hate the snow! She went rogue here for some reason. 😂

Heritage Breed or Hybrid Breeds

We were a little on the fence on this one  and ended up going with a little of both. We definitely went heavier on the hybrid chicken breeds though.  The heritage breed chickens usually have a little lower egg production than the hybrid chickens, however the hybrid breeds have typically been adapted over the years to withstand certain conditions better, such as cold climates.  Just a quick note, Hybrid breeds has nothing to do with any sort of gene modification, or anything like that.  It is selectively breeding different chicken types together to get traits from both kinds.

Number of Eggs Produced

Since our goal is to have a plentiful supply of farm fresh eggs, we definitely took the average number of eggs each chicken breed produced into account.  This definitely wasn’t our highest priority, but we took it into account.

4 image collage showing backyard chicken eggs in nesting box, basket from the side, top view filled basket and stored on our kitchen counter
Our bounty of eggs. As you can see they come in all colors and sizes and we love it!

Egg Size and Egg Color

We definitely didn’t want to pass up the opportunity for different colored eggs. Our end result was a mix of chicken breeds to keep our eggs interesting.  We wanted mostly brown eggs but also wanted to throw in some blue eggs to mix things up a little.  Also keep in mind that during the winter months in cold climates, your egg production will typically slow down drastically.

4 Varying backyard chicken eggs shown on top of a dollar bill to show size differences
Our amazing eggs in all sizes.

Do They Have a Tendency To Be Broody?

We definitely wanted to try and get non-broody hens.  The last thing we wanted to deal with is a broody hen that won’t get off the eggs (we were mostly successful here…)

Time To Pick Our Chickens!

Once we had our criteria all laid out, we went on the search for the best egg-laying chickens for our needs.  We are lucky enough to have a great hatchery not too far away, so that’s where we started the search.  We quickly came up with a giant list of chicken breeds that far exceeded our chicken coop capacity, we wanted them all!  This was going to be harder than we thought!

Newborn baby chicks in a large tub with paper towels, flakes, waterer and feeder
Our first chicks in our makeshift brooder.

Before I go on, I just want to say that these are the actual chickens that we have chosen and have or have had in our backyard flock.  There are many different breeds out there that may work better for you and maybe even for us but this is all based off the real world experience we have had with these breeds up till now.  I would love to hear what makes up your backyard flock in the comments below, we are always up for trying out new chicken breeds as long as they are inline with our criteria.

Chicks in our tub brooder with waterer, roost and feeder over pine flakes

Our First Backyard Chickens

Here is the breakdown of our first backyard flock selections with a little info about each and why we selected them.  We started off with 14 chickens including the two that we “adopted”.  Our chicken coop was an old shed that came with our property when we bought it, it was quite large and honestly overkill for the amount of chickens that we had.  After some issues with our old coop, we eventually built a new DIY chicken coop that better suited our needs.  Check out our DIY chicken coop build here to see where our chickens live now.

We free range our chickens in a large fenced in area but also built them a good sized chicken run to give them some added security from predators.  All the chickens we got have been great foragers, drastically reducing our bug population and supplementing their diets naturally.  Our fence extends into the woods, giving them plenty of shade and lots and lots of bugs for them to eat.  Our goal is to have happy healthy free-range chickens that will give us lots of nutritious eggs!

Several chickens from our flock free ranging.
The girls foraging and free-ranging on our property

Golden Comet – Hybrid Breed

After much research, we chose the Golden Comet chicken breed as the main core of our flock.  Our focus was on getting the most of the Golden Comet’s and supplement them with the others.  We had read a lot about the Golden Comet being a popular breed of egg laying chickens and after many years of having them in our chicken flock, we fully agree!  We have had very few health issues with them and they are a consistently prolific egg layer producing beautiful medium to large brown eggs.  The Golden Comets are definitely our best egg laying chickens and will always be a part of our backyard flock!

We initially were going to get the Rhode Island Red chickens, however after some research we stumbled upon the Golden Comet which is a cross between the Rhode Island Red and Rhode Island White chickens.  Both have very similar characteristics, however the draw was that the Golden Comet is a smaller chicken.  When you are looking for a chicken for egg production instead of meat production, a smaller chicken takes up less space in the chicken coop and also eats less, keeping your overhead down a little bit.

  • Cold hardy breed: Yes, they are bred to be cold hardy
  • Heritage breed or Hybrid breed:  Hybrid breed
  • Approximate egg production: They are excellent layers with about 315 nutritious eggs per year
  • Egg size and color: They produce medium to large brown eggs
  • Broody: No, none of our Golden Comets have become broody yet

Our recommendation on the Golden Comet is a strong yes!  It’s a good choice if you are only going to get a few chickens and want lots of fresh eggs.

Golden Comet hen walking on our gate in woodsy backyard
A Golden Comet strolling on our back gate

Black Australorp – Heritage Breed

Our second choice we were getting was the Black Australorp, a heritage breed of chicken that hails from Australia.  These chickens are very beautiful birds with a kind of iridescent black feathers.  The Black Australorp checked off most of our criteria, however in our experience they were not a good fit for our flock in the long run.  This is the one type of chicken that we have had the most health issues with and fairly low egg production.  This of course could have just been the particular ones that we had, however it was enough that we didn’t replace them when it was time to renew our backyard chicken flock.  Another negative for us is that the Black Australorp is a fairly large bird. They take more space in the chicken coop and also eats more food.

  • Cold hardy breed: Yes, they are bred to be cold hardy
  • Heritage breed or Hybrid breed:  Heritage breed
  • Approximate egg production: The Black Australorp is an excellent layer. They produce about 275 Year, however we had less success due to issues our chickens were having
  • Egg size and color: They produce medium light brown eggs
  • Broody: These could be somewhat broody but it wasn’t enough to be an issue.

Our recommendation on the Black Australorp is a pass.

Black Australorp Hen on grass with fall leaves
Black Australorp checking me out. They are very friendly.

Easter Egger (Americana) – Hybrid Breed Mix

The Easter Eggers we started with were not our choice, they were given to us.  The Easter Egger breed as a whole is a bit of a misconception. It is not a recognized breed of chicken and can be a mix of pretty much any chicken breed who has a blue egg gene.  There are similar recognized hybrid breeds out there known as the Araucana and the Ameraucana. These are what I think most people think they got when they actually got the Easter Egger mutt.  The Easter Eggers, Araucana and Ameraucana all have some similar characteristics and all lay blue eggs.  Our Easter Eggers have predominantly white feathers with some brown mixed in, they can come in many different colors as they aren’t a standardized breed.

  • Cold hardy breed: Yes, they are cold hardy
  • Heritage breed or Hybrid breed:  They are a hybrid breed and kind of a mutt
  • Approximate egg production: They are definitely not one of the best egg-laying chicken breeds, laying about 175 to 200 eggs per year
  • Egg size and color: They produce small to medium blue eggs
  • Broody: No, none of our Easter Eggers have become broody
Brownie, our Easter Egger hen in the front to the left and other cold breed hens around
Snowball again with her posse. She’s the queen of the roost on most days.

Our recommendation on the Easter Egger is a yes if you ware wanting blue eggs.  Also, if you just want a chicken with personality, they are great. One of our favorite hens ever is our Easter Egger, “Snowball.” She is definitely like our family pet and most loved out of all of our chickens to this day. If you don’t care about the egg color or need a chicken with personality, then you might want to skip the Easter Egger.

Easter egger chicken on Josh's shoulder
Snowball, our Easter egger is literally the sweetest chicken we own. She’s special in so many ways and I swear is just in love with Josh!

Our Latest Backyard Chicken Flock

Due to predator loss and other random loss over the years we got to a point we needed to add more chickens to our flock to boost our egg production back to where it was.  We actually had to buy eggs a couple times, and that was the tipping point!  We free range our chickens so predator loss is just a part of life unfortunately.

Cold Breed Chickens free ranging on our property
Out 2nd round of chickens

Our skies have lots of hungry hawks that circle the area and red fox that also show up occasionally and do some damage.  We are constantly working on our chicken coop security to reduce these losses but unfortunately they are a part of life.  This time we wanted to add a little more diversity to our chicken flock, more just to make it a little more interesting than anything.  We started researching again to find the best egg layers that would give us a lot of eggs!

From our previous flock we had three Golden Comets and our original two Easter Eggers remaining.  Our chicken coop was getting pretty bare with too much space empty.  Here are the chickens we ended up adding to our flock.  We get all of our day old chicks from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries. They have always given us great service with no issues at all.

Barred Plymouth Rock – Hybrid Breed

These go by many slight variations of the name, Barred Rock, Plymouth Barred Rock or Barred Plymouth Rock, they are all talking about the same breed of chicken though.  

  • Cold hardy breed: Yes, they are bred to be cold hardy
  • Heritage breed or Hybrid breed:  Hybrid breed
  • Approximate egg production: The Barred Plymouth Rock is an excellent layer producing about 275 Year
  • Egg size and color: They produce large eggs a medium brown color
  • Broody: No, we haven’t noticed any broodiness in our Barred Plymouth Rock but they do have the tendency.

Our recommendation on the Barred Plymouth Rock is a yes!  We have had no issues with these and find them an excellent choice to add to your flock.

Barred Plymouth Rock hen centered between 2 golden comets
Barred Plymouth Rock, looking proud and gorgeous as always. (Golden Comets to her left and right)

Golden Laced Wyandottes – Hybrid Breed

The Golden Laced Wyandottes are definitely beautiful birds, that’s part of what drew us to them.  They are good egg layers but not the most prolific egg layer out there.

  • Cold hardy breed: Yes, they are bred to be cold hardy
  • Heritage breed or Hybrid breed:  Hybrid breed
  • Approximate egg production: 200 Year
  • Egg size and color: They produce large light brown eggs
  • Broody: No, we haven’t noticed any broodiness in our Golden Laced Wyandotte chickens.

Our recommendation on the Golden Laced Wyandottes is a yes!  These beautiful birds add some visual entertainment to your flock and they have been a solid chicken in our experience.

Golden Laced Wyandotte staring straight forward on grass
Golden Laced Wyandotte giving me the stare-down.

Olive Egger – Hybrid Breed Mix

We chose the Olive Egger for one reason and one reason only…green eggs.  An Olive Egger is kind of like an Easter Egger in that it’s two chicken types crossed together but doesn’t have to be specific types.  Put together a chicken with blue eggs and one with brown eggs and you just might get the green eggs.

While these eggs are different from the usual, I probably wouldn’t get the Olive Egger again.  It’s hard to make sure they meet all of our criteria since you aren’t always sure what the parents were.  One of our Olive Eggers became extremely broody, which definitely became a problem.

  • Cold hardy breed: Yes, they are cold hardy
  • Heritage breed or Hybrid breed:  They are a hybrid breed and kind of a mutt
  • Approximate egg production: They are definitely not the most prolific egg layer, laying about 175 to 200 eggs per year
  • Egg size and color: They produce small to medium dark green eggs
  • Broody: One of our Olive Eggers became extremely broody. The other one was not so this one is a draw with us.

Our recommendation on the Olive Egger is a no from us. We got two of these chickens because we wanted the green eggs. These two chickens did not produce well for us at all. Both of these chickens mysteriously passed away from unknown causes about a month apart. It might have been the particular chickens we got but we don’t plan on getting anymore the next time we replenish our backyard flock.

photo of olive egger chicken front and center on winter grass surrounded by other cold breed chickens
Olive Egger front and center.

Final Thoughts on Best Egg Laying Chickens

There is no right makeup of your backyard chicken flock.  If you want one single breed of chickens, go for it!  If you want a dozen different chickens with all different personalities then have fun picking them out!  With a mixed flock we have had absolutely no issues so far with the different breeds not getting along.  This was a concern of ours when we were first getting started but it has not been an issue at all with our chickens.

Our Pick for a Solid Hen overall

They say you shouldn’t choose favorites for your kids, but no one ever said anything about their chickens…so for us, our Go To Chicken, the cold breed we will keep around as part of our flock forever more is the Golden Comet. They produce gorgeous extra large brown eggs and in great quantities. We love all of our chickens and if you don’t know yet, they do have personalities.

3 golden comets in winter backyard with chicken coop and woods in the background
My favorite picture of our golden comets ever! I swear they were posing for me. Our modeling girls.

You Choose & Give them Love

Chicken flocks of course have their pecking order and some breeds are definitely meant to be at the top of the pecking order, there’s nothing you can do to control that. Just give them a great chicken coop to live in, feed them well and give them a way to entertain themselves and you will have some very happy backyard chickens.  Keeping your chickens happy, safe and secure is the key to lots of delicious and nutritious eggs!

We would love to hear about your backyard chickens in the comments below!  Tell us a little bit about your flock! We are always looking to try out a new breed of chicken next time we need to grow our flock again.

If you have any questions for us, feel free to comment below or shoot us an email.

Happy Homesteading!

Comments

  • I love your story about being a newbie to the project. I am also a newbie trying to experiment in poultry project. And honestly how you present your information is very simple, once more I loved it. Selection of the breed might be hard and also how to take care of the breed we take. Anyway, research might be the only solution followed by practice. Thanks

    Seneka Kevau
    Papua New Guinea

    • Thank you for the comment, Seneka. I wish you the best in your poultry venture. Chickens are fun animals to care for.

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